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Archive for April, 2009

Ashamed of Jesus?


“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 (NKJV)

Peters%20denialThose words surely came back to Simon Peter when at Jesus trial he denied knowing Him three times. Jesus had warned his disciples that they would all stumble because of Him.

Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And so said all the disciples. Matthew 26:32-35 (NKJV)

Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”
But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”
And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”
And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:69-75 (NKJV)

Of course we know that after Jesus resurrected Simon Peter repented and Jesus forgave him. But between that time and his denial he must have felt so tortured. How could he deny the one man through whom he had seen so many miracles. In that time of denial the only person Simon Peter thought about was himself and the trouble it would have caused him to admit he knew Jesus.

Have you ever been there? Afraid that someone would find out you are a Christian and that you’d be ridiculed for it? Why? Have you ever been with a good Christian friend and they meet someone and begin witnessing to them and all the time you feel embarrassed by their boldness in sharing Christ? Do you talk in hushed tones to a fellow believer about your faith for fear someone hear? Are you afraid that you would lose your friends if they knew what you believed? These are questions that I hope will help you to examine yourself. But here is the biggie; If asked a question or confronted about your faith and where you stand, how will you respond? Will you try to give a politically correct answer which many Christians today try to be? You would be surprised by the number of Christians who will struggle to find a answer that won’t offend anybody. God is not looking for politically correct individuals. He is looking for those who are bold in their faith and not ashamed to take a stand where one needs to be taken.

CarriePrejean_HeadShotOn April 19, 2009 during the Miss America competition, Carrie Prejean, Miss California was asked a question by Perez Hilton, an openly homosexual judge, where she stood on the issue of same sex marriage. Carrie who had been the  front runner and who everyone thought would win knew that even though the crown was on the line, didn’t hesitate to give an honest answer based upon her beliefs as a Christian. She stated that she believed that marriage was to be between a man and a woman only. That cost her the Miss America crown but Carrie has said she would still give the same answer if asked again. Perez went on his blog and called Carrie all kinds of names and yet Carrie turned around and blessed him and said she would pray for him. I believe God has big plans for Carrie because she honoured Him. What I wasn’t happy to see was so-called Christian celebrities like Miley Cyrus and others come out and condemn Carrie saying she was judgemental and that they were supportive of Perez and homosexual marriage. Their political correctness will come back to haunt them one day and they will have to give an answer.

Then you have to think of the many Christians worldwide that face persecution and death everyday because of their faith. Many give up their lives and are killed because they will not back down. Martyrs-790478

In standing for your faith without shame you encourage others. When Christians were being martyred in the coliseum in Rome, many who were spectators became believers themselves because of the way the saw the Christians face death. They would not deny their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ though it cost them  their lives. When you stand and let your faith be shown who knows who is watching you and will be encouraged to follow because of your example. In Carrie Prejean’s case, millions were watching. Who knows how many that night said they wanted the type of faith she had.

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith. Romans 1:16-17 (AMP)

I am not ashamed for people to know I am a Christian and if asked flat out on where I stand on certain issues I am not afraid to give an answer. Giving that answer has cost me a lot yet I would not change a thing and have no regrets. Be bold and stand. Believe me it is much better that you suffer here on earth for your beliefs then to stand one day before God and hear the Jesus deny He knew you simply because you were afraid what others would think.

Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die


Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].

For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting]. Matthew 16:24-25 (Amplified Bible)

The very first line from David Crowder’s latest cd "A Collision" starts with the line; "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die."

Ask anybody on the street if they think they are going to heaven and the majority of the people will say yes. Boy! Are they in for a shock! To most people death is a mystery and it brings them a lot of fear. It is the unknown. The only assurance we have of being with God in the afterlife is through Christ and Christ alone. He conquered death and the grave. No one has ever done that. But there is a cost in recognizing His sacrifice and declaring Him to be your Lord. It is death. Death to yourself and your desires. All your hopes and dreams must die.

I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.

Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. [Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever.] John 12:24-25 (Amplified Bible)

Dying to yourself is not an easy task. He wants your heart because the heart is our seat of all our desires. He wants to sit upon that seat. It requires trust. It requires surrendering.

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honour your father and your mother.’"And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth." Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible." Then Peter began to say to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You." So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." Mark 10:17-31 (NKJV)

The real issue with the rich young rule was not his riches but his heart. Was he willing to die to all he possessed? The riches were tied to his heart. Matthew 6:21 says; For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. That treasure could be anything. It could be your family, job, possessions or many other things. Christ alone has to be your treasure. Christ alone needs to rule over your heart. But to surrender your treasure and die to your desires means gaining much more than this world could ever provide for you. Through dying, you find life, abundant life. Jesus told Peter that anyone who gives up the treasures of this such as family and possessions (giving up them having first place in your heart) would find a hundredfold blessing. It just takes trust and a child like heart.

How much trust do you put in Christ? Are you willing to surrender all to Him? A while ago our pastor gave a very good example using some of the students in our school. He told them to stand with their backs facing him. He then told them when he was behind them to fall backwards. Some didn’t because they were afraid. Those who trusted were caught before they hit the ground. That is what keeps many of us form receiving the blessings that God has for us. Fear. Fear of losing everything and winding up with nothing. The funny thing is that fear is the one thing that will cause you at the end of your life to wind up with nothing. God has never failed once in His promises. He is not about to start with you. Are you willing to die today so that you may find life and that life more abundantly?

There Is None to Compare


default_luther_bible_exc_17_0706141539_id_45187 “Now when He (Jesus) had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowels of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousands times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honour and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.” Revelation 5:8-14.

When it comes to Christian celebrations, in general, less emphasis is put on Easter and much more on Christmas. Yes, Christ’s entry into this world, through a virgin was miraculous. God came to earth as a man and dwelt among us. But to me Easter means much more. Before Jesus died on the cross there was no hope for any of us. Our sin kept us separated from God.

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened,
      That it cannot save;
      Nor His ear heavy,
      That it cannot hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
      And your sins have hidden His face from you,
      So that He will not hear. Isaiah 59:1-2.

We were all destined for hell. No amount of sacrifice could help us. When Christ died He changed all that. His death and resurrection bridged the gap between us and God. We now have access to His throne. But think of the cost.

 

He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” 2 Cor. 5:21.

He left His position in heaven and humbled Himself and became a man so that He could become the sacrifice that sin required. The King of the universe became a human being like you and in order to face all we face.

Though He was God,
      He did not think of equality with God
      as something to cling to.
Instead, He gave up his divine privileges;
      He took the humble position of a slave
      and was born as a human being.
   When He appeared in human form,

He humbled Himself in obedience to God
      and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour
      and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT)Jesus_Crucified

He suffered for you. He was whipped and beaten, His beard was pulled out and He was spit upon as well as mocked, scorned and ridiculed. A crown of thorns was placed upon His head and He was made to carry a heavy wooden cross up a hill to the place where he was crucified. Through it all, not once did He defend Himself nor cry out or strike back. He willingly allowed Himself to take our punishment upon Him. Yet all punishment He received was nothing compared to the sin of us all being placed upon Him and being abandoned by the Father because of it and in the midst of it He cried out;

“Father forgive them for they no not what they do!”

Christ took upon Himself the punishment of every sin past, present, and future. Every act of adultery, homosexuality, and murder. Every sin was placed on Him and He became the perfect sacrifice. The Blood of God was shed that day and all creation cried out in horror. Three days later the Easter miracle happened. Christ conquered sin and death. He rose physically from the dead. Sin could not hold Him. Death had no power over Him. Because of this miracle we who have received Jesus as Lord and Saviour should have no fear. Sin and death has no power over us. As a worship leader I struggle because there is many beautiful songs written by men that worship our Lord and yet at times none of these songs seems adequate enough to truly express His glory and majesty. My heart wants to burst because there are no words to express my love for Him and the thankfulness I have toward Him for what He’s done for us. I long for that day in Heaven when the song in Revelation 5 is sung. No song written on thichrist risens earth can compare. We will be singing before the King face to face. Then and only then will the worshipper in me be satisfied.

Sin shackles you and separates you from God. There is not a thing that you can do to set yourself free from it. Only Jesus can. Come to Him today with an honest heart and confess to Him  your sins. I can tell you that there no sin that is too great that He will not forgive. Tell Him your need of Him. There is no shame in admitting you are lost and need a Saviour. He will not turn you away. He will take you and wash you then make you a new creation. Let Him be your Lord and there is no way you could ever go wrong. Read the bible, pray to Him daily and find a good church to fellowship in and make this the greatest Easter you ever experienced. There is none to compare with His great love for you and all He has done.