November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4, NKJV.
This song of praise should be considered as a prophecy, and even used as a prayer, for the coming of that time when all people shall know that the Lord he is God, and shall become his worshippers, and the sheep of his pasture. Great encouragement is given us, in worshipping God, to do it cheerfully. If, when we strayed like wandering sheep, he has brought us again to his fold, we have indeed abundant cause to bless his name. The matter of praise, and the motives to it, are very important. Know ye what God is in himself, and what he is to you. Know it; consider and apply it, then you will be more close and constant, more inward and serious, in his worship. The covenant of grace set down in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, with so many rich promises, to strengthen the faith of every weak believer, makes the matter of God's praise and of his people's joys so sure, that how sad soever our spirits may be when we look to ourselves, yet we shall have reason to praise the Lord when we look to his goodness and mercy, and to what he has said in his word for our comfort. (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, Psalm 100:1-5).
To all of my family and friends, Happy Thanksgiving!


Enjoy this short video, from an episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, where the late Johnny Cash sings a Thanskgiving Prayer.

God bless you all.



"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy," Philippians 1:3-4, NKJV.


Reference
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November 19, 2007

Preaching the Word of God on the Staten Island Ferry

Then He got into one fo the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. Luke 5:3, NKJV.

Rocking the Boat: The Man With the Bible, by Emily Brady. New York Times, October 28, 2007.

As the Spirit of America’s engines sputtered to life early last Tuesday and the ferry began its trip from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan, Michael Nwadiuko strode purposefully toward the back of the main deck, where groggy commuters read the morning paper and nursed cups of coffee.

In his navy suit and gray tie, Mr. Nwadiuko looked as if he were headed to a job on Wall Street. Only the Bible in one hand revealed his more spiritual aspirations.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” he said loudly to the strangers around him. “May God bless you today.”

Almost nobody looked up.

Undeterred, Mr. Nwadiuko, who says he is a pastor with the Christ the Lord Evangelistic Association, began to preach about heaven and hell, as he has every weekday for the past two years during ferry rush hour. He is among the handful of evangelists who in the last few years have found the boats an increasingly opportune place to spread their message.

Although no one is sure what caused the increase, many passengers find little that is heavenly about this practice. In the past year, the No. 1 ferry-related issue called into the city’s 311 complaint line involved onboard preachers. The matter was the subject of an article in The Staten Island Advance.

Lawyers for the city’s Department of Transportation are exploring the city’s options. “We want to keep the ferry quiet for our passengers, but we’re not sure what power we have,” said Seth Solomonow, a department spokesman. “We don’t want to limit someone’s freedom of speech.”

For the moment, preachers aboard the ferry are allowed to spread their gospel as long as they don’t stand in one place. On Tuesday, as Mr. Nwadiuko preached his message of salvation, two police officers patrolling the boat walked by, at which point some of the formerly indifferent passengers suddenly sprang to life.

“Can’t you get him out of here?” one man wailed.

The officers encouraged Mr. Nwadiuko, who had been standing still, to move on.

Later that morning, as Mr. Nwadiuko continued his roving sermon, he found more sympathetic ears. When he paused to say, “God bless you” to a group of elderly women on the upper deck, they greeted him with smiles and thanks.

In another area of the boat, Jennifer Kowalski, a 34-year-old resident of the island’s Westerleigh neighborhood who was on her way to her job at Wall Street holding company, said she found the preacher’s message uplifting.

Mr. Nwadiuko, 45, who was born in Nigeria and preached in Kansas, Virginia and the Carolinas before coming to New York two years ago, realizes that his sermons sometimes annoy people but says he has their eternal salvation at heart.

“There’s a way to avoid hell,” Mr. Nwadiuko said as he took a break in the St. George terminal after completing two round-trip sermons. “And to not tell these people would be criminal.”

November 17, 2007

Acrobatic Strength or Anointed Power

“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18, NKJV, (emphasis mine).

6:55 a.m. Saturday morning, November 17, 2007. I have just awakened from a very frustrating dream.

I was in a room that seemed like a college lecture hall, only those who were sitting in the seats were Christians. The room was somewhat dimly lit and the host for the event was a person whom I knew fairly well and he asked me to preach that evening.

I had no idea this was going to be happening this particular evening, but his request created an incredible excitement within me and now I had to prepare my sermon in just a matter of minutes. How was I going to do that? I needed a few hours of time to prepare for something such as this but I only had a few minutes, 20 at most, but it really felt like I had only 2.

Then the host handed to me a toy model of an Air Force F-16A fighter jet and he said, “Here. Use this for your sermon.”


I thought it was odd he would hand this to me to use something like this as a visual aid, but considering my military background as a Marine, I could do this with no problem.

So, I headed to the front of the stadium style lecture hall and walked through a large door that was cut in half, top and bottom, to begin preparing for my opportunity to preach.

Behind those doors were approximately 12 -15 people who were grading tests and my father was there as one of the officials reviewing the answers on these tests. Now this was odd for sure.

I walked over to my father and said hello and he asked what I was doing with the model fighter jet in my hand. “I need to use this as an illustration to preach tonight.” In my father’s typical fashion, with excitement in his voice he smiled and said, “Well, good luck!”

Time was running out and I needed to get going, so I departed for a place to sit and write as much as I could in so little time. Then the room seemed to get busier and filled with more people.

I found a couch to sit on which was by the door that I had just walked through earlier and I attempted to write down some notes.

With a small notebook in hand, a pen and my Bible open, I wrote at the top right-hand side of the notebook, The Supremacy of Christ.” As I wrote the title, I felt it was odd that I would write the title on the right, where one would normally write the date, but I continued.

Then my father called for me and said, “Kurt! I have your test here!”

I quickly got up and walked down the long room to stand near my father to look at how well I had done on this test. I do not even recall what the test was for either, but I did want to know how well I did.

So, my father had checked it over and noted the wrong answers for me to determine my score.

When I asked how well I did, he said, “Well, let’s see...” and began counting, but I became quickly frustrated because I had not done anything to prepare for this sermon, except for writing the title and time was running out, so I left the table where he was sitting and walked away in frustration saying, “I don’t have time for this! Just tell me later what I got!”

Back to the couch, I sat down and began to try to prepare this sermon. Through the doorway, I could hear the host say, “We’re going to worship the Lord with one more song and then Brother Kurt will deliver a word from the Lord for us.”

Great! Now I had about 4 or 5 minutes at most to do this when a woman sat down next to me and placed her head on my left shoulder, as if she was tired from some arduous work she had just completed. This, to no end annoyed me because it was interrupting my preparation time for this sermon.

I rudely gave her a lift with my shoulder and yelled, “Can I just please be left alone!” Then I heard my father yell at me in correction, “Kurt!”, which I ignored because I could not get this sermon ready and all I had was “The Supremacy of Christ” written on the page.

The woman got up from sitting next to me on the couch and left.

Then I tried to look up Isaiah 40:31, as I thought this verse could be used within what I would speak in just a few minutes.

It seemed like forever and I just could not find the book of Isaiah in the Bible! I have read that verse many, many times before and I just could not find it. Was I going crazy here?

I know the verse too, which says, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

The book of Isaiah is practically in the middle of the Bible and I could not find it for the life of me! What was going on?!?! Why was it so difficult to find this???

Then I could hear, what appeared to be the voices of Israel Houghton and Darlene Zschech’s (pronounced like check) singing, “Eagle’s Wings.” (This is a great worship song that I love too.)

Then I heard from God as I looked at the model F-16 in frustration as I had accomplished very little and had too many distractions.

He said to me, “Do you want to do this with acrobatic strength or My anointing power?”

I was humbled at that moment and ashamed when I heard this. How foolish of me to think that I could preach the Gospel without the help of God? How foolish of me to think that I could do so in my own strength and wisdom? It is just simply impossible to do without God.

I closed my Bible and notebook, grabbed the model fighter jet and walked over to the host, looked at him and politely said, “If I am going to preach tonight, I need to hear from God. Would you mind if I could go and pray while you continue to worship until I come back with a word from the Lord?” The host smiled at me like a teacher who was proud of one of his students and said, “Of course. We will all look forward to what the Lord will place on your heart to share with us tonight.”

Then I woke up and looked at my clock and it read 6:55 a.m.

While I was writing this blog, I could not figure out why I had written the title on the right-hand side of the page where the date goes. And as I thought about it, the Holy Spirit quickly revealed to me why and that was because Christ was not at the center of the message in my dream.

Was this a rebuke to me or was it a reminder? This was one of the most vivid dreams I have ever had and one that I could recall rather well too.

In each of my blog messages, I firmly strive to place Jesus Christ at the center of each blog. If I do not, then I am wasting my time as well as those whom read it and furthermore, people would be drawn to read it, if His name is lifted up (John 12:32).

In the following 11-minute video by John Piper, from one of his sermons, he illustrates for us the supremacy of Christ. Despite being cutoff in mid-sentence at the end, it is well worth the time to watch and listen.



“And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.” John 19:17-18.

I find it interesting that Jesus was in the center of two thieves who were crucified with Him. Each of these criminals represents us, but which one are we? Are we the one who blasphemed Jesus demanding to be saved from death while ignoring the guilt of our sins (Luke 23:39), or are we the one who recognizes that we are guilty of our sins and deserve to be punished and that Jesus had done nothing wrong, but died for our sins anyway (Luke 23:40-41).

"It is certain that true repentance is never too late; but it is as certain that late repentance is seldom true. None can be sure they shall have time to repent at death, but every man may be sure he cannot have the advantages this penitent thief had. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, retreived from using e-Sword).

How sad, for any man or woman to live and die, with a heart hardened in unbelief of salvation through the cross?

The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses each person from all sin (1 John 1:7) and to believe that it cannot, that our sins are too great from being cleansed by His blood is completely a lie.

Each person must repent and believe in the Gospel (Mark 1:15) and we must become born-again (John 3:3-5), to see and enter the Kingdom of God.

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” (1 Timothy 2:5-6, emphasis mine).


Related reading - The Sorcerer's Profession of Faith and The Sorcerer's Sin (Acts 8:9-24)

Reference

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary of Luke 23:32-43.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November 15, 2007

Unexpectedly Unemployed

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3, NKJV.

Just the other day, I received some very unexpected news and I was unemployed. A few hundred more people would hear the same and the coming days would not be very pleasant for those families. Despite the compensation that has been offered to these individuals, this sudden drastic change in their lives is very unsettling, especially as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah (December 4th this year) and Christmas near.

In my three years of employment with this company, I gained the following experiences:
  • How revenues and profits are generated through its transactional processing systems
  • How risks are managed across the entire enterprise
  • How the organization managed and maintained several hundred business and technical recovery plans
  • How the company tested those plans to ensure a sufficient capability of business continuity in the event of a disastrous event.

Then the unexpected occurs and I was handed a notice of termination along with some additional information, pertaining to my involuntary dismissal and I am grateful for what has been given to me from the company.

I had been through a lot this past year at work. There were challenges and struggles I had faced, disappointments too that just did not seem fair and I was looking forward to finishing this year strong and preparing for the New Year with an attitude of accomplishing more.

My involuntary dismissal has brought a number of encouraging messages from various people that I would like to share with you. I hope that their words may be a blessing to you and your life, as they have been to me, when your trial comes.

Hold fast, nothing comes into our life that God is not aware. God is taking you somewhere better. I will be praying for you. Tim K.

God is preparing you for GREAT things. He is setting you apart for His service. He does not want you to forget your calling. There is no telling what He will do for you, with you, and through you. Simply, Believe and Trust that your Creator knows what He is doing. Place your hands in His hands and He will carry you into the destiny that He prepared for you before the foundations of the world. He knew this would happen and He is not one bit nervous, so, do not be. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. Again, we will keep you in our thoughts and hearts. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. Hazel F. & Jenny R.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation, but I'm glad you're doing well. I will keep you in my prayers. Whitney P.

Well, as a person of God, I am sure you agree that when he closes a door he opens two others....I am sure he has something better and very special for you. Everything has a reason. Mercedes G.

I am shocked and extremely disappointed to hear this news. I know that your faith and studies coupled with your training will take you far... it's just a bit of sidetracking here. I also want to extend my assistance to you in any way. Please stay in touch and let me know if you need a reference, an ear, or a friend. Donna B.

Yes, count it all joy! The Master has something better in store. Priscilla H.

God will see you through and He will be your rock and your fortress. Yes, your emotions may go up and down because God did create us with emotions - however during those times He will fill you peace that passes all understanding. Joe Q.

Thank you for your message, I'm shaking my head at what goes on around here. With every door that closes an new and better one will open, stay positive. Send me your resume and use me as a reference, if I can help - I'd like to. Stay in touch and keep me advised of your progress. God love ya’. Stephen O.

Sorry to hear that brother, I know you will be OK, you’re to positive not to be. Joel L.

It's amazing how we, as Christians, face similar trials at the same time. I've been tried for the past 3 months and stretched thin but I just kept holding on to faith. I will pray for you. Rest in me, says the Lord, and I will work all things for good. Frances D.

Okay, that's not how I wanted to start my morning off. I’m sorry to hear about your job situation. But you of all people know that when God closes a door, he opens a window! I will keep you in my prayers. What a horrible time to tell people they're loosing their jobs. HUM BUG. Yolanda B.

Why settle for a job, when you can have a ministry? I will be praying that God uses this opportunity to move you into full time ministry. The world needs you. Fear not, God knows what He is doing, even if we do not. Praying that He will soon reveal to you the open door, which He has already placed before you. Praise God for this “priceless" opportunity. Holly L.

You are standing on very fertile ground my friend and the enemy knows it which is why the testing. The past few days I have been singing, "On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." It's not the first storm and it won't be the last, but He is faithful. Nancy S.

Nancy had forwarded to me a devotional message from Oswald Chambers, which was very appropriate for me. You can read it by clicking here.

Sorry to hear about this. Boy, big business just grinds on. Well, I wouldn't worry if I were you. You are talented, trustworthy, honest, and intelligent. All the qualities so hard to find in an employee. I would hire you in a minute. Myself, I keep some of my stuff packed into boxes in my office just in case my turn comes someday. You can never tell. I am squared away and ready to ship out!! Robert M.

It was truly a pleasure knowing and working with you. I hope that someone continues to carry the torch and schedule those periodic fellowship meetings. Even though I was not able to attend all of them, every time I did, I was blessed and encouraged. My prayer is that God may continue to use you wherever you go. He knew way in advance that this was coming and He will bear you up during this difficult time. God knows all things and He sees the bigger picture. You were a light here and now God is carrying that light to shine elsewhere, where someone needs to hear and see God's love in action. Stay focused, be encouraged, and God will open up new doors for you. I will definitely keep you in my prayers. Damaris Q.

I'm sorry to hear that you were impacted because you'll be missed here. I believe that, having served your ministry here faithfully for a few years now, it is time for you to do something new and interesting. I know you have a heart for ministry and that you've been preparing for it consistently, so I will pray that you have no lack in your life as you continue towards your goals. Vernon B.

I hoped that, in a small way, I helped the situation by making sure the other staff was not around so we could ease a bit of your discomfort. I regret that I did not get to say good-bye. Abby W.

I was surprised by what happened yesterday but I'm glad to hear that you're doing well. I'm still in the habit of looking over my shoulder expecting you to come from behind and scare the daylights out of me! Laura L.

Keep trusting Him. After all, it is times like this when our faith is truly tested. I will give you a call later today. Your brother in Christ, Tim B.

I have also enjoyed knowing you and will miss you very much and want to thank you for your prayers for my son (and me), as I'm going to need a lot of prayers in 2008. Semper fi, Linda M.

You've exhibited a good deal of grace and demonstrated mercy in the note you sent yesterday - I can honestly say you're a better man than I - and I know this is the power of Christ at work in you. Let me know if I can help - even if it's to talk, and we could still do lunch in December if you're up to it - we can meet somewhere for a bite and fellowship. Jason L.

Brother Kurt, I will be praying for wisdom for you. God has great plans for you. Could this be the time to pursue the Chaplain position? I know the situations that could pop up that ugly head of concern. I had many of them when I was out of work for a year. God was and is still faithful. If you need me brother, I will be there for you. Daniel M.

I am so sorry this happened to you. I believe God has his plans all laid out for us so I am sure this is just where you are supposed to be - the door is opening on a new adventure. I will pray for you. Check Pepsi's website - close to where you where and benefits are incredible. Jen D.

That's awful Kurt. I can only imagine your disappointment at frustration to get this news, especially during the holiday season. I wish you the best of luck and am confident that a man of your caliber will have no problem finding adequate employment. If times get really difficult please let me know and I'll see what I can do about finding something at the base. Your prior service in the Corps makes you eligible for entry in the Guard. Please give me a call if I can help. Best wishes and God bless, Rob D.

I am writing you with mixed emotions. From the tone of your email, I perceive that you no longer work here which is very unfortunate. You truly have been an inspiration with your Zeal in serving Christ, which is a pure joy to see. I want to thank you for your wisdom in being our "Pastor" of the prayer group. I wish you the best during the Holiday Season and I know from my own in experience that in the midst of any storm God will always show us a rainbow. Marjorie C.

The email that I received from Damaris had this verse in closing, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." Isaiah 12:2.

These words from the Old Testament are so fitting for such a distressing situation as I and many others will face in the coming days, weeks and even months. How much more do these words also apply to our lives spiritually?

Since there is very little that can be done to prepare for such unexpected news as an involuntary dismissal, a person can and should be prepared for the unexpected and untimely visit of death.

Is God your salvation? Have you trusted in His Son Jesus Christ and His death for the punishment of your sins? Are you afraid to face God in the unanticipated visitation of death, if Christ cannot be found in your life by God, or anyone else?

Last night I read a devotional message by Charles Spurgeon who wrote the following, "The cross must be carried before the crown can be worn. We must follow our Lord in His humiliation or we will never rest with Him in glory."

So the question is, are you carrying the cross of Christ in your life, to one day rest with Him in glory?

Click on either the Know Greater Love or the Are you a Good Person links on the right hand side of this page to learn what you must do to be granted eternity in Heaven.

Whatever I can do to help you learn how to walk in a new life in Christ, please let me know.

"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14, NKJV.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November 10, 2007

Happy 232nd Birthday Marines!

Today on November 10th, Marines around the globe will celebrate, or have celebrated the birth of our beloved Corps.

On 14 February 1991, I graduated from Platoon 1017, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. What a beautiful and great day that was! I had become...a Marine.

Each year it is a celebrated and honored tradition, to recognize the birth of our beloved Corps.

I am proud to have served my country, proud to be an American and proud to be called a United States Marine.

To my fellow brother and sister Marines around the globe, God bless you all, Happy 232nd Birthday and Semper fi. OOOHRAH!

Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway's Birthday Message.



Marine Corps Birthday Video from the Commandant and Sergeant Major, of the Marine Corps.

Proudly displaying my Marine Corps flag oustide of my house.

My bumper sticker on my car, right next to my Real Men Love Jesus bumper sticker.

Once a Marine, Always a Marine.

November 5, 2007

Reconciled to God - Part 1

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, NKJV.

What would be the need for a person to be reconciled to God? To be reconciled means to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent, according to the definition from Dictionary.com. Would this imply that there is an existing disagreement, something incompatible or inconsistent between each person and their relationship with God? Why should I or anyone else have to tell others their need to be reconciled to God also?

Where many people diligently ensure their financial statements are reconciled properly, they completely ignore the need to be reconciled with God. As the debt of sin goes unreconciled and death arrives, often unannounced, it will then be too late to “get right with God.”

Too often in life, one family member holds onto a grudge against another and when it is too late and death has come, the opportunity to reconcile any differences is forever gone and regret is the weight that will be burdened for the rest of their life.

The Need to be Reconciled with God
Apart from Christ, each person is an enemy to God because of sin. Sin has separated humanity from God since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). The Bible clearly expresses those offenses such as: sex outside of the bonds of marriage (fornication), idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, sodomy, theft, covetousness (a strong desire for the possession of worldly things), drunkards, revilers (those who speak abusively), or extortionists, none of these types of people will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9:10).

“The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).
No one can escape the judgment of sin by God. We have all sinned and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23, 6:23) When we explore the Greek meaning of the word reconciled, it is translated to katallaso (pronounced: kat-al-las’-so), which means to change mutually, that is, (figuratively) to compound a difference: - reconcile. Compound means to settle, increase or add to something to another.

When God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, he was essentially making the cross superior to anything that could satisfy Him for sinning against Him. Paul’s letter to the church in Colosse expressed that it is Jesus Christ “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:14).

As he continued to preach the Gospel, he told those in the church of Ephesus that through God’s sacrifice of His Son, “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). God, who was manifested in the form of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-8, Romans 8:3), compounded the difference between the debt of a person’s sin by punishing His only begotten Son on a cross and this was and is the only way to satisfy such a debt to Him.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). There is no other way of satisfying the debt.

“For He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus Christ.]” (2 Corinthians 5:21, emphasis mine).

One day, each person is going to stand before God and the judgment seat of Christ, to receive what is deserved for the good or bad things that have been done prior to death (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Too many people have a false sense of eternal security. One preacher explained to people exactly that and his name was Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). This portion of his sermon was preached in Enfield, Connecticut in 1741 titled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It is so worth the time to read.

“All wicked men's pains and instruments which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, does not secure them from hell for one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one determines in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that his strategies will not fail. They surely hear that only a few are saved, and that the greater part of men that have died have gone into hell; but each one imagines that he has a better plan for his own escape than others have come up with. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take sufficient care, and to arrange the concerns of his life so that he will not fail.

But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in the confidence of their own strength and wisdom; they trust in nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who have lived under the same patient grace of God, and are now dead, and have undoubtedly gone into hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive; it was not because they did not determine for themselves how to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of that misery, we, doubtless, should hear one and another reply, "No, I never intended to come here: I had determined otherwise in my mind; I thought I had a good plan for myself: I thought my strategy was good. I intended to take sufficient care; but it came upon me unexpectedly: I didn't expect it at that time, and in that way; it came as a thief: Death outwitted me: God's wrath was too quick for me. O my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do after the life on earth; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me."

Will that day be an open and shut case for the guilty and unrepentant sinner, with no ability to plea bargain with God?

For many who have ignored the Gospel, or rejected God’s love demonstrated through Christ (Romans 5:8), He will ignore them and it will not be God’s love that will be seen but the physical experience of the just punishment of His wrath for rejecting Him. No one should consider His efforts foolish to save a person from hell pointless because He does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9).

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 9:27).


Please click here to continue to Part 2 of this message.

References
Reconcile. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved November 03, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reconcile

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Unopened Letters. Daily Walk, May 30, 1992. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://net.bible.org/illustration.php?topic=1233

Additional reading
Graham, W. F. (1949). The Road to hell and the way to salvation. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://www.billygraham.org/DMag_SpiritualHelp_Article.asp?ArticleID=489

Edwards, J. (1741). Sinners in the hands of an angry God. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/JE-sinners.htm

Reconciled to God - Part 2

The Jealousy of God
Because of sin, the wrath of God will come upon those who are disobedient to Him (Colossians 3:5-7).

God is jealous to want humanity to love Him and only Him (Matthew 22:37-38). Lucifer was jealous of those who worshipped God and desired to be worshipped above God and it required his banishment along with a third of the angels from heaven, to a permanent residence in hell. (Isaiah 14:12-15).

He is jealous if you have created an idol to worship in your life other than God Himself, His jealousy is like a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:23-24, 6:14-15).

God is Holy and He is jealous. He will not forgive the transgressions or sins of a person if they forsake Him and serve other gods “He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.” (Joshua 24-19:20).

“God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies; The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” (Nahum 1:2-3).

His jealousy is so because He knows the consequence for disobedience, for rejecting what can spare a person from an eternity in hell.

Why take that chance? Why not accept what He has done to satisfy your punishment for sinning against Him? Why attempt to achieve God’s satisfaction on your own efforts that will only be futile and a complete waste of time and energy?

Avoiding His Wrath
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

God does not want anyone to experience His punishment for sin as it was laid upon Christ when He was crucified. He wants every person to be spared from His righteous indignation against sin by personal appropriation of salvation through Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34). His death for the punishment of my sin. Your sin.

Jesus said, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15). He also said, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:7). Without a spiritual rebirth, no one will see nor enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3-6). Whoever believes in Him, not in mere mental intellect, but through a spiritually newborn life, will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

The Reconciliation
When Jesus shed his blood on the cross, it justified the proclamation of “Not Guilty” before God, for every person who has become born-again, saving them from God’s wrath through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:9). We should not walk our remaining days on earth casually thinking that all will be well when we die and that Heaven is a guarantee in the next life. It is not. No one can guarantee waking up the next day, to read this blog. If the very next second of our lives are not guaranteed neither is the promise of tomorrow (James 4:14).

Here again, Jonathan Edwards illustrates this for us as well.
“Wicked men cannot find even a moment's security in the fact that death does not appear to be at hand. The unbelieving man has no security in the fact that he is healthy, and that he cannot perceive of any accident taking him out of the world, and that there is no visible danger in any of his circumstances. The diverse and continual experience of the world in all ages shows this is no evidence that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world.”
Therefore, as the apostle Paul said, “do not receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2, Isaiah 49:8).

Unopened Letters

“A childhood accident caused poet Elizabeth Barrett to
lead a life of semi-invalidism before she married Robert Browning in 1846.

“There’s more to the story. In her youth, Elizabeth had been watched over by her tyrannical father. When she and Robert were married, their wedding was held in secret because of her father’s disapproval. After the wedding the Brownings sailed for Italy, where they lived for the rest of their lives. But even though her parents had disowned her, Elizabeth never gave up on the relationship. Almost weekly she wrote them letters. Not once did they reply.

“After 10 years, she received a large box in the mail. Inside, Elizabeth found all of her letters; not one had been opened! Today those letters are among the most beautiful in classical English literature. Had her
parents only read a few of them, their relationship with Elizabeth might have been restored.”


As much as we should strive to reconcile with others and live peaceably among them, even more, we should be reconciled to God, by obtaining salvation through Jesus Christ (Romans 12:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

The Word of God, His Holy Word we must open and read daily. His will for each person’s life can be found within the pages of Scripture. The message shared with you now, in fact each epistle of the New Testament itself should be read as if Christ Himself were present, urging you to be reconciled to God.

Consider beginning to read the Gospel of John. If you were to read the Gospel of John for the month of November and December, not only will you experience a new understanding of thanksgiving and Christmas, but you will have a new life in Christ, by the power of God’s Holy Word.

“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Romans 5:10-11).

References
Reconcile. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved November 03, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reconcile

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Unopened Letters. Daily Walk, May 30, 1992. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://net.bible.org/illustration.php?topic=1233

Additional reading
Graham, W. F. (1949). The Road to hell and the way to salvation. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://www.billygraham.org/DMag_SpiritualHelp_Article.asp?ArticleID=489

Edwards, J. (1741). Sinners in the hands of an angry God. Retrieved on November 3, 2007 from http://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/JE-sinners.htm

Why Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life

Last Friday, I had the privilege to minister to a family in our congregation, in the loss of the patriarch of the family had gone home to b...