Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday's Thought



"The Resurrection"
Used by Permission, Christian ClipArt

Have You Been to the Cross?
by Billy Graham

In this message, preached on May 17, 1958, Mr. Graham considers why people don’t want to hear about the cross—and why we must come to terms with what the cross says to all of us, in order to be saved.

This expression “the offense of the cross” sounds strange to our modern ears. Because, you see, we have a beautiful cross on our churches. We have crosses in the lapels of our coats. We have crosses around our necks. We have crosses embossed on our Bibles. We never think of it as a scandal and as an offense. And yet the Bible says it’s a stumbling block. It’s an offense. It’s a scandal among men. It’s a base and despised thing.
Used by Permission,Christian ClipArt

The cross was a place to execute criminals. It was a place where the vilest died. And when I see Christ hanging on the cross, I say with Isaiah, “There is no beauty that [I] should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2). Paul says that in his day it was an offense.

And I’ve found in my own ministry that I can preach anything else, and it’s called popular. It pleases the ear. But when I come to the heart of Christianity, when I come to the cross and the blood and the resurrection, that is the stumbling block. That’s the thing people do not want to hear. That’s the thing that is an offense, and yet it’s that very thing that is the heart of the Gospel. Without the cross, there is no salvation, there is no forgiveness.

God said, “I’ll meet the human race only one place. That is the cross.” And if you haven’t been to the cross, there is no salvation and there is no forgiveness.

Why is the cross an offense? I got to thinking about this not long ago. I see Christ hanging on the tree. I see Him dying for me. I see blood being shed. I see nails in His hands. I see a spike in His feet. And I see Christ dying for sin, an offense. Why is it an offense?

The cross is an offense because it says to the world, “You’re a sinner.” The cross said to the thief who was dying on the other cross, “You’re a sinner. You’d better repent.” And the thief did repent. He confessed his sins. And he said, “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus turned to him and said, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Christ forgave him right there. But, first, the cross condemned his sins and made him confess and acknowledge that he was a sinner (Luke 23:39-43).

And the cross speaks to you about your sins—your sins of immorality. There is no sin in the Bible that the Bible condemns more than the sin of immorality. It is America’s great sin. It is the same sin that caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is the same sin that caused fire and brimstone to be rained down on the two cities of the plain. It is a sin that God hates. And some of you are cringing because you know that is your sin.

And I tell you, I don’t care if you are a Sunday school teacher, if you are a deacon or an elder or a church leader. Unless there has been a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, it means nothing. We have a lot of religiosity in this country. We have a great deal of worship in America that is not true worship.

The Pharisees fasted twice a week. They paid tithes. They were orthodox. They were fundamental. They believed the Scriptures from cover to cover. And yet Jesus, in the most scathing language, denounced them and indicated they were not saved; they would come to Him in the last day and He would say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23).

There is no pride in the world as terrible as religious pride. Proud of our religion, proud of the things we do, when down inside we are filled with pride, jealousy, envy, backbiting and gossiping.

Used by Permission,Christian ClipArt
The cross has come down through the centuries, passing its unfaltering judgment upon the vanities, prides, hates, greeds, self-indulgent pleasures and lusts of men. The cross says to us all, “You’re a sinner.” It becomes the conscience of the world. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

And when I come to the foot of the cross, the first thing I have to say is, “I am a sinner.” But the Scripture says men love darkness because their deeds are evil (see John 3:19). You don’t want the light of the cross, and so the cross becomes a stumbling block. It becomes foolish to you. You cringe, and you go back into your darkness.

And the light of the cross begins to penetrate into your extortion, into your pride, into your idolatry, into your bigotry, into your intolerance. Into all the sins of your life, the cross sends a beam of light. You cringe and say, “No, no, no. Don’t expose me.” But the cross goes down into the dark recesses of your heart where even your wife or husband cannot go, even your family cannot go, even your best friend cannot go, down deep inside of you, and sees the sins and exposes them to the light.

God says that someday every secret thing will be brought out (see Romans 2:16). And when I stand at the judgment in that day, I shall plead only one thing: the fact that one day by faith I went to the cross and gave my life to Jesus, and I had my sins cleansed by His blood. That is my only claim to Heaven. I don’t claim to be going to Heaven today because I have preached, or because I’m a good man. I claim to be going to Heaven only on the merit and the ground of Jesus and His death at the cross.

There are many things about the cross that I don’t understand. But this one thing I know—it is the way of salvation, and I’m to come by faith. Even though it may seem foolish and irrational, and it may not seem the right thing to do, and people may laugh at it, yet God says He has chosen the preaching of the cross to bring men to Himself.

And once you’ve been to the cross and had the experience of His forgiveness and had an encounter with the Christ of the cross, you’re never the same. ©1958 BGEA

Prayer
Dear Lord, I acknowledge that Jesus’ death on the cross for my sins and His resurrection are my only means for eternal life and victory over sin and death. Thank You for this wonderful, sacrificial gift of ultimate love. May I live a life set apart to You in all things. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Used by permission of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

To learn more about God's Plan of Salvation, please visit Peace With God

Monday, March 21, 2016

Garden Perspectives: Happy Spring 2016!

"Crocus"
(C) Allen Pearson, All Rights Reserved
HAPPY SPRING!!  I want to shout it off the rooftops!

HAPPY SPRING!!!  

My second favorite season is Spring, Summer being my first.  Spring signifies the weather will be changing to warmer and, if, by chance, we get any snowstorms they will not have any long lasting accumulations.

With Spring weather coming, my gardening work and photography will begin again, this year with new photographs and gardening tips- more about that later.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday's Thought

"Virginia Bluebells at Bull Run"
(C) Allen Pearson, All Rights Reserved
Today is Palm Sunday. The Sunday, prior to Easter, which commemorates Jesus Christ riding into Jerusalem on a donkey being greeted by crowds spreading out their cloaks and palm branches in His path. Many churches will celebrate Palm Sunday in a variety of ways including the waving of palm branches.

Palm Sunday begins the Holy Week, the days before Jesus Christ. As Jesus entered Jerusalem, he knew what was ahead in the coming days. He knew it was the Will of the Father for Him to die on a cross for our sins so we would have eternal life if we believe and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior.

While thinking about what to write this week, I searched the internet looking for ideas and thoughts from other writers about Palm Sunday and the Easter Season. I am selective with what I read though I enjoying learning other opinions on most subjects. I believe this allows a more rounded thought process for myself and writing.

The internet search proved to be very interesting as I found articles from Business Journals to Religion websites to Christian magazines all writing articles to let their readers know about Palm Sunday and what to possibly expect in many Christian churches.

The thought that seems to never escape me this time of year was taught to me many years ago by many Sunday School Teachers, Pastors, Music Ministers, and the many Christian friends was that Jesus WILLINGLY gave His Life for me, so I would not go to hell when I die, but to heaven. I have a hard time letting that sink into my brain.

He did this for you, for me, for everyone who believes, regardless of whatever we might have done in our lives.

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
-John 3:16

A song that my father used to sing quite often this time of year was "Ten Thousand Angels." The song has been on my mind this Easter season, so I want to share the words with you. 

Verse:
They bound the hands of Jesus 
in the garden where He prayed;
They led Him thro' the streets in shame.
They spat upon the Savior so pure and free from sin;
They said, "Crucify Him; He's to blame."

Chorus:
He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, (alone), for you and me.

Verse:
2 Upon His precious head 
they placed a crown of thorns;
They laughed and said, "Behold the King."
They struck Him and they cursed Him
and mocked His holy name.
All alone He suffered everything. (Chorus)

Verse:
3 When they nailed Him to the cross,
His mother stood near by;
He said, "Woman, behold thy son!" 
He cried, "I thirst for water," 
but they gave Him none to drink.
Then the sinful work of man was done. (Chorus)

Verse:
4 To the howling mob He yielded;
He did not for mercy cry.
The cross of shame He took alone.
And when He cried, "It's finished,"
He gave Himself to die;
Salvation's wondrous plan was done. (Chorus)

Author: Ray Overholt
Copyright: © 1959 Lillenas Publishing

Interested in learning more about God's Plan of Salvation?  Please visit Peace with God.   

(C) Allen Pearson, Kim Kirby 2016


Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day

Used by Permission, GraphicStock
Happy St. Patricks Day.... Back in the day, I made sure I wore green to school and anywhere else I was headed to be sure I wasn't pinched.  As I grew older, I didn't on a few occasions in hopes that the pretty girl in class would notice.  

If you party or drink tonight, be careful, don't drink and drive.  There are people who need you to arrive alive.  Further, you don't want to hurt someone else.  Find a designated driver or call a cab- there area many services available to get you home after the party, here is just one Washington Regional Alcohol Program.



Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday's Thought

(C) Used by Permission, Rhetorical Jesus
BIBLE MEDITATION:
"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." -John 10:28

NO FEAR OF DEATH:
What is the worst thing that could happen to a believer in Christ? Is it death? No, because in the moment or the twinkling of an eye, they’d be in the presence of God, so why do we fear death so much? Here may be part of the reason that even the believer in Jesus Christ may fear death. We might have doubts about our security in the Lord, even though Jesus said not one of us will be lost who trust in Him (John 6:39), and to believe in Him means that they will never, ever perish (John 3:16). We are saved by faith, and it is a free gift from God and does not depend on our own human effort, thankfully (Ephesians 2:8-9).

NO TURNING AWAY
We know from the Word of God that whoever believes in Jesus will never be rejected and that everyone who comes to Him in saving belief will never be turned away (John 6:37). I have talked to countless people who continually live in fear and doubt over death. One person thought that if he were to die today, he couldn’t be sure that he’d go to heaven. I tried to tell him that feelings are one of the most unreliable of all things in this life, but God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2; Numbers 23:19), and since we know that Jesus is also God, He reassures that whoever has put their trust in Him has, as a present possession, eternal life (John 3:16; John 6:40). Jesus’ statements about having eternal life are given in the Greek verb tense called the aorist imperative form, indicating it is in the past tense, meaning it’s a done deal. Therefore, eternal life is a present possession; it’s not a hopeful reality. Saving faith in God is not a hope-so but a know-so (Romans 8:35-39).

NO FEAR FROM DEATH
I often recommend to people who have continually battled fears over their death and the lack of assurance in their salvation to read the Gospel of John because this gospel, unlike the others, gives many bedrock assurances that a person who has placed their faith in Him has no need to fear the future, including death. When He says “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish,” He means it (John 10:28a) and that no one can ever take those who trust in Him out of His or the Father’s hand (John 10:28b-29). We must remember that God’s wrath has already been placed on Jesus and has been removed from us, so we who have believed now have peace with God (Romans 5:1), and there is no more condemnation to fear (Romans 8:1). To be absent from our bodies at death means that we’ll be in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), so we who have believed have no real reason to fear.  We can look with eager expectation toward our future home, heaven, and that destination will be indescribably, unspeakably joyful (Revelation 21,  Revelation 22).

A CLOSING PRAYER
Righteous Father, give us the help to not fear death, with the assurance that we will be with You someday and for all time. Let us live with the end in mind, focusing not on our present condition as much as our eternal destiny with You, and with You there is no more need to fear. We thank You for this blessed assurance, and it is in the precious name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray.
AMEN

Used by permission of Rhetorical Jesus.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sunday's Thought

"Sunset"
(C) Allen Pearson, All Rights Reserved
Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow

BIBLE MEDITATION:

"For thou hast delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears,
and my feet from falling." - Psalm 116:8

DEVOTION:

A minister spends a lot of time visiting hospitals and going to funerals. I've been with those who are dying and those who are facing heartaches. I’ve watched those who know the Lord Jesus Christ, and I’ve seen a difference in those who know Christ and those who don’t.

I spent some time in the hospital with a man who in just a few hours would step over on the other side. I held his hand. We prayed. I asked, "Is everything right with the Lord?" He said, "Pastor, everything is right. I'm ready. For me to live is Christ and for me to die is gain."

He had the assurance of one who knew God would “never, no never” leave nor forsake him. (Hebrews 13:5)

What would it take for you to have that assurance? Do you have it now? Then thank God for it. If you don’t, have you given your heart fully to the Lord Jesus Christ? “F-A-I-T-H” means Forsaking All, I Trust Him.” Trust Him fully today and He will come to dwell within.

For more from Love Worth Finding, Pastor Adrian Rogers, and to learn about Salvation, please visit www.lwf.org.

Devotion used by written permission of Love Worth Finding.