The Via Dolorosa ~ Holy Week

The Via Dolorosa
Our Daily Bread

The Via Dolorosa
March 30, 2018

Read: Hebrews 10:1–10
Bible in a Year: Judges 9–10; Luke 5:17–39

We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.—Hebrews 10:10
During Holy Week, we remember the final days before Jesus’s crucifixion. The road Jesus traveled to the cross through the streets of Jerusalem is known today as the Via Dolorosa, the way of sorrows.
But the writer of Hebrews viewed the path Jesus took as more than just a path of sorrows. The way of suffering that Jesus willingly walked to Golgotha made a “new and living way” into the presence of God for us (Hebrews 10:20).
For centuries the Jewish people had sought to come into God’s presence through animal sacrifices and by seeking to keep the law. But the law was “only a shadow of the good things that are coming,” for “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (vv. 1, 4).
Jesus’s journey down the Via Dolorosa led to His death and resurrection. Because of His sacrifice, we can be made holy when we trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins. Even though we aren’t able to keep the law perfectly, we can draw near to God without fear, fully confident that we are welcomed and loved (vv. 10, 22).
Christ’s way of sorrow opened for us a new and living way to God. —Amy Peterson
Jesus, thank You for walking the way of sorrow and making a way for us to be reconciled to God.

Christ’s sacrifice was what God desired and what our sin required.

INSIGHT: In Romans 3:9-23 Paul describes how we are all sinners. Because of our sins we deserve God’s wrath (1:18). But God showed us how much He loved us by giving His Son to be the “sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood” (3:25). We are all “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (v. 24). Even though we still sin, we are justified, reconciled, and sanctified. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, we can live holy lives. K. T. Sim

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Look and Be Quiet / Holy Week

Our Daily Bread

Look and Be Quiet
March 28, 2018

Read: Luke 23:44–49
Bible in a Year: Judges 4–6; Luke 4:31–44

Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering . . . ?—Lamentations 1:12
In the song “Look at Him,” Mexican composer Rubén Sotelo describes Jesus at the cross. He invites us to look at Jesus and be quiet, because there is really nothing to say before the type of love Jesus demonstrated at the cross. By faith we can imagine the scene described in the Gospels. We can imagine the cross and the blood, the nails, and the pain.
When Jesus breathed His last, those who “had gathered to witness this sight . . . beat their breasts and went away” (Luke 23:48). Others “stood at a distance, watching these things” (v. 49). They looked and were quiet. Only one spoke, a centurion, who said, “Surely this was a righteous man” (v. 47).
Songs and poems have been written to describe this great love. Many years before, Jeremiah wrote about Jerusalem’s pain after its devastation. “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (Lamentations 1:12). He was asking people to look and see; he thought there was no greater suffering than Jerusalem’s. However, has there been any suffering like Jesus’s suffering?
All of us are passing by the road of the cross. Will we look and see His love? This Easter, when words and poems are not enough to express our gratitude and describe God’s love, let us take a moment to ponder Jesus’s death; and in the quietness of our hearts, may we whisper to Him our deepest devotion. —Keila Ochoa

Dear Jesus, as I look at Your cross, I have no words to express my gratitude for Your perfect sacrifice. But I thank You for Your love.
Look at the cross and worship.

INSIGHT: Can you imagine being personally responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus? Luke tells us the Roman centurion saw something that led him to conclude that he had just overseen the execution of an innocent man (Luke 23:47). Matthew adds that as the officer and his soldiers felt the earth shake violently under their feet they became terrified at the thought that they had just executed “the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
In their world, Caesar was known as the son of God. But these Roman soldiers suddenly realized the emperor they answered to was nothing like Jesus. Entrusted with all power and authority in heaven and on earth, His death revealed the loving heart of His Father.
Imagine being the centurion reading what the apostle Paul later wrote to followers of Jesus in Rome. By this time, Jesus’s death was being proclaimed as good news to everyone (Romans 1:15-17). Paul described Jesus’s suffering and death as evidence of the God who continues to groan with us in our wrongs against Him, one another, and ourselves (Romans 8).
Can we see ourselves kneeling with this Roman officer in grateful worship? Mart DeHaan

The Storm

Tony Evans

The Storm
Walking in faith has more to do with your proximity to God than people’s opinion of you. Dr. Tony Evans retells the story of a faith-building occurrence that happened at Brice Stadium in South Carolina. He reminds us that the most unlikely of people can still be a hero of the faith.

This above story parallels the situation with Hurricane Irma, which entered Florida in the late summer of 2017.  This hurricane did heavy damage to Marco Island, and its northward trajectory took it to Fort Myers.  The hurricane then mysteriously broke up, taking several weakened paths, leaving the original projected path.  Folks at our church in Charlotte Harbor witnessed this miracle firsthand.  Like Paul and Silas in the jail cell, they prayed and sang songs of praise during the hurricane, and it fizzled out, losing its original power and direction.

When the body of Christ is judged in the last day, the Bible tells us that the first will be last and the last will be first.  Many preachers will stand at the Judgment Seat and receive a C+ or a B-.  Mrs. Osborn, who sits on the back row at church, is so unknown that she is not even asked to lead in silent prayer.  But she has a faith that moves mountains and she pleases the Lord, who looks on the inward heart.  Mrs. Osborn will graduate magna cum laude.

Praise The Lord, Who Performs Great Miracles When People Of Faith Call Upon Him.  In His Service, Pastor Steve  <><

Quotable Quotations ~ Norman Vincent Peale And The Apostle Paul

Norman Vincent Peale is known best for his book “The Power Of Positive Thinking.”  It is too bad he could not have given an autographed copy to Job.  Norman Vincent Peale was the initiator of an unbiblical and man centered psycobabble religion.  Peale mentored Robert Schuller and Robert Schuller taught Rick Warren.  They are all best known for their deviations from solid Biblical theology.  Each of these men built on the man made philosophies of their respective predecessor.

The Apostle Paul was the giant of the New Testament, responsible for writing thirteen epistles, converting a jailor, planting churches all around the Mediterranean Sea, and turning the world upside down.  He is indeed the quintessential Apostle.

As we compare these men who are polar opposites, we find that:  “Norman Vincent Peale was very appalling, whereas the Apostle Paul was appealing.”  Enough said.

Proverbs 17:22a King James Version (KJV)
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:

Yours In Christ, Pastor Steve   <><

TRUE DELIVERANCE

Much is said about “Deliverance” and “Healing” ministries.  As in the case with other doctrine, many charismatic churches and ministries fail with these teachings as well.  We pray for people entrapped in sin(s) and in need of healing in our church and ministry ALL THE TIME.  Countless people are healed, and guess what?  We do not take credit for it, and we give God all the glory.  The latest case in point is June Awad and her stage four cancer that has gone into remission.  To God be the glory.  In like fashion, I have observed countless people who were healed by the Lord after “praying without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17) for the person, and nobody and no ministry received the credit – we simply thanked and glorified the Lord.  The pastor I surrendered to preach under, James Bill Grimes, said:  “Steven, I believe in faith healing but I do not believe in faith healers.”  Well put.  If the “Faith healers” had the abilities and powers that they claim, then they should literally live in the hospitals and heal those within.

Enjoy the following devotional by Dr. Henry Morris, Founder of the Institute For Creation Research, who likewise teaches on TRUE deliverance:

Days of Praise

True Deliverance
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. | Jan. 4, 2018

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13)
Certain Christian workers practice what they call a “deliverance ministry,” but true biblical deliverance is better defined in terms of today’s verse, which, of course, is the last petition in the prayer that Christ taught His disciples to pray. True deliverance is deliverance from evil, whatever form that evil might take, and preservation until God’s kingdom comes. Let us observe several scriptural accounts of true deliverance.
Note that the Greek word for deliverance has the connotation of “rescue,” and this is its first occurrence in the New Testament; that makes its usage here especially significant. That the Lord will indeed provide such deliverance, if we pray for it in sincerity, is affirmed in many testimonies and promises. Burdened with the problems of his old sin nature, Paul cried out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” But then the answer comes: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25). Even as his anticipated martyrdom was approaching, Paul could still testify, “The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18).
Peter also assures us that “the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9). He is able to deliver His people from all the evils of this present evil world, to keep them and prepare them for the glory and the power of His coming kingdom, for He Himself is the Deliverance. “As it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer [same word], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:26). HMM

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I would suggest that the implications in this brief study are obvious.  We need faithful Christians to continue to pray for needs just as they have done for thousands of years.  We do NOT need self proclaimed “Faith Healers” and “Deliverance Ministries.”  James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  Notice how God tells faithful people to pray, who desire not the limelight but to glorify the King of Kings.  A “Deliverance” or “Healing” ministry is not sought after by the Lord.  GOD IS THE GREAT PHYSICIAN – Glory Be To God And To God Alone.  Amen and amen.

All Because Of Him, Pastor Steve  <><

Times Of Completion ~ Our Daily Bread ~ December 30, 2017

The Christian life is continually full of challenges, and if you are anything like me, you may “camp out” more so on our continual battles rather than celebrate the victories.  Here is a beautiful scripture that will keep things in perspective:

 Psalm 126:5-6  King James Version (KJV)
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Take inventory about the blessings and success the Lord has already given you, and focus on further faithful service in the year to come.  At the threshold of this new year, let it be Christian Priority Check 101.  Enjoy the following year ending devotional on this theme from Our Daily Bread devotional.  Happy New Year!  Pastor Steve

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Times of Completion
December 30, 2017

Read: Acts 14:21–28
Bible in a Year: Zechariah 13–14; Revelation 21

They sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.—Acts 14:26
At the end of the year, the burden of uncompleted tasks can weigh us down. Responsibilities at home and work may seem never-ending, and those unfinished today roll into tomorrow. But there are times in our journey of faith when we should pause and celebrate God’s faithfulness and the tasks completed.
After the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, “they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed” (Acts 14:26). While much work remained in sharing the message of Jesus with others, they took time to give thanks for what had been done. “They gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (v. 27).
What has God done through you during the past year? How has He opened the door of faith for someone you know and love? In ways we can’t imagine, He is at work through us in tasks that may seem insignificant or incomplete.
When we feel painfully aware of our unfinished tasks in serving the Lord, let’s not forget to give thanks for the ways He has worked through us. Rejoicing over what God has done by His grace sets the stage for what is to come! —David C. McCasland

Lord, as this year comes to a close, we give thanks for all You have accomplished in and through us. By Your grace, lift our eyes to see what is to come!
God is always at work in and through us.

INSIGHT: This inaugural missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas covered nearly 900 miles, much of it on foot. At first the duo met primarily with Jewish audiences. In the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch (in modern-day Turkey) Paul appealed to the Jewish heritage of his hearers. He outlined Israel’s history and clearly showed how it culminated in the coming of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:13-41). Paul’s biblical preaching so intrigued his listeners that they invited him back the following Sabbath.
So many people returned to hear him the next week that it set off a jealous reaction among some influential Jews in Antioch (v. 45). This didn’t appear to faze Paul and Barnabas, who simply turned to the Gentiles who were present and quoted Isaiah 49:6 to them: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” The church grew. The opposition Paul and Barnabas faced merely resulted in the expansion of the gospel message and contributed to the overall success of their missionary journey. Tim Gustafson

The Amazing Apostle Paul Of Tarsus

 

Paul’s Missionary Journey
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. | Aug. 3, 2017
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8)
The apostle Paul was undoubtedly the greatest missionary of all time. It is well to take note of his missionary strategy, for it was designed to reach the greatest number with the highest efficiency. In the first place, although he by no means neglected his Jewish countrymen, his calling was to all peoples of the world.
As much as possible, he tried to “preach the gospel in the regions beyond” where it had never gone before (2 Corinthians 10:16), “not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation” (Romans 15:20).
He especially concentrated on great cities, particularly the major seaports. He had come from the large city of Tarsus himself, and he preached in the great capital, Rome, and in Athens, the world’s cultural center. Philippi was the “chief city” of Macedonia (Acts 16:12), as was Corinth in Achaia and Ephesus in Asia Minor. Antioch, Troas, Thessalonica—all were great seaport cities. Establishing solid churches in such cities would provide centers for carrying the gospel throughout the world.
In considerable measure, his ministry in these cities seemed to reach people of special ability or opportunity to teach and influence others, such as the philosophers at Athens, the proconsul Sergius Paulus at Paphos, the honorable women of Berea, the school of Tyrannus at Ephesus, and others of like significance.
Most important of all were his writings. Paul wrote half the epistles of the New Testament. He traveled at least 15,000 miles and preached to many thousands of people, but his written words have been read by countless millions over 1,900 years. HMM

Suffering / Part 8 Of 8

Why Christians Suffer

continued from Part 7…

9)Suffering Teaches Us To Pray

You have heard the saying  “There are no atheists in foxholes.”  Due to our sinful human natures, sometimes the only time we pray is when our backs are to the wall, and there is no one else to turn to.  Pray is our last resort.

10)Suffering Brings Rewards

There is a special reward for those who suffer patiently for Him.  Paul tells us in II Timothy 2:12  “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.”  We are made perfect through suffering.  Steel is iron plus fire.  Soil is rock plus crushing.  The Christian life is faith plus suffering.  It is God’s way of doing things.  It is God’s own way of making us what we ought to be.  God’s way is through fire, and through the fire He will perfect us.

Christianity does not promise us an easy walk.  We will always encounter many trials and tribulations, but if we look to Jesus in faith, He will carry our load.  Christianity promises us  1)all the grace of God we need, 2)a peace of mind beyond understanding that only a Christian has, and 3)we know we are heaven bound once we are “born again.”  What more can we ask for?  Are you suffering?  Then thank the Lord for it because it shows you are growing in Christ. 

Continued from Part 7…  This entire eight part series on suffering is all listed under the category entitled Devotionals/Inspirationals.

 

 

 

The Lord’s Mind Boggling Blend Of Grace And The Law

Our Daily Bread

 

Grace

Perfect Grace

 

“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. John 8:11

Jesus’s teaching about absolute ideals and absolute grace seem contradictory.

Jesus never lowered God’s perfect ideal. In His response to the rich young ruler, He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). He told an expert in the law who inquired as to the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (22:37). No one has completely fulfilled those commands.

Yet the same Jesus tenderly offered absolute grace. He forgave an adulteress, a thief on the cross, a disciple who had denied ever knowing Him, and a man named Saul, who had made his mark persecuting Christians. Grace is absolute and all-encompassing, extending even to those who nailed Jesus to the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” were among the last words He spoke on earth (Luke 23:34).

For years I felt so unworthy when considering Jesus’s absolute ideals that I missed any notion of His grace. Once I understood this dual message, however, I went back and found that the message of grace gusts through Jesus’s life and teachings.

Grace is for the desperate, the needy, the broken, those who cannot make it on their own. Grace is for all of us.

Father, Your all-encompassing grace washes over us and astonishes us. May we live today as people who enjoy Your complete forgiveness and a restored relationship with You.

Jesus fulfilled the perfect requirements of the law so that we may enjoy the perfect peace of His grace.

 

INSIGHT: The life of the apostle Paul is another example of God’s grace. Because of Paul’s past, he considered himself the most undeserving recipient of God’s mercy and grace (1 Tim. 1:13–14). Although he was chosen to be an apostle to the Gentiles, Paul also gave another reason he was chosen: “God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life” (v. 16 nlt). God had you and me in mind when He saved Paul—an awesome thought. If Paul, the worst of sinners, could be saved, then there is hope for everyone else. No one is beyond the reach of God’s mercy and grace.

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Exposing False Prophets

Days of Praise

Naming Names

“Their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” (2 Timothy 2:17-18)

Many Christians decry the citing of actual names of those Christian leaders who teach heretical doctrines, saying that such an act is “unloving.” Paul, however, considered it an important evidence of true love to warn against those who would “overthrow the faith of some,” realizing that generalities would be useless.

Not only did Hymenaeus and Philetus make Paul’s list, but so did Demas (2 Timothy 4:10), Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14), the Cretians (Titus 1:12), another Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20), and even Peter (Galatians 2:11-14) when he began to teach legalism. Likewise, John warned against Diotrephes (3 John 1:9) and the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6).

On the other hand, Paul was much more generous with name recognition when he was giving out commendations (e.g., Romans 16:1-15; Colossians 4:7-17). We undoubtedly need to follow his example in appreciating by name those who are faithful in teaching and living the truth.

Likewise, we need to be ready and willing to name those individuals, churches, schools, and other organizations that are denying biblical inerrant authority, compromising the doctrine of special creation, requiring humanistic works for salvation, or bringing in other heretical doctrines. We obviously need to be sure of our facts when we do this and also to bring such charges only if motivated by genuine concern for those apt to be led astray if we don’t speak out. But then we must, indeed, “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). HMM

Him That Cometh to Me

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)

In this verse and the verses to follow, we find Christ using a marvelous teaching technique. Several times He makes a general, generic statement but quickly advances from the general and impersonal to the particular and personal.

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Humility

“He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. . . . and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” (John 13:4-5)

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Praise of the Generations

“That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children.” (Psalm 78:6)

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God Is Able

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

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