THE WILLINGNESS TO SERVE OTHERS…

JOHN 13:12-17: “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” NKJV
‭‭
OBSERVATION: What character quality defines a great leader? Is it intelligence, courage, or resolve? Is it the ability to motivate and inspire people? Is it organizing and deploying a team of people to accomplish a set task? All of these are important qualities in a great leader. However, they are not the most important quality.

As we enter this Holy Week, where we commemorate the final week of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry before His death on the cross, there is one important event that does not get enough consideration. We all know about the last supper and the celebration of the Passover meal with Jesus and His disciples. Yet, only in the book of John do we find the account of Jesus washing the disciples feet.

It is in this one humble act that we find the definitive character quality that defines a great disciple and a great leader. It is the willingness to humbly serve others. Most examples of leadership that we see in the world focus on the bold personality and actions of the leader. Yet, in the Kingdom of God, such personality traits and actions run counter to the call of a true leader. A true leader is one who is both meek and willing to serve.

Meekness and the willingness to serve others does not flow from a lack of self worth and weakness. Rather, it flows from the security of a life that is anchored in its relationship to God and confident in His calling. Listen to the preamble of this account of Jesus washing the disciples feet.

  • Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” ‭‭John‬ ‭13:3-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Jesus was not weak. He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands. He knew who He was and whose He was. It was from this confidence, strength, and assurance, that Jesus was able to humble himself and serve. Jesus Himself told the disciples many times – “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28).

Jesus served out of strength!

In this Holy Week we are called to reflect on the life and death of Jesus Christ. We look forward to the celebration of His resurrection and the hope of our resurrection in Christ! As we take time to reflect upon all that happened on this important week, let’s not forget that before the last supper – Jesus washed His disciples feet! He did this to give us an example of how we are to lead. He did this to remind us of the greatest character quality of a leader and a disciple of Jesus Christ!

  • “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

Finally, we need to be reminded of this truth. We must not only be willing to humble ourselves in order to serve others, we must also allow others to serve us. It is possible to take pride in our willingness to serve. We take Jesus’ words to heart and begin to think that we are pretty good servers – until we are in the position of being served. It is then that we are faced with a great truth.

Humility is a two way street.

I pastored in a tradition that included foot washing as one of the ordinances that was to be observed by the church. When I began in this tradition it was new to me. Attending my first national convention I looked forward to the foot washing ceremony. I was excited to take the towel and wash basin, kneel before my brother, and wash his feet. In a sense it made me feel like I was truly identifying with Jesus on that historic Maundy Thursday.

Then something happened. As the roles were reversed, I felt a resistance rise up within me. As my brother took his position to wash my feet, suddenly, I was like Peter as he said to Jesus – “…Lord, are You washing my feet?” (John‬ ‭13:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬). At that moment I was confronted with my pride. I was taking pride in washing someone else’s feet (serving), but I was struggling with humbling myself to let someone else wash my feet (being served). It was a true revelation to my heart.

Pride has no place in the heart of a believer or in the life of a leader. Paul knew this all too well. If anyone had the background and pedigree to rest on his pride, it was Paul. Yet, Paul learned humility through the things he suffered. And, Paul learned how to both give and receive from a humble heart.

As we reflect upon this Holy Week, in the midst of the 2020 Corona-virus pandemic, let us take these lessons to heart. We are serving others as we shelter-in-place. We are serving others as we reach out with phone calls, texts, and words of encouragement. We are serving others as we take only what we need at the grocery store to allow supply to be available to all. We are serving others as we are considerate with our family members in continued tight quarters. And, we are serving others when we graciously receive the love that they also give to us.

Jesus served His disciples to give us all an example. Jesus willingly laid down His life on the cross to show us the greatest expression of sacrifice, service, and love. And, Jesus rose from the dead so that we could live in power of His life and love. It is only in the resurrection power of the living Christ that we find the power to humble ourselves and serve others.

Lord, grant me the grace to serve others, and to graciously be served.

In Jesus Name!

Posted in Leadership, Matthew | 1 Comment

WHAT IS TRUTH?

JOHN 8:31-36: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” NKJV
‭‭
OBSERVATION: What is truth? This is the question that is being asked by many today. We live in a day of moral relativism. Truth is what one makes it. One thing can be true for me and false for another. The importance is how I feel and what my experiences validate as truth. Is there really an objective truth for everyone?

I want to limit my consideration of these questions to the life of the Christian. The basis for my thoughts begin with someone who claims to believe in God and accepts the Bible as the Word of God. What is the role of truth in their life? Is truth an objective or a subjective issue?

When we look at the church today we do not find much of a difference between those who call themselves Christians and those who openly do not believe in God. Statistics of divorce, drug abuse, addiction to pornography, and a litany of other sins, differ little from those who sit in the pews of churches and those who don’t. Why is this?

I believe it is because of a disregard for the truth. We have begun to look at the commandments of God as simply suggestions. If they fit my lifestyle then I agree with them. If they become a hinderance to what I want to do I begin to pick and choose the truths I will hold on to and dismiss the ones that I do not like. I begin to mirror the spiritual fervency of a lukewarm cup of coffee.

Jesus defined His entire ministry by the truth. He said boldly – “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus did not simply claim to be a spokesman for the truth. Jesus claimed to be the truth. Every word He spoke was the heart and mind of the Father. His words were absolute, unchanging , and eternal. To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ we must embrace and follow all of His words!

  • “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Jesus is the Eternal Word. He is the Word that created the heavens and the earth in Genesis. He is the Word that was revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. He is the Word spoken through the prophets. And, He is the final revelation of God to mankind.

  • “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…”. ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭1:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

We are involved in a war. It is not a war with drugs, morality, or governments. It is a war of truth against the lies of hell. It is a war for the soul of man. It is a war that will either result in bondage or liberty. The deciding factor is how we view the truth.

  • “Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

There is only one road to freedom. It is through truth. Sin always blinds and binds. It is the truth that sets one free. And, this truth, God’s truth, sets one free indeed! It alone can break the bonds of sin and shame. It alone leads to the pathway of freedom, fruitfulness, and eternal life. The truth is Jesus. Jesus is the truth. We cannot pick and choose from His teachings. We must uphold the whole counsel of God’s Word!

Jesus said to Pontius Pilate during His trial,

  • “…For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John‬ ‭18:37‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Pilate answered Jesus – “What is truth?”

Father, open our eyes to understand Your truth. Open our eyes to see Jesus , to hear His word, and to walk in His ways. Let us nail the spirit of moral relativism to Your cross and boldly walk in Your truth. And, as we walk in Your truth, by grace through faith, set us free.

Set us free indeed!

In Jesus Name!

Posted in John | Leave a comment

WHEN ANXIETY FILLS MY MIND…

PSALM 94:17-19: “Unless the Lord had helped me, I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave. I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”
NLT

OBSERVATION: Do you ever have doubts? Has your mind ever been flooded with anxiety? How can we face such uncertain times without losing it and simply falling apart?

I just finished watching Day 2 of the Presidential Briefing as we enter into a new 30 days of mitigation to fight the corona-virus. Like many, I hoped that Monday would bring some good news regarding this invisible enemy. Yet, over the weekend it became clear that things would get worse before they would get better. As a result, the 15 days of shelter-in-place have been extended to include a new 30 day order to shelter-in-place.

The startling news reported was the number of deaths that we could see in the next two weeks. The estimates, with the nation abiding by the new 30 day call to shelter-in-place, is between 100 – 240 thousand deaths, in the United States. This is unprecedented in my lifetime. Our nation has not seen projections of this magnitude since World War II. As we consider this, it is easy to become doubtful of one’s future and succumb to anxiety. Is there hope?

It is as if the Psalmist wrote these words for today, March 31, 2020.

  • “Unless the Lord had helped me, I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave. I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”

I don’t know how anyone without the Lord Jesus Christ, and without the hope of eternal life, can navigate through these difficult times. The words – “Unless the Lord had helped me…”, ring out like a bugle call to my heart. And, they summon me to begin to pray for a mighty revival in my heart, in my family, and in our land. If there was ever a time when people needed to understand and embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ it is now!

Recently, I shared a post on Facebook encouraging everyone to remember that the Lord was still on the throne. One of my dear friends from high school sent a reply and asked me – “Why is God doing this?” We have had previous discussions and I do not believe that he has embraced Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. I assured him that Jesus was not the author of sin, sickness, and death, and pointed him to Jesus sacrificial death on the cross to defeat both sin and death. I did not receive a reply.

I have also seen old friends posting heart wrenching stories about the suffering of loved ones who fell victim to this dreadful virus. Yet, these were shared with such desperation and without a sense of hope. How I want to shout from the rooftops so that everyone can hear and know –

“Unless the Lord helped me…”

Unless the Lord helped me, I would still be lost in my sin. Unless the Lord helped me, my life would be filled with doubt and fear. Unless the Lord helped me, the news would drive me into a panicked state of hopelessness. Unless the Lord helped me, I would have hope only for this life and the grave would be my end.

Yet, because the Lord helped me, because His unfailing love supported me, because He comforted me and gave me renewed hope and cheer – I can face tomorrow with confidence. For by God’s great gift of grace through faith – to live is Christ and to die is gain! His hand upholds and guides me both in this life and the life to come. And, He calls for all men and women to find this great and free gift!

  • “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Dear friend – God wants you to be saved. Dear doubter – God wants to give you faith! Dear anxious one – God wants to give you peace. Dear fearful of death – God wants to give you the hope of eternal life. God loves you so much. All you have to do is surrender your life to Him and trust Him as your Savior and Lord!

  • “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. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Pray this prayer – “Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. My heart has been filled with unbelief, doubt, and fear. Jesus, come into my heart and rescue me. Forgive me of my sin. Let me experience Your unfailing love. Be my Savior and my Lord. Fill me with Your life and Your peace. Give me the hope of eternal life so that I can face tomorrow with confidence. I surrender my life to you!”

In Jesus Name! Amen!!‬‬

If you prayed this prayer for the first time, please send me an email at – klzehnder@aol.com. I would love to send you some material for your new walk in Jesus Christ!

Posted in Psalms | Leave a comment

IF A BELIEVER GETS THE CORONA-VIRUS…

PSALMS 91:5-7: “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.” NKJV
‭‭
OBSERVATION: Does Psalm 91 promise the believer in Jesus Christ that they are immune from contracting the corona-virus? How do we justify the promises of this Psalm when we hear the news that someone we know, love, and is a Christian, has been infected with Covid-19?

I love this Psalm. I have heard many testimonies of soldiers who have claimed the promises of Psalm 91 as they went into battle and were miraculously delivered. As the corona-virus crisis began, this was probably one of the most quoted Psalms and passages in all the Bible that was being shared on social media.

However, as the crisis has persisted, and as the cases went from a few hundred to tens of thousands, most of us now know of someone who has contracted this disease. And, many of these people are Christians. Why did they contract the disease? Was it because they were not walking in the promises of Psalm 91?

It would be very easy for anyone who is a believer, and healthy, to begin to claim that anyone who contracts this virus simply lacks faith and is not walking in the promises of God. Yet, this position really does not help anyone and is inconsistent with the whole counsel of Scripture. As we study the whole counsel of Scripture we find that innocent people are touched with the circumstances and results of a broken and sinful world.

As I write this, I am praying for a few people who I know that have contracted the corona-virus. It was not through any fault of their own, or because of a lack of faith. It was simply because they live in a fallen world and were the victims of this invisible enemy. If this is true, then what does Psalm 91 really promise us?

First, Psalm 91 is a Messianic Psalm. In its entirety it is speaking about our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan knew this and used verses 11-12 as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.

  • “Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”. Luke‬ ‭4:9-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Yet, Satan misquoted this verse. He left out this phrase from verse 11 – “…to keep you in all of your ways.” The promises in Psalm 91 did not cover presumption, so Jesus answered Satan and said,

  • “And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ”. Luke‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Even Jesus knew that Psalm 91 was not a blanket promise without any conditions. It is stating the general protection of the Lord for His anointed. We can claim these promises as we run under the wings of the Almighty as sons and daughters of God. Yet, we cannot presume that this makes us immune to everything in life. What it does do is keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and allows us to walk in love and freedom from the tyranny of fear!

  • You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.”

We are protected from the enemies attacks and his actions that are meant for evil. We are protected from the judgments of sin as we stand fully redeemed and covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are protected from the tyranny of fear and are ushered into he abiding presence of God’s love. Yet, we are not placed in a bubble. We walk in this faith, with both feet on the ground, in a fallen world where brokenness touches all of God’s creation.

Let me illustrate this through one more example. In the closing verses of Psalm 91 we read,

  • “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.” Psalms‬ ‭91:14-16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Let me reiterate that Psalm 91 is a Messianic Psalm. It is primarily about Jesus Christ our Lord. He perfectly abided in the presence of the Father. He walked and lived a sinless life. He resisted all temptation and overcame the attacks of the enemy. The last verse of the Psalm reads – “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

Jesus died at the age of 33. Did God fail His promise?

Absolutely not! Although Jesus’ earthly life was cut short, He rose from the dead to enter into His eternal destiny and reign as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Evil hands with evil intentions nailed Him to a cross. Yet, the Father’s love was extended to Him, and Jesus saw the salvation of God. He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. And, this joy was being the firstfruits of all those who would believe.

The believer has no reason to fear as they walk through the perilous trials of life. They have an eternal promise, an eternal destiny. In death or in life they win. Fear cannot take its hold upon their life because God’s angels are always surrounding them and protecting them. As dear one’s are battling the corona-virus, God has not left nor forsaken them. He is calling us to pray for their healing. And, He is calling us to walk in the balance of faith, hope, and love.

In these times of trial we need to remember the words of the Apostle Paul. He looked at the pathway of life that is filled with twists, turn, and trials, and he proclaimed,

  • Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭8:35-39‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Psalm 91 reminds us that we have nothing to fear as we are sheltered under the protecting wings of Almighty God. His love, His protection, and His promise of salvation give us courage to face anything in life with confidence. And, His compassion and His call, guide us to pray for the healing and protection of others. When someone we know and love is touched by the brokenness of this life we do not judge them, we encircle them with our love and our prayers. We carry them to the throne room of God’s grace to find mercy and help in their time of need.

Lord, protect, strengthen, heal, and keep us all in these uncertain times.

In Jesus Name!

Posted in Psalms | Leave a comment

THE POWER OF LIGHT…

JOHN 3:19-21: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” NKJV‬‬

OBSERVATION: What is the power of light? How does it affect my life? Am I living in its power, or is the power of light causing me to run and hide?

We are in our second week of self-quarantine during the current 2020 Corona-virus crisis. The goal of this nationwide call is to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. Our prayer is that this helps to turn the tide of this invisible enemy that has already taken too many lives. As we wait in our homes, we are all being confronted with the impact of this crisis.

One of the impacts is an increased amount of time to reflect upon our life. As my wife and I shared our dinner together she commented – “We have never eaten at home so much!” She was right. This self-quarantine has given us all time to reflect upon our lives. It is as if a light was focused brightly upon all the things we do, hold dear, and believe. The question is – what does this light reveal?

Light reveals both the best and worst of our lives. An open window, with the sun shining brightly inside, can reveal a layer of dust that has accumulated on our coffee table. The light can also reflect on a painting on the wall and highlight something that we had never seen before. Light can reveal both dirt and beauty. The key is how do we view and use the light in our lives?

John opens His Gospel with this statement.

  • “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John‬ ‭1:4-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Jesus is the light of men. He is the light of life. Jesus is the light! Light is synonymous with truth. As light shines and reveals darkness, so truth shines and reveals the error of doubt and unbelief. Light reveals our misconceptions, our false belief systems, and our sin. Light does this, not to destroy us, but to lead us to the life of God. Yet, so many do not view light as something good but something to be avoided.

  • “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

This is true for someone who is an unbeliever. Yet, it is also true for the believer. Although the believer has embraced Jesus as the light of life unto salvation, it is very possible for the believer to run from the light of life in their personal sanctification. As the Lord desires to purify our lives, He shines His light ever so brightly upon our lives to remove the remnants and strongholds of sin that so easily trip us up.

  • “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” Proverbs‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This current crisis is like a light shining upon my life. Is my faith really rooted and grounded in Christ alone? As I watch my retirement funds diminish with the crashing of the stock market, do I really believe that God is my source and supply? Am I walking in the assurance of eternal life now? With all the idle time that is now before me, am I spending it seeking the Lord, or am I allowing my thoughts to wander?

All of these questions are real and they affect us all. They are God’s light shining brightly upon our life. This light is not to bring us to condemnation. It is to bring us to a new and deeper dimension of His life. Sanctification is the process of dying to our old man and living in the power of Christ. It is the struggles and challenges of life that reveal the areas where our old nature is still very much alive. When the light shines, and when we see that the coffee table of our heart is full of dust, we should rejoice! We are confident in the heart and will of our Lord Jesus Christ!

  • “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Lord, this morning I want to run to Your light. I know that as I do I will find areas of my life that need changing. Lord, as we walk through this trial filled with unknowns, use this time to shine Your light upon me and reveal the things that need changing. By Your grace, I choose to come to the light, that my deeds may be clearly seen, clearly transformed, and become clearly pleasing to You.

In Jesus Name!

Posted in John | 1 Comment

THE BIBLE AND SOCIAL DISTANCING…

MATTHEW 27:45-46: “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” NKJV

OBSERVATION: As I reflect upon this Scripture, we are on day 5 of a 14 day sequester that our nation is observing during the current Corona-virus crisis. For the first time in my lifetime, most businesses have come to a screeching halt, and even churches will stop gathering for worship over the next few weeks. We are encouraged to practice social distancing, stay in our homes, and limit our contact to only the most vital of human services and needs.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the air as we walk together through this time as a nation, a world, and the Body of Christ. Our basic nature is to have fellowship with one another. We hunger for closeness and meaning through our relationships. How are we to manage in these unchartered times?

As I read the 27th chapter of Matthew, and as I listened to Jesus’ words on the cross, I was moved to reflect on the ultimate social distancing. It was the moment when Jesus, bearing the full weight of our sin, guilt, and shame, was separated from the Father. In that moment in time, Jesus suffered the ultimate social distancing so that we would never have to. He willingly allowed His eternal fellowship with the Father to be broken so that we would never have to suffer the agony of eternal distancing from God!

  • “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

As I review Facebook posts, most people are trying to address our current situation with humor. This is a necessary cathartic. However, there is a greater social distancing that cannot be appeased by humor. It is eternal separation from God. We were all racing toward this destination until Jesus took it upon Himself. Now, by receiving Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, by grace through faith, we have the blessed assurance of eternal life and we will never be separated from God!

  • “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation‬ ‭21:3-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Take a moment to think about this. At the moment we do not have a choice with regard to the social distancing we are experiencing. I have a season pass to Disneyworld. Yet, I cannot go. It is closed. If I go to my favorite restaurant, it too is closed, except for the drive-thru. I cannot go to the movies, swim at our community pool, or shop at my favorite store. I am socially distanced without a choice.

Yet, no one has to be socially distanced from the Creator of all things! There is a heaven and there is a hell. Heaven will be the place of eternal communion and fellowship with God and with all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Hell will be place of eternal social distancing from God. It will be a place of sorrow and agony. God does not send anyone to hell. Hell is earned by a lifetime of an unrepentant heart, an unbelieving heart, a heart that refuses to follow Jesus Christ. The wages of this sin is eternal distancing from God!

  • “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Yet there is a wonderful promise. BUT – “…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!” None of this would be possible if Jesus had not suffered eternal distancing for each one of us. When He cried out His last words He proclaimed – “IT IS FINISHED!” This was not a cry of defeat and suffering. This was a shout of victory and triumph. How can we be assured of this. Take a look at what happened after He took His last breath.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew‬ ‭27:45-46, 50-54‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

  • “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew‬ ‭27:45-46, 50-54‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The veil of the Temple was torn in two. This signified that access to God was made available through faith to everyone who would believe! Death was conquered by life. Three days later Jesus would walk out of the tomb. And, at the very moment He proclaimed, “It is finished,” many of the saints rose from the dead in the graveyards as a testimony to the power of His life. Even those who crucified Him saw all these things and proclaimed – “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Lord, as we work through this temporary separation from friends and loved ones, may we remember the eternal separation You experienced for us on the cross. Today, we are never separated from you. And, we have the blessed assurance that we will be reunited in heaven with our family, friends, and loved ones who believed. There is no eternal social distancing for the child of God!

In these difficult times we pray that You would draw all those who do not know You to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so that they can enjoy eternal fellowship with You!

In Jesus Name!

Posted in Matthew | Leave a comment

THE CORONA-VIRUS AND FEAR…

DEUTERONOMY 3:21-22: “And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings; so will the LORD do to all the kingdoms through which you pass. You must not fear them, for the LORD your God Himself fights for you.’” (NKJV)
‭‭
OBSERVATION: Fear paralyzes. Faith energizes. We live in a day of fear as the world faces an invisible enemy – the corona-virus. It is an enemy that we cannot see until it strikes. All of the world’s leaders, scientists, and doctors are gathered together to fight it.

It is a giant in our land!

How is the believer to respond to such a giant? Is faith and hope an anchor only for our eternal destiny, or is it an anchor also for our daily living? Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith produces hope, and hope is the anchor of our souls!

  • “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”. I Thessalonians‬ ‭5:8-9‬ ‭NKJV‬
  • This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,”. Hebrews‬ ‭6:19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬

Where do we find this hope in such uncertain times? It is found in His Presence behind the veil. It is found in our invitation to come boldly before the throne of His grace to find mercy and help in our time of need. It is found in the assurance of His promises in the Word of God. It is found in the quiet place of prayer. It is found in the tender moments of worship.

When we take time to enter into His presence, we, like Joshua, realize,

  • “You must not fear them, for the LORD your God Himself fights for you.”

How will we make it through this health crisis? By grace through faith – God Himself fights for you! How will we make it financially with the crash of the stock market and the screeching halt of business? By grace through faith – God Himself fights for you! How will we overcome the giant of fear that is crippling our land? By grace through faith – God Himself fights for you!

This may seem like foolishness to the world, but it is the believers strong tower of refuge. If all we do is watch the 24/7 cycle of news we will be conquered by fear. We need to take time to enter into His presence. At this moment we may not be able to gather together in churches due to the current health crisis, but we can gather together in prayer around His throne! There is no distance in prayer!

When Jesus hung on the cross He cried – “It is finished!” When He cried this, the veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle. It signified that the separation of man from God was ended through the blood of Jesus Christ. No longer was man alone. Through faith in Jesus Christ, through the shedding of His blood, man was invited into the very presence of Almighty God. And, as a seal of this promise, when a person places their faith in Jesus Christ, they are filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. As children of God we are invited to walk in intimate communion with the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. And, we have the blessed assurance that Jesus is always standing before the Father on our behalf as our faithful and merciful HIgh Priest. This gives us faith and hope in these uncertain times!

  • “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:14-16‬ ‭NKJV

How will we get through this crisis?

By grace through faith – God Himself fights for you!

Lord, this morning I choose to come boldly to Your throne of grace. Jesus, I thank You that my life is completely in Your hands. Pour out Your mercy and grace to all who call upon Your name in this time of need. Give us grace to walk in faith and to abide in hope!‬‬. Jesus, we confess that You alone are our Savior, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, Healer, and soon coming King! Let us hear these words moment by moment,

  • “You must not fear them, for the LORD your God Himself fights for you.’”

In Jesus Name!
‭‭

Posted in Deuteronomy | 2 Comments