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Monday, July 6, 2020

The Benchmark to Victory

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1 

My chosen class in track was the 100 yard dash. Those who ran in any track class always tried to be as 'light as possible.' When we dressed out for any practice or meet, the first order in the locker room was to remove anything that would add weight. To run any race with weight would have been unthinkable and a sure bet for being last across the finish line.

Sin can weigh heavily upon us in so many ways. The Bible tells us it's wages is death (Romans 6:23). We often try to justify reasons to carry that weight as we push off the chocks and attempt to head down the track. It can wear us down to a slow walk toward the finish line.

The race can only be run by renouncing our sin and looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. That means seeking help for our addictions, tempers, or ending any illicit relational involvement, physical or emotional, outside of the one one we committed to. To repent means to turn away from the sins that cling and so easily hinders us.

The Lord Jesus Christ makes the offer to take His 'yoke,' or burden, onto ourselves for it is lighter than our sins. He says in doing so to learn from Him for in His humility and humble heart we will find rest for our souls. He says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11:29).

We're all in it for the long-haul, whether in Christ, or not. We can run with what we've chosen to weigh ourselves down with or make the choice to trade in the weight of sin that so easily besets us for a burden that is lighter than light. If we want to be quick off the chocks, running with endurance, then dropping our weights and taking on His light yoke is the sure benchmark to victory.

Ken

Monday, June 29, 2020

What's in it for Me?

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that Day, and not only me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2nd Timothy 4:8

I heard a funny story out of the 'What's In It For Me Generation' textbook. An arrogant man walked into a popular church and said to the pastor, “I'm looking to get involved in a church as a pastor. I want to know what your church can do for me.” He asked the wrong guy. This pastor was a retired Marine. He said, “I'll tell you exactly what this church can do for you. It can let the door hit your behind on your way out.”

The Good News of redemption is never about power or gain. The highest goal I can attain to is to preach sound doctrine and Christ and Him crucified (1st Corinthians 2:2). My eye is not upon power or wealth but upon the Crown of Righteousness I will receive from the hand of Christ. To hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant,” will be enough.

If you have believed on the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and look for His soon appearing, you too will receive a Crown of Righteousness that will include you in an eternity with Him (John 14:3). Money and personal ambition will perish as all things do. Look to things above, storing up treasures in heaven where things do not become corrupted (Matthew 6:19). Use money wisely, but put your store into a Crown of Righteousness that will never perish. “Well done, good and faithful servant” will be His words to you as He bestows on you your Crown of Righteousness. That's something money can't buy.

Ken

Monday, June 22, 2020

Now What?

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2nd Timothy 2:15

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2nd Corinthians 5:17). If you have believed on Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you might be wondering what do I do next?

First, be encouraged. You were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promise of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). The Holy Spirit is living in you and will lead you into all truth.

Second, get yourself a Bible. I would recommend beginning to read the gospel of John. If you are coming from a Jewish background the new testament is completely Jewish and I would encourage you to read the Book of Matthew, with an introduction to the Jewish roots of Yeshua beginning with Abraham. The New Testament is a continuation of the Tanakh. You will find yourself immersed in writings by Jews.  But don't take my word for it.  Check it for yourself.

Find yourself a church that is doctrinally sound, preferably one that teaches through the Bible from cover to cover. While you are searching out a church there are several Christian growth websites I recommend. The Word For Today, with teaching through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation (the C3000 series) with Pastor Chuck Smith. Another is 'Cornerstone Chapel,' with Pastor Gary Hamrick, based in Leesburg, VA. Both are excellent resources.

You may immediately find a Christian or Messianic fellowship (church or synagogue) where you can find growth in your Christian faith. You may need to try out a few churches until you find a fit. I attended several in my town until I found a fellowship that met my needs for growth and discipleship.

The LORD wants you to grow in your faith. Remember, Christianity isn't religion, it's personal relationship; relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Grow in grace and truth, letting the Holy Spirit lead you to rightly understand and grow in God's word. What do you do now? Study to show yourself approved unto God as a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. I commend you on your journey. God bless.

Ken

Monday, June 15, 2020

Bark Without Bite

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:3

Did you know there is an estimated 3.04 trillion trees on Earth? Or around 422 for each person on the planet. Trees help the environment. They reduce CO2, create clean oxygen, reduce ozone levels, impede erosion, and among other things give us food and shade.

Under the inspiration of God (2nd Timothy 3:16), David gives a beautiful word picture of what anyone who puts their trust in the Lord can be likened to. The description is of a mature tree with roots nourished in its strength by plenteous rivers of water. And most importantly, bringing forth its fruit in due season. 

The Psalmist is not telling one how to be the tree, but what abiding in the LORD will bring as the tree. They will stand strong in winds of change, not withering in the heat of trial, but soaking up the Living Water they shall enjoy nourishing others with the Truth of God's Word.

Where does one begin? It only comes by abiding in Christ. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). It begins with believing the claims of Messiah Yeshua, followed by trust, then immersion in study and prayer. A fully mature tree will grow in Grace and Truth, standing the tests of time. And in that abiding Grace and Truth many will be glad and the LORD shall receive all the glory. They will rejoice in that its bark will be strong but minus the bite.

Ken

Monday, June 8, 2020

Too Amazing to be True

Remember the former age, for I am God, and there is no God beside, neither is there like to Me: Who shew [show] from the beginning the things that shall be at last, and from ancient times the things that are yet not done, saying: My counsel shall stand, and all MY will shall be done: Isaiah 46:9,10

Prophecy is telling the future before it happens. Did you know 1/3 of the Bible is prophetic with over 300 prophecies regarding the Jewish Messiah? Jesus fulfilled 356 Old Testament prophecies in His lifetime on earth.

It is sad that only about 2% of churches today teach biblical prophecy. Prophecy was so important to Jesus He took time to explain to His curious disciples things that were to come (Matthew 24-25, Luke 21). When He prophesied He said, “I have told you in advance that you may believe when it shall come to pass (Matthew 24:25, John 14:29). The hundreds of prophecies fulfilled by Yeshua (Jesus) corroborate Him to be the Jewish Messiah of Israel.

God has told us in advance so we have hope in Him. If He didn't want us to know He wouldn't have told us, so shouldn't we want to investigate these words of the LORD? We don't need fortune tellers, mediums, spiritualists, or psychics to do that. Those practices are an abomination to the LORD for they are counterfeited by Satan and will never be as 100% accurate as His Jewish prophets.

All prophecies are God-breathed (2nd Timothy 3:16, 2nd Peter 1:21). He reveals the beginning and the end with total accuracy, so we will know when it comes to pass. His promises are spoken beforehand and are as sure as the sunrise. Take hope in that, Beloved. It sounds too amazing to be true. But there it is.

Ken

Monday, June 1, 2020

No Bones About It

But God, (who is rich in mercy,) for His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ, (by whose grace you are saved,) Ephesians 2:4-5, ESV

Remember when Zombie movies were the rage? No pun intended. They were the 'walking dead,' able to rise to any occasion and run amok, the living being their own fresh-meat smorgasbord.

Paul speaks of us being dead in our trespasses and sins. I've heard Christians say that to respond to Christ we each have a 'little spark' of life in us to hear and respond to the Gospel message, otherwise how could we do it? Believe me, in times past I've pitched my tent at that site and I can tell you the firewood there is green.

What brought me out of that belief was a sermon I heard on of Colossians 2:13. The minister said, “Dead means dead. Dead. It doesn't mean a little life, a spark of life, or a twitch of life. Dead means you aren't able to move, hear, act, or think. You can do nothing of yourself when you're dead.”

You might be thinking, “So if dead means like a door-nail how did I come into a living relationship with the risen Lord?” It's in today's Scripture verses. You hath He quickened together with Christ. It's a spiritual resurrection. He breathes life into the dead and stirs them to the possibility of eternal life in Him. How fortunate we have a living God who first loved us (1st John 4:19).

It is a matter of life and death depending on where you will spend eternity, and with whom. Saying no to Christ's forgiveness returns the person to the grave, metaphorically speaking. They may continue to rise and walk like a zombie, but they are dead spiritually.

As the old song goes, two roads to choose, the road to glory or the fools highway. You can walk hand-in-hand with the King or shuffle along as a spiritual zombie. Sweet road to glory or the bitter end? Dead is dead but life in Christ is beautiful and eternal. Seek the Lord while He may be found. You'll no longer have to lie in the coffin of the old life but you'll be alive in Christ. No bones about it.

Ken

Jesus, I want to put my trust in You.  I believe Your death on the cross became God's perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.  I ask You to forgive my sins and be Lord of my life. Amen

Monday, May 25, 2020

Our Ashes, His Beauty

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

Throughout Hebrew Scripture when Jews in ancient Israel wanted to demonstrate their depth of sorrow, as they grieved they would put ashes on their heads. Ashes symbolized ruin and destruction and the fullest sense of pain and loss.

In our own lives we all experience the pain of fiery trials that bring ruin and destruction. We find ourselves sitting in the ashes of our existence, unsure why God allowed it and in our grief heaping the ashes of heartache and sorrow on our heads.

When Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) presented Himself and His ministry to Israel, He stood up in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, and was handed the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. He read that the Spirit of the Lord anointed Him to preach deliverance, give sight to the blind, give liberty to the bruised, and preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Isaiah 61, Luke 4:18-19). In other words, to give His Beauty for our ashes.

How can this be so? For those who ask Him, He can take the ashes of our lives and give us the beauty of His indwelling Holy Spirit. It sounds like a lopsided trade, doesn't it? Exactly. But that's what Grace is. It is not earned. It is received.  He can come after any inferno and bring new growth to fire-ravaged lives, no matter the gory details. He gives to us something we could never do for ourselves. When the smoke clears in any situation, He's the only One left standing with both the power and authority to restore us. Tell Him. Ask Him. Your ashes. His Beauty.

Ken