Relic (Hebrews 12:1-2)

When my family visited some of the great church buildings in Spain and Italy, we were impressed to discover that many contained relics of the great saints of the Bible. Some contained objects that were used by the saints while others contained bones or even entire skeletons of the saints. Perhaps the most famous is St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where the body of Peter is entombed. These are impressive details and millions have worshiped at these churches because of the relics, believing the church receives a special blessing and protection from God. These churches are special, but it is not because of the possession of its relics. It is something far more special and important. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

Who are the huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith that continually surrounds us? These are the great saints who earned their good reputation by clinging to the promises of God. Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David-the Holy Spirit reminds us in these passages from the Book of Hebrews that their lives are examples to encourage us in our faith. They persevered through suffering and persecution and many did not receive all of God’s promises in their lifetimes. Because of this, God honored all of them and blessed them. Their faith made them special. 

We don’t need the relics of the great saints who have passed on before us to make a church special. We need their living faith. This is what makes any church special because it is the living body of Jesus Christ. I and every member of the Body of Jesus Christ carries the living Holy Spirit within me, not a lifeless relic. We are only saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Amen!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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I Wasn’t Invited. (Revelation 19:7-9)

It was the Monday following my wedding that was held on the previous Saturday afternoon. Returning to work at the hospital, I was congratulated by my colleagues who attended. Several of my co-workers in the laboratory also stopped into my office to express their well-wishes. I was on a high until I stepped into the office of one of the women who transcribed my diagnostic reports. 

“Good morning!” I chirped.

She ignored me and continued to type. It was odd since we usually spoke for a few minutes every morning. I thought for sure we would engage in some banter, especially after the events of the past weekend. However, when I attempted to do so, even asking about some of my cases, she simply grunted.  

I walked out, confused, until it hit me. I didn’t invite her to the wedding. It was a difficult choice but I simply could not invite everyone in our hospital laboratory, which numbered over one hundred co-workers. She was understandably hurt. There was nothing I could do except hope that she would get over it with time. 

I have been on the other side of this equation. Colleagues or co-workers with whom I worked have celebrated their wedding day without extending an invitation to me, likely for the same reasons I had with my wedding. I understood but there was still some hurt, just like my co-worker experienced.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” 

Revelation 19:7-9 (NLT)

Someday, Jesus Christ will return to this world and be reunited with His Church. He is the bridegroom and the Church is His bride. You will be invited to this wedding celebration. No excuses. No budget. No quota. There is only one requirement. You must confess and repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

And if you do, it will truly be a marriage made in Heaven with you in attendance!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Blooper Reel (Revelation 21:3-4)

The young man tenderly cradled the head of his girlfriend in his arms. She was dying from cancer and they only had a short time left together.

“I love you.” Tears welled in his eyes. 

She looked up at him and then burst into uncontrollable laughter. A fly had landed on his nose!

It was a blooper reel!

Many movies and television shows include blooper reels as an extra bonus, with selected scenes added during the ending credits. It shows a lighter side of the production as the snafus ruin an otherwise perfect scene. Even professionals can make mistakes! 

Sometimes I wonder if our lives are a blooper reel. We attempt to live perfect lives, yet, things inevitably go wrong. Financial hardships. Family illness and death. Broken relationships. Yet, unlike the bloopers, we cannot laugh or brush them away since they are real and painful. Will there ever be a time when we can live a perfect life, free of mistakes, pain, and sadness?

…Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.

Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)

Our time in this world is brief when compared to eternity. Yet, only during this time are we able to make the most important decision that determines our eternal fate. In spite of the imperfect lives we all lead, we are given an opportunity to make it right with God, our Creator. If we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will have salvation and eternal life. When we pass from this world, we can look forward to an eternity of no tears, sorrow, or pain. 

There will be no more bloopers, only a perfect life with God!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Private Island (Revelation 21:18-21)

Rangyai island is located just 15 minutes away from the beautiful resort city of Phuket in Thailand. Replete with white sand beaches, It is in close proximity to an international airport, with electricity, running water, and a thriving marina. It is 110 acres of a tropical paradise. Not only can you vacation or live there, you can own it! For a mere $160 million dollars, it can be your own island! Such a deal, better buy two! 

I am always intrigued to peruse real estate listings of islands for sale around the world. One can purchase the island just like buying property for a home or commercial building. Yet somehow, it is a completely different feel when one purchases an entire island. It is like purchasing a country. To own an island is reserved for the fabulously wealthy, something I will never be. Yet, I do not despair nor am I envious of them. I know someday I will live in a far more luxurious place, more splendid than the most beautiful island I could ever imagine.

The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass. 

Revelation 21:18-21 (NLT)

This is just a brief glimpse of the splendor of the new holy city of Jerusalem where all of God’s people will live and dwell in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. At the end of the ages, Satan and evil will be destroyed and the curse of death will be abolished. We don’t need any money to purchase this. 

Such a deal!

All we need to do is confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Praise God for His grace and mercy!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Just When You Thought It Was Safe…(Matthew 24:4-8)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the world…Monkeypox.


Source: Centers for Disease Control

Monkeypox is a viral infection that is emerging on the worldwide media headlines. It is a virus that belongs to the same family as smallpox and cowpox. Ironically, in spite of its name, the animal reservoir is unknown but thought to be African rodents. It was named monkeypox when it was discovered in a group of research monkeys in 1958. Human infections are rare and have been limited to African countries. Thus, it was with some alarm that the CDC recently reported a new case in the United States and tracking several new cases in Europe. 

Will Monkeypox become a worldwide epidemic like COVID? Although unlikely, since the virus is not as transmissible or as lethal as COVID, the outbreaks are unusual and some scientists are wondering if this Monkeypox has a new mutation, making it more virulent. Of course, the similarities with the beginning of the COVID virus are obvious and the conspiracy theories already abound on social media. This is a virus engineered by Bill Gates and his African scientists is a popular one and this is only the beginning of the theories.

Are any of these true? I don’t know. Social media pundits and conspiracy theories will always emerge. The issue is the credibility of the source. Is there any source that we can absolutely trust?

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. Matthew 24:4-8 (NLT)

Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples what would be the signs that will accompany the end times. He plainly told them in the verses cited above. I am not attempting to stoke the conspiracy fears. However, the signs that will accompany the end times are eerily applicable to our current times. The war in the Ukraine and the threats of war between China and Taiwan. Famine in North Korea and parts of Africa. Earthquakes and natural disasters like hurricanes occurring with greater frequency. All coincidences? Perhaps. However, this is not some social media pundit predicting these events. This is God Himself, Jesus Christ, prophesying these events nearly two thousand years ago. There is no more authoritative or reliable source to prophesy about the end times than Jesus Christ and the Bible. Why?Jesus Christ predicted His own death and resurrection. He is the only person to have ever done this. He is God incarnate. His word is Truth and He promises to never leave nor forsake us.

Monkeypox is just one of many signs of the end times. When that will happen, only God knows. Take comfort in the fact that God has warned you ahead of time of these coming events. He is giving you an opportunity to confess and repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. 

Don’t miss this opportunity.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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The Unborn (James 2:14-17)

“The unborn” are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. It’s almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe. Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.

This was posted by Methodist Pastor Dave Barnhart from Alabama on his Facebook page. 

Source: (Facebook June 25, 2018) It is reposted here as the raging controversy of the legal right to an abortion is once again back on the daily headlines. This message has been reposted on numerous social media sites, mainly by individuals seeking to disparage and mock Christians who advocate for the rights of the unborn but ignore the social consequences and cost of caring for these children after they are born. Christians should advocate for the rights of the unborn AND the born. Every group is important; none should be thrown under the bus. The Apostle James pointed out that our faith must be accompanied with actions. 

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. 

James 2:14-17 (NLT)

The hard truth is everyone, not only Christians, are selfish. We do not love perfectly. We need a supernatural intervention to change our nature. This can only come by confessing and repenting of our sins and allowing the Holy Spirit to change and conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. 

Words are powerful and they cannot be spoken for expedient purposes. When this happens, cynics, even from those within the Church, should be heard. St. Augustine elegantly summarized where our priorities should be. ”In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”

Amen.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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It’s Your Turn (John 16:33)

“1…2…3…!”

The familiar music of the waltz filled the room as my son danced with his mother. It was the last rehearsal before the grand event in four days. It was a gala celebration replete with tuxedos and evening gowns. 

I know. Three years earlier, I did the same event and danced a waltz with my then teen-aged daughter. It was a glorious experience but it involved several weeks of tense practice alone and with my daughter to master the four minute waltz. Tightly precisioned with twelve other couples simultaneously dancing on the same ballroom floor, any mistake would be easily spotted. Thankfully, all of us performed beautifully and we eagerly celebrated at the evening’s end.

That was then, now it was my wife and son’s turn! As I watched both of them rehearse and experience the same jitters that I experienced, I knew exactly what both were experiencing. In spite of their anxiety, I knew they would be just fine. Once the music began, my son and wife performed brilliantly along with the other participants. I was confident they would be successful since I had experienced the same.

…Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 (NLT)

Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke these powerful words of encouragement to His disciples on the eve of His Crucifixion. In a few hours, He would experience the most horrific death that anyone had or will experience in eternity. Jesus Christ did not simply die on the Cross. During the six hours he hung there, all of the sins of the world that were or would be committed were borne by His broken body. By dying and being resurrected three days later, He forever conquered death and restored the sacred relationship between us and God that was broken by sin. 

When it is our turn to face a trial or sorrow, we can do so with confidence that we will prevail because Jesus has already faced it for us. He promises to see us through it for the glory of God. He will never leave nor forsake us.


Praise God for His grace and mercy to all who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. It is our turn to witness to the world that a life transformed by Jesus Christ will always be victorious through the power of the Resurrection.

Amen!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“He’s A Natural!” (1 Samuel 9:1-2)

“Look at him! He’s a natural!”

I was overhearing a conversation between two basketball coaches marveling at the natural talent of one of their players. Some of us are fortunate to be blessed with superior natural abilities, allowing us to excel in certain sports or job skills. However it also requires the person to utilize it and continue to build upon their natural skills. Unfortunately, some very talented individuals have squandered their gifts. Mike Tyson. Aaron Hernandez. John Daly. The list is only limited by one’s persistence in searching for these stories.

Why would such gifted persons turn their back on their talents? The answer is as complex as the individuals. Pride, arrogance, and drug addictions are just a few of the reasons. The Bible records one individual whose life entered a similar downward spiral.

There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin. His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land. 

1 Samuel 9:1-2 (NLT)

If there was ever someone who would be deemed a natural it was Saul. Born into a wealthy and powerful family in Israel, Saul was acclaimed as a tall and handsome man. A natural born leader! The Prophet Samuel was instructed by God to anoint him as Israel’s first king. However, after a promising start, he turned his back on God. He squandered his gifts and tragically was killed by his enemies. 

Are you a natural? Are you blessed with talents and gifts? Thank God for bestowing these upon you. Honor and thank God by using them to serve your Creator who gave them to you. Bible teacher and Preacher Warren Wiersbe eloquently stated, “Thank and think also come from the same root word. If we would think more, we would thank more.”

Amen!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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A Thousand Days (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

My smart phone app alerted me to my achieving a major personal milestone. I exercised for one thousand consecutive days. Every morning, I exercise on my elliptical for at least 45 minutes. This would be added to the usual steps that I take doing my daily activities to reach a minimum of 10,000 steps a day, sometimes reaching over 20,000 steps. Even when I travel, I kept the same routine. Inevitably there were days when I did not get enough sleep or was stressed by external events and thought to myself, “Maybe this one day, I will take a break.” However, I knew that I would descend a slippery slope if I accepted this excuse. One day off could quickly become two days and before I knew it, a week. I know. When I was much younger, I attempted an exercise routine only to fall victim to this mindset. After a few months, I stopped. So, regardless of how I feel when I awaken, I commit to the exercise. I am pleased by my achievement. However, my spiritual life requires even greater discipline. 

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)

The Apostle Paul encouraged his followers with these high goals. Always! Never stop! These were not activities to be done every morning, it was to be done every waking moment! Living these spiritual disciplines was not simply an exercise, it was our very sustenance. What is the goal of these spiritual exercises? Paul answers this a few verses later. 

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful. 

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NLT)

If we remain faithful, we will receive more than an app congratulating us on our achievement, we will receive a crown of righteousness, bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

We are working to be holy, set apart from the world to be set aside with God. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Random Acts Of Kindness (Psalms 112:9)

“Hello! We heard about your situation and we would like to pay for your rent for the next three months!”

“Oh my goodness! Thank you so much! This will help our family so much!”

It was a random act of kindness. These scenes are increasingly being played out in communities across the country. Large and small businesses, public servants, and anonymous individuals randomly select individuals they deem worthy to receive money and resources to give them short term assistance. What motivates them? For many it is a way to give back to the communities in which they live. For others, it is to help others less fortunate than they are. However noble these causes, there may also be financial gains in the form of tax deductions and advertising for their respective businesses. 

Christians should also embrace random acts of kindness. The Bible definitely supports this.

They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

Psalms 112:9 (NLT)

What motivates them?

…How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands. 

Psalms 112:1 (NLT)

Christians should be willing to perform random acts of kindness. It is not for recognition or financial gain. It should be motivated only by gratitude for what God has done for them. 

…Freely you have received, freely give.

Matthew 10:8 (NKJV)

Amen!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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