Can I Come to Your House?

Avery 1  avery 2  avery 3Here are some pictures of my 5 year old granddaughter Avery playing softball.  It is her first year to play and she has learned a lot and she is doing really well.  I am so proud of her!  Recently it was the last inning of close game, Avery was playing third base and the bases were loaded with two outs.  All the coaches are tense and calling out instructions, the parents are into it, and as the noise dies down and the batter gets ready to swing Avery calls out, “Hey Pawpaw! Tonight can I come over to your house?”  It was so cute!

I am not sure she was fully aware of how close the game was or of all that was going on at the time but I do know this…she loves to come over to my house.  She loves to come and spend time with her Pawpaw and her Nana.  She loves to visit with us, talk to us and do things together with us.  She is always asking and wanting to come to our house.  And I also know this – I love it!  I think that the Lord loves it when we want to come to His House.  I think the Lord loves it when we want to spend time with Him and talk to Him and visit with Him.  I think He loves it when we make Him the priority and think of Him first even when in midst of the “teeball games of our lives” the bases may be loaded and there are two outs.  David said it like this in Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”

Oh do you love Him?  Do you want to spend time with Him?  I hope you get to go to His House this week!

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Redeemed and Renamed

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

This verse has been on my mind a lot lately.  It was the foundation for the first sermon I ever preached.  I love the way this passage speaks to us of the redeeming and renewing power of the Lord.  As I have been praying and meditating on this passage over the last couple of months the Lord has placed a song on my heart.  During that same time, I have seen and heard some conversations both in person and in social media where people are struggling with guilt, shame and fear.  These have been situations where the guilt should be over, the shame should be past and the fear should be gone because those involved have been redeemed by the Great I Am.  From what I can tell these individuals are failing to remember, rest and rely on who they are in Christ.  They are looking back to where they were rather than relying on whose they are and rejoicing in where they are headed!  The Lord goes on to speak through Isaiah in that very same chapter, exhorting His people, “18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing…”  If you have been struggling with guilt and shame; if you are downcast and discouraged because of your past, this song goes out to you…on behalf of Him.

Redeemed and Renamed

Verse 1
I used to walk around deceived
And I heard lies that I believed
Felt useless and worthless
Because of my sin.
My heart was always in such pain
I knew that I could never change,
Felt helpless and hopeless
But then I met Him….

Chorus:
He has redeemed me and claimed me,
Cleansed me, renamed me,
I am a conqueror, victorious
Child of the King,
With His love He sought me
By His blood He bought me,
It’s glorious, so priceless,
He gives me a reason to sing!

Verse 2
Now I know who I am,
I am loved by the Lamb
It’s marvelous and glorious,
My joy knows no end,
No matter how the world sees me
My Lord will never leave,
His love is boundless, it’s endless,
He calls me His friend.

Bridge:
And I’ve been redeemed by His Blood
And I’ve been saved by His love,
He has turned my life around.
He has filled me with hope
Cleansed me whiter than snow
He has placed me on solid ground.

Chorus:
He has redeemed me and claimed me,
Cleansed me, renamed me,
I am a conqueror, victorious
Child of the King,
With His love He sought me
By His blood He bought me,
It’s glorious, so priceless,
He gives me a reason to sing!

Verse  3
If you know Christ like I do,
Then you know my story’s true,
It’s marvelous and fabulous,
Just to know Him.
He gave His life on Calvary
To pay our debt and set us free,
He’s sinless and selfless,
The Savior of women and men.

Chorus:
He has redeemed us and claimed us,
Cleansed us, renamed us,
We are conquerors, victorious
Children of the King,
With His love He has sought us
With His blood He has bought us,
It’s glorious, so priceless,
He has given us reason to sing!

Bridge:
One day we’ll receive rewards that He will share,
He’ll give us crowns that we won’t wear,
For we’ll toss them all at His feet.
We’ll all be singing and praising
Our God who’s amazing
As we gather round the mercy seat

Chorus:
For He has redeemed us and claimed us,
Cleansed us, renamed us,
We are conquerors, victorious
Children of the King,
With His love He has sought us
With His blood He has bought us,
It’s glorious, so priceless,
He has given us reason to sing!

 

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Sharing is Caring – Sometimes

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I took a picture of this rooster right behind the place we are staying in Key West.  Roosters are pretty cool at 10:00 am but not so cool at 4:00 am when you are on vacation.  This guy heralded the upcoming sunrise every morning…a couple of hours in advance!  I am sure it is beautiful but on vacation I am much more into sunsets than sunrises.  That rooster crowing reminded me of Proverbs 27:14

If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.

Wow, even crowing about something as beautiful as the sunrise sounds like an ugly, cursing disturbance when the timing is not good or the presentation is not right.  There is a lesson in that for Christians.  We are to speak the truth in love; and the presentation, the timing, and the manner should always come from the Lord.  If it comes from us and is simply based on our passion and not His person, we will be people in the Way not people of the Way.

The Lord will always give us the right words, the right timing, and an abundance of grace and love when we depend on Him while sharing with others.  Now that is something to crow about.  But wait a couple of hours…some people are still trying to sleep. Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, Key West, proverbs 27:14, religion, sharing, the love of God, waiting on the Lord, witnessing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Can I Go?

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I took these pictures of my lovely bride when Marta Stephens and I took a walk on the southern most pier in the continental United States.  In one of them you can see the southern most hotel in the continental United States.  No, we are not staying there.  The southern most hotel has prices that are a little north of my budget.  I am told that in years past, a lot of influential and well known people came to this part of the Keys to get away from it all.

Being on the southern most part of the continental U.S. and the thought of people trying to get away from it all reminded me of David’s words in Psalm 139:7 – 8.  David speaking of the Lord says,

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there…”

David knows that no distance, no location, no problem nor any situation can ever separate Him from the Lord. The Lord is always with Him!  That is a comforting thought for those in a covenant relationship with the Lord.  We serve a God who is always with us and who will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter where our journey takes us.  We had another great day in Key West.

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Indisputable Love

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We drove from Key Largo to Key West today.  We stopped to check out Bahia Honda State Park at mile marker 35.  “Come on in,” she said.  “The water is warm,” she said.   I won’t say she was trying to fool me, but I will say that the temperature of the water and whether or not it is “warm” is truly a matter of opinion.  To me, it was cold!

Yes, some things are a matter of personal opinion, some things are merely preferences,  and some things are relative.  But one thing that is not a matter of opinion and is an indisputable fact is God’s love for us. I know He loves me and has blessed me.  I have been blessed with a wonderful wife, an awesome family, and so much more. God so  loved me and you that He gave His One and Only Son so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Oh my goodness, what an amazing love He has displayed for us.

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What About Church? Do I Need to Go?

If you have repented of your sins and accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior – congratulations!  You have been forgiven of your sins, received eternal life and you will spend eternity with the Lord in Heaven!  That is awesome!  As awesome as that is, please understand that the wonderful plans the Lord has for you are not on hold until the hereafter, the Lord has plans for you in the here and now.  You can more readily learn about those plans by becoming involved and engaged with the community of believers.  God tells us in Hebrews 10:23-25:

Heb 10: 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…

Gathering together with other believers in a local assembly that we commonly refer to as a “church” helps us to not only hold on to our faith but also helps us mature in our faith.  It provides us with the opportunities we need for worship, discipleship and fellowship.  Gathering together on a regular basis allows us to encourage one another as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord while serving others in His Name.

The question is not, “Should I go to church?” but rather “Where should I go to church?”  First of all, let me say that no church is perfect.  I have attended quite a few and I can tell you that all of them have their pros and cons.  If I found the perfect church, the minute I joined it that church would no longer be perfect!  While it is important to go to a place that facilitates our worship of the Lord, the most important thing about a church is not the type of music it has or when the service starts or how long it lasts.  The most important thing about a church has to do with what it believes and what it teaches.  Does the church believe in the deity of Christ and His bodily Resurrection?  Do they believe that faith in Christ is the only way that man receives salvation?  Do they teach and preach God’s word?  Most churches have a doctrinal statement.  Check it out and make sure it lines up with God’s word.  And if you have any questions, feel free to send me an email.  I will gladly try to help and address any questions or concerns you may have.  And lastly, pray.  Ask the Lord to lead you and guide you to the right House of Worship.  I know He will answer your prayer.  May the Lord bless you in your walk of faith.

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Good Friday 2015

Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Tomorrow Christians commemorate “Good Friday.”  We recognize that Christ willingly gave His life as Atonement for our sins.  He was placed upon the cross…placed?  No, He was not placed; He was nailed upon the cross.  He was nailed there after having been beaten and mocked and suffering through a sham of a trial.  He came unto His own and His own received Him not.  He was rejected.  He was crucified and gave His life on that day as punishment for sin.  I started to say we “celebrate” Good Friday rather than “commemorate” Good Friday.  In some ways, I am not so sure if that word celebrate applies.  I have so many emotions that go through my heart and my mind when I contemplate what occurred on that day.  I am saddened by His suffering and humbled by the knowledge that my own misdeeds and sins made His very sacrifice necessary.  Celebrate?  In some ways it is difficult.  Yet, in another I celebrate that God commended His love toward me in that while I was still a sinner Christ died for me!  In the midst of my rebellion, in the depths of my unbelief, before I ever knew Him – He went to the cross for me!  He gave His life and rose again on the third day!  He was pierced for my transgressions!  He is my Savior!  His punishment has brought me peace with God!  It is a Good Friday!

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