Tag Archives: grace

More Than Death Insurance

More Than Death Insurance

“When one asked the salesman what he was selling, he said, “Life insurance.”

“That’s not life, but death insurance.”

“What do you mean?”

“You have to die to win.”

“Not always. You get your money back with big interest in 10 or 20 years if you live, but if you die your family is protected for a number of years.”

“Fine. The Bible says, ‘But if any provide not for his own, specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel, but it’s more important to carry life insurance.”

“Say, what are you selling?”

“Life insurance. Eternal life. Nothing to pay, and you begin to get big dividends immediately, of peace, joy, contentment, and an understanding of God’s plan for your life.””  (-Knights)

What kind of insurance do you have?  Jesus came to earth to give something better than death or life “insurance.”  He came to earth to purchase eternal life.  Jesus paid the full price that our sin – death.  He died in my place.  He died for my sin.  He died in your place.  He died for your sin.  He shed His blood for our sin.  Theologians call this Substitutionary Atonement.

Romans 5:8 teaches, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Jesus demonstrated or proved His love for us with his work and action on the cross.  He did not just say “I love you.”  He demonstrated love when He laid down His life for us.  No matter how BIG or little you perceive your sin to be, Jesus still loves you!  None of us are worthy, but He loves us anyway.

Then He rose from the dead.  The phrase: “Rose Again” in 1 Corinthians 15:4 indicates that while He was previously dead, He came back to life, and continues to be alive!”  What an incredible truth!  Jesus continues to be alive today.

As I prepared for Easter Sunday preaching, I searched out all the leaders of the worlds major religions.  Here is what I found:

Buddhism. The Buddha’s body was cremated in Kushinagar, India and the relics were placed in monuments or stupas, some of which are believed to have survived until the present. Ramabhar Stupa in Kushinagar was built over a portion of the Buddha’s ashes on the spot where he was cremated by the ancient Malla people. The Temple of the Tooth or Dalada Maligawa in Sri Lanka is the place where the right tooth relic of Buddha is kept at present.

Christian Science.  Mary Baker Eddy is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States.

Confucianism. The grave of Confucius, founder of Confucianism, is in his home town of Qufu, Shandong Province, China. The grave of Confucius is located in a large cemetery where more than 100,000 of his descendants are also buried.

Islam. According to early Muslim sources, Muhammad is buried in the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (“Mosque of the Prophet”) in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. The tomb of Muhammad lies within the confines of what used to be his wife Aisha’s and his house. During his lifetime it adjoined the mosque, which was expanded during the reign of Caliph al-Walid I to include his tomb.

Scientology.  Upon his death, L. Ron Hubbard was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.” (Wikipedia)

Christianity: Go to the Garden Tomb at Jerusalem.  There are no bones, no ashes – nothing!  Jesus walked out of that stone tomb alive!  Jesus is alive today. 

Would you believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?  This is called the Gospel.  Jesus is alive and calling to you for a response.  Will you accept the forgiveness of sins and receive eternal life from Jesus?  He loves you.  Believe in Him today.

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Believers and Tattoos

Believers and Tattoos

Should a Christian get a tattoo?  Should we be concerned when someone gets some “ink?”  To answer this, we must understand the origin of tattoos.  Tattoos are nothing new and in fact we see tattoos in the Scripture.

According to a report by NPR, “Tattoos have become more common over the past couple of decades. A Harris poll in 2012 found that 1 out of every 5 adults — 21 percent — has at least one tattoo. An earlier Pew Research Center study found that the number was closer to 40 percent among those ages 18 to 29.”

With the incredible amount of people getting tattoos, you can see why there are so many of these little shops and mall counters offering tattoos.  I saw one shop that sold engraved trophies for sports teams, etc. and they could also engrave your body in their tattoo parlor. How convenient is that?!

Right in the middle of God’s law recorded in Leviticus in between the prohibition for drinking blood, the prohibition for prostitution, and the ban on wizards and witches we find the following verse:

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.  Leviticus 19:28

Keep in mind the Old Testament Law was multifaceted.  Some Law related to civil government (most of which we continue to follow today), some related to worshiping God, and other parts were practical (like sanitation and diet laws).  The Law was given to show how deficient and sinful humans are and to demonstrate how much we need the Lord.  Jesus fulfilled the Law.  While we do not obey the Law to earn the favor of God, these truths can cause for a more healthy and happy life.  Thank God for grace!

The verse starts by prohibiting cutting the flesh.  That practice was found in pagan religions.  Think of Elijah (1 Kings 18) and the prophets of Baal who were cutting themselves to try to get their false god to answer them.

Apparently, the tattoos were also part of cult religious practices. Stars, leaves, flowers, and other images were inked or burned into those being initiated into the cult.  The tattoos, like today, represented something.

Very simply, tattoos were connected with “dead people” and with cult practices in ancient times.  They were used as identifying marks in groups and activities that were (and are) against the Lord.

Commentator Albert Barnes adds this insight: “The prohibition against marking the skin may involve either tattooing or painting the body as part of a religious ritual. Such markings may have been designed to protect a person from the spirits of the dead or to demonstrate membership in a group. Some evidence for this has been found in the examination of human remains in Scythian tombs dating to the sixth century b.c. The Israelite law may prohibit this practice since it involves a self-imposed alteration of God’s creation, unlike circumcision, which is commanded by God.”

Think of it this way: If a person spray painted a public library, were caught and charged; they would be charged with “defacing” a public building. They would not be congratulated for decorating the building.  Our bodies are the temple of God and is to be wholly dedicated to Him.  Marring or defacing the body is not something we want to do.  Sin has already done a good job in changing mankind and our bodies – because of original sin and its consequences.

If you already have a tattoo, then use it as an example of God’s grace.  When people see it, or you talk with others, make it a point to say “This is who I was, but now I belong to Jesus.” Use the “Before and After” approach of telling others of your Savoir.  The “Old Man Vs. The New Man” is a great way to demonstrate the markedly different life the Lord has made in you.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What will this tattoo identify me with?
  2. What kind of statement will a tattoo make?
  3. Will this help me look more likes Jesus in attitude, actions, or appearance?
  4. Does this make me appear more like the world or less like the world?
  5. Will this point people to Jesus or to something/someone else?

I do not believe that many readers of this article today would like to be associated with a cult or with occultist practices. Take care of your body – do not deface your body.  We conclude with several verses and one key thought for your consideration.

1 Corinthians 6:8-20 says, Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient (Helpful, beneficial): all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.  And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respecting God’s Way

Respecting God’s Way

I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.  Psalm 119:15

The Bible is an incredible Book that God wrote for His creatures – man.  The Word of God is a pertinent message for humans as we live, work, play, and die in this thing called life.

The longest chapter in all the Bible is Psalm 119.  It contains 10 different words that are terms for the “Bible.”  “Word”, “statute”, “judgment”, and “precept” are some of those terms.

As the verse above declares, the Psalmist had “respect” unto the ways of God.  We all have our ideas and personal expectations about how life will turn out.  Sometimes there are detours, and sometimes dead-ends.  There are points of crisis and places of crying.  There will be happy times and times that are not so happy.

How do we cope with it all?  I suggest we make the most of the moments God gives to us and cope with the good and bad that happens by accepting the will of God.

When we see the Bible as God’s “will” for our life, it will help us to look to His plan, seize ahold of His teaching, and see meaningful changes in our lives.

In other words – respect God’s Word and the way of living it commands us – more than you respect your own plans. Meditating on the Word of God will cause you to accept your circumstances, and by God’s grace discover the greater purpose or meaning for life that God is trying to etch into your life.

Determine to respect the way of God and His Word more than your own way of thinking.

 

 

 

We All Start Somewhere

We all Start Somewhere

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:                  1 Peter 2:2

John Maxwell tells this astute story: “A group of tourists visiting a picturesque village walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked him, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.”

Whether you have been saved 4 days, 4 months, 4 years, or 44 years, the Lord has called you to be a “Growing Christian.”  We all start at the same place in our relationship to God.  When we are “born again,” at the moment of our believing in the Gospel, we start a new, spiritual life.

The Bible is what new and old Christians are nurtured with.  The more we read and apply, hear and change, study and implement, the more we grow to be like Jesus.  None of us are born “great.”  We are born to serve a “great God!”

One sad truth in Christianity is that some believers never grow up spiritually.  This has been a problem since the start of the church.  The letters to the churches that Paul wrote were in many cases to help the young churches to grow up in their faith. From lustful desires to hateful relationships, the early church needed to grow.

When we do not desire the Word like a baby desires milk, we do not grow like we should.  Examples include:

  • Continuing to be Stubborn in Spirit.
  • Consistently Rebellious in Heart.
  • Contentment in Judging Others.
  • Complaining to Feel Better.
  • Character Assignations of Others.
  • Charging into a Talk with Anger.

Brethren, if you are behaving like the points above, you have some areas to grow up in.  It could be that you think yourself to have “arrived” but you may not give as much value or as much of a lasting testimony to the work of God in your life.  Your behavior is reflecting who you really are.  Your “being” is still in childhood. Feeding on the desires of the flesh and the pride of life need to be exchanged for feeding on the Word of God.  You can do better than being a “Big Baby.”  God can help you grow out of spiritual infanthood.

You got to eat. We must consistently read, study, hear, and apply the Bible to our lives. Decide to grow up in Jesus by consuming more of the Word today.

Salvation is the start to a lifetime of growing and becoming more like Jesus.  Don’t’ just start.  Start and finish.  We do not “arrive” until we get to Heaven. Give grace to others along the way.  Decide to be more like Jesus. Then. Be. Like. Him.

 

 

 

 

Be Like Zach

Be Like Zach

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Remember the days when people would say: “Be like Mike.”  On the basketball court, winning and work ethic could be found in Michael Jordan.  Kids would wear his shoes, shoot the ball like him, dress like him, and even walk like him.  I still like to see the shoulder shrug a player emulates on the basketball court after a made shot.

There is a man in the Bible named Zacchaeus, or Zach that can be a help to us today.  With many people searching for meaning and purpose, we can learn from his story the reality we are living in.

Zaccheus was loaded.  He had a large house.  He had the best the day in age he lived had to offer.  He was one of the richest people in his hometown.  His wealth was gotten through hard work, deceit, and a driven personality.

Throughout his whole life, he set out to prove his worth.  Being a man short in stature, he probably felt that if he became a big man in material things, then people would see him as a big man.

No- one likes to be the kid picked on because of size, weight, height, ability, smarts, or lack of athleticism.  Zaccheus was that boy who became an “overachiever” to try to make up for his being shorter than most of the other boys.  For him, he thought, becoming rich was the thing that could help him most.

Zaccheus lived in a place called Jericho.  Hundreds of years before, Jericho was a Canaanite stronghold.  If you read Joshua Chapter 6 you will discover how the Lord knocked the seemingly impenetrable walls down for His people to go in to possess their Promised Land.  During the time of Christ, the city of Jericho was built a short distance away from those ruins of Joshua’s day.

Zaccheus is a big man in Jericho.  He is known to be ruthless, rich, and even as a traitor.  “Publicans” in the Bible is not short for a political party – it is term for the Tax Collectors from the Roman Empire.  Most of the Jewish people saw Zaccheus as a traitor for he worked for the Roman government who controlled Israel.  In addition, the tax collectors were notorious for overcharging the tax rate.  For example, if 80 denari was due, they would charge 100 and keep the rest for themselves.  People did not like the tax collectors because of this. Zach was symbolic of the men who got rich off the backs of their own countrymen.

One day, a Person Who had a large following of people passed through Jericho.  Zaccheus was one to “keep his ears to the ground.”  As the “Chief” publican, he had many people working for him and he enjoyed hearing news of people’s successes so he would know when to increase their taxes.  It was Jesus who was passing through the city, teaching and helping people.

Zaccheus had a big problem however.  Like the Bible teaches, “worry” cannot add to our stature, or make us taller or healthier, riches cannot buy inches or good health either (Matthew 6:27).  Zach could not see.  He was too short and the large crowd was too tall.

Zach runs ahead in the direction he sees Jesus walking.  He climbs up a sycamore tree and peers down to Jesus as He walks in his direction.  Jesus looks up and tells Zaccheus to “Come down.”  Jesus then says he wants to “abide” or spend some time at Zaccheus’s house.

His house was probably one of the larger, nicer houses in Jericho.  The people however were upset that Jesus would sit down to eat dinner and spend some time in the house of a “sinner.”

The truth is – all humans are sinners – not just cheats and thiefs.  Romans 3:23 informs: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 continues, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  We need the gift of eternal life.

As Jesus talks with Zach, he explains the purpose of His mission.  Jesus lets everyone know the purpose for his trip to Earth and His reason for coming into this world.  “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Jesus came to earth to find people who were “lost” in their sin.  Zaccheus was rich and powerful, but he was spiritually lost.  There are others who are religious and educated, but lost.  There are others still who are poor or not healthy, and are lost too.

The human condition is a “lost” condition without Jesus.  The first and greatest missionary was Jesus.  He came to earth on a mission of mercy, love and grace.

  • Mercy so we do not get what we deserve – Hell.
  • Grace so we can get what we do not deserve – Heaven.
  • And Love because He values and cherishes us more than new could ever fully understand. Love is a choice. Romans 5:8 teaches, “But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Our value as humans does not come from financial status, our last names, the location we live, the job or title we hold, or the abilities we have acquired.  Our value and worth comes from God.  God loves us.  He loves you!  God created you.  He made you and has given you life and opportunity.  Don’t be like Zach in trying to find value in all the wrong places.  Be like Zach when he invited Jesus into his heart and life.

Zaccheus was a changed man.  Jesus said “This day is salvation come to this house.”  When a person is “born again” he has a new life in Christ things are different than before. Love, purpose, and priorities all shift to more meaningful things. Zach paid back 4 times over the money he had stolen.  He started to conduct his life and work in a responsible, loving way. He had eternal life and he now knew that his value was found in God and his value was from God, not his money, stature, house, location, or the job he held.

Three truths to take away:

  1. Know your value comes from God – not your circumstances.
  2. Embrace Jesus, the only Way to Heaven. Trust His work on the Cross and believe in His resurrection.
  3. Serve in the ministry. Missions work and Gospel work is the work of the Christian.  Tell someone about Jesus.  Participate in your church missions program.  Pray for missionaries to go – then help them get there following the footsteps of Jesus.

 

 

 

How to Know You Are Not Thankful

How to Know You Are Not Thankful

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Psalm 106:1

For this posting, you may want to open your Bible to Psalm 106 to follow along in the text.

“A man writing at a post-office desk was approached by an elderly fellow who asked, “Sir, could I get you to address this postcard for me?”

The man did so gladly, and then agreed to another request, which was to write a message on the card, and to sign it. He then asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

The old fellow thought a moment, then said, “Yes. Add this at the end: ‘P.S. Please excuse the handwriting.”

All of us should be challenged with the idea of thankfulness. You can Become a thankful person today.  Early Israel is our example to learn from in Psalm 106.

Eight marks of thanklessness to the Lord include:

  • Forgetting the Mercy of God. 1-7
  • Lusting for More Stuff. 8-15
  • Envying Others’ Power. 16-23
  • Murmuring Behind Closed Doors. 25-26.
  • Making Idle Inventions. 28-29, 39

Please note that Inventions = deeds.  We can be very creative at evil action.  Our imagination can be dangerous. Imagination = “Framing of the Mind.” When we think of it – then our actions will follow:  See how these verses inform this truth:  Genesis 6:5, And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And in Psalm 81:12, So I gave them up unto their own hearts (“Imagination”) lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

Too Much Time on Our Hands could be the result of blessing or even the result of hard work.  When we abuse the time with evil, it is the product of an un-thankful heart.

“Idle Hands are the devils workshop.”  It is a true idea rooted in Bible truth. Voids of good activity are always filled with evil activity.  Fill your day with good actions.  Fill your heart with Bible Intention. Stage the platform of your life so that free time is used for good, not evil.

  1. It could be that being with other people prevents sin.
  2. It may be that reading the Bible prevents sin.
  3. It is possible that having routines and expectations could prevent sin.
  4. It is true that being thankful, daily, could prevent sin. “An Attitude of Gratitude” goes a long way.
  5. Idle inactivity often leads to idol activity!
  • Provoking Anger in Others. 29, 40, 32-33
  • Mixing Up Relationships. 34-36
  • Disregarding Human Life. 37-39

Check your life against this list of eight marks of thanklessness.  How did you do? You could get this right with God right now and have a fresh perspective on life.

 

WHAT should I DO about Un-thankfulness?  Good question.  Here are 3 helps:

  1. Stand for Right. 30-31
    1. Think Right. Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind (Imagination” in Hebrew) is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
    2. Do Right.  Phinehas was thinking right and therefore he did right.  As a result we know him even today as being a righteous man.  He was thankful to God so he was willing to stand for God and right.
  2. Seek Mercy. 44-46.  May the Lord not give us what we really deserve.  Remind yourself of His mercies each morning to help with your days perspectives.
  3. Say “Thank You.” 47-48.  In prayer – be purposefully thankful to God.

May the Lord help us to be a thankful people.  Not only in November – but in each day that He gives to us.  Be encouraged and challenged to live thankfully each day.

You can Become a thankful person today.