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The Answer Isn’t Blowing in the Wind

If you are observing what is currently going on in the news and the world around us, you can’t help but see society and it’s foundations are beginning to crumble. Lawlessness rules many cities. Abuses of babies, children and the elderly are at an all time high. Governments are continually extending limitations of people’s freedoms in the name of the “pandemic.” Suicide rates are up. Alcoholism is increasing. The world has become a much different place than it was even eight months ago.

The one thing that has not changed is God’s love for people. Just over 2000 years ago He sent His Son to earth as a baby. That baby would grow to become a sinless man willing to lay down His life in order to offer salvation to any that would make a decision to be born again, take up their cross and follow Him.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. ( John 3:16)

It is a wonderful thing to know that we can not only have eternal life after this one, but a life of peace and true joy despite the world that currently surrounds us by believing in and following Jesus Christ.

If you haven’t done so, today is the day of salvation for you! Don’t wait until it is too late. Jesus Christ is going to appear soon for His Church. He will be removing His church before God’s wrath is poured out on this world of ours. He could appear any day!

Don’t wait and miss His appearing! Today pray this prayer with me and ask Jesus Christ into your life.

Dear Lord: I am a sinner in need of forgiveness and cleansing. I have lived a life without You and today I ask for forgiveness. My desire is to know you as my Savior and my Lord. Please accept me as Your child. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and enable me to live life with the assurance that one day I will live forever in eternity with You. Equip me here with the Comforter that I may learn of You and give me a hunger for Your Word (the Bible) that I may grow in my faith and learn of You. Prepare me for your appearance so that I may escape the wrath that is to come. I ask it all in the mighty and powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen

Praise God! You have been made clean and whole by the power and blood of Jesus Christ. You have become a new creation. Old sins are now passed away! Welcome into the family of God!

Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

It is vitally important you begin to read the Bible. Perhaps begin with the book of Matthew in the New Testament. It is also important that you begin to associate yourself with other Christians and a church that will be able to help disciple you in your new walk with Christ. Pray and ask God to lead you to find both.

Blessings!

While We Wait for our Bridegroom

It is a beautiful thing that we can come boldly to the throne of God with our prayers and that we can have absolute trust that He hears us. This would be impossible if it weren’t for the blood of Christ being shed for our sins! None of us are good enough on our own to stand clean before the throne of God. But we can praise God for the fact that Jesus Christ made Himself the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us. He became the sacrificial lamb for you and for me. Our guilt and shame have been sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb and therefore we can stand clean before Him when we pray.

It is so important we remember that when we come before God in prayer. We can ask His forgiveness and know because of Christ’s shed blood we will be forgiven. Too often the accuser of the brethren, (Satan) tries to distract us with guilt and shame when we begin to pray. We must ignore his voice and believe fully in the power of the shed blood of Christ and it’s ability to make us and continue to make us the righteousness of God!

If we listen to the voice of the accuser we are much more likely to give up praying and grow weak in our faith. This is one of his tactics and we must be wise and fully rely on the Word of God to counter his schemes. Our prayer life is our life line not only for us but for those God has called us to intercede for!

As we navigate ourselves through the coming days it is critical to keep our prayer lives alive and well! Family members, leaders, friends, the unsaved and fellow believers are all in need of our prayers. We have been told to hold fast to the promises of God and support and motivate one another as we see time drawing closer to the return of Christ for His church. We can only do this if we are walking closely with the Lord Himself and this is impossible if we don’t keep in close touch with Him.

If there was ever a time to stay in close communion with Christ it is now! Don’t let anything keep you from that intimacy. He truly is coming back for His bride sooner than we think! Let us all be ready when that trump sounds! Start each day communing with the lover of your soul!

And so, dear brothers and sisters we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house,  let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:19-25)

Labor Has Begun

The days we are currently living in so accurately express the birth pains stage of prophecy. Every day we see religious freedoms become less and less available. Natural disasters have greatly increased. Lawlessness abounds. There is increasing turmoil building in the Middle East. False teachers and doctrines can be found anywhere you look. Sin is rampant. Famines and earthquakes are on the increase.

Matthew 24:3-8 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you,  for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.  And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.  Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.  But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

Though the times are going to get increasingly difficult, we have to praise God for the fact we are living in days where we get to witness the scriptures be fulfilled in living colour before our very eyes! We may well be very close to the appearance of Christ!

Let’s not waste any more time on frivolous things. It’s time to pray for the lost in our families and the world! We need to pray for our leaders and the darkness that surrounds so many worldwide governments! We need to pray for the body of Christ as never before!

Why not dedicate a set time every day to get alone before God and repent and intercede for all of the above? Reach out to others who also discern the times and join together in prayer in person or if distance is an issue, via a social media platform such as face time.

Let’s do our part to prepare others for the beautiful appearance of our Lord and Savior so that none of us will need to be ashamed at his appearance but rather we will be excited at just the thought!

1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

A Death to Celebrate

The Cross of Jesus Christ

Every day we get fed an updated count of those who have died with the COVID 19 virus. The worldwide numbers are mounting. Each one of those deaths represents someone’s father, mother, sister, brother, aunt, child etc. Each one of those deaths brings heartbreak and sorrow to the surviving family and friends.

Today, Good Friday, let’s reflect on one death that though it brought sorrow at the time to those who loved Him, has also brought immeasurable joy. The death of our precious LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. For without His death we would remain lost. His willingness to be obedient to the Father and die a horribly painful and violent death at the hands of those who mocked Him is what has given us our salvation!

Jesus Christ offered Himself up as the sacrificial Lamb of God for you and I. Let us never forget the high price He paid for our salvation! Without His death there would be no resurrection! Without His death we would not receive the Comforter! Without His death we, as His followers, would not be able to look forward to His appearing again! Praise His holy name forever!

Mark 15:21-41 A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)  And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”).  They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it.

 Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece.  It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.  A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.”  Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days.  Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

 The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself!  Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.

The Death of Jesus

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.  Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah.  One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”

 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.  And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome.  They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Lord Jesus-Help us never to forget the price you paid on Calvary to save us from our sins. Keep our hearts tender towards you always. We love you and are so thankful for the love you demonstrated and continue to demonstrate daily in our lives. In Your precious name, Amen.

Watch out for PRIDE

What is the Biblical definition of pride? - Quora

One of the greatest stumbling blocks for the child of God is pride.

The Merriam Webster defines pride as follows:

PRIDE noun Definition of pride 1: the quality or state of being proud: such as a: inordinate self-esteem CONCEIT b: a reasonable or justifiable self-respect c: delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship parental pride

2:  proud or disdainful behavior or treatment DISDAIN 3a: ostentatious display b: highest pitch PRIME 4:  a source of pride the best in a group or class 5: a company of lions 6: a showy or impressive group a pride of dancers

With the words, “inordinate self esteem”, “conceit,” and “ostentatious display” in mind, we can see a perfect example of all of this in Lucifer’s fall.

Isaiah 14:12-15 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’

 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

We currently live in a culture that encourages us to be prideful. To stand up and be heard, to toot our own horn, to make sure people are paying attention to us! The danger comes when we insist on doing any of these things solely to have our egos stroked. This attitude has deeply penetrated the church. You don’t have to look too hard to see online, televised ministries promising more for you if you give and support them! Some share a gospel that is more about being blessed than about blessing others or taking up your cross and following Jesus wherever He may lead. Pride in “their” ministries and accomplishments overrides the tender, humble heart of a true follower of Christ. I doubt many of them started out with that attitude but over time old slew foot began to creep into their hearts.

All of us are susceptible to becoming prideful. No one is immune. We must diligently guard our hearts from becoming that way. One of the best ways to do this is to daily remember that you did not nor can you ever earn your salvation. It was blood bought by a Savior that willingly suffered immeasurable pain on a wooden cross for YOU. That’s what should center us every day. He paid the price for us! Though we didn’t and don’t deserve it, He did it out of love for every one of us!

Our lives and ministry will never be on track when we forget that for one minute. How we live and what we do to minister to others must always be from a place of humility and love. Knowing He has given us this life. He has redeemed us from the pit of Hell, He has provided us with a Comforter to help guide us and lead us.

If you find yourself getting a little puffed up and proud about “your” ministry or accomplishments bring your heart back to the cross. Keep it real. Just remember the words of Solomon taken from

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.

Stay safe and be blessed!

Get Things Right

This current time of self isolating can really be a blessing in disguise. It is giving many people, around the world, an opportunity to have time to get their life in order spiritually. Many of us fill our lives with jobs, chores, friends, family and leave very little time to spend with our God in prayer.

God longs to have us spend time with Him. He has created us for fellowship. If you have found yourself out of fellowship with Him lately than why not take this opportunity to turn things around? Why waste another day spinning your own wheels? Cry out to Jesus Christ while He can still be found. No one knows how long they have on this earth and today is the day you have been given!

Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says,
    “Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
    Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
    but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for He is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
    He is eager to relent and not punish.

Instead of filling your day with menial tasks, take some time today in your prayer closet and ask the Lord to forgive you for neglecting Him. Thank Him for every good gift He has given you, including your salvation! Spend time talking to the lover of your soul. Get things right between you. Don’t waste another day or opportunity to be in the presence of Christ!

Can Anything Good Come out of _______________?

Have you ever noticed yourself or others judging people by their background or station in life? Too often, we the body of Christ, fall prey to the same tendency the world does. We too can judge people by their ethnicity, political standing, financial status or where they’re from. In the book of James we are warned to guard ourselves from doing this very thing.

James 2:1-5 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?

God knows our tendency to favor like minded people that appear to be thriving. He knows our weakness towards favoritism . It’s nothing new. In fact one of my favorite stories from the Bible demonstrates that very issue.

John 1:40-51 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. 41 Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).

42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown.

45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.

47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”

48 “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”

49 Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”

50 Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”

Nathanael sincerely questioned, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” The assumption being Nazareth was not a place of importance or significance enough to be the birth place of the long awaited Messiah! The Jews were waiting for their Messiah to come but were not expecting Him to be born into poor circumstances! I love the fact God had his Son born into lowly surroundings with no pomp or circumstance. It shows the heart of God to be tender and compassionate towards all those who would otherwise not feel worthy of being accepted into the body of Christ. Jesus Christ is not a Savior for the privileged alone. He is for everyone, regardless of their status in life! He is available to anyone that will cry out to Him, repent of their sins and follow Him!

So to answer Nathanael’s question YES. YES something good and wonderful did come out of Nazareth. Our beautiful King, Jesus Christ! And you must know that something good can come out of your city or town, regardless of its size or significance in the world! That something is you! A child of God, bought with the blood of Jesus Christ, filled with the Spirit of God and set apart for good works, wherever you live! Never allow any person or any voice to tell you that your status in life is a limitation to God using you right where you are. We are not to judge others and that includes ourselves. If we yield to Christ, He will use us regardless of our family background, financial status, ethnicity or political leanings. Yield yourself to Him today! Make a difference right where you are!

Blessings!

Whose Voice Are You Listening To?

Have you noticed that when you make a decision to allow God into every area of your life that you find yourself battling negative thoughts and feelings? Suddenly things you thought were long past conquered rear their ugly head again. The more you press into the Word of God and prayer the hotter the battle becomes in your mind.

You are not alone. This is why we are told to fight the good fight. The battle must be won in the mind. Every thought must be taken captive! To start we must realize that many of these thoughts are not even our own. They are provided by the accuser of the brethren, Satan himself. He has a vested interest in you not abiding in Christ. He wants to keep your mind preoccupied with thoughts that draw you away from your intimacy with the King of Kings. Many Christians begin to discontinue their push for intimacy with God when they think the thoughts are their own. How can I love God when I think such negative, bad thoughts? Well my dear friend, many of these thoughts are NOT your own. They are used to make you feel shame and fear and that is to keep you from pressing in with God!

When you find yourself battling negative thoughts you must begin to refuse to give them any credibility. You must replace the thought with scriptural truth. For example when you are trying to pray and the thought, “God doesn’t really care about my needs. This is a waste of time..” you must counter that thought/feeling with TRUTH. This is where it is vital that you compose a list of Scripture verses that speak truth over the lies you have been believing and listening to. So in this case you would speak out, Ephesians 1:4-8 “ Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son  He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. Does that sound like God doesn’t care about you? NO it is a declaration of just how much He does care about you. Before he made the world He already knew YOU would be part of His family! That is amazing and truth!

I believe much of the church is walking in defeat because we are spending too much time allowing the enemy of our souls to whisper, speak and shout lies and we accept many of them as truth instead of replacing the lies with the truth of God’s word. ANY area of your life that you are believing lies in will cause you to walk defeated. This is not God’s plan for you. To begin to walk in victory is is absolutely vital that you take the time to write out the thoughts that plague you the most. Those negative thoughts of defeat and discouragement. Then search your Bible for the verses that counter those lies. Write down the negative thought/belief and beside it write down the TRUTH of God’s Word that addresses that very lie. Next time the thought comes counter it with the Word of God. Use the mightiest weapon we have, the Word of God.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ

Any thought, belief or idea you have that causes you to distance yourself or feel unworthy of God’s love is never from God. The exception to this is if you are walking in rebellious sin and haven’t repented of it and are still giving it place in your life. In this case you MUST confess your sin, renounce your sin and turn from your sin. God will not ignore your sin but He will forgive it once confessed! Praise God for His mercy!

So during these days of self isolating why not sit down and ask God to help you compose a list of the lies you have been believing over yourself and to show you the TRUTH in His Word that will counter those lies. Use this time to lean in to Christ and to begin to walk in victory in the areas you have up till now, walked in defeat!

Image result for person with satan speaking in his ear

Time for an spiritual EKG?

Have you ever wondered after seeing Jesus perform so many miracles in front of their eyes and giving them the ability to do the same, the disciples could  still doubt His ability to do more? In the book of Mark we see Jesus sending out the twelve men in pairs after giving them power over unclean spirits. They were told to take nothing for their journey, as God would provide. They obeyed and did as He commanded. Mark 6:12,13 NKJV12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them. They saw multiple people saved, delivered and healed before their very eyes. They were witnessing first hand the miraculous power of the Spirit of God!

Yet as we continue in the same chapter when faced with the need for another miracle, they seem to have forgotten that with God all things are possible! Mark 6:31-44 NKJV31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him.34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.  

So soon after witnessing miracles with their own eyes, they forgot that Jesus was more than capable of a task such as feeding a huge crowd. As we continue through the chapter we see their belief in His supernatural ability tested yet again.

Mark 6:45-51 NKJV 45 Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. 46 And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. 47 Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. 48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. 49 And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.

Jesus gave them yet another opportunity to witness His power!

So how is it that after witnessing people being saved, delivered and healed before their very eyes that they didn’t consider His power to multiply food to feed the crowd or walk on water?  Mark 6:52 gives us our answer.52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.   Wow! That is the explanation in a nutshell. Before we get too critical of the Apostles we must take a good look at our own hearts. How many times have we seen God answer prayer, move mountains, save, deliver and heal others and yet find ourselves in a place where we doubt His ability? We too forget that He is the King of King and Lord of Lords, He is our Healer, Deliverer, Savior, Counselor, Friend and more than capable of handling any situation we may find ourselves in! We have only to put our trust in Him to come through. Without faith it is impossible to please Him and therefore we MUST believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him!

Lord please forgive us for having a hard heart. Forgive us for not believing that with You all things are possible, as Your Word tells us! Forgive us for doubting Your love for us and Your ability to work all things out for good in our lives. Give us a tender, trusting heart that relies solely on You for the impossible in our lives. Help us step out if faith and believe that You are who Your Word says You are! We ask this in your beautiful name,

Amen

 

 

The Hope of Hosea!

As I read through many of the early chapters in the book of Hosea, I couldn’t help but feel sad and even a bit angry. Hosea was an Old Testament prophet called by God. At a time of relative ease and prosperity in Israel, Hosea was called to bring a message to the people of Ephraim (northern Israel) that God was displeased with their sin and adulterous ways and that judgment would come.  They had rejected God and  instead worshipped idols. They were living a life of apart from the God who had called them, delivered them and provided for them.  Hosea’s personal life was used to illustrate this exact scenario. He was instructed to marry Gomer (a harlot) and as a result his personal  life accurately illustrated what God was feeling and dealing with. His people had become rebellious and turned to others over Him.

Through much of the book we see Hosea telling the people of Ephraim that God hates their sin. He will not continue to tolerate their sin. He will bring judgment on them as a result. This message is hammered over and over.  Judgment is coming.

Hosea 4 NIV

Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
    because the Lord has a charge to bring
    against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
    no acknowledgment of God in the land.
There is only cursing, lying and murder,
    stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
    and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Because of this the land dries up,
    and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
    and the fish in the sea are swept away.

“But let no one bring a charge,
    let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
    who bring charges against a priest.
You stumble day and night,
    and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother—
    my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

“Because you have rejected knowledge,
    I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
    I also will ignore your children.
The more priests there were,
    the more they sinned against me;
    they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.
They feed on the sins of my people
    and relish their wickedness.
And it will be: Like people, like priests.
    I will punish both of them for their ways
    and repay them for their deeds.

10 “They will eat but not have enough;
    they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,
because they have deserted the Lord
    to give themselves 11 to prostitution;
old wine and new wine
    take away their understanding.
12 My people consult a wooden idol,
    and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
    they are unfaithful to their God.
13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops
    and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar and terebinth,
    where the shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution
    and your daughters-in-law to adultery.

14 “I will not punish your daughters
    when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
    when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
    and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
    a people without understanding will come to ruin!

15 “Though you, Israel, commit adultery,
    do not let Judah become guilty.

“Do not go to Gilgal;
    do not go up to Beth Aven.
    And do not swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’
16 The Israelites are stubborn,
    like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the Lord pasture them
    like lambs in a meadow?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
    leave him alone!
18 Even when their drinks are gone,
    they continue their prostitution;
    their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
19 A whirlwind will sweep them away,
    and their sacrifices will bring them shame.

How God’s heart must have ached to see those whom He had called and favored choosing to “desert the Lord”.  Sound familiar?  We see the same thing happening today. Multiple people are still choosing to reject knowledge and serve idols and though they may live in relative ease right now, God’s judgment is coming.  With the way prophecy is being fulfilled today, it may be sooner than any of us think!  I thank God that the message of Hosea was not without hope! Chapter fourteen brings a beautiful message of hope! God doesn’t leave us without a way back to Him!

Hosea 14

14 Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
    Your sins have been your downfall!
Take words with you
    and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
    “Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
    that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Assyria cannot save us;
    we will not mount warhorses.
We will never again say ‘Our gods’
    to what our own hands have made,
    for in you the fatherless find compassion.”

“I will heal their waywardness
    and love them freely,
    for my anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
    he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
    he will send down his roots;
    his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
    his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
People will dwell again in his shade;
    they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like the vine—
    Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.
Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
    I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a flourishing juniper;
    your fruitfulness comes from me.”

Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
    Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
    the righteous walk in them,
    but the rebellious stumble in them.

Despite their rebellious hearts, God didn’t give up on His people in the time of Hosea and He is not giving up on us now!  We serve a God that loves us so much! He longs for us to fellowship with Him. He gives us every opportunity to turn our messed up, sin ridden lives over to Him. He has provided the most precious and beautiful way to do this and that is through His Son Jesus Christ! By calling on the name of Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior we are given the opportunity to be forgiven and be clean before God. Just as Hosea spoke, ” Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips,” God offers us the same opportunity to us. If we have rebelled, we can turn to Him and ask forgiveness, He is faithful and just and will forgive! If we have never known Him as Savior and Lord, all we need to do is ask Him to come into our life and be our Savior and Lord, to forgive us of our sins and to fill us with the Holy Spirit! The same God of Hosea is longing to have fellowship with each one of us today! He has provided a way and that way is Jesus!

Did you receive your wake up call?

I am currently reading through the book of Jeremiah. I can’t help but think of how Jeremiah must have  felt when he was told by God to warn His  people and the nations of the coming judgement and calamities. He was a prophet called to rebuke, warn and encourage the people to turn from their idolatry and sins and humble themselves before God. The same message that must be proclaimed today.

Today many in the church are asleep, living lives of comfort and compromise. Serving themselves with little concern over the lost and broken. It is time that each one of us realize the times we are living in. Just as Jeremiah knew judgement was coming, we too know judgement is coming. It is imperative that we, the body of Christ, be alert to the signs of the times and get busy fulfilling our callings. Revival will come when the church humbles itself and begins to walk in obedience. The world will never be attracted to a sinful church, we must be the light of the world. We must demonstrate the love of Christ to everyone, everywhere. As long as we are dabbling in sin we will not be free to do so.

In my life, God has been showing me areas that I must fully surrender to Him. Areas I have held back. Areas I have been selfish. Areas I have been unwilling to commit to Christ. The time has come for me to be wholly in. I believe the Lord is saying the same to all of His kids that are willing to listen. The time is short before we will see Jesus face to face. We need to get our priorities set and move forward as He leads us.

This is not a message of doom and gloom but of encouragement. We have a beautiful, loving Savior who longs for us to see Him face to face. When we do we want to run to Him with abandon and not walk to Him in shame. He came to save us and set us free from all that would hinder our walk with Him. We need to repent of the things that are keeping us bound and ask Him to break any chains that keep us back from moving forward in living out the walk He has called us to.

Ephesians 5:1-15 NIV 

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness,but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our King is coming back to a church without spot or wrinkle. My prayer is that each of us will humble ourselves before Him and turn from those things that are keeping us from living a life of holiness and obedience. There is much work to be done and we the church, are the laborers.

Lord, forgive us for our apathy and sinfulness. Wake us up to the times we are living in. Give us direction and a heart to share the gospel with the lost. Keep us close to you Jesus, as we wait on your return.  In Your precious name, Amen.

 No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.~A.W. Tozer

Have you missed a few roots?

Yesterday I was able to spend the majority of the day in my gardens. It’s only been a few weeks since I last weeded but in that time the weeds wasted no time coming back. Where there had been beautiful clean spaces, now stood multiple weeds. A few things occurred to me. One, that weeding has to be done a little more frequently to keep the gardens looking clean and secondly, clearly I had missed many of the roots when I pulled up the weeds.

If I don’t pull up the root along with the weed, the weed will  rear it’s ugly head back in no time flat making my garden unattractive and cluttered. Sounds a lot like sin in our lives. When we don’t deal with the root of any sin and just try and cover it over with niceties, it will eventually reappear. We can’t hold it back by hiding it. It must be pulled out of us by confession to the ONE who is able to forgive us, cleanse us and restore. As long as the root is still there it will eventually surface above the ground and affect our walk and our witness to others.

When I confess my sin I am  pulling  up and exposing  the root of my sin to Christ. He has promised to forgive me and cleanse me of all my sin thereby, enabling me to move forward without shame.  If I choose to keep the root of my sin buried and just clean up the surface, the root will enable the sin to continue to sprout growth that will manifest in my life. Freedom from the sin can only come from pulling it up by the roots and exposing it to our Master Gardener, Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter if this sin comes in the form of a lowly dandelion or a gigantic hog weed, He is able to kill the root of all sin when we confess it to Him and ask His forgiveness.

1 John 1:8,9  NKJV  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If you have been trying to keep sin hidden in your life, don’t waste anymore time. Confess it to Jesus Christ. Ask for His forgiveness. His Word assures us that if we confess it HE is faithful and just and will forgive us!  Join me in cleaning out my garden, roots and all!

 

David knew it, YOU can too!

 

I am currently making my way through the book of Psalms again. I love this book! It is full of incredible inspiration, wisdom and deep truth. The word of God tells us that  David was  a man after God’s own heart. Acts 13:22 NIV says 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ and 1Samuel 13:14 NIV 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”  I love the Lord’s mercy towards David. Though David sinned, his heart was tender towards God and he repented and God  not only forgave him but  used him mightily! Perhaps knowing that he was a man after God’s own heart is what makes David’s words of such value to me. He wasn’t perfect, just like the rest of us, but he wasn’t long in repenting after his sins. He valued his intimacy with God. He also knew that God was faithful and true and that He could be trusted with everything, including his life.

David had a life of blessings but he also endured great suffering, some the direct result of his disobedience.  The death of his infant son from Bathsheba, the pursuit of Saul for his life, the separation from his son Absalom, the death of Absalom and more.  Despite his sorrows, David knew God could be trusted. God could be counted on. Unlike himself, God never sinned, yet would still show mercy when a truly repentant heart would call on His name. Though because of his great sin he deserved abandonment, God heard his repentant heart and did not abandon him. When David sought him in earnest, God answered!

Psalm 22 beautifully illustrates their relationship. It also foretells of Christ’s death and suffering for us!

Psalm 22 NIV

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “Let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.

15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death

.16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For He has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden His face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever

!27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

Just as David knew His God would hear his cry and answer, we too can be assured that through Christ, God will hear and answer our pleas.  He will never leave us or abandon us! We can trust Him with every area of our lives, despite how dark or bleak things may seem. Despite what we have done, if we cry out to Him, He will answer and deliver us! We are part of the future generations David spoke of. We can proclaim the righteousness of Christ and declare it! We also have become that righteousness through the shed blood of Christ!

If you are struggling with something, feel abandoned, alone or depressed, call on the name of Jesus. He will hear you! He will not turn away from you!  Just as David said , For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”  He hears the cry of a repentant heart and will not turn away.

Father God, I ask today that you forgive me of my sins and transgressions. I am sorry for the things I have done that have caused separation from you. Jesus, please come into my life, my situation and deliver me from any chains that keep me bound. Free me from anything that causes separation between us. Just as David cried out to You for help, I cry out to You today. I need you in my life. I need your favor and guidance. Please help me to grow closer to You and abide in You daily. Give me a hunger for reading the Bible so that I may learn of You more. Give me a love for others so that I may demonstrate Your love more. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may accomplish all that You have for me to do, in the precious and beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.

Believing for MORE!

I’m excited for the things God is teaching me these days. One of the things that I am learning is  to not get discouraged while waiting on the evidence  of things not yet seen!Hebrews 11:1 NIV tells us 11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. I am growing in my confidence in God’s fulfillment of His promises. What we see with the eye currently is not what will be if we hold fast to those promises, not wavering. 

James 1:2-8 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

There have been many times in the past that I have been double-minded. Not sure if it was God’s will to do some of the things I have asked for and therefore doubting even as the words were leaving my mouth. My confidence in the lover of my soul is changing. I believe I am seeing Him more for the beautiful Savior, healer, deliverer, Lord and King that He is and that it is His desire to give good gifts to His followers.  Now I am not referring to lavish homes and cars, not that these things in themselves are bad! I am referring to all blessings that enable us to fulfill His purposes in our lives. Peace, joy, sound mind, health and strength as we need it to do the labor He has called us to. We are the called to be the light of the world and what good can we do when we are moping about in ongoing depression, anxiety, fear and bondage!  If we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior and have made a decision to follow Him, we are entitled to freedom from all these things! 

2Timothy 1:6-8 NKJV says  Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

God wants His church whole. He wants us living a life of obedience and  abiding in Christ daily. When we do, we are in a position to minister to those He puts in our path. To be a light in the darkness.  We are free  to pray for others and see answers.

James 5:16 NIV 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

I am learning that as I commit myself wholly to Him, to confess my sins before Him daily, to lean into Him, to believe Him, I am able to make a difference in the lives of those around me.  I am able to share the gospel and demonstrate the love of Christ to others and that is what He has called each of us in the body of Christ to do. His last words on earth tell us just that.

Mark 16:9-20 NIV When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating;  he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

My prayer is that each one of us will grow in our confidence of His love for us, in our faith and trust in His word and what we are able to accomplish through Him! As we do we will see the fulfillment of the great commission!

Father God, we thank you for Jesus. We thank you that we can fully trust in Him and rely on His love and kindness. Lord create a clean heart in each of us and renew a right spirit within us so that we may walk close to You and fulfill the purposes You have called us to. Let us be a light in this world. Let each of us do our part in the great commission. Increase our faith through Your word. Let each of us preach the gospel  and confirm Your word by signs and wonders as we do so. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

HE alone is the WAY

After chatting with a new Christian yesterday, I once again realized the  absolute importance of studying the Bible. If we Christians don’t know the Word of God we are vulnerable to falling prey to all types of false doctrine. We not only run the risk of being lead  astray but also run the risk of leading others astray. We are followers of Christ and therefore must know our bibles. Our bibles are the basis of our faith. It is in the Word of God that we learn of who God is, who Christ is and who the Holy Spirit is. We also learn what Christ has done for us. If we call our self a Christian, it is impossible to separate ourselves from the source of our faith, the Word of God. If we do, than we are Christians in name only.  The young woman I spoke with yesterday was stunned when I told her that the bible tells us Jesus is the ONLY way to Heaven.  She said she had no idea that was true.  When I mentioned that as a follower of Christ we believe the Word of God and that I wasn’t making it up, the Word of God is very specific about Jesus being the ONLY way. If you believe there is any other way to salvation than you  cannot call yourself a Christian because the definition of a Christian is a follower of Christ and a believer of His teachings.

It was Jesus Himself who told us in John 14: 6-12 NKJV  6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

The Old Testament foretells of  the coming of the Messiah and the New Testament tells us of His arrival. Both are full of Christ. It is so important that if we have made a decision to follow Christ that we learn of Him and know what He has done and continues to do for us! If you are believing anything other than what the Word of God says about Christ  and His position as Savior, Lord and coming King, than you are either mislead or you are ignorant of His true identity and you need to spend more time in His Word.

Let’s look at just a few verses that tell us just who He is and what He has done..

Acts 4:8-12 NKJV 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

James 10:1-18 NKJV 10 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All whoever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

1 Corinthians 15:1-28 NIV 15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Romans 3:21-26 NIV 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

These are but a few of the many verses in the Bible telling of salvation through Christ alone. There is NO OTHER name by which we can be saved. It is a truth we must know and share with anyone new in the faith or seeking God. Despite the fact it may not be politically correct in the times we are living, it is God’s truth and as a follower of Christ we must share it with those who ask and those who are seeking the truth. It is only through salvation in Christ that they will receive all the promises of God!

Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for salvation and the opportunity to be adopted into your family through faith in Christ! Please draw us closer to You and give us a hunger for your Word, the Bible, so that we may learn of You and the incredible love You have for each one of us. Keep us from falling prey to false doctrine as we search the scriptures to learn of You and of Christ our precious redeemer, Lord and King. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.” ~Francis Chan

Is it time to open those boarded doors?

Do you find yourself compartmentalizing your walk with Christ? Are there doors that you would prefer He didn’t walk through? Secret places you keep boarded up? I have done this in the past. I have found myself not willing to talk to the Lord about  certain behaviors, attitudes, or habits because I felt disappointment with myself or even shame. I am learning however, that it is those very things that must be talked about with Him. These are the very things  Christ wants to heal or free me of. Instead of trying to fix myself up before I go to Him, He wants me to come to Him just as I am. I can bring every sin battered area of my life to Him and confess it. He is not surprised. He knows anyway. He is just waiting for me to bring it before Him in order that He can forgive me and give me the grace and strength to overcome. We follow a Savior that knew temptation of every kind yet never sinned. He understands the battle we go through here. He also is our provision for our sin. When God looks at us, who have made Him Savior and Lord, He sees us through the blood of His precious Son. So we have no reason to try and hide anything or any area of our lives. We have Jesus as our advocate. We can bring anything before Him and know that He will not only forgive us but if we are willing, He will deliver  us from the things that beset us!

There will be times when through our disobedience we will feel the sting of correction. If we continue in something we know we should not be doing the Lord will allow us to be corrected just as we correct our children or grandchildren when we see them doing wrong. He loves us and therefore will not allow us to continue in deliberate sin without suffering any consequence. It is so much easier to run to Him and confess before it gets to that stage. If we make the choice to continue in deliberate sin knowing it is wrong, we run the risk of suffering the shame of open correction either by God Himself, or another and suffering the consequences of the sin which tends to be a lot more painful. We also run the risk of hardening our hearts to the Spirit of God and thereby allowing sin to become our master.

There was a time in my life that sadly  I  allowed heartache and disappointment and the cares of this world to draw me away from my intimacy with Christ. I have since learned that He never stopped loving me and He never stopped wooing me back into His arms. He loves me and He forgives me.  He loves you and He will forgive you!

Let’s read together Hebrews 12 NIV  12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,  and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves,   and He chastens everyone he accepts as His son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Why waste any more time trying to shelter the sin in your life? Isn’t it time to open up those boarded doors and confess your sins to the One who is able to forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness? Don’t allow anything to keep you from the lover of your soul.  There is no sin worth the separation it causes between us and God. Our God is a consuming fire and yet He has made a way for us to come before Him and that way is Christ.

Father  help me to really understand that You are a holy and consuming fire.  I come before you  and bring all my baggage. I confess my sins before you. I have messed up and am in need of your cleansing. Please forgive each of my sins and cleanse me now of all my unrighteousness. I pray that You will guide and direct my through your Word in how to live a life that is pleasing to You. I ask that You will keep me from temptation.  I thank You that I can  ask this all in the name of the One who died to enable me to be forgiven. I ask it in the precious name of Your Son, Jesus.

Amen.

YOU and I are His disciples!

John 15:16 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

John 15:16 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

There is so much going on in our world right now that could cause us to be distracted from the calling on our lives. We have sports, entertainment, family responsibilities and gatherings, jobs, electronics etc.. It is easy to become waylaid from the purposes God has called us to accomplish.  Each day it is a choice as to whether we will fulfill His purposes for our lives  or we will fulfill our own goals and purposes.  Do we spend more time in front of the tv than in the Word of God? Do we waste time gossiping instead of interceding for others? Do we choose to stay home and relax instead of getting ourselves to church on Sunday? We are daily faced with these type of decisions and sadly many Christians are choosing the way of their own comfort.

We have been given the gift of salvation through a Savior that lovingly died for us yet often we can’t even bring ourselves to spend any time with Him in prayer or in the Word of God. Too often, we would entertain ourselves with things that have little to no lasting spiritual significance. When we made the decision to follow Christ, we became His disciples. As disciples we have a purpose that involves more than our own comfort.

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the following definition of a disciple..

dis·ci·ple

noun \di-ˈsī-pəl\

: someone who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of a famous person

: one of a group of 12 men who were sent out to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ

A disciple has a very distinct purpose and that purpose is to accept and help spread the teachings of their leader, who as Christians, is Christ.  This is not the purpose of just a select few but is the purpose for each and every one of us who calls Christ our Lord and Savior.  Each of us will have a different group of individuals that we are to impact but we are all His disciples and therefore we are all called to share the gospel.  When we choose our own comfort over sharing the gospel we are not being true followers of Christ.  Let’s take a look at a few verses from the Bible on being disciples…

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 8:31 NIV 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

John 13:35 NIV 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 15:8 NIV 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:16 NIV 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Romans 10:14-15 NIV 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

And finally…

Hebrews 10:25 NIV 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

If we are to be true followers of Christ we cannot be Christians in name alone. We must daily make the decision to obey Him and His leading in our lives. We are to share the good news with those who desperately need to hear it! We need to encourage our brothers and sisters who may be struggling and we need to continue to move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every single one of us has been called with a purpose and we all need to be doing our part in the body until Jesus returns or He calls us home.

If you have become a Sunday seat warmer only, ask God to forgive you of your spiritual idleness and stir up in you a desire to fulfill the purposes He has called you to do. Don’t waste another day!

Lord, I ask that you would forgive me for my spiritual laziness that has allowed me to put my comfort before Your purposes for my life. Please stir up in me the giftings that You have given me and show me what I can do this day to further Your kingdom. Give me a heart that loves what You love and hates what You hate and empower me to demonstrate that love to those who need it.  In the precious name of Jesus,  Amen.

The WAY back

It is an amazing thing to me that the Son of God came to the earth in such a beautiful, simple manner. There was no pomp and circumstance at the time of His birth in the lowly manger. He came as a baby in order that He would go through and experience the various stages of life we would and yet not sin. The Word of God tells us He was tempted in every way just as we are. Hebrews 12:15 NIV 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.  Our temptations are not foreign to Him. That in itself is sometimes hard for me to wrap my mind around. When He came to the earth He could have come in all His glory and majesty as the exalted Son of God, but rather He came humbly to demonstrate His love and affection for us in a way that we can understand. He was man and He was God. He dealt with the same things many of us deal, with yet did not sin. Through His holiness and obedience He made a way as the sacrificial lamb for us to become holy. When He willingly sacrificed His sinless body for our sin ridden bodies He opened  the door for our redemption by the blood that was shed.   That is love!

Until we really grasp that fact not just in our head but in our hearts, we will continue to strive to make ourselves acceptable to Him. However, striving will never accomplish acceptability. On our own, we will NEVER be clean enough, kind enough, loving enough, or giving enough. We simply cannot make ourselves be acceptable by anything we do. It is only by accepting that when He died on that cross, His shed blood made me acceptable in the eyes of God. It is through Christ alone that we are able to stand clean before God. It is through Christ alone that we are changed. When we come to Him and ask His forgiveness and ask Him to be Lord of our life we receive the Holy Spirit who begins to work in us to conform us into the image of Christ. Through prayer and prayerfully reading our Bibles we will grow closer to Him and deeper in our walk as followers.  There will be times in our walk that we stumble. It is during these times it is most important that we confess our sin quickly, get back up and move forward. If we allow the accuser of the brethren (Satan) to cause us to feel we are no longer good enough to come before God we have missed the most important message of the gospel.  We will NEVER be good enough. That is why we need our redeemer! That’s why God sent Christ! John 14:6 NIV Jesus answered, “I am the WAY and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

If you are a Christian that is struggling with feelings of defeat, discouragement, failure etc. because of a stumble, a fall or outright disobedience than it’s time you confess your sin, and accept His forgiveness. He promises that if we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us from our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (1John 1:9) HE does NOT LIE. Don’t allow pride or fear to keep you from intimacy with the lover of your soul. Pride will tell  you that you need to straighten yourself up first before you come to Christ. You can’t straighten yourself up without Christ! Too often we listen to the wrong voice when we stumble and rather than confessing our sin and turning back to the One who willingly died for us, we try and fix ourselves up first. It is pride cloaked in works.  His love for us is more than sufficient to forgive us and set us back on track!

Don’t waste another minute striving to get back to a place where you feel you will be good enough to come back to Christ. It’s impossible on your own. Instead accept once and for all that the blood He shed on the cross will cover every one of your sins. Not just some but every one. Ask for forgiveness right now and KNOW that  if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Begin to thank Him for His love and mercy and get back into a place of intimacy with Him through spending time with Him and in His Word.

Lord I am sorry for the things that I have done that have grieved You. I am sorry for hurting or disappointing myself and others through my actions. I pray for your forgiveness right now and I believe Lord that when I confess my sin You are true to Your word and that You are faithful to forgive me and to cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness.  Thank You Lord! Keep me close to You and give me a hunger for Your word that I may grow closer and deeper in love with You.

In the precious name of Jesus,

Amen

Don’t make an idol of your peeps!

It wasn’t too long ago since I realized I had been making an idol out of some of the people in my life. This may sound extreme but believe me it isn’t that unusual. I see it done all the time. When we choose to put others before our relationship with Christ we are really making an idol of them. We have been called to follow Christ in love and in obedience. He longs for our heart. He longs for us to seek Him daily and to be sensitive to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit.  Too often we put the needs and desires of others before His and we in turn tune Him out.

When we put Him first we are allowing Him to work in us and through us in the most effective way possible, enabling us to love better, make wiser decisions and to walk out a life that will be much more fulfilling. We must make a daily choice to do this. It will not just happen. When we do, our family and friends will also benefit. We will be the person God has called us to be and be able to bring His love and wisdom into many of their circumstances. When we put them first, we lack both and we operate  in the flesh. We also become dependent on them for our happiness and satisfaction. No person is capable of giving us true happiness or satisfaction but Christ.

We are called to love our family and friends. We are called to serve them and others outside our circle but we are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. (Matthew 22:37 )  When we keep Him first in our lives, He will guide us in how to love others. Not in a self serving, suffocating love but in a love that has their best interests at heart. When we reverse this and put other people first we lose our abiding love for Jesus and others become our focal point. They become our source of joy and will inevitably let us down from time to time. Jesus never will. He will equip us to love others in the healthiest way possible!

If you are allowing anyone or anything to come between you and your intimacy with Christ, I challenge you today to ask  for His forgiveness. Tell Him you want Him to be first in your life and ask for a renewed love for Him and His Word. He delights in answering such prayers. Don’t waste another day. Put Him first this Christmas season and see Him move through you to reach others in the most effective way possible!

Forgiveness opens the door for change!

 I was  sad to hear of the passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday. Over the years I have admired his decision to forgive and live out that forgiveness in his actions. He was a man that stood out because he didn’t respond to prejudism with hatred and bitterness. He had the wisdom to realize that real change in South Africa, would only come with forgiveness and reconciliation. Hatred would just prolong the fighting and nothing good would ever be accomplished.

The Word of God teaches us this same principle. We are to live a life that demonstrates forgiveness. Our own forgiveness is conditional upon us forgiving others as we read in Luke 6:37 NIV 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Nelson Mandela was able to bring about amazing change in South Africa that eventually spread to other parts of the globe because he implemented this principle.  I can’t help but think about the awesome opportunity for change each and every one of us that follow Christ have. In our families, in our churches, in our neighborhoods and in our world, we can all make a difference when we love like Jesus loves, when we refuse to judge and condemn and when we forgive.

Christ does not want us to spend our time fighting battles of bitterness and unforgiveness. He wants us to use our time to love Him and serve others. My prayer is that we will not waste any more time walking in  unforgiveness but will do as Paul says in Colossians 3:12-14 NIV 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

If we start each day with this scripture in mind, we too will make an amazing difference in our world.

Mercy triumphs over judgement!

1 John 1:9

Our God is a holy God. I believe many of us have minimized His holiness from time to time in order to make Him seem more approachable. His holiness is not dependent on our needs, wants or desires. His holiness is who He is. He will never be any less holy or more holy. He is holiness.

So the question is, how then can we sinful people, approach God who is so holy with our prayers? We know deep down we don’t deserve to. We know we will never be “good enough” on our own. We know He will see right through our cleaned up appearance to a heart that is deceitful.

I am thankful that although He is holy , He is also merciful. Because of His mercy, He sent His most precious Son to this earth to make a way for us to approach His holiness.  He made a way where there was no way! He provided His Son as the sacrificial lamb for  you and I. He watched His perfect and holy Son suffer a painful death on the cross because of His love for us. Our sins were on His back as He died on that cross.  He indeed made a way where there was no way!

If you do not know Him as your Savior, it’s time you did. Pray this Salvation Prayer today. Don’t wait a minute longer and you too will become a child of God.

Heavenly Father:

I come to you today asking for forgiveness for all my sins. I know I am a sinner and need saving. I am truly sorry for all my sins and the life I have lived without you and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died on the cross and shed His blood for my sins. I believe that He rose again from the dead and is now seated in Heaven. I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior right now and according to Your word from Romans chapter 10 verse 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” I am now saved!  Thank you for this gift of salvation. Please guide me now and fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may live my life for You. In Jesus name, Amen. 

You have now become a child of God! It is so important that you begin to read the Bible, perhaps starting in the book of Matthew (New Testament). It is also important that you look for a Bible based church where you can grow as a believer and have fellowship with other Christians.

If you are a follower of Christ but have gotten off track and have forgotten that He died for ALL your sins, not just the “little” ones, bring the rest to Him. Confess them and be restored. If you are bound by thoughts, feelings, fears etc. bring them before Him. He is able to set you free. Ask for forgiveness for the things you have opened yourself up to that have brought these things about and ask Him to free you.

1 John 1:9NIV If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Heavenly Father:

 I come before you today, asking for forgiveness for all my sins. I have strayed and disobeyed you and your word. Please forgive me of all my sins and transgressions. I confess (name the sins you are carrying around) I am truly sorry. Please forgive me for opening up areas of my life to sin and bondage. I am sorry and ask that you close the door on any areas I have opened that need shutting. Please restore my peace and joy in You. Guide me with your Holy Spirit so that I may live a life that is pleasing to you. Give me a hunger for your Word, my Bible. Give me a love for others. Create a clean heart in me and renew a right spirit within me today. I ask it all in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Don’t waste another day wallowing in the mire. For everyone that has asked Christ to be their Lord and Savior has indeed been made His righteousness!

2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV21 God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.  

You now have every right to come before God as His child with your prayers, praise and thanksgiving at any time in any place.   Jesus paid the price in full for your sin and has opened the door for you to enter into the holy of holies to your Heavenly Father. Don’t delay, enter today!