They tell me Jesus died
For my transgressions
That he paid that price a long, long time ago
When he gave his life for me
On a hill called Calvary
But there’s something else I want to know
Does he still feel the nails
Every time I fail
Can he hear the crowd cry “Crucify” again
Am I causing him pain
Then I know I’ve got to change
I just can’t bear the thought of hurting him.
It seems that I’m so good at breaking promises
And I treat his precious grace so carelessly
But each time he forgives
What if he re-lives
The agony He felt on that tree
Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord
Do you still feel the nails
Every time I fail
Have I crucified you Jesus with my sins
Oh I’m tired of playing games
I really want to change
I never want to hurt you again
Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord
“5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit”
Being born again. What do those three words mean? If you read the 4 verses here, Jesus answers that question pretty well. These 4 verses are red letter verses. They are spoken from the Savior himself. Flesh gives birth to flesh. Spirit gives birth to spirit. When your moms flesh gave birth to your flesh you were born for the first time. To be born again, means that you have to allow The Spirit to give birth to a new spirit inside of you. But, it’s important to understand that before you can be born again, before you can understand what grace is, that you have to understand the need for it. You have to understand what a sinful life is and why being born again is such an important thing. If I walked up to you today and told you that I had a cure for all kinds of cancer, you would look at me and think well that’s good but why do I need it. But if I walked up to you and told you that you had cancer but I have a cure for it, now what I have for you makes the world of difference for you. See, you have to understand your need for being born again. You have to understand that the disease you have is one you were born with. It’s a sin lifestyle. There is NOTHING you can do to fix that. Only one thing can cure that disease. And that is to be born again. This is not a new message. Most of you have heard this before. But, did it affect you? Did the message change you? Have you allowed Jesus to change you? If you tell me that you have changed then I should be able to see that change. If I knew you before, that change should be obvious to me. I hope those who knew me 5 years ago that are still involved with me in my life now can attest that they see a change. That they can see what Jesus has done for me. This is all I want for you. It isn’t important what others think of you, as Jesus is the only one who can judge you, but if you have truly been born then the proof of that should be easy to see. Blessings my friends.
I post this as I sit her thinking about ministry. Particularly my ministries. Or lack there of right now. I have not been involved much lately with ministry work, as I have been working to find my place and where God might want me to be and do right now. And as I pray about this, my biggest prayers is the picture included in this post. “More of you, and less of me. Make me who I’m meant to be.” I have thought about jumping head first into a couple things but as I have prayed about them, I don’t feel it is where God wants me. One thing I have been looking at is online ministry. It’s a reason I started my blog back up. I took a night off my Ecclesiastes study as I spent time with my family, but I want to keep the habit right now of posting in this blog. I firmly believe there is a large number of folks who call themselves Christian but do not attend a church for one reason or another. So, those people have to be ministered to. And so I believe the online ministry is a huge market for reaching many of the unchurched in today’s society. So, I pray that God puts those in my path that He wants to be reached by this ministry. Make me who I’m meant to be Lord.
I said in my first post in this series that I had read but never studied this book and I am finding this to be a challenging book. Solomon was a great writer. I am using a couple different commentaries and two different versions of the Bible. I am certainly gaining some insight. I pray as you are reading along with me that these descriptions are able to help you as well.
Ecclesiastes 3, is a short chapter and we see without a doubt that Solomon was a man. He was a wise man, but still having many of the same thoughts and questions as the rest of us. He starts off the chapter with the poetic, a time for everything. Then from there he goes back and forth between the goodness of God and the emptiness of human life on its own. He is also very clear that this is his heart and mind speaking when he says, “I said to myself” (vs17, 19). He makes sure there can be no mistake in thinking that this is doctrinal. It’s obvious this is his human mind trying to work through his struggles. He makes it obvious that while humans are higher than animals, in the end we are the same. In Solomon’s time there was no understanding of our spirit spending eternity outside the body, and that the body is simply a vessel while we are on this Earth. So, he speaks of humans dying just as animals do (vs19). He speaks of our bodies turning back into dust (vs20). And questions if the human spirit rises upward (vs21).
In this chapter Solomon speaks on several things that we even today use to try to give our lives meaning. Verses 1-11 he speaks of pleasure. Now there are many things that we view as pleasurable today that fit the Hebrew meaning of meaningless. Remember in the first part I said that definition was vapor/breath. Again what do you have with vapor or breath? Air and nothing more. Meaningless. There is no substance. So as we think about the things that we view today as pleasurable, video games, sports, the lottery and the such, these things obviously will leave you empty. That’s not to say that we cannot still enjoy them; we just need to understand that they cannot and will not give your life meaning. Even the things that Solomon called pleasurable were good upstanding things (building houses, vineyards, planting trees, herds and flocks). Yet, houses can fall down, vineyards, trees and flocks can all die. None of these can guarantee a meaningful life.
In verses 12-14 he speaks of wisdom and folly. He spoke of knowing that a wise man was better than a fool, yet he realized that both the wise and the fools would eventually perish. And still neither had guaranteed a meaningful existence.
In verses 15-23 we find Solomon talking about toil, or work. You may scoff at this but how often do we expect work to bring us meaning. Many of us spend more waking hours with our work families than we do our real families at home. And why do we work? For a paycheck? For a position? For a title? For power? Yes, all of these. We use these things to pay for the things we view as pleasurable. We already learned that the pleasurable things in our life didn’t bring us meaning. And of course as good as you may be at your vocation, you could still get fired, laid off or downsized. So, there is obviously no guarantee there.
In the last 3 verses, 24-26, we see what Solomon understand to bring meaning. Pleasing God. In verse 26, he says that when a person pleases God, God gives them wisdom, knowledge and happiness. Those things of God are guaranteed. Now please understand that those are not guarantees in this life. We all know that many good and loyal God believing men and women have gone to the grave still waiting on these promises not understanding that while God wants us happy here, His primary concern is that we are happy in eternity. That is God’s guarantee. But to achieve that, you have to have faith in Him, believe His Son is the Savior and allow the Spirit to reside in your heart. Blessings my friends.
Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV
““Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.””
So I have decide to do a study of Ecclesiastes. It’s a book I have read several times but have never really studied, so I figured it was time. And this first chapter of this book starts out like a real downer. This book is written by King Solomon, a man who has been said to have it all. He had wisdom, wealth, power, reputation, and seemingly God’s favor. It is apparent from this second verse that all of that was meaningless to him. Meaningless translated in Hebrew is Hevel or Hebel. The literal translation of that word is vapor/breath or vanity.
This book was written towards the end of his life when he began to understand exactly what was important. And I believe he wrote this book to make us all aware of it too. He knew that many of us would put our confidence in our own abilities, our own efforts, and our own righteousness. His purpose of this book is to show us just how meaningless all of this is. And to show us that our commitment to God is the reason for our living. After all of Solomon’s achievements in his life, he found that nothing apart from God fulfilled him. It all left him empty. I stated earlier what the Hebrew translation of the word was. When you think of vapor or breath you think of virtually nothing. You cannot see it generally. It’s just there and then it’s gone. Kind of like the things of this world are for us. None of these things will remain forever. The only thing that will remain forever is God and our happiness in Him. As we progress through the 12 chapters in this book we will see what Solomon intended for us, and what I believe God wants for us. Blessings my friends.
I sat today and read Luke 15:11-32, which is the Parable of the Lost Son. A man had two sons and one of them had requested his inheritance early and after his father had given it to him he bolted from town and went and blew his entire amount. And after languishing for some time completely broke he decided he would go back and beg his father to hire him as his fathers servants were eating better than he had been.
Yet when he returned much to his surprise his father welcomed him back with open arms. This is just like what happens when one of us comes back to God spiritually. I know personally I was saved at 14 years old. Yet a few years later I was separated from Him again due to my own actions. I had chosen a different path for my life at that time, one that included drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, women and clubs. And even after I had put much of that away, I still remained on the outside as I was not willing to give Him my whole me. And for quite a few years I thought I was doing everything right, but I now realize what I was doing was only for me. I wasn’t doing it for His glory, but rather my own. About 4 years ago I began to finally understand that I had to humble myself and come begging my Father to allow me to come back home. And what happened? He welcomed me with open arms. And even showed me that He was not done with me yet, and I would still be needed in His Kingdom work. And today I am grateful for His grace. And if you are on the outside thinking you don’t deserve to come back home, let me assure you my brothers and sisters, He wants nothing more than for you to do just that. Come home. Blessings my friends.
“So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!””
Are you a walking on water or a drowning in water kind of person? I was reading Matthew 14 earlier when Peter was walking on water towards Jesus and then as he took his eyes off Christ he started to sink. It made me think about myself and whether I am walking on water or drowning. And what that means? And how do I know the difference? And if I’m drowning how do I begin to walk on water? So I studied those verses again. And two verses stood out to me. VS 29-30 “So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”” Peter was walking towards Jesus and undoubtedly looking at Him. Then something probably caught his attention and he turned and realized how strong the wind was. And he became scared and began to sink. So, as long as he was watching Christ he was doing the miraculous. And as soon as he stopped he fell. Sounds like my life. As long as my eyes are on Him, as long as I am in the Word, as long as I am spending time in prayer, my life is goes pretty smoothly. But as soon as I lose focus, and I start making excuses and miss my Bible study time, or I stop spending time on my knees in prayer, I notice that life tends to start having issues. And that’s not to say it’s always perfect if I’m doing the right things, it’s just to say that as long as I am staying in Gods will, the devil doesn’t get to have a foothold in my life. The evil one still throws in his jabs and while I may stumble as long as I stay focused, those jabs won’t connect.
“31And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Many of you are aware about 2-1/2 years ago, I took a pretty nasty fall in my personal life and my spiritual life. I separated from my wife at the time, lost the ability to see my two baby girls everyday, and my spiritual life was in shambles. I believed then, as I still do, that I was a pretty good guy. I made my mistakes, but in this thing called life I wasn’t in prison, on drugs, an alcoholic and I didn’t beat my wife and kids. So, it set me to thinking, why does God let good men fall? We see it every day in our society. Good fathers failing. Ministers who fall away from the Faith. Pillars of society who screw up and throw their lives away. As I’ve studied this question over the last couple years, I have come across many many answers. But there is one that just keep popping into my head. It is entirely possible to be an unconverted Christian.
Look at verse 32 in the above text, Jesus tells Peter, “..when thou art converted..” What? This is Peter. The Rock that Jesus would build his church on. The one who followed Him everywhere. The one, who besides Jesus and Paul, is considered the man in the New Testament. What is Jesus talking about, when you are converted? Let’s look at a little more info. Look at verse 33 (which I’ve not included so I’m fixing you to open your Bible or at least a Bible app). Peter tells Jesus that he was ready to go to prison with him or even die with Him. How many of us are at that point in our lives where we can say those words? Now, wait another second. If you remember, in about 6 hours from the time this conversation happened Peter would deny even knowing Jesus 3 times.
Is all this starting to make sense? It is about “spiritual maturity”. As we mature in our faith we are able to withstand more of the challenges that we face, more of the temptations that the devil throws at us. Peter was saved but in some deep sense he was not yet fully converted to the Masters use. And that explains his denying Jesus 3 times just hours after telling Him he’d go to prison or die with Him.
After studying this pretty intensively, I’ve come up with four principles that I have found to be true and I believe will help each of us in our own spiritual lives.
1. No Christian is beyond the possibility of moral failure.
2. Satan often attacks us at the point of our apparent strength, not at the point of our weakness.
3. God allows us to fail in order to strip away our excessive self confidence.
4. (And this is the most important one) God can redeem your mistakes if you will allow Him to.
As a broken, fallen man myself all I can do is give it to Him and allow Him to restore me.
Blessings my friends. Love and Prayers.