Come


From Pastor’s Desk:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

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The body needs rest from time to time, if not regularly. So it is with the mind, especially in a hectic, helter-skelter world in which we live. Beyond that, the spirit needs rest as well. Things which we cannot control often besets us, causing our spirit to be troubled.

There are various usages for the word “troubled” in Scripture. One in particular is when Jesus was “troubled” at the death of Lazarus. The Greek word in John 11:33 is ταράσσω tarassō (tar-as’-so), meaning, to stir or agitate (roil [stir up] water).

Rest is a precious thing. The body will eventually wear out without it. A tired body, without rest will come to a point of fatigue. Fatigue brings with it many different aspects, including what is called “burnout.” Trust me, you do not want to get to the point of burnout. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. It is not a pretty picture. Burnout will bring you to a point of not caring, and, what is worse, to a point of not caring that you don’t care.

Jesus’ invitation is to anyone that will come. We Christians use this verse as one of “Salvation Scriptures” but it addresses issues within Christendom as well. A weary body, a less-than-serene mind, and a troubled spirit is, in my opinion, is what is addressed in Matthew 11:28. Needless to say, there are going to be times when we are confronted with all the above, often all at once. Yes, even, if not especially, Christians. Sure, it is to the sinner who is laboring and heavy laden with sin. But it is also to we who are on the “Battlefield” engaged is spiritual warfare every moment of everyday.

It is to this that Jesus says, “Come unto me…and I will give you rest.”

Sunset over Mountain Range

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The Old and the New


From Pastor’s Desk:

Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
***

“…you have taken off…” and “…put on the new…” lays the responsibility at our “Doorstep.” It’s time, maybe, to accept the fact that God has done, does, and will do, all He can do. It’s up to the individual to dedicate, commit, and pursue the life that He wants us to live.

It’s a win-win situation. What could be better than purposely living in the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator? After all, isn’t this how man-kind was created in the beginning? God declared, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

If man-kind was created in His image, after His likeness, then it’s a safe, fore-gone conclusion that we are to be like Him.

That can only be done by taking off the “old self” and putting on the “new self.” Maybe now, at the beginning of 2019, that would be a good “New Year’s Resolution” if you’re into that, and if not, just purpose in your heart to do it anyway.

Sunset over Mountain Range

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The Original Command


From Pastor’s Desk:

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 John 3:11 NIV

***

To get the full gist of what John is saying, we must look at surrounding verses. Conjoining 12-13, J.B. Phillips says, “For the original command, as you know, is that we should love one another. We are none of us to have the spirit of Cain, who was a son of the devil and murdered his brother. Have you realized his motive? It was just because he realized the goodness of his brother’s life and the rottenness of his own. Don’t be surprised, therefore, if the world hates you.”

The preceding verse, 10, sets up what is said in verse 11: “Here we have a clear indication as to who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil. The man who does not lead a good life is no son of God, nor is the man who fails to love his brother.”

The caption for verses 14-18 (J.B. Phillips) is “Love and life are inter-connected.” Verses 14-15 says, “We know that we have crossed the frontier from death to life because we do love our brothers. The man without love for his brothers is living in death already. The man who actively hates his brother is a potential murderer, and you will readily see that the eternal life of God cannot live in the heart of a murderer.” Verse 18 closes the passages with, “My children, let us not love merely in theory or in words—let us love in sincerity and in practice!”

Paul writes to the Galatians, “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for, unless we throw in our hand, the ultimate harvest is assured. Let us then do good to all men as opportunity offers, especially to those who belong to the Christian household” (Gal. 6:10). Notice the admonition is to all men but especially to the church. You may have noticed that there is a great lack of love in the church for one another. In his discourse about the danger(s) of the tongue in 3:1-12, James declares that “…these things ought not to be…” (3:10). He’s writing to the church!

It’s interesting to note that the Greek word for beginning is ἀρχή archē (ar-khay’); …a commencement, or chief (in various applications of order, time, place or rank).

Suffice it to say, then, “We should love one another.” It’s not a new message: “…this is the message you heard from the beginning.” It is a perpetual message! It is the original command!

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Nothing Less Will Suffice


From Pastor’s Desk:

To us, the greatest demonstration of God’s love for us has been his sending his only Son into the world to give us life through him. We see real love, not in that fact that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to make personal atonement for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10 J.B. Phillips

***

Think of your life before Christ, what you did, and who you were. He loved you then, before you loved Him. You may not know Christ. He loves you today, while you are yet in sin. If pardon is asked of Him, He will look beyond all your faults and deliver you from sin, and sin from you.

We don’t have the capacity to love as God loves, but we are to strive, with diligence, toward loving as He loved. That includes loving Him as He loves us, well as loving others as He loves them.

“…God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him shall not be lost, but should have eternal life. You must understand that God has not sent his Son into the world to pass sentence upon it, but to save it—through him” (John 3:16-17 J.B. Phillips).

Nothing less would suffice for our salvation. Nothing less will suffice to gain eternity in heaven, forever to be with Him.

Sunset over Mountain Range

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Reflection in a Mirror


From Pastor’s Desk:

1 Corinthians 13:12 …now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

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It is difficult to comprehend that we will ever know God completely, yet that’s what this verse says. Even with all the great minds that shed light and insight to the gospel, we will never be able, in this life, to know God as He knows us. The Bible declares that the hairs upon our heads are numbered (Matthew 10:30).

Our knowledge of God is obscure, even mysterious. It is like looking through a stain-glass window. We are able to see the silhouette of someone or something on the other side, but we can’t see clearly enough to define the feature of the person or object. That’s how Paul is describing our knowledge of God. We strive to see, we study His word to see Him more clearly, but at best all we get is a “silhouette.”

What a day that will be                                                                                                                       When my Jesus I shall see                                                                                                          When I look upon His face                                                                                                                The One who saved me by His grace                                                                                          When He takes me by the hand                                                                                                     And leads me to the Promised Land                                                                                         What a day, glorious day that will be

What a glorious day when we know Him as He knows us!

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The Extra Mile


From Pastor’s Desk:

I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” John 13:34-35 AMP

***

God must be trying to get something across! This is the third- or fourth-time verses about love have appeared in the last few days.

One thing for sure is that this world needs more love in action, not just in words. As has been said, “Talk is cheap.” One can say, “I love you” again and again, but if there are no actions to back up the words, can we say that person really loves?

The world is full of good intentions, but good intentions don’t “fill the bill.” There are many things that enter into the equation of why. Daily tasks get overwhelming and tend to make us forget to show love by our actions. It doesn’t take much. Just a brief touch as you pass by someone you love, does wonders for that person.

But let’s examine love in the church family. Often, the only contact we have with those in our church family is exactly that, within the church family, that is, at gatherings, services, special occasions, etc. We may go week after week, month after month, and so on, and never stop to show someone (who may desperately need it) how much we love hem. Again, it doesn’t take much. Just a warm touch (properly), a hug (properly), or maybe a phone call when one misses a service.

Admittedly, there are times when we don’t feel like showing love. But, a principle the last part of the verse is clearly stating is that we show it even when we don’t feel like it. The message is very explicit, “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” When we have that kind of love, we will be more prone to show it!

“Love” in verse 34 is ἀγαπάω agapaō (ag-ap-ah’-o), which is the word we usually apply as “Godly love.” To put it in a clearer perspective, James Parker says, “Agape draws its meaning directly from the revelation of God in Christ. It is not a form of natural affection, however, intense, but a supernatural fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). It is a matter of will rather than feeling (for Christians must love even those they dislike—Matt. 5:44-48). It is the basic element in Christlikeness. (Your Father Loves You by James Packer, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986, page for March 10).

“Love” in verse 35 is different, but yet not so different. It is the Greek word ἀγάπη agapē (ag-ah’-pay), which is from the one used in verse 34, agapao, and which is; love, that is, affection or benevolence…

Another “Love” used in Scripture is the Greek word φιλέω phileō (fil-eh’-o); …to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), that is, have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling.

Chuck Swindoll sheds some light on these two words: “There is not much difference lexically between agapao and phileo. Both involve a voluntary (I’ve decided to love you) and involuntary (I can’t help but love you) response. One point: there is no command to love in scripture that ever uses phileo. (C. Swindoll, Growing Strong, pp. 67-8).

The huge question is whether we love others as Christ loved us! We must not forget that He loved us so much that He gave Himself for us!

As everyone knows, sometimes true love requires that we “go the extra mile.” Jesus did!

Sunset over Mountain Range

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Compatible Hearts


From Pastor’s Desk:

Allow me to offer just four versions of John 14:26, the first being the KJV, with the others modern translations:

KJV: …the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

J.B. Phillips: …the one who is coming to stand by you, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will be your teacher and will bring to your minds all that I have said to you.

AMP: …the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.

NLT: …when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

It would be interesting to see what “jumped out” at you from this verse. Probably, each reader will focus on the “Who” of the verse, or the translation of “Comforter,” especially in the AMP Bible.  Certainly, that would not be a surprise, but let me draw your attention o the last part of the verse, “…he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

Now let me ask a question. How many times, as you read the Scriptures, no matter how many times, has a verse seemingly “leaped” off the page right into your heart? Consider your present situation. Is it a time of perplexity, doubt, confusion, maybe fear? Notice how that verse seemed to address your current circumstance? That’s the Holy Spirit’s prompting, teaching you all things!

What about that time you were in earnest prayer, seeking the Lord’s will for something? Notice how you began to pray with certain, specific words that had not entered your mind before you began? For my Pentecostal brother/sisters, maybe you began to pray in tongues, simply because you did not have the vocabulary to express yourself? That’s the Holy Spirit’s prompting, teaching and leading in prayer.

Now, let’s examine the Greek word for “Comforter.” It is παράκλητος paraklētos (par-ak’-lay-tos) An intercessor, consoler: – advocate, comforter.

The point? When we’re facing something in which we are finding difficulty in coping, it is good to delve into the word of God, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you from the pages of the Holy Writ. When we’re confused, perplexed, frustrated, doubtful, and fearful, it is good to go to the Throne of God in prayer, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead as to what, and how, to pray. He is the intercessor! He knows the Father’s heart and He knows our heart.

Only He can bear witness with our heart and unite us with the Father’s: only then will the two be compatible!

Sunset over Mountain Range

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Truth Wins in the Long Run!


From Pastor’s Desk:

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 NLT

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Taking up from yesterday’s devotional, verses 4-5, verses 6-7 continues in the same vein of thought, that love does, and does not do, certain things. Verses 6-7 brings it down to a more personal level in that it is presented both objectively and subjectively.

Love cares about injustices brought to not only ourselves, but to others. When injustice rears its ugly head, the person’s life in whom love is an intricate part, is made unhappy, no matter to whom injustice happens, or to whom. We too frequently hear of people, that we do not know, whose lives are turned up-side-down because of accusation(s) brought against them, alleging they are guilty of something, only to find out that they were not. However, the damage, in many cases, has been done, sometimes ruining their lives. It is a sad commentary on anyone who would rejoice is such situations, especially without knowing all the facts. Sadly, there is a lot that going on in the world today!

Giving up is not an option! Ever hear that? Well, at one time or another, possibly multiple, all who have ever attempted anything faces a “Giving Up” stage. That applies either secularly or spiritually. Of course, Paul’s words are to the church. For him to write to the Corinthians about this, can we not assume that some may have been doing, or not doing, some or all the things he was writing about?

We must be diligent to stand up against injustice and rejoice when truth prevails. During any given process, never lose faith, always be hopeful, and endure until there is proof one way or the other.

And when truth does prevail, we must be ever faithful to recognize it and rejoice that it has won. Truth wins in the long run!

Sunset over Mountain Range

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Just a Lot of Racket!


From Pastor’s Desk:

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 AMP.

***

If anything on this list is evident, or not evident, in our lives, would it not be safe to say that we don’t have love? Or at least not as much as we should? Lest this statement be shoved into the “hair-splitting” category, we must first face the fact the Bible is unequivocal. There are many things we can argue over that may be a little “vague” or “opaque,” but when what is said is explicit, there leaves no room for doubt. It says what it means and means what it says.

This chapter (13) is one such case. There are no “ifs,” “ands,” or “maybes.” It opens with a resounding (pardon the pun) comparison of a person who does not love with a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]” (AMP). Now, a gong or cymbal can sound okay in the proper setting, such as in orchestration in sync with other instruments. But if you isolate a gong or cymbal all you get is a terrible, raucous, racket.

Can we relate that to a person being in sync within the family of God, showing love, and then all of a sudden isolated and losing the love they had? Or maybe just someone who has never learned how to love others as they should? What once was beautiful, melodious harmony has now become just noise. You’re probably, at this point, going to point the seven verses in Psalm that says, “Make a joyful noise…” I don’t think Paul had this in mind 1 Corinthians 13.

Love brings forth beautiful, melodious harmony. Lack of love is just a lot racket!

Sunset over Mountain Range

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