Why Me Lord?

Music has always been very important to me.  As a young boy I love singing along to songs that was playing on the radio. One of the songs I remember the most was “Why Me” by Kris Kristofferson, something about that song stuck in my head and I would sing it to myself ever chance I could.  Most people wouldn’t call this a “Christian song”, “Why Me” was Kristofferson’s lone major country hit as a solo recording artist, reaching No. 1 of Billboard magazine‘s Hot Country Singles chart in July 1973. My faith journey to know the Lord didn’t start for me until later in my life.  Faith is defined as belief, confidence or trust in a person, object, religion, idea or view despite the absence of proof.  Most of my life I didn’t need the “proof” He (God) was with me and I was blindness to His love and kindness.

Try me, Lord, if you think there’s a way
I can try to repay all I’ve taken from you
Maybe Lord I can show someone else
What I’ve been through myself, on my way back to you

Kristofferson wrote Why Me during an emotionally low period of his life after having attended a religious service conducted by the Rev. Jimmie Rogers Snow. Like Kristofferson, I too went through a very emotionally low period in my life and in 2008 while spending a night in jail and facing prison time, I knew I needed Him!  It is that state of mind in which a poor sinner, conscious of his sin, flees from his guilty self to Christ his Saviour, and rolls over the burden of all his sins on Him. With a deep sense of sin and a distinct view of Christ and a consenting will, and with a loving heart, I turned over my trust to Christ that night.

Today, I live because of God’s good grace and look ever day to be able to “repay” all I have taken from life. I pray that someday I can help others who are facing some of the same problems I did and just, maybe I can show them what I went through and how I found my way back home.

God bless,

Kent.

God is All

Hearts can easily be broken, as life deals out blows and challenges. We feel lost, empty and hopeless, as we battle to overcome adversity and take a new direction. God is all we need  spiritually. He can strengthen us and bring us hope, as we trust him more and more, in our daily lives.

Psalm 103:1-8 gives us strong reassurance of what He willingly does for each one of us, as we bring Him into our lives.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. 8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. ~ A Psalm of David

All these things can be available to us, but we have to claim them through accepting Him through Jesus Christ. God is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is everything we need and we can tap into His unending power, any time, by taking a different direction in life, and including Him in all we think, say and do. His promises can be trusted.

By Grace Through Faith

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. ~ http://New King James Version (NKJV)

  • dead in trespasses, means, spiritually dead and lost.
  • You once walked, it could be a path of moral carelessness or a dark alley of evil, believers should no longer live according to their past evil ways.
  • Pince of power, namely the adversarial spirit Satan. To continue to disobey God’s way of living, is to support the devil.
  • We were dead, because of Adam’s sin, the entire human race is spiritually dead. Only God can grant new life and save us from our wrong choices. His mercy and kindness prevail forever through Jesus Christ, His Son.
  • The gift of God, is something we cannot earn by any good works. We cannot earn our salvation. Everything is received from our merciful and gracious Father, once we have faith enough to trust Him and believe in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, for us.

All that God is, we need. First we have to invite Him into our lives and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

“Dear Lord, I want to know you personally. I know that I have done wrong and I am sorry. I am willing, with your help, to turn away from my sins and turn to You. I believe, Jesus, that You died and rose again for me. Please come into my life. I welcome you as my Savior and Lord, as best as I know how. Right Now”.

Amen.

 

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.

Do we love Christ or desire Him?

Love and desire are not the same.

I love chocolate cake! We often confuse the two.  When we say “I love chocolate cake!” we deceive ourselves.  We don’t love it. We want to eat it! If we loved it, we’d care for it.

 Desire is simple and often reckless.  We need to manage it carefully to avoid causing harm.  Desire is the intention to change something, to reject what it is in favor of what it could be something  better, more secure, more pleasing.  Love is the intention to let that thing be for its own sake.  Love saves and serves and sacrifices.  Desire uses and consumes.  This begs an important question for  each of us.  Do we love Christ or desire Him?  It’s not just a matter of semantics arguing over the fine definition of words.  Our answer to this basic question will indicate whether we live to serve Him or  use Him.  How often do we follow Him because of what we can get from Him rather than give to Him?  How often do we couch the gospel in terms of reward rather than repentance  what we will gain?

 To love Christ is to make Him the center of our attention, with no selfish ambition.  Do we “come to Christ” to honor Him or be honored by Him?  Love and desire are not the same, and to the extent that we confuse the two we diminish our discipleship and ourselves.  When we worship the Lord for our benefit, it inevitably becomes a source of dissatisfaction and conflict.  When we serve others to meet our need for affirmation, it eventually feels hollow.  When we pray with only our needs in focus, the words shrivel in our mouths.  Loves looks outward.  Desire looks inward.  Love gives.  Desire takes.  Love submits.  Desire controls.  Love releases.  Desire holds tight.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35 (NIV)

We might equally ask ourselves whether our marriages are marked by love or desire; whether we treat our children with authentic love or thinly disguised desire.  But as followers of Jesus, the issue is just as critical.  Love is a gift, without strings, without expectations.

May we love Him (and those around us) more purely today.