The loud last cry

“With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.” (Mark 15:37 NIV)

The very moment Jesus, Having cried again with a loud voice, gave up His spirit.  The temple curtain was torn from the top down (Matt 27:51 NIV).  This curtain, known as the “veil,” was made of fine linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn.  This veil separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was placed.  The word “veil” in Hebrew means a screen, divider or separator that hides.  What was this curtain hiding?  Essentially, it was shielding a Holy God from sinful man.  Whoever entered into the Holy of Holies was entering the very presence of God.  In fact, anyone except the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies would die.  Even the high priest, God’s chosen mediator with His people, could only pass through the veil and enter this sacred dwelling once a year, on a prescribed day called the Day of Atonement.

“But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.” (Hebrews 9:7 NIV)

The veil was a barrier to make sure that man could not carelessly and irreverently enter into God’s awesome presence.  So the presence of God remained shielded from man behind a thick curtain during the history of Israel.  However, Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross changed that.  When He died, the curtain in the Jerusalem temple was torn in half, from the top to the bottom.  Only God could have carried out such an incredible feat because the veil was too high for human hands to have reached it, and too thick to have torn it.  The curtain that was about 60 feet in height, 30 feet in width and four inches thick.  Furthermore, it was torn from top down, meaning this act must have come from above.  The torn veil illustrated Jesus’ body broken for us, opening the way for us to come to God.  The age of animal offerings was over. The ultimate offering had been sacrificed.

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30 NIV)

As Jesus cried out “It is finished!” on the cross, He was indeed proclaiming that God’s redemptive plan was now complete. He has done everything that God himself had required of him.  He completed the work God gave him to do, “It is finished,” was his cry. These are the words of exultation of the man Christ Jesus.  Aren’t we delighted to finish a great task?  You type the very last footnote of the Ph.D. thesis,three years work! – “it’s finished” you say to your husband.  You walk out of prison after a ten year sentence – “it’s finished” you say.  You make the last payment of a thirty year mortgage – “it’s finished.” You complete rebuilding a derelict house from the foundations to the roof with additional extensions – “it’s finished.”  You sail around the world single-handed and finally step ashore in the harbor you left months earlier – “it’s finished.”  Here is the Christ Jesus expressing a deep inward sensation of relief.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)

Jesus torn down the temple curtain through his sacrifice of death on the cross.  We are now free to come to God and speak to Him directly.  The High Priest of yesteryear who for centuries needed to part the curtain in order to enter the sanctuary is no longer necessary.  Jesus has torn away the curtain and has said, “Come and be with me.”  Today, the veil is gone! Because of Jesus Christ, our “new and living way,”  we can come boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in our time of need.  Through Jesus, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Not only is God not hidden from us, he indwells within us.  By the New Covenant, He no longer must hide His face from us for we are made worthy by his blood.  “Don’t you know that your yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  God’s temple is sacred; and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV)  We often forget the seminal nature of the New Covenant: through his blood, Jesus has given us the opportunity to have a deep personal relationship with God.

God is not far away, He is very near and you Indeed can have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ!

Born Twice, Die Once!

Death and taxes!

Death and TaxesTwo things are certain in life: death and taxes!  Except for Adam and Eve and those who die in the womb, all human beings experience physical birth. That is a given. And, except for Enoch, Elijah, and those alive at the time of the Rapture, all human being die physically as well. The notion of physical life and physical death are universally accepted.  Today (September 23) is my physical birthday but now that I’ve accepted Jesus Christ into my life I have a “new” birthday.  My new or as I call it, “reborn birthday” is October 30th.   Scripture knows of two births, two deaths.  Everyone is physically born once and that each person will experience one or the other, but not both.. Those who do not undergo the second birth, the spiritual birth, also undergo the second death which is the permanent separation from God with eternal torment.  When a person is born again he will only undergo the first death, but the second death has no power over him: “though he may die [the first death], he shall live [be resurrected never to face the second death]”.

Jesus answered him,  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born againhe cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[ must be born again.”  (John  3:3-7 ESV)

Two Births or Two Deaths?

When Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” Nicodemus thought that Jesus was talking about a second physical birth.  But the Lord went out to make it plain that he was speaking of a second birth that was spiritual. This spiritual birth, while clearly a second birth, is never specifically called the second birth in Scripture.  It is variously called being born of God (John 1:13),  being born again  (John 3:3)( 1 Peter 1:23),  and being brought forth by the word of truth  (James 1:18).  In the passage on the Great White Throne Judgment, where unbelievers will be judged and condemned, John says, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life  was cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death” (NKJV).  Both the Majority Text and the Critical Text actually end verse 14 with “This is the second death, the lake of fire.” In other words, the experience of the lake of fire is the experience of the second death.  Unlike John 3:3-4, here we have no one asking the obvious question, “Will a person’s heart and brain stop a second time?”  No, that is not what is in view.  The resurrected unbeliever will have a heart and brain and they will continue to function properly forever.  The second death is not a second cessation of physical life.  It is an eternal lack of spiritual life, or, conversely, the eternal experience of separation from God in the place where those who have died twice will live, the lake of fire.

Sin Entered the World!

God had told Adam that the day he ate of the forbidden fruit he would surely die (Gen 2:17).  Adam sinning, his nature became guilty and corrupted, and so came to his children.  Thus in him all have sinned.  And death is by sin; for death is the wages of sin.  Then entered all that misery which is the due desert of sin; temporal, spiritual, eternal death.  If Adam had not sinned, he had not died; but a sentence of death was passed, as upon a criminal; it passed through all men, as an infectious disease that none escape.  In proof of our union with Adam, and our part in his first transgression, observe, that sin prevailed in the world, for many ages before the giving of the law by Moses.  Adam’s sin means that when Adam first sinned, that sin (and its blame) was rightly regarded by God to be our sin as well.

Eternal life in the Bible is for sinners who are the beneficiaries of the death of Jesus Christ on their behalf.  Had there been no sin, Jesus would not have died and no one would have received (or needed) everlasting life.  But once sin entered the world, two options were possible for all of the descendants of Adam: the second birth or the second death.  Everyone who experienced the second birth could not and would not experience the second death  “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die”.  Everyone who did not experience the second birth would surely experience the second death (Rev 20:14).  There is no third alternative!

So which is it for you?  Two births or two deaths?  If you have experienced the second birth, then thank God daily that there will never be a second death for you.

The love of my life (Part 1)

After being married for 7 years and going through a tough divorce finding the love of my life was the last thing I wanted to find.  I’ve been loved before but was it the “love of my life”, I can’t say any of the women I loved was.  I loved them all and even with a bad marriage I still though I was “loved”.  Boy was I wrong, loving someone more than they love you is not good.  It hurt trying to love someone who couldn’t be loved and knowing that I’m not getting what I needed.  Being single for over a year was the best thing for me, I learned that I could live without having someone to love me.  I tried dating for a while but think I wasn’t ready yet so I kind of put finding love on the back burner.

What changed was how I looked at dating.  In the past I was in control and had a list of what I wanted in a relation with a woman.  Since this way of finding a mate has not worked the greatest I though what not try a very different way.  Since Jesus has come into my life and saved me, I have been blessed.  Before I knew Jesus I though life was all about me and how good of a lover I was.  God changed all that, I realize it’s not all about me and thinking I am so good is wrong.  Since being saved I have been praying ever morning and ever night and some times I just talk to God.  What I did for dating didn’t work so I thought why not let God be in control of my dating.  My love for God is very strong and I am still learning so finding a mate who loves and worships God as much if not even more could be very hard to find.

I would pray at night for God to bring a lady into my life who loves you, that’s all I asked for.  I would pray,  “God, I don’t know who she is or where she is at,  just bring her into my life.  I don’t know when it will happen dear Lord but I know she is out there.  Who ever she is Lord, I will accept and love her”.  Like so many others, I have gotten hooked on Facebook and have been adding to my list of friends.  I didn’t use facebook much before being saved but since I have been going to church I use it to stay updated with my church family.  I even made a group page for my church and have made new friends both on and off facebook.  Facebook is a good way to learn about what others are doing with there faith and how God is acting in there life.  That got me to think that maybe I could do a search for women from Iowa who loved God.  I think I searched for, Single Women, God, Iowa and 35-45 years old.  The results I got  most of the time was there name and maybe a picture.  Out of the list I had, I picked maybe 10 or 12 names and sent them a friends request, some times I would include a little note about why I was asking to add them as a new friend.  Since none of them knew me at all, I was taking a chance and just wasn’t sure if this would work for finding a new friend let alone a mate.

To be continued tomorrow…..  Update, Click here to read part 2

Life goes on 3.1.10

Time to write again, don’t really know what to say.  Right now what I think the most about is Julie and how she motivates me to think about life and how God is working in our relationship.   I have always believed in God but just never made the time to go to church.  Most of the women I dated were not true Christians and we never talked about it.  I would think about what it would be like to have a girlfriend who loved Jesus and we could worship him together.  I just never gave having a Christian relationship top priority, I would look for other things but I didn’t care if she loved God.  That changed after my divorce, I was tired of finding the wrong women.  What I was doing wasn’t working so this time, I just asked God to bring a women into my life.  All I wanted this time was for her to love God as much or more than me, that’s it.

The other thing I love about Julie is how she writes about all the things going on in her life.  I love talking about my life and how I am feeling and being able to share that with someone I love is wonderful.  Keeping your feelings to yourself does not help any and it also does not help others.  So many times we think it’s all about us and what others can do for us.  I have gotten tired of being selfish and looking out for my needs.  It’s time I started doing good of others, my needs can wait.  I was OK with being single but having someone who believed like I did and thought like I did would be a dream come true.    The One thing I NEVER ever even thought about was being a father,  I thought I was getting too old.  I kind of gave that up a while back.  My biggest regret is not have a son or daughter to love.  I have wanted so bad to be a dad but I just gave up on it.  The thing is, I think about having a daughter more that a son.  I don’t know why this is, maybe it has some thing to do with her being “daddy’s girl”.  I have never had anyone call me daddy and love me for being there for them.  I have had come close, there have been kids who knew that I was there for them but they had a real father, and to them I was just Kent; nothing more.

I am so happy that this time I did it the right way by trusting God.  Every thing I want from a relationship, God is giving me.  It’s not all easy but I know God has blessed this relationship and it’s worth the work and any hard times we might have.  There will be bad days but we both are willing to work on it and we know God has other plans for us.  Living in love and having a very strong faith is very important to me, negative just does not work for me.  I am tired of the fights and hurting each other, the time has come to love no matter what happens.  Tomorrow is a new day and letting go of pass hurt and stepping out in love is what we need to do to move on.

Circle of Support and Accountability

This afternoon, I had the chance to attend a Circle of Support and Accountability meeting at our church.  I am new to this group, but what I know so far it is for people who are recently released from prison.  As you may know, I was arrested and charged with 1St degree theft and was sentenced to 3 years of parole.  Tonight we got to meet a your woman who is facing prison time due to drugs.  I can’t tell you here real name right now but from what I learned from her tonight.  She is a very smart, caring and loving person who has made some mistakes in her life.  From this first meeting tonight, I get a good feeling that she can make the changes to her life and with some help make her life better.  We all make mistakes, but some of us just make bigger ones.

When people do things that are wrong and even things that may hurt us, we take it very personalty.   Most of us have a very hard time forgiving others when we think we have been hurt.  We are quick to act and even judge them, and think we know all there is to know about why the other person did what they did.   We are only thinking about our feelings and our needs and how they took some thing from us.  We never think what real story is and just maybe there is so much more to what we really know.  To act in love for people we don’t even know and not judge them is all God asks of us.  Too many times we are quick to judge others and think we have the right to treat them badly just because they deserve it for doing us wrong.  To love some one who may not deserve to be loved is called agape love.

Agape is love which is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself. The Apostle John affirms this in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” God does not merely love; He is love itself. Everything God does flows from His love. But it is important to remember that God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental love such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely (us!), not because we deserve to be loved, but because it is His nature to do so, and He must be true to His nature and character. God’s love is displayed most clearly at the Cross, where Christ died for the unworthy creatures who were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), not because we did anything to deserve it, “but God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The object of agape love never does anything to merit His love. We are the undeserving recipients upon whom He lavishes that love. His love was demonstrated when He sent His Son into the world to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and to provide eternal life to those He sought and saved. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for those He loves.

In the same way, we are to love others sacrificially. Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of sacrifice for the sake of others, even for those who may care nothing at all for us, or even hate us, as the Jews did the Samaritans. Sacrificial love is not based on a feeling, but a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own. But this type of love does not come naturally to humans. Because of our fallen nature, we are incapable of producing such a love. If we are to love as God loves, that love—that agape—can only come from its true Source. This is the love which “has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us” when we became His children (Romans 5:5). Because that love is now in our hearts, we can obey Jesus who said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another” (John 13:34). This new commandment involves loving one another as He loved us sacrificially, even to the point of death. But again, it is clear that only God can generate within us the kind of self-sacrificing love which is the proof that we are His children. “By this we have known the love of God, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Because of God’s love toward us, we are now able to love one another.