Category Archives: Jesus

No Separation (Romans 8:38-39)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:38-39 ESV]

There is nothing more horrifying than that thought of being separated from the love of God. And that separation would be the definition of hell. Even among the flames; in the midst of pain and suffering, if God’s love were still there, there would still be hope of rescue and healing and restoration; even if not in this life. Without God’s love, though, there is:

No hope
No rescue
No healing
No restoration and…
No God

THAT is hell and THAT is something that no one would ever want a taste of for even a second. So when people say things like, “That was just hell going through that” or “I’ve been through hell and back” or other such sayings; people have no idea nor do they want an idea. I think we too often minimize hell and therefore we don’t take it seriously enough. Hell is separation from God. The Good News, though, is that through faith in Jesus, you have never, ever been separated from God and never will be.

death
life
angels
rulers
things present
things to come
powers
height
depth
anything else in all creation

None of these things will or can separate you from God’s love. You may think your suffering feels like hell, but it is not. Your suffering here is for but a moment and believe me, you are not alone. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are not alone; you are not in hell; you are not separated from God. Granted, I don’t know what your suffering is like. I don’t know how you may be feeling. I don’t know exactly how I would respond in your position. But the one thing I do know is that in Christ Jesus…

GOD LOVES ME

and God loves YOU.

Cling to this wonderful promise in Jesus Christ and rejoice that hell is not your place but rather God’s love is your reality and hope.

God of life and salvation, we praise You that Your love over comes the powers of this world and therefore gives hope through Jesus. May those who suffer know Your love and may they know they are not alone. Give them hope. Give them strength. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Godly Training (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. [1 Timothy 4:7-8]

I think a lot of Christians waste a lot of time engaging in silly arguments, debates and controversies at the expense of godly training time. Christians also engage in everyday life without proper godly training. Christians deal with stress and temptation without proper godly training. This is basically what the apostle Paul was warning his young friend, Timothy, about. And this is something that all Christians need to take to heart.

Train so you can be ready.

I am currently registered for a half marathon in June. This will be number three for me to add to the three marathons I have already done, so I know the value of proper physical training. The problem is that I haven’t taken my own advice yet and really gotten into my physical training. I need to get moving because I can not expect to do well in June if I don’t prepare my body now. Without proper training my body will take beating and I high doubt I will be able to finish.

The same goes with godly training but godly training has many more benefits than anything we can do to prepare our bodies in this life. Recently I was reporting to my church council that Lent this year was going very well; that my stress level was down considerably from past years. I then went on to say that I have been continuing to exercise my faith through daily Bible reading, devotions and writing on my blog everyday (sometimes more than once). Following the meeting, a council member/friend approached me and said, “Do you think that your reduced stress this year has anything to do with your prayer/devotional life?”

Silly me, I never considered that, but absolutely!

Nurturing your relationship with God through Jesus Christ through worship, praying, reading God’s word, not only strengthens your faith as the Gospel is read and proclaimed to you but it also helps you deal with life now. Don’t get me wrong through, I am not slipping into a prosperity Gospel preaching mode; trying to give you some easy steps to a happy and stress free life (if I ever do that would someone please slap me up across the head). Anyway…what I am saying is that godly training is important in this life to bring glory to God. Because believe me, there are irreverent and silly myths and controversies all over the place and the Christian needs to be ready. So this godly training is not about a happy and stress free life (that is just a pleasant “side effect”). Godly training is about glorifying God today and preparing our souls for eternity.

And so if you don’t engage in godly training now; when life happens and the world challenges your faith, you will stumble and fall. But also, if Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, why wouldn’t you want to train and grow closer to him?

So…

Exercise your faith.
Train your soul.
Prepare your defense.
Be ready.

And when life happens, you can bring glory to God (and not yourself).

What a joy it is to spend time with You, oh God. What a joy to grow closer and closer to You. What a joy to soak in Your holy law. What a joy to give You glory in this life. May You bless our “training” not for us but for You, oh God. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Condemned but Free (Romans 8:1-8)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. [Romans 8:1-8]

Imagine this scene if you can…

You are on death row for the most heinous crime one can think of; and not just one time but you have committed this crime over and over, but you don’t think the crime is that bad. You look out and see that other people are far worse than you. But you are still considered a menace and therefore you need to be condemned and killed.

And so there you sit; condemned, when your attorney comes in. He has good news for you. He tells you he can set you free and remove your condemnation. All you have to do is, with your whole heart, admit your guilt, at which point, your attorney will take your place on death row and your record expunged.

Sounds like a pretty good deal.

But instead of taking the “deal” you are offended. You will admit nothing. So promptly fire your attorney; convinced that you can plead your own case and set yourself free. You don’t need any help.

FOOLISH!!!

Before the Almighty God you stand condemned because of your sin, but through faith in Jesus you are no longer condemned, as he has taken the punishment for you that your record may be expunged and that you may be free. And when you rack up charges again, your “attorney” stands ready to speak for you.

What a deal
What a gift
What mercy
What grace

You see, our flesh is too weak to satisfy the requirements of the law so therefore we have no hope of pleasing God. Yet many people try.

I’m a good person.
I go to worship (often).
I don’t kill people.
I don’t cheat on my wife/husband.
I help people.
I am definitely not like that person over there.

If this is your defense, you are still lacking ~ by a long shot. For you are NOT a “good” person. You are a sinner, evil, bad, condemned, no matter how many good works you do. In the flesh you are dying but in the spirit; that is if the Spirit of Christ lives in you through faith, you will live.

So why in the world would you want to fire your attorney when you stand condemned in front of God Almighty? As the saying goes, “A man who is his own attorney has a fool for a client”. So don’t be a fool.

Jesus has saved you by grace through faith. You did not earn this. You do not deserve this. And you can not live without this.

Set your mind on the spirit and not on the flesh and let Jesus take your condemnation and give you justification, righteousness and life.

That is a good deal so take it and live.

Mighty God, may Your Spirit transform our weak minds and hearts to be inclined towards You through Jesus Christ. May we see this gift of life and receive it with our whole heart. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Opening prayer ~ The Narrow Gate (Matthew 7:13-14)

As we prepare for worship this morning, let us first prepare our hearts to praise God and receive His Holy Word. Let us pray…

Father God,

scripture teaches us to “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14) May those who are here gathered enter by the narrow gate and deny themselves the easy way through the wide gate. May we enter through

Your Word
Your Promises
Your Grace and,
Your son, Jesus Christ

But we are not so foolish to think that the path through the narrow gate will be easy. It will be hard, so I humbly ask that you may send your Holy Spirit to make us lean; trimming away

the cares of this world
idols
false gods
false doctrine
hypocrisy
gossip
prosperity gospel faith and
anything else that weighs us down.

May we have the faith to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Jesus through the narrow gate.

So make your Word manifest among us as we lift up our prayers, praise and thanksgivings. You are worthy, oh God, You are worthy. So here we come, to worship Your holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

May you bless God as you worship this morning and may you be blessed by the proclamation of God’s holy Word.

The Pastor -|—

Dead fish and Salmon (Mark 8:34-38)

A fun “tip” my dad used to share when I was young:
“Only dead fish go with the flow all the time.”

And then you have the opposite:
Salmon struggle to swim up stream to find a place to spawn and lay their eggs.

[Now cue the theologizing of the Pastor as he works on the Sunday sermon]

Only dead fish (“Christians”) go with the flow (of culture) all the time.

Salmon (true Christ followers) struggle to swim up stream (deny themselves and pick up their cross and follow Jesus) to find a place to spawn and lay their eggs (share the Gospel and bring glory to God).

Hmmm…that could work.

Any thoughts on this?

The Pastor -|—

JESUS!

A sermon, a message of hope or anything of the sort can never, ever just assume Jesus (not mentioning his name) because people will never assume Jesus. If your message is truly about the hope we have through faith in Jesus, then say it.

Say, write, proclaim, shout, sing ~ JESUS!

Don’t tip toe around Jesus and be bashful. Be unafraid and bold.

JESUS!

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:38, ESV]

You are sinful, but Jesus is not ashamed of you. I mean, just look at the cross. He did that FOR YOU. So you, don’t be bashful.

JESUS!
JESUS!
JESUS!

The Pastor -|—

The Curse and The Victory

Many Christian churches around the world will be recognizing Ash Wednesday tomorrow (Feb 18). This is the beginning of the 40 day season of Lent (40 days not including Sundays) culminating in the vigil of Easter and then Easter itself the next day celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

The season of Lent is one when we remember our mortality and to focus on our sinfulness. Reminders are placed on foreheads as people are marked with ashes; signifying the curse of sin which was pronounced to Adam and Eve (and all humanity) in Genesis 3,from dust you came and to dust you shall return”. Through our willful disobedience to God we have incurred the penalty of death. Our bodies are subject to decay and thus will perish someday.

But this is not the end…

The mark of the curse is made in the form of the cross signifying our redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Earlier in Genesis 3, when God was cursing the serpent for his actions; ones that drew Adam and Eve into temptation; God announced his plan of redemption:

[15] I will put enmity between you (the serpent) and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring (Jesus); he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

The offspring of the woman is Jesus.
The heel bruising is Jesus being crucified.
But the head bruising is Jesus defeating death through his resurrection.

The serpent, Satan, will be destroyed for his part in corrupting God’s beautiful and perfect creation. In the mean time, we will be subject to death and the rule of Satan, but through faith in Jesus, we will taste victory.

So Lent begins with a curse but ends with victory; but in order to know this victory we need to accept our fallen sinfulness and Lent is a time to focus on that. So remember who you are AND know who Jesus his. The curse of death is not forever. The victory has been won and has been given to you.

Praise be to God and Amen!

The Pastor -|—