WHAT WILL HEAVEN BE LIKE?

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” – John 14:2-3 (NIV)

Have you ever wondered what Heaven will look like? In a word, it will be indescribable.

Even Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, didn’t have words to describe it: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT).

Right now, we live on a broken planet. Nothing works perfectly, and yet there’s still a lot of beauty in it.

Imagine what it will be like to be in absolutely perfect place—with perfect sights, sounds, and smells. Our TV version of heaven with fog up to the knees, angel wings, and white everywhere is a pale comparison. Heaven won’t be boring!

The more pain, sorrow, abuse, violence, and prejudice we see on earth, the better Heaven starts to seem in our minds. We have so much to look forward to.

But the only reason we can do that is because of what Jesus did on Easter morning. The resurrection gives us hope. Without the resurrection, we wouldn’t have a chance at Heaven.

Paul tells us this in 1 Corinthians 15:17-20: “If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (NLT).

I know for an absolute certainty that I’ll spend eternity in Heaven. I can have this hope because Jesus has forgiven every sin I’ve ever committed and every sin I will commit in the future.

Because Jesus has paid for my sin, I no longer have to worry about what happens to me when I die. And the same can be true for you.

Jesus has it covered: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3 NIV).

This is a promise to all people, no matter your religion, race, location, or past.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21 NIV). That is the best gift you are ever going to be offered. Don’t wait another day to claim it!

PRAYER: “Dear God, thank you for your goodness to me. Thank you for loving me and caring about every detail of my life. Thank you for sharing my pain. Most of all, thank you for sending Jesus to save me. I believe he died on the cross for me, and I want to receive him as my Savior. Please forgive my sins and accept me into your family. I want to learn to love, trust, and follow you for the rest of my life on earth. Then I want to join you in heaven forever. Amen.”

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: PASTOR RICK’S DAILY HOPE

WHEN JESUS SAID “IT IS FINISHED,” HE WAS TALKING ABOUT YOU

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then bowing his head, he gave up his spirit. .” — John 19:30 (CSB)

I had read this Scripture in John 19 so many times—the last words Jesus spoke on the day He was crucified. I knew that in those final moments as He was there on the cross, Jesus simply said, “It is finished,” closed His eyes, and died.

There’s such gravity in that moment. Imagining the Son of God, our Savior, with His battered and broken body nailed to a cross, stirs up a sense of both sadness and shame. He endured such terrible things that even thinking about them leads me to close my eyes in sorrow. Most every time I heard or read the story, my focus was on what happened, the events themselves, and less so on those three simple words He spoke at the end: “It is finished.” What did Jesus mean when He said “it is finished?”

A few months ago, my friend and Pastor Rodney Holmstrom spoke on this Scripture before a large Celebrate Recovery congregation, and he challenged each of us to really consider those words. In that moment, he said, Christ was not simply stating the obvious—that His earthly life was over. He was declaring that our sins were forgiven once and for all, their price paid by His sacrifice.

I knew this in my head. Off course I did. But had I taken it into my heart?

Rodney asked us, could we say these words out loud? “When He said, ‘It is finished,’ He was talking about me.” Could we write those words in a journal and mean them? Could we look into a mirror and speak them?

I tried, and I was surprised by how difficult it was for me to say them, how easy it was to shy away from them, as if my mistakes were too great for His forgiveness. It was simultaneously painful and humbling to realize the truth in that statement, and the truth was this: In that moment and by His death, Christ paid the price for every sin no matter how great—even for mine. Every wrong I had ever or would ever commit was forgiven, the debt for it paid in full, before I ever drew my first breath. I only had to accept it. How could that be?

I left that service that night with the weight of those words still clinging to my thoughts: When He said, “It is finished,” He was talking about me. At home, I tried saying them aloud again and again. And while it was still difficult, I found that each time I spoke them, my heart had a harder time rejecting them. The truth began to win. Later, I spent some time writing and creating around John 19:30 in my journaling Bible, and I found that with each moment that I lingered there, those words became further etched onto my heart.

It’s fascinating how we can spend years knowing something without fully accepting it as certainty. Since childhood, I had believed that Jesus died for our sins and accepting Him meant we were forgiven. But isn’t it often easier to think that applies to everyone else?

I came to recognize that the shame and guilt of my own mistakes had clouded my understanding. I had believed the lies in my head (as so many of us do), like: I’ve made too many mistakes. Maybe I’m different. How could He really forgive me? My sin is just too great… I had let those lies sink deeply into my heart. But speaking and writing that simple, declarative sentence began to destroy the lies by covering them with his truth—that no sin is too great for his mercy, not even mine—and it brought me immediate peace and joy.

Today, as you consider the events from the day Jesus was crucified, as you consider Jesus’ last words, as you ponder that weighty moment when His spirit passed, try speaking those words aloud (even if you have to whisper them to get them out): When He said, ‘It is finished,’ He was talking about me.

Then say it again. Accept this truth—that Jesus died to grant the forgiveness of sins for all who accept Him—and annihilate the lie that your sins are too great or too numerous. Try writing it down or reflecting in the pages of your journaling Bible. How does it feel to know that every mistake—past, present or future—is covered and the debt is paid in full? When Jesus said “it is finished,” He was talking about me. He was talking about you!

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Day Spring

JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS INTRODUCTION

Today, Friday 10th April, 2020 is Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On that day, Jesus was crucified in a very cruel way. It was a painful death but it was also dramatic, symbolic and fulfillment of prophecy. I would like us to journey through the Bible on the story of Jesus’ death.
JESUS PRAYS IN GETHSEMANE
Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and He said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and He became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with His face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then He returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When He returned to them again, He found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. So He went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then He came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!” – Matthew 26:36-46.
JESUS BEFORE THE COUNCIL
Then the people who had arrested Jesus led Him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and the elders had gathered. Meanwhile, Peter followed Him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end. Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put Him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” “Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!” Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat Him with their fists. And some slapped him, jeering, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?” – Matthew 26:57-68.
THE COUNCIL OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS CONDEMNS JESUS
Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders of the people met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. Then they bound Him, led Him away, and took Him to Pilate, the Roman governor. When Judas, who had betrayed Him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, He was filled with remorse. So He took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.  The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood.  This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says, “They took the thirty pieces of silver—
the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, and purchased the potter’s field,
as the Lord directed.” – Matthew 27:1-10
JESUS’ TRIAL BEFORE PILATE
Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him. Jesus replied, “You have said it.”  But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against Him, Jesus remained silent.  “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise. Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas.  As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)  Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about Him last night.” Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?” The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!” Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah? They shouted back, “Crucify him!” “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has He committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify Him!” Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!” So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned Him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. – Matthew 27:11-26
THE CRUCIFIXION
Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”).  The soldiers gave Jesus wine mixed with bitter gall, but when He had tasted it, He refused to drink it. After they had nailed Him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for His clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as He hung there. A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against Him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with Him, one on His right and one on His left.  The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Look at you now!” they yelled at Him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!” The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus.  “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but He can’t save himself! So He is the King of Israel, is He? Let Him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in Him! He trusted God, so let God rescue Him now if He wants Him! For He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”  Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with Him ridiculed Him in the same way. – Matthew 27:32-44
THE DEATH OF JESUS
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.  At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought He was calling for the prophet Elijah.  One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to Him on a reed stick so He could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.” Then Jesus shouted out again, and He released His spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for Him were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee. – Matthew 27:45-56.
THE BURIAL OF JESUS
As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in His own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then He rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching. – Matthew 27:57-61.
THE GUARD AT THE TOMB
The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while He was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’  So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent His disciples from coming and stealing His body and then telling everyone He was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it. – Matthew 27:62-66.
STAY BLESSED!
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THE MEANING OF JESUS SUFFERING

“Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to His own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” – Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV).

INTRODUCTION
Today 10th April, 2020 is Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On that day, over two thousand years ago, Jesus was crucified in a very cruel way. It was a painful death but it was also dramatic, symbolic and fulfillment of prophecy. On that day darkness covered the earth for three hours! And the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the rest of the Temple was torn into two, from top to bottom so that we could have complete access to God. Jesus by His suffering on the cross, bridged the gap between us and the Holy God.

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF HIS DEATH AND WHAT DOES IT MANIFEST?
1. The Cross Manifests God’s Love: But God demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8 (NIV)

2. The Cross Manifests God’s Justice:
“But now God has shown us a different way of being right in His sight – not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty (we are justified). He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when He did not punish those who sinned in former times. And He is entirely fair and just in this present time when He declares sinners to be right in His sight because they believe in Jesus” – Romans 3:21-26 (NLT)

3. The Cross Manifests the Wisdom and Power of God:
“I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy human wisdom and discard their most brilliant ideas.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never find Him through human wisdom, He has used our foolish preaching to save to save all who believe. God’s way seems foolish to the Jews because they want a sign from heaven to prove it is true. And it is foolish to the Greeks because they believe only what agrees with their own wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God. This “foolish’ plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength” – 1 Cor. 1:18 -25 (NLT)

4. The Cross Manifests the Victory of God Over the Forces of Evil:
“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross of Christ” – Col. 2:13-15; Heb. 14:15; 2 Tim. 1:10 (NLT)

WHAT DID THE CROSS ACHIEVE?
The Cross Achieved Forgiveness of Sins.
“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then god made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins” – Col. 2:13 (NLT)
“He was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised from the dead to make us right with God” – Romans 4:25 (NLT)

The Cross Achieved Justification, Peace with God and Access into God’s Grace:
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory” – Romans 5:1-3 (NLT)

Achieved Reconciliation between God and Man and Gives Man the Ministry of
Reconciliation:
“All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to Himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to Him” – 2 Cor. 5:18 (NLT)

The Cross Achieved for Jesus the Name above all Names at which Every Knee Bow
and Tongue Should Confess that Jesus is Lord.
“And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. Because of this, God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father – Phil. 2:9-11 (NLT)

HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE?
1. Celebrate the feast not with old yeast of malice and wickedness but with bread without yeast: sincerity and truth.
“Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not by eating the old bread of wickedness and evil, but by eating the new bread of purity and truth”– 1 Cor. 5:7b-8 (NLT)

2. Hold Firm Faith and Approach the Throne of Grace with Confidence.
“That is why we have a great High priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to Him and never stop trusting Him. This High Priest of ours understands our weakness, for He faced all of the same temptations we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it” – Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)

Stay blessed!
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WHAT DOES JESUS’ DEATH MANIFEST?

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted.  But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to His own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” – Isaiah 53:4-6 NIV.

Tomorrow, 10th April, 2020 is Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On that day, over two thousand years ago, Jesus was crucified in a very cruel way. It was a painful death but it was also dramatic, symbolic and fulfillment of prophecy. On that day darkness covered the earth for three hours! And the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the rest of the Temple was torn into two, from top to bottom so that we could have complete access to God. Jesus by His suffering on the cross, bridged the gap between us and the Holy God.

What is the meaning of His death and what does it manifest?

1. The Cross Manifests God’s Love:
But God demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8 (NIV)

2. The Cross Manifests God’s Justice:
“…We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.  For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty (we are justified). He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when He did not punish those who sinned in former times. And He is entirely fair and just in this present time when He declares sinners to be right in His sight because they believe in Jesus” – Romans 3:21-26 (NLT)

3.   The Cross Manifests the Wisdom and Power of God:
“I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction.  But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God.  As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy human wisdom and discard their most brilliant ideas.”  So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters?  God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense.  Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never find Him through human wisdom, He has used our foolish preaching to save to save all who believe.  God’s way seems foolish to the Jews because they want a sign from heaven to prove it is true.  And it is foolish to the Greeks because they believe only what agrees with their own wisdom.  So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.  But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God.  This “foolish’ plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength” – 1 Cor. 1:18 -25 (NLT)

4.   The Cross Manifests the Victory of God Over the Forces of Evil:
“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away.  Then God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave all our sins.  He canceled the record that contained the charges against us.  He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.  In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities.  He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross of Christ” – Col. 2:13-15; Heb. 14:15; 2 Tim. 1:10 (NLT)

REMINDER: Let’s be reminded we are still in the Lenten period and we should continue to fast, pray and read our Bible.

STAY BLESSED

SALT AND LIGHT

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” – Matthew 5:13(NIV).
Both Salt and Light are forces that change an alien environment permanently. Salt enhances flavor and preserves or slows decay only if the salt itself stays pure. Sodium chloride is a stable compound and cannot lose its saltiness but it can lose its effectiveness by being diluted. This point is the application for Christians. Light symbolises purity and divine revelation. If Christians are only showing the decay, our mission would seem rather bleak but we are also to be beacons of light to those who will respond.

If a seasoning has no flavor, it has no value. If Christians make no effort to affect the world around us, we are of little value to God. If we are too much like the world, we are worthless. Christians should not blend in with everyone else, instead we should affect others positively just as seasoning brings out the best flavor in food.

If we live for Christ, we will glow like lights showing others what Christ is like. We hide our light by

  • Being quiet when we should speak;
  • Going along with the crowd;
  • Denying the light;
  • Letting sin dim our light
  • Not explaining our light to others; or
  • Ignoring the needs of others.

Be a beacon of truth – do not shut your light off from the rest of the world.

TOGETHERNESS

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no
one to help him up!”-
 Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV).

Some of the most fascinating trees I have ever seen are the magnificent redwoods. They reach their leafy arms heavenward, commonly growing 200 to 275 feet tall. These trees stand like sentinels of time and have done so for hundreds of years. Some were living at the time Christ walked on earth.

They’ve been through winds, earthquakes, fires and storms–still they stand. Nothing seems to deter them. What is so amazing is that these trees, among the tallest in the world, have a comparably shallow root system and yet they rarely ever fall. How do they keep standing even in the wildest of storms? It’s because the redwood’s root systems reach out for great distances and are intertwined with one another. They literally hold each up other up.

If you and I are going to reach our full potential, we too need the support of each other, not to be over-dependent but inter-dependent.

Together, we can fight this corona virus disease. By helping the less privileged during this lock down, not hiking prices of essential items and staying home to reduce the spread of the virus. None of us can stand alone. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

PRAYER“Dear God, please help me to be like a mighty redwood tree giving and receiving support to and from my fellow Christian friends so that I, too, can reach the heights of my God-given potential. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus’s name. Amen.”

REMINDER: Let’s be reminded we are still in the Lenten period and we should continue to fast, pray and read our Bible. 

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: TODAY’S DAILY ENCOUNTER

THIS TOO WILL PASS

“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)
When crisis hits, you have to do the smart things necessary to get through it. You listen to what the experts say, you make good choices, and you keep moving forward, remembering at the same time that this will pass. It’s not going to last forever!
The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:12, “Dear friends, don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you” (TLB).

In this world, there will be times of trial and testing—it’s guaranteed! Since sin entered the world, nothing works perfectly. Everything on this planet is broken—the weather, the economy, your body, and even your best plans. Nothing works perfectly in this life because sin broke everything on earth.

Isaiah 24 says, “The land suffers for the sins of its people [for they] have twisted the laws of God and broken his everlasting commands . . . The earth has broken down in utter collapse” (v. 4-5, 19 TLB).

Everything is lost, abandoned, and confused. Even nature is groaning. We may wonder why God allowed sin and evil to enter the world, but it’s because he gives us a choice.

We’re the ones that cause evil. We’re the ones that are selfish and self-centered and cause problems in society and in our environment. This is why we’re to pray the Lord’s Prayer—”Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”—because this is not heaven. Heaven is a perfect place with no sorrow, no sickness, no sadness, no stress, and we shouldn’t expect heaven on earth. One day we’ll get there, but we’re not there yet.

We will get through this trial. One day the corona virus crisis will be a part of our history. Soon enough we will marvel at all that God did in the midst of this trouble as we look at it from the other side.

And there will be more challenges to face and adversity to endure. This is part of our reality on this earth. But we always hope, because “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV).

Talk About It

  • What are some ways you want to have grown spiritually, physically, and emotionally when you look back at this tumultuous time in our history?
  • While God does not cause bad things to happen, how do you think he wants to redeem them?
  • What have you placed your hope in during this crisis? Will it be enough to sustain you?

REMINDER: Let’s be reminded we are still in the Lenten period and we should continue to fast, pray and read our Bible. 

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: PASTOR RICK’S DAILY HOPE

THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE – (PART II) (THE CROSS OF CHRIST)

SCRIPTURE

Not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Hebrews 9:12)

INTRODUCTION
In part one of our article on the above topic, “The Ultimate Sacrifice” (The Cross of Christ)
we pointed out that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to save mankind was the most shameful death by anyone, yet it was designed that way, that the most abhorrent might bring the most glorious. We also indicated that sacrifices involve many things. But this Ultimate Sacrifice involved three things – a cross, a Saviour and a crown. The first was in the past, the second is in the present and the third will be in the future.

Enjoy the concluding part of the article and share it with others!

THE CROSS: THE EMBODIMENT OF MAN’S REDEMPTION
Man’s record of assistance spins uncontrollably between the realms of ‘unwilling when able and unable when willing’. Not so with Christ Jesus. Jesus’ mission in life was to save man. He Himself said concerning His mission: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” – Mark 10:45. (NIV)

At the core of that package was restoration of all that man lost in the Garden of Eden. He loved us too much to leave us to our own devices and sin’s dreary mire into which we had sunk. He alone also had the power to meet the demands of the law which we violate with impunity.

He chose to do that which none other was able or willing to do. Our sin was costly; we owed the debt of sin that we could not pay and Jesus paid the debt that He did not owe.
A lot of people do not realize what was lost, so they don’t feel the sense of loss. But man—that is, humanity—lost a lot. Eden was idyllic. It was peaceful, a place of beauty, where everything was declared ‘perfect.’ There was no pain, no sickness, no extreme temperature, and no drought. Man and animals lived together in harmony. The fishes in these as lived in harmony. None fed on the other. [I struck out this to avoid any confusion with New Agers and the heresy of Emergent Churches that is introducing ancient mysticisms into Christianity] There was harmony in all of God’s creation. God communed with His children, every evening He would go down to talk about the day with them. They could see, touch, laugh with and embrace God. But with sin, all was lost—but for Christ’s intervention.

THE CHANNEL TO ACCOMPLISH THAT MISSION WAS A CROSS
Barabbas Cross, My Cross: Yet the cross is not the issue, but He who hung on the cross. Jesus Christ hung on Barabbas’ cross. Afterwards, it came to symbolize life to all men until the end of time. Had it remained Barabbas’ cross, humanity would have been no better off today than in the hopeless state that plagued us after our sin in Eden.

The cross on which Jesus Christ hung has long since rotted away, but because the Sinless Lamb of God hung on it, that cross came to take on a life of its own.
No longer just the cross, but now the Cross of Jesus. Not susceptible to termite and decay, but alive and potent in the heart of every believer. Able to save to the uttermost every male, female, young, old, poor or rich person from Calvary to the end of the world, the Cross of Christ lives on today.

The Apostle Paul with his impeccable academic references, his excellent cultural and social pedigree, and his un-impeached adherence to religion-cultural norms, un-equalled and unparalleled passion for perfection of the status quo, declared fervently about his achievements: “…. I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ”- Philippians 3:8 (NIV)

He chose not to glory in his accomplishments and achievements. He chose rather to boast in the cross of Christ, the most abhorring object of death at that time: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” – Galatians 6:14 (NIV) “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV)

On that old, rugged cross on Calvary, the Son of God died to save man from his sins. There His blood was shed so that we will not have to die for our sins. That cross stands today, no longer representing shame and death, but as the symbol of redemption from sin and restoration back to our Creator.

Tears flow from the eyes of sinful man when we contemplate the depth of agony and love that mingled on that cross to complete the Ultimate Sacrifice. It is what has transformed our lives today and given us the right to be called the children of God. George Bennard captured it well in His well-sung hymn: The Old Rugged Cross.

As you ponder on the words, remember His pain. Reflect on His sacrifice. Review your life. He was nailed to the cross once for your sins. Celebrate the release from the bondage of sin that represents for you and do not nail Him to the cross again with your decisions and actions.

THE OLD RUGGED CROSS:
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross
The emblem of suffering and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best;
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain: So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
‘Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

 

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above;
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died;
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

To Ponder: George Bennard further said that ‘the cross is the only ladder high enough to touch Heaven’s threshold.’ It is clear that there is no other hope for man. We are dead without Christ Jesus for we cannot pay the penalty of sin. He was nailed to the Cross for us that we might be saved. Why not take Him up on the offer of that salvation?
Stay Blessed!
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OVERCOMING TEMPTATION

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.” – Matthew 4:10 (CSB)

MESSAGE

The gospel of Matthew tells us that after going more than a month without food or water, after spending nearly six weeks in complete isolation, Jesus had to do battle with the devil. He was hungry, and the devil offered bread – tempting Jesus not just to satisfy His hunger but to take control of a situation. Later he offered power and glory, trying to trick Jesus into testing His own Father and worshiping His enemy.

Each time He was met with temptation, Jesus resisted. Though He was weakened from fasting, He leaned on the strength of His Father. Though the devil was sneaky and clever, Jesus leaned on His knowledge of truth in Scripture. And so He resisted the temptation while also giving us a template for doing the same.

Through God’s grace (and years of lessons learned the hard way) I remember the real solution to the problem of temptation. Worrying won’t add a minute to my life. And I remember that what makes a difference in every single situation that arises is looking the devil in the face and resisting just like Jesus. What turns my heart around, even if my circumstances stay the same, is meditating on the Word of God, trusting Him, and worshiping Him with gratitude and awe for who He is and everything He has done and will do.

As we spend this season of Lent letting God prepare our hearts for a celebration of the resurrection, we may find ourselves feeling vulnerable. When we spend time face to face with the magnitude of our God and the depravity of our own sin, when we humble ourselves and repent, when we obey God’s call to sacrifice and to serve others, that is likely when temptation will strike hardest. And it’s then that we must follow Jesus’ blueprint for resistance and leave that devil behind in the wilderness.

PRAYER: “Thank You, Jesus. Thank You for facing the devil and refusing to back down. Thank You for looking him in the eyes and bowing to no one but God, our Father. Thank You for showing us exactly how to resist the temptation we face every day, not by being superhuman or super strong, but by leaning on the strength we’re all given by God. Please protect me. Protect me from every temptation, every sin, every familiar disobedience my instincts tell me to embrace. Give me strength, Lord, and give me clarity to remember Your Word in the right moments. Remind me of all the truth I’ve learned about You and what You want for me. Help me resist, God. Thank You”. Amen

REMINDER: Let’s be reminded we are still in the Lenten period and we should continue to fast, pray and read our Bible.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: DAY SPRING

We are in difficult moments because of COVID-19, but we must pray and trust God that He will protect and heal us. Follow all the health protocols and please spread CALM NOT FEAR. 
Rev. Dr. Joyce R. Aryee 
ED, SALM