Easter - 2018

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What game are you playing?

God’s spirit dwells in us so we can live righteously, as Jesus did. Romans 3:25 states, “God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice …”

Much like a baseball batter getting ready to step up to the plate…a believer is position to hit the ball because of Jesus. You don’t take the bat and ball to a basket ball game, or a soccer game or a hockey game or even a football game…although the Indianapolis Colts might have played a better game last week if they had showed up with a bat and ball … the reality is that the church has been getting into position with their own agenda and forgot we are a people of grace, a people of discipline, and a people positioned in Jesus Christ to face the world.

For God to be just, He must remain true to his own principles. His holiness dictated that “the soul who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:4). The penalty for sin – namely, death – had to be paid in a way that was acceptable to God. God explained through Moses why a blood sacrifice was required… “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” (Lev. 17:11). Science has proven this today… the blood in your body is essential in providing life to your body. A life must be given for a life to be spared.

It was this basis that God positioned himself to redeem us and in return we are positioned to live in Jesus. The Almighty God provided a perfectly sinless sacrifice for all mankind. The only way God’s justice could be satisfied and His holiness could be maintained was for Jesus Christ to take our guilt and sin upon Himself and die in our place.

So we step up to the plate for the game of life and we get ready to hit the mark, growing in faith, drawing closer to God and to each other … because Jesus has positioned us in His redemption.

Our position is to passionate follow Jesus in the power of God’s justification. What game are you playing? The game of survival or the game of proactive and intentional game of living? You know I love ya, Don

Monday, January 26, 2015

I am not simply surviving!!!

Last November, marked my 20th year as an ordained minister. When I was new to ministry, some one patted me on the back and gave me this advice, “Just do the best you can.” This is neither biblical nor is it helpful advice. My mentor and good friend over heard her advice and said to me… “She means well.”

I have had some of the best mentors a person could ask for in my Christian walk. These faithful saints have taught me about being a believer…the truth is that living for Jesus is not about doing the best you can, Being a Christ Follower is not just survival. Living for Jesus is more than just “getting by with the best your can” mentality. Living is passionately taking hold of the truth and letting it set you free from the burden of life. Living for Jesus is trusting Jesus and it is obeying Jesus. Living for Jesus is the best identity a person can hope for.

This text reveals to us that we are all on level playing ground when it comes to sin and  living for Jesus. It is not about how good we are…it is about His goodness within us.

Building within us the goodness is to examine our actions as they relate to God’s desire for us to live a life of righteousness. God is the ultimate authority when it comes to what is right and wrong. God is the source of all good and truth in the world. He is right in all things. Our righteous acts cannot make us righteous.

From a Christian perspective, righteousness is defined as being in right standing with God because of Christ‘s death on the cross. Righteousness can only come from God through Jesus Christ. If we pursue actions and activities that line up with God, then this is a righteous way for a person to live their life.

Being righteous is living in honor, integrity, respect of those around you and demonstrating love. A righteous person is willing to sacrifice, willing to avoid thinking only about themselves, while striving to enhance the lives of those around them.

I don't want to be known as a believer that is simply surviving or doing the best I can...I want to be known as a follower of Jesus that is passionately following Jesus.

I pray you will join me...You know I love ya, Don

Friday, January 23, 2015

And the Good News is revealed!

The Good News is about:
A love that can never be fathomed;
A life that can never die;
A righteousness that can never be tarnished;
A peace that can never be understood;
A rest that can never be disturbed;
A joy that can never be diminished;
A hope that can never be disappointed;
A glory that can never be clouded;
A light that can never be darkened;
A happiness that can never be interrupted;
A strength that can never be enfeebled;
A purity that can never be defiled;
A beauty that can never be marred;
A wisdom that can never be baffled;
Resources that can never be exhausted;
And Heaven that can never be ended.

There is much bad news in our world and mainly because of Satan and sin, but we must never be overcome by the bad news.

We must walk in the light as He is in the light and the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all sin! (I John 1:7) That’s the good news that outweighs all other news, good and bad! God is true and faithful to His purpose, His desire, & His Love…He is not partial to one or to another, but remains impartial toward all mankind for the redemption of His creation.

You know I love ya, Don 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It is not how good we are, But God's goodness within us

This is a good news for those who accept God’s truth. Paul asks the question of the bad news… Romans 3, verse 3, “Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?” God will be faithful regardless of how much we rebel. That is not to say there are not consequences to our sin, God’s faithfulness and I believe the good news is that with God’s faithfulness …you and I have hope.

The hope found in God’s faithfulness grants the believer the power, the will, and the strength to go on. The good news is shadowed in our doubt and inability to save ourselves. The problem is our society and with many religions is that they maintain you get nothing without doing something, which is a matter of law. People just cannot get it in their heads that we can be justified by faith in Christ and that our good deeds have nothing to do with it. It is our recognition that God is faithful, that we can confess our sins, and then join with Christ as we bury our old self in baptism and come out of that water a new creation through the power of Jesus Christ … And that gives us HOPE! Hope never disappoints us.

From Parade magazine comes the story of self-made millionaire Eugene Land, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him.

Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. "Stay in school," he admonished, "and I'll help pay the college tuition for every one of you." At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student, "I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling." Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.

While it is true that should live a life of doing good things, these things do not save us. We do them because we are saved by His grace. We are motivated by His gracious salvation. It is God that is faithful and just … it is God that loves beyond words … it is God that has granted us good news … it is God’s gracious grace that motivates us to love on people and move to new levels of service and sacrifice.  It is not how good we are, but God’s goodness within us.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sin seperates us from our purpose!

Well, there is good news and bad news…The bad news is that you are a sinner and there is nothing special about you when it comes to sin. The good news is that God knows that and he loves you regardless. The bad news is that you cannot do this yourself…the good news is that God has and is doing it for you. The bad news is that we lie to ourselves in thinking and living as if my world revolves around me. The Good news is that God made his world revolve around your redemption.

Romans 3:9 states, “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.” You are a sinner and that is bad news.
The bad news is all bad! There is nothing good about it.

For such a small word, a lot is packed into the meaning of sin. The Bible describes sin as the breaking, or transgression, of God's law (1 John 3:4). It is also defined as disobedience or rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7), as well as independence from God. The original translation means "to miss the mark" of God's holy standard of righteousness.

Hamartiology is the branch of theology that deals with the study of sin. It investigates how sin originated, how it affects the human race, the different types and degrees of sin, and the results of sin.

While the basic origin of sin is unclear, we know that it came into the world when the serpent, Satan, tempted Adam and Eve and they disobeyed God (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12). The essence of the problem stemmed from the human desire to be like God. All sin, therefore, has its roots in idolatry—the attempt to put something or someone in the place of the Creator. Most often, that someone is one's own self. While God allows sin, he is not the author of sin. All sins are an offense to God and they separate us from him (Isaiah 59:2).

Jesus speaks of sin and says in John 8:34-26, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has not permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

An awful lot of people in our world view themselves as being pretty good Joe/Jane and everyone else is broken over their sinfulness.  God is not partial to anyone, but that everyone needs His son, Jesus to be set free. We have to go down before we can ever go up. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. The bad news is that you are a sinner and your natural self will separate you from your true identity and your eternal destiny. The good news is that God responded. 

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Assurance comes from experience!

 John Newton said this about experience:

"Assurance grows by repeated conflict, by our repeated experimental proof of the Lord’s power and goodness to save; when we have been brought very low and helped, sorely wounded and healed, cast down and raised again, have given up all hope, and been suddenly snatched from danger, and placed in safety; and when these things have been repeated to us and in us a thousand times over, we begin to learn to trust simply to the word and power of God, beyond and against appearances: and this trust, when habitual and strong, bears the name of assurance; for even assurance has degrees."

It our living that defines our passion and if we are not willing to live than we are not willing to share in life!

You know I love ya,  Don

Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Where is the comfort in life and death?

Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?

A: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready from now on to live unto him.

Because we belong to someone who loves us enough to give it all to save us, but are wanted and thus, we are comforted in life and in death. You know I love ya, Don

Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How to find God's presence in our present!

In Psalm 90:8 we read that God is God today… “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.”

God is God today, just as he has been God in our past. God is the God of the Present Time… 2015 will be just as much God’s possession as any of the years prior to it. The present (or now) is the time that is associated with the events perceived directly and in the first time, not as a recollection (perceived more than once) or a speculation (predicted, hypothesis, uncertain). It is a period of time between the past and the future. God is God of the time in your life between your past and your future.

So, how do you and I make His presence real in the present? How do we see the truth that God is in the here and now and make it relevant for our lives? I think of Carl Boberg .

Here is a man struggling much like us in life to find God in the present time. Mr Boberg, relates that he had been invited, with other men, to a meeting of women who came together to sew for the benefit of missions and there was probably food involved. It was a beautiful day. All nature was arrayed in its summer finery. Both young and old enjoyed the hospitality of the home and roaming about the large estate.

Presently a storm cloud was seen above the horizon and before long the sky was overcast, lightning flashed across the dark heaven and a downpour drove the visitors under cover. Soon the rain stopped, however, and on the sky was seen a bow of promise…the rainbow. From a church across the bay, where a funeral was in progress, the bells pealed forth their doleful cadence.

Enraptured with the wonders of it all, Boberg that evening gave expression to his feelings in the writing of the poem O Store Gud! nine stanzas long. It was first published in a couple of periodicals and then apparently forgotten. Several years later, he attended a meeting in the Province of Varm­land and was surprised to hear the con­gregation sing his poem to the tune of an old Swedish melody…it was translated into English and we know it as “How Great Thou Art.” Carl Boberg was born in 1859 and died in 1940. He lived through the time leading to two world wars and a great devastation, recessions, depressions, and revolution. He never forgot the reality that God is God of the here and now because he took the time to recognize the power of God around him … these are the words:

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder, Consider all the works Thy hand hath made,

I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed:

When through the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;

When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, 
            And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die—I scarce can take it in; 

That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclama­tion
            And take me home—what joy shall fill my heart!

Then shall I bow in humble adoration, And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,  How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Your wonder, your amazement, your true gaze into the reality of God in your life, defines how present God is in your present. Psalm 90:14 states: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

God was God … God is God … God will be continue to be God! You know I love ya, Don

Monday, January 5, 2015

El Olam - Forever He is God!

Psalm 90 verse 1 declares, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” This is a personal testimony of the person offering the prayer… God has always been God. God's followers dwell with Him.

El-Olam means the Everlasting God - Isaiah 40:28-31 describes Him as the Creator of the ends of the earth who will not grow tired or weary. Isaiah says that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, will not grow weary and not faint.

This name for God begins with El which is translated God. When it is used with other words to form one of God's names, it becomes part of the description of God's character. Everlasting is a word that brings thoughts of infinity. It goes on forever. What does an everlasting God mean to me? How long is everlasting?

Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. When there was nothing else, at the beginning of time, there was God. He created everything that was created. The earth was formless and empty and His Spirit hovered over it.” He is our Creator and He knows us better than we know ourselves.

What is the benefit of having a God Who has been here from the beginning of time and Who will be here until the end of time? Isaiah says that He will not grow weary. He gave strength to Moses and Abraham. He gave strength to Queen Esther and to Ruth. He came to earth as Jesus Christ and healed the sick, fed the hungry and gave strength to the weak. He gives us His strength today and we can count on Him to be with us tomorrow.

In a world where it seems that nothing is permanent - beauty and physical strength fades, mothers and fathers desert their children, friends disappoint, national heroes turn into common sinners like the rest of us, financial security disappears with the strike of a pen - nothing is everlasting. Only the Creator of heaven and earth can be counted on. Only El-Olam, the Everlasting God can be counted on to always be in control and to always be available when we need Him.

The incredible thing is that you and I are eternal beings too. When we believe and trust in Jesus Christ, we are guaranteed an eternal home with our Everlasting Father.

At the end of the earth as we know it, God is there, creating a new earth. Revelation 21:1 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." Revelation 21:3 states: "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them." The Bible says that He will wipe away every tear. He will put an end to death and mourning and to pain.

In an Everlasting God, there can be no greater security than knowing that El-Olam loves me and will always be close when I need Him; whether it is to chase away the loneliness, to wipe away the tears, or to guide me when I am unsure of which way to go…because God was God and proved His faithfulness by His past actions.

It is not about counting the days, but to make the days count. Never forget that you count! You know I love ya, Don