The Wonderful #Cross

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Have you ever wondered why the day Jesus Christ died such a horrible death is called GOOD Friday? Doesn’t it seem as if it should be the blackest day in history? What can possibly be GOOD about it?

Beloved, Jesus willingly allowed Himself to undergo the horrendous, torturous beatings and then be put to death so that we might live with Him for eternity! This is why it is commemorated as a GOOD day. We are all born as sinners and there is no way we can get to heaven apart from the saving grace and mercy of Jesus Christ’s death on that cross at Calvary. That one death paid the price for us to have the opportunity to be in heaven with Him when we die. 

Yes, we should mourn the death of Jesus Christ because He endured so much on our behalf. But even more, we should celebrate this day as the beginning of mankind’s chance to share in the intimate fellowship with Jesus forever! 

This is our HOPE!

Please enjoy “The Wonderful Cross” by  Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. Remember and be JOYFUL that Jesus paid it all!

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
—Isaiah 53:5

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Faithful, Fabulous Promises

Faithful, Fabulous Promises

By Patricia Knight

On Resurrection Sunday, Jesus approached two men walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. When He joined the duo, He noticed their sad countenances and detected they were raptly engaged in conversation. When Jesus walked beside Cleopas and his friend, neither recognized their Master’s resurrection body.

Jesus questioned them about their comments regarding occurrences around Jerusalem in the past few days, so the men assumed He was a stranger. The men were incredulous that the stranger hadn’t heard the news. Such a verbal exchange of current events would be comparable in our day to interrupting a conversation between two people excitedly discussing the first moon landing, while the entire world was abuzz with the chatter. So it was two centuries ago around Jerusalem: all conversation surrounded the local news of how the Jewish religious leaders handed Jesus over to be sentenced to death. They crucified Him as King of the Jews and buried Him in a borrowed tomb.

Cleopas characterized his Master to the stranger:  “‘A prophet powerful in word and deed before God and all people…we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel’” (Luke 24:19,21). It is likely Cleopas meant the Israelites were hopeful Jesus would militarily mount a coup to defeat the Romans, establishing the kingdom of God. Now it seemed all hope was dashed.

Cleopas also lamented that women who were at the garden tomb early that morning found Jesus’ tomb empty, with the stone at the entrance rolled away. They met angels there who reported their Master was alive. Though other disciples confirmed the women’s story, no one had seen Jesus.

If only the men had known that Jesus himself was the stranger with whom they were speaking and witnessing in the flesh!  “Then Jesus said to them, ‘You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?’ Then Jesus took them through all the writings of Moses and all the prophets explaining from Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27,NLT).

The two men invited the stranger to dine with them that evening. As Jesus “took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them, then their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24:31). Their recognition was more than mental recall: their eyes suddenly developed spiritual sight to discern what divine intervention had previously prevented them from knowing. Their hearts were suddenly on fire with the familiarity of their Master’s characteristic love and divine authority. When a mortal interacts with the immortal, a change of heart naturally occurs.

At the moment the men’s hearts and minds acknowledged Him, Jesus disappeared from their presence. Immediately the duo walked back to Jerusalem to announce to the eleven disciples that they had met their Savior after His resurrection. When the two men finally arrived to join the other disciples, “while they were still talking, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (Luke 24:36).

Imagine the advantage of having a camera mounted inside the Emmaus Café to record body language, the utter wonder and amazement registered on the men’s faces when they suddenly discerned Jesus’ true identity. Or if Jesus had been equipped with a listening device in his tunic pocket, their entire conversation would have been captured for all posterity.

But wait! There was no need for modern technology to preserve the interaction of the resurrected Savior and His devout followers. God has equipped us with his written Word filled with inspired dialogue and prophecies. The Old Testament is interspersed with myriad covenants promising a future Messiah. The Magi who followed the supernatural star in the east were apprised of an ancient prophecy that the King of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The prophet Isaiah described the Savior’s humble beginnings, His divine ministry, and His amazing triumph over sin and suffering as the Lamb of God, centuries before Jesus’ incarnation on earth (Isaiah 53).

Our heavenly Father is faithful, sharing His most vital plans with His children. His integrity is impeccable; what God promises, He delivers, even when a covenant is established centuries in advance. Every detail is meticulously followed with no last minute changes. Many prophesies have already come to pass, exact in every detail as the Lord specified through His prophets. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

With such numerous promises from Almighty God, we need only open our Bibles to access the prophecies that assure us of a marvelous future spent in heaven in the presence of our Savior. Although we anticipate the grandeur of heaven, worshipping our Savior face-to-face, we need not wait until then to celebrate a daily walk with Jesus.

Consider the staggering reaction of Cleopas and his friend, whose downcast spirits were suddenly exalted to a pinnacle of emotional triumph when the truth of Jesus’ identity was revealed. Take heart; God still promises unsurpassed victory to believers today. “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). A new age of grace and mercy was initiated when Jesus suffered and died for us. All of God’s plans for His Son, who willingly accepted His role in the salvation of mankind, were carried out as prophesied.

How do we plan to respond to Jesus? As Cleopas and his friend did, with wonder, amazement and action, or do we shrug Him away with disinterest, thinking matters of the world are more important? Jesus is patiently waiting for you to seek Him. Let us follow the disciple’s example, who upon learning of Jesus’ true identity, prayed with Him, loved him, served Him, and sought every opportunity to tell others that their Messiah had come. In light of Jesus’ sacrifice and the fulfillment of His faithful, fabulous promises, how can we offer any less than our love and our lives to Him?

#HOPE for Every Day – March 28, 2017

Christ Provides the Cure

By Billy Graham

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
—2 Corinthians 5:17

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a medicine that would absolutely cure human nature’s weaknesses and failures? Conflict, discontent, and unhappiness plague people everywhere. But suppose a cure could be found for humanity’s ills. It would cause a worldwide stampede!

The most thrilling news in the world is that there is a cure! God has provided the medicine ─ and that “medicine” is Christ. Through Him our sins can be forgiven, and by His Holy Spirit within us our lives can be changed and renewed.

Sin, confusion, and disillusionment can be replaced by righteousness, JOY, and HOPE. Our souls can know peace, a peace that is not dependent on outward circumstances. This cure was provided two thousand years ago by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Is He working daily in your life, changing you and making you more like Him? 

[Emphasis on JOY and HOPE are mine]

#HOPE for Every Day – February 25, 2017

 HOPE Beyond Death

By Billy Graham

The righteous hath HOPE in his death. —Proverbs 14:32

We don’t like to talk about death; it’s the forbidden subject of our generation. Yet it’s real for all of us. Sometimes on television I see motion pictures featuring actors who are no longer living. They seem very much alive in the picture, but they are dead. Some of them were my personal friends. Death is real, and when we die, that is a battle we have to fight all alone. Nobody can be with us in that hour, but David said he had found an answer that would take the fear of death away. David said that there is an answer to death, there is a HOPE beyond death. That HOPE is centered in the risen Christ. Paul wrote that to be “absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord.” So the fear of death is removed.

Prayer for the day: Lord Jesus, with complete trust I look toward that day when my soul will be with You for eternity.

[All emphasis on HOPE is mine]

Sunday Praise and Worship: O Come to the Altar

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Lately there have been things happening in my life that have threatened to destroy my JOY and HOPE. I say threatened  because although I have been tempted to be discouraged, I am thankful that I know that my real JOY and HOPE are found in Jesus Christ, who comforts me and always holds me close. I have that assurance because Scripture tells me so. And since I know that “all Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), I believe it is true.

Beloved, how are things going for you these days?

Are you struggling with the frustrations and problems of this world? Do you feel there is no hope for you in this life? Do you wonder where you’ll end up after you die? If so, you’re not alone. We all have questions such as these, but there is a way to be filled with a true HOPE that never ends.

How well do you know Jesus Christ? If you long for the assurance and HOPE that you’ll spend eternity in heaven with Jesus but have never asked Him to be the Savior and Lord of your life, you need to make that important commitment to Him. It is very easy to do:

ADMIT that you are a sinner and repent of (to feel regret or remorse for) your sins:

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. —2 Corinthians 7:10 

BELIEVE: that Jesus Christ took the punishment and died for you and your sins:

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.—Romans 3:22-25

and…

CONFESS that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life:

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” —Romans 10:8-11

I call these the A-B-C’s of salvation. When you admit that you are a sinner and repent of your sins; believe that Jesus took the punishment for them in your place; and confess that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life, “the God of HOPE [will] fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, that you may abound in HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

The song “O Come to the Altar” by Elevation Worship reminds us that no matter what we’ve done or where we are in our life’s journey, we can rely on the fact that the arms of God our Father are always open wide. He longs for us to put our faith and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ. As you listen to this song, consider the Bible verses below that tell us how much God loves and cherishes us. 

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
    He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
—Psalm 34:17-18

But now you have been united with Christ Jesus.
Once you were far away from God,
but now you have been brought near to him
through the blood of Christ.

—Ephesians 2:13

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Beloved, if you would like to talk about any of this, please write to me at  faithlhj777 at gmail dot com. I would love to answer any questions you have and help you in your Christian walk. 

Links to read more about how to be saved:

Sunday Praise and Worship: Jesus Reigns

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When I see the wonders of God’s creation all around me, I can’t help but feel the JOY of my HOPE in Jesus Christ as my Redeemer. It’s the kind of JOY that makes me want to dance and sing just like David did when he sang his praises to God.

The dictionary defines HOPE as a person or thing in which expectations are centered. For those of us who believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, we have the HOPE of Jesus as that person.

Christ is the actual object of the believer’s HOPE, because it is in his second coming that the hope of glory will be fulfilled (1 Tim. 1:1; Col. 1:27; Titus 2:13). It is spoken of as “lively”, i.e., a living HOPE, a HOPE not frail and perishable, but having a perennial life (1 Pet. 1:3).¹

Our ultimate HOPE is in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ and no one or nothing else. The song “Jesus Reigns” by New Life Worship Desperation Band is a wonderful way to sing our praise and worship to our Savior. As you listen to this song, think about the Truth found in these Bible passages:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again
to a living HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

—1 Peter 1:3

Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd
or the roar of mighty ocean waves
or the crash of loud thunder:

“Praise the Lord!

For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.

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.

—Revelation 19:6-8

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
—Philippians 2:9-11

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

All emphasis in the text above is mine.

¹ M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897.

#HOPE for Every Day – January 25, 2017

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#HOPE for Every Day

January 25, 2017

 

Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.

Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my HOPE in you. 

—Psalm 25:4-5, NLT