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Saturday, April 25, 2020

We are God's People


We are God’s people – a simple statement, four simple words but what a profound, amazing, life changing concept and expression of truth.

David asks a very appropriate question in Psalm 8 – He asks:

   “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet,…”

   What is man that God, the creator of all things – Would be mindful of him? His notice and caring is an honor that we should never take lightly or take for granted.

Psalm 100 says:  “It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

   David, the writer of the 100 Psalm was a shepherd in the early years of his life and when he wrote that “we are His people -  the sheep of his pasture.”,  he knew very well what that meant. The sheep in David’s pasture belonged to him just as we belong to God. He was responsible for their every need, their safety, their nourishment, their health. THE SHEEP DEPENDED ON DAVID FOR EVERYTHING.

  This is a beautiful picture of the relationship that God wants to have with each of us.  He wants us to know that we are His people and that we can 100% depend on Him for everything we need.

1 Peter 2:9 says
   “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…”

   So, not only are we His people, we are “His own special people.”
We are the people that He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light;-- We are the people that He is caring for, working with, teaching His ways, looking after even when we walk wide eyed into all sorts of difficulties. Just as David went out to pull a single stray sheep out of a thicket, God is always there to pull us out of our thickets of life.

   There is a hymn that we frequently sing entitled “We Are God’s People”.

   This hymn is one of the more contemporary hymns that we have in our hymnbook. We usually consider that hymns were written way back many years ago and preserved through generations. But this one was written only 44 years ago in 1976 by Bryan Jeffery Leech. Mr. Leech died on June 30, 2015, in California, but left us this beautiful reminder of our precious relationship with God. We are God’s people.

   I encourage you to look at the words of this hymn and to visualize the truths he conveys through his metaphoric style of writing. As an assistance to get the most out his lyrics, note that each verse describes certain biblical attributes using beautiful pictures and metaphors –  and then in the last line of each verse , he gives us instructions, as God’s people to follow.

   The first verse is my favorite.
We are God's people, the chosen of the Lord,
Born of the Spirit, established by the Word;
Our cornerstone is Christ alone, and strong in Christ we stand;
O let us live transparently and walk heart to heart and hand in hand.*

   We are God's people, the chosen of the Lord. When we really think about this statement, it is mind boggling that He loves us so much. How much does He love us? He allowed His perfect, sinless son to be tortured and put to death so that we can live and be made right in His sight and be the recipients of His grace and blessings.
   Christ was born of the Holy Spirit – The Son of Man - and was predicted by the prophets many years before His birth.
   The family of faithful believers is built on the foundation of Christ "our cornerstone is Christ alone", The Biblical picture of Christ as the cornerstone of the Church and of each of us as living stones is a study that would take more space than I have in this writing so I will simply quote.
"You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone"   Ephesians 2:19-20
   The last line, as is his style, gives us our instructions. The picture he relates is a beautiful one. “O let us live transparently”.
   Something is transparent when you can see right through it, clear like glass. Our lives, my life, should be transparent to the point where people around me can see right through the “me” and only see the Christ in me.
“And walk together heart to heart and hand in hand”.
   What a great picture of people so united together that their hearts are as one and they are inseparable.  
   Being God’s chosen people is because of the free gift of His grace - but it comes with this responsibility.
“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another.  If any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the LORD forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the LORD Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Colossians 3:12-17
 Hymns are a window into God’s word.                

                                                                                                   Br. Richard

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Anchor


   I would like to write to you today about the subject of Christ being our anchor.

 Hebrews 6:18-20

   “… so that is by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul a hope both sure and steadfast.”

     As I started my research on anchors, I was educated and amazed in what I found out, and it was then that I truly felt led to share this with you.

Spiritual Guide:

Anchor - Christ Jesus

Chain - Your Faith-Hope-Trust-Love

Ship - You

Rope-Cable - Worldly Wisdom

Question: Do you think that the anchor holds the ship from drifting?

     The answer is NO! It is not the anchor that holds the ship and keeps it from drifting. 

     Now before you cry blasphemy, stay with me.

     It is the anchors job to dig into the seabed and what for, to keep the chain from drifting, for it is the chain that holds the ship in place. It is The chain that holds the ship.

     According to the Maritime guide for anchoring large ships, it is the horizontal pull of the chain that gives the anchor its holding power for digging into the seabed, IE: the more chain {the more holding power}

    Are you all still with me? If you are, say Amen.

    For Christ is the anchor that keeps your faith from drifting away, the more length of chain, the stronger the holding power.

The weaker your faith, the shorter the chain and the less holding power, for it is our faith that is tethered between the anchor and the ship. Now it may not seem like a big deal in the calm shallow waters, but out at sea in the rough waters it most certainly is.

Isaiah 28:16 – “Therefore thus says the Lord God, behold I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone a costly cornerstone for the foundation placed, he who believes in it will not be disturbed.”

Isaiah 33:6 – “And he will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge…”

Psalm 31:24 – “Be strong and let your heart take courage all you who hope in the Lord.”  {remember it is only by faith, we come to with Christ}

     Now what good is an anchor on a ship that is not tethered by a chain? No good at all. Yet there are many amongst Christianity and even in the church, who will have Christ Jesus on their ship and yet, not be tethered to the Anchor or the ship by anything? 

     Ok, so why would anyone have an Anchor like Jesus on their ship and not have it tethered to their ship [themselves]? I believe just like maritime law states, that you need enough life jackets on board for each person but there is no law saying you must wear it. 

     Now, there are those who do have their anchor tethered to their ship but not by a chain, its either by a rope or a cable which, in reality, offer no holding power at all.

    Where do you find yourself?

    Matthew 13:3-9  “And he spoke many things to them in parables, saying ‘behold, the sower went out to sow and he was sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.’”

As with the sower and the seed, it is also with the anchor and the tether, these things are spiritual, if one finds himself not understanding, I ask you to pray about it and ask the spirit to reveal it to you. May the Lord have his blessings upon you.  

                                                                                                Brother Steve

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Truth about Good Friday

      “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  Matt.12:40

The tradition of celebrating “Good Friday” as the day our Lord Jesus died is a centuries old notion dating back to the times when Constantine was emperor. But is it accurate and scriptural? I would suggest that it is not. In keeping with the admonition of scripture to “prove all things and hold fast to that which is good”, I offer the following study as an alternative to the “Good Friday” tradition as well as the time-honored tradition that our Lord was resurrected on Sunday morning.

Wednesday – Nisan 14 (Preparation Day) Mark 15:42
Last supper and the institution of the Lord's Memorial that would replace the Passover celebration – Matt. 26:17, Luke 22:1, 7-15

Garden of Gethsemane – Mark 14:26, 32

Jesus arrested and undergoes 6 illegal trials – 3 by the Jews; 3 by the Romans

Jesus nailed to the cross at 9am – Mark 15:24-25

Darkness fell on the earth from noon until 3pm – Mark 15:33

Jesus dies on the cross at 3pm – Luke 23:44-46

Jesus placed in the tomb just before the end of Nisan 14 (6pm), as the women watched – John 19:38-42; Mark 15:47

Thursday – Nisan 15
The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a Sabbath “High” Day – Leviticus 23:5-8, John 19:31
The Chief Priests and Pharisees ask Pilate to secure the tomb with a guard to keep anyone from stealing the body of Jesus.

Friday – Nisan 16
After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James & Salome, buy and prepare spices to anoint Jesus’ body – Mark 16:1; Luke 23:54-56

Saturday – Nisan 17  
The weekly Sabbath – Matt.28:1

The 2 Mary’s and Salome, after preparing the spices on Friday, rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.  Luke 23:56

Saturday was also the beginning of the Feast of First Fruits – Leviticus 23:9-14

Jesus resurrected at 3pm on Saturday – 3 days and 3 nights after he died on the cross

Sunday – Nisan 18
The two Mary’s come to the empty tomb before dawn while it is still dark – John 20:1; Luke 24:1-3; Matt.28:1-2;5-6

Jesus ascends to the Father: (I would suggest that at 9am on Sunday, the same time that the High Priest is waving the sheaf of the first fruits of the harvest in the temple, Jesus presented Himself before the Father, as the first fruits of those who will be raised from the dead.   I Corinthians 15:20)

John 20:16-17; Leviticus 23:9-11, James 1:18

Conclusion: I Corinthians 15:1-4 
"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,  by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
 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,..." (emphasis added)  NASB

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Do your job!


            It has become a familiar scene for the fans of the National Football League and particularly, the fans of the New England Patriots: entering into or often well into the 4th quarter of the contest and the Patriots are tied or trailing on the score board and all eyes are fixed upon the now legendary coach, possessor of eight Super Bowl rings with six as head coach,  who now is walking in front of the bench where  his offense or defensive players  are resting and waiting for the next turn of events that will send them back into battle. What great words of wisdom and inspiration will Bill Belichick grab out of his great reservoir of tricks and knowledge gathered over a life time devoted to learning the game of football? In times like this, N.E. fans know that it will not be out of the big bag of tricks to which he will go but the wise coach will again pull from his favorite little purse just the same 4 words that have been his rallying cry throughout his unprecedented coaching career, “Just do your job.” 

            Implied and well known to any who have played for or served with the coach in these 4 words of exhortations is: we don’t have to change a thing, you know your job just make plays, trust the process, don’t worry about what the others are doing, if you all do your job the process will take care of the rest- “Just do your job.” The true key to unparalleled success, can it really be that simple? Of course, these players have been especially selected for the good works and put together precisely with other players to accomplish the coaches goal. Therefore, their focus and concern need only be “Just do your job.”

            These 4 simple words can be a helpful reminder and rallying cry for the faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Too often we get caught up looking around to see what others are doing, instead of having faith in the process and focusing on what we are given to do. We lose focus when we look up at the score board to see where we are. We have expectations of what results we should be seeing at this time from all our “good works” and can begin to question the process when it appears that the scoreboard shows us trailing even now, late in the 4th quarter.  Our expectations and scoreboard watching are harmful distractions to our just doing our job. This is inevitable as our expectations are set within the very finite vision of our life time while God is exhorting and using us to see and play for His life time, eternity. 

            With billions or even trillions of moving parts happening simultaneously at any one time to accomplish the multifaceted intensions of His grace for some 7 billion people, it Is highly unlikely that we ever know exactly all that God is accomplishing with the “good works” He has planned for us to do. It is only occasional when we even understand all that He is doing in our own lives. We need simply keep the faith and of course “Just do your job” which includes but not limited to: throw the seed of the Gospel message, use what is in your hands, (EX14:16&21), live your epistle louder than you recite it, and know that irrespective of what the scoreboard your observing may say at this time, believe in the process because the game has already been won.

            The Christians “process” or game plan to follow is God’s marvelous plan of salvation, His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ. They are not the plans of a great coach who wins 69% of the time but the 100% sure desire and purpose of the Keeper and Creator of the universe, the heavens and earth- God, The Almighty. 
He devised the plan before the world began (1Pet1:19-21) (Eph1:4,5), knows the end from the beginning (Isa46:10) and can neither lie (Tit1:2), nor fail (Isa55:11). 
He has selected you for these “good works” (Eph2:10) and placed you where you are to work them (1Cor12:18).  
You have been selected by the Owner/Head Coach of the universe, shown, trained and experienced the great Plan of Salvation. The process doesn’t only work but the game has already been won. Our Captain, Jesus Christ has already won the game on the Cross at Calvary. 

            There is still one question to be answered: Where will you be? Will you be among the cheering, grateful fans on earth or will you become the co-heir you’ve been called to be and reign in “glory, honor and immortality” as a part of the Bride of Christ? Stay focused and “Just do your job!”

                                                                                                         Br. Bruce