Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

Aim for the Target!

Aim for the Target!

You have made the Lord tired with your words. You say, ‘how have we made Him tired?’ When you say: ‘Anyone doing evil is good in the Lord’s eyes,’ or ‘ He delights in those doing evil,’ or ‘Where is the God of justice?‘” These words are found in Malachi 2:17 . . . Later in 3:6 it says; “I am the Lord, and I do not change; . . .” The last book found in the Old Testament is profoundly challenging. It is my currently book of study, meaning i am reading it, rereading it, and re-rereading it. It also means i am sitting in it, meditating on it, and praying through it.

i am by nature a quiet person, but i am also intentionally quiet for reasons also; mainly, to not tire the Lord with my words. This isn’t specifically talking about talking too much but rather not speaking truth when i do open my mouth. We have fallen in love with our culture, much like the Jewish Nation fell in love with theirs and others around them. It became such a challenge for the Priest that they too began to “water down” the Scriptures. They took the standard of God and reduced it to the desire of man. Malachi was called upon to set the record straight. “The Lord does not change, get out of your sinful ways and return to the Lord.

i often go back and forth over struggles of the culture, the Word of God, grace, mercy, Old covenant, NEW covenant, and how does it all fit and where does it all lead? This warning however at the end of the O.T. is repeated at the end of the N.T. in Revelation written by John in the second and third chapters we read; “…I have a few things against you…” “So change your hearts and lives. If you don’t, I am coming to you soon, I will move your lamp stand from its place if you don’t change your hearts and lives.”

Clearly there is a call to repentance, to right living, to holiness. We by our fallen nature are not in our right minds and therefor need the presence of God to make it! To run the race to the end. In Micah we are told what the Lord requires of us, “To act justly, love Mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 we read, “Don’t you know that all the runners in the stadium run, but only one gets the prize? So run to win. Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything. The runners do this to get a crown of leaves that shrivel up and die, but we do it to receive a crown that never dies.”

In a letter Paul writes to the Philippians he says, “. . . become imitators of me and watch those who live this way, you can us us as models. As I have told you many times and now say with deep sadness, many people live as enemies of the cross. Their lives end with destruction . . .” If we put all of this together we see that over and over again humanity in its fallen state, continues to veer off course; That rings true for me and you. Paul gives us hope, in his same letter to the Philippians he writes, “It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t thing I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. So all of us who are spiritually mature should think this way, and if anyone thinks differently, God will reveal it to him or her. Only let’s live in a way that is consistent with whatever level we have reached.”

We may not always hit the target, but that doesn’t mean we don’t aim for it! As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If we don’t aim our lives in the right direction and course correct when needed we will miss the target and that my friends is a frightening thought.

You are Loved,

cj

Within the Veil

Within the Veil

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.” Matthew 27:51 KJV

Such a simple passage that is full of great meaning. The veil of the temple was a giant curtain. This curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the place where man dwelt, basically the rest of the temple. The temple was where the sacrifice was made for the atonement of sin. The Holy of Holies, beyond the veil, was only entered once a year for that purpose by the High Priest. Who first had to be consecrated before he was allowed to enter with the atoning sacrifice for the people.

Here in Matthew 27, we read that upon Jesus breathing His last, “It is finished,” the final atonement of sin offered by our High Priest, Jesus, was offered. The atoning work is done, the need of the veil that separated a Holy God from sinful man was no longer needed, and therefore torn in two. The thing that separated man from God, sin, was dealt a deathly blow. Allowing us to enter the Holy of Holies, God’s presence, on our own. We now dine within the veil. No longer does God dwell in a temple of meeting but rather in our hearts. We are the temple, individually and collectively as the church. Not a church as a place but as a people, a people of God.

We can now bring, on our own, our needs, our hopes, our fears, our sin, our repentance, our faith, our lack of faith, our weakness, and our strength, right into God’s presence. i can carry you there and you can carry me there alone or together, individually or corporately. You see the veil is torn in two! It is gone, it is finished. Jesus was the final atoning sacrifice for the sin of man. When we believe that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When we acknowledge Him as our Savior, we enter into the Holy of Holies. That is a very cool thing. To know that we have the opportunity to enter into the presence of Almighty God and He desires us to do so, is really awesome.

Yet, many Christians miss it, they miss the opportunity to sit in the presence of God and dine with Him. All is not lost, however, for to us, a promise is made, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” Revelation 3:20-22

You are Loved,

cj

13 Years and Counting

13 Years and Counting

i have been writing a book for 13 years, that’s right you heard me, 13 years. i guess you can say that i am persistent or lazy. i would say, i am self-conscience of ability. However, one day that book will be completed, and it will be read by at least two people, my mom, and my dad. Now imagine this, the Bible which many refer to as the “Good Book” is actually a collection of works, both books, and letters. There are 66 of them written by 40 different authors over a period of…well…thousands of years.

The influence that the Bible has had over the years is unfathomable. It has had both good and bad impacts on the world depending on who was doing the interpreting. It is an adventure story, love story, comedy, history, and wisdom. It is if read correctly, the answer to all of life’s questions…and by life’s questions i mean any and every question you might have ever in your life.

In 2 Timothy 3 we read in verses 16 and 17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” And again in 2 Peter 1:20-21 we read, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” There are a few other places that talk about this idea of the impactfulness and importance of Scripture, google it some time.

The book that i have been writing will not take thousands of years…at best i only have about 50ish years left to live. It will not even come close to impacting the world as the Bible has either. There have been countless books written, but none have claimed so much, promised so much, explained so much and been right so much ever! There is no book that has outsold or been stolen more than the Bible either…how’s that for distribution?

the divided states of america

the divided states of america

i am about to wade into deep waters. i love The United States of America, even in its divided state. We still live in a country that allows anyone to accomplish anything they set their mind to…allbeit some, unfortunately, need to work harder than others based on factors that shouldn’t be, yet are. For the sake of not being ambiguous, race, sex, social class etc. are some of these determining factors that increase or decrease one’s ability to achieve their dreams with some work or tons of work, relatively speaking.

Let me first express the ideal. This ideal is based on Scripture. It is not ambiguous, it is straightforward, it hides nothing, there are no muddy waters, no questions, it is simply truth from God’s Word. This message is to the Church, it is available to anyone, yet directed to the Body of Christ. Are you ready?

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are His heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (Galatians 3:26-29)

“Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:10-15)

Life isn’t perfect, in fact, there are injustices every day! Life is, unfair. There are mean people, they will spitefully use you, treat you poorly, call you all sorts of names, steal from you and gossip about you. This does not excuse it, it just explains it. People suck. We are not called to live like that, we, who name Jesus as our Lord, are to act the opposite. Sadly we often forget to, hence this gentle reminder. Even those that treat us as stated above are to be prayed for, forgiven, shown grace, given from our abundance…the Word is not ambiguous, leaves no doubt, gives no out.

How you respond to being offended matters! How you respond to folks you do not agree with matters! How you respond to someone who is not treating you the way you want to be treated matters! What we do as Christians matters, and because it matters we need to run everything we do through the filter of the cross. Love the unlovable, pray for those that spitefully use us and forgive everyone, quickly! Love covers a multitude of sins. Love uncompromised, all believers should love from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith.

You are Loved,

cj

You are Loved

You are Loved

“Tired from his journey, Jesus, sat at the well, it was noon.” A glimpse into the humanity of Jesus. He was tired and sat to rest at a well in the middle of the day. A part of the day when the well should have been void of people, and it was until, a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. This was completely out of the ordinary…sure i imagine there were times and circumstances where water was drawn in the heat of the day but it was most definitely the exception and not the rule.

How do we know that this wasn’t just one of those exceptions? Well, (pun intended, heres another) we can draw from the conversation (you can pause here and read the whole of the story in John 4 here). i want us to think on this encounter for a moment. This divine encounter where Jesus, meets a woman, no one wanted to associate with (in public) and ‘loves’ her.

We are in advent week two popularly known as the week of LOVE, the advent of love coming to dwell among us. That’s not all, love came to hang out with those no one else wanted to. To meet us right where we are…no change necessary to come to Him where He waits for us. His desire, for us to know Him.

“If you recognized God’s gift and who is saying to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would be asking him and he would give you living water.” Knowing Him and asking Him and receiving from Him…living water, life everlasting. Love so freely offered to a woman trapped in a life of sin. Love.

You are loved,

cj

Question 1 (Pilate’s Plight

Question 1 (Pilate’s Plight

We are in the middle of Lent, Passover is just a couple of weeks away. It was during this Feast time that Jesus was arrested and put on trial. He found Himself before Pilate. Pilate was the Governor of the region, he was a Roman, and he represented the interests of the Emperor of Rome.  For the next few weeks we will be looking at this portion of the trial of Jesus, Pilate, asking Jesus 4 questions. You can read them in context in John 18:33-38. Lets examine the first question here:

1. Are You the King of the Jews?
~This question has always interested me. Pilate was aware of Jesus, he may not have been spending much time thinking about him to this point but he definitely had knowledge and knew the name Jesus.  He was a Roman and at the time the Roman Empire was strong. He had no reason to fear an overthrow least of all from the Jews; civil unrest maybe but not a coup d’etat. In the scene right before this one Pilate is talking with the Jewish leaders about the arrest and what exactly they wanted done.

He wasn’t keen on the idea of putting to death an innocent man. However, he was keen on securing his strength as Governor. Therefore he proceeded with the questioning and he started by determining the threat, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Every generation since has asked that same question, is Jesus the King? Is He the Messiah that the Nation of Israel was waiting for? This one question is where we, the disciples of Jesus, start our journey.

Is Jesus who He says He is or is He a lunatic? C.S. Lewis the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia” said, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” He went on to say, “Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

As we progress towards the cross, as we dig deeper into the person of Jesus we find not only a King, but a Friend and in the end discover our Savior.

You are Loved,

cj