But With God

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

—Matthew 19:26

 

“That will never happen.”

“They will never change.”

“That marriage is over.”

“I will never get that job.”

“I can’t go to college.”

“No one will ever love me.”

“There’s no cure for this.”

How many times during the day do we limit what God can do with our words and thoughts?

It is so very important to pray about everything that concerns us.

With God, all things are possible….

 

 

possible

With You

The eleven disciples went to the hill in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, even though some of them doubted. Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”

—Matthew 28:16-20

 

Even though we may feel alone, we are not.

Even though we may doubt, Jesus remains the same.

Even though the end of the age may come, Jesus will be with us, always…

 

 

with-you

The Same

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

—Hebrews 13:8

 

 

There is a metal cross placed in my yard.

It was a gift from a friend.

Whenever someone visits me and notices the cross, there is no mistaking what it represents.

Jesus loved us when He gave Himself for us on the cross.

He loves us today and He will always love us.

 

today and forever

Beside the Sea

Many people gathered around Jesus when He was teaching.

Different places, different people.

Yet, they gathered around Him.

There were, of course, a great number of people who agreed with the things He said.

Surely there were some that didn’t.

Even so, people came to hear what He was saying.

There was a day when Jesus sat in a boat on water and the crowd gathered on land just to hear Him.

They were interested in hearing His thoughts.

The subjects He spoke about during His time on Earth are recorded in the scriptures.

We can read in our own language what Jesus had to say.

Are we gathered around the Bible each day to see what He has to say to us?

 

Again He began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.

—Mark 4:1

 

beside the sea

 

 

We Are Made Right

Driving along the highway, I approached a drawbridge that was raised.

The red stop lights were on, so any car that approached had to come to a halt.

Some type of boat was surely making a safe passage under the raised bridge.

Unless the obstruction of steel and concrete could be moved, the boat would not be able to pass to the other side.

Jesus did something for us when He died on the cross.

He made it possible for the obstruction of sin to be removed.

Our sin created a barrier between us and a safe passage to Heaven when we die.

The Bible says that all have sinned.

When Jesus took on that sin for us, He then lifted the penalty for it.

With the penalty of sin taken away, there is now an open passage for those who accept Him as their Savior.

Romans 3:21-24

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.

made right

Pardon

What do we do when we see someone struggling in the water, possibly drowning?

Most of us–certainly nearly all of us–would try to help in some way and do it quickly.

Yell for help.

Find a lifeguard.

Throw out a life jacket.

Maybe even jump into the water ourselves to attempt a rescue.

We would do this not just for our families and loved ones, but even for strangers.

People we had never met.

Imagine the unthinkable scenario of a person in a boat taking notice of a struggling, drowning swimmer.

Amid the cries for help, the man in the boat doesn’t reach for the life ring to throw in.

He doesn’t consider jumping into the water to save the swimmer.

Instead, he shakes his head and calls out, “Didn’t you know that the currents were rough over there?

You shouldn’t have ever gone swimming by yourself, anyway!

It’s your own fault to be in the mess you’re in!

You should’ve been in a boat, like me!”

No compassion.

No understanding.

No help….

It’s horrible just to think about it, isn’t it?

It gets a lot worse if you think about the swimmer as being someone you love.

One of your children.

Your dad.

Your mom.

Your spouse…

Yet, could this be how we think about others that don’t know about the saving grace of Jesus?

If we have found safety and forgiveness in Him, are we reluctant to help others when they are struggling with sin and its effects?

When people we see are drowning in life’s problems, how do we respond?

Do we call out (sometimes silently in our own minds), “Didn’t you know better than to…

get mixed up with drugs?

date those kind of people?

stay out all night?

marry him?

marry her?

take that job?

become an alcoholic?

You should never have done that!

It’s your own fault that you’re in the mess you’re in!”

How do we respond?

Do we try to help and do it quickly?

Do we call to others to assist in helping?

Do we throw out a life ring and tell them that there is a Savior who loves them?

Do we try to jump into the “water” ourselves and begin to really know and understand their problems, all the while pointing them to God?

What if it was your child, your parent or your spouse who was struggling?

Wouldn’t you want someone—anyone—to help?

Look out on the water around you.

Who’s out there?

How will you respond?

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Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.

–Luke 6:37

 

pardon

The New is Here!

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It is now 9:58 in the evening.

Still another two hours before the new year, the sound of fireworks in my vicinity has already begun.

Why is it that people celebrate what is new?

A new year?

A new job?

A new baby?

Newness brings with it an open-ended invitation to possibilities.

What we have hoped might become a reality.

We are encouraged as we think of that which is to come as being “better” than what has already been.

For believers in Jesus, we celebrate our new lives.

When we yielded ourselves to God, the transformation was complete.

2 Corinthians 5:17 reads,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

This dramatic change–this rebirth–has made us to be a new creation.

When each of us is transformed in this way, choosing Jesus, there is a celebration of rejoicing in Heaven as well as in our hearts.

The new is here!

 

 

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new

The Water I Give

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Walking by a butterfly garden, I noticed a very old water fountain.

It may have been in working order, but I didn’t try to find out.

Had I been really thirsty, I might have been more interested.

There was no guarantee that it would produce water.

Even if I had been close to dehydration, the fountain might have worked and it might not have worked.

Jesus said,

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

The whole of humanity is not thirsty; we are, however, in need of a Savior.

Jesus is that Savior and we need look no further for another one.

Once we have Jesus, that is enough.

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thirsty

It is the Gift of God

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Gifts will be given this Christmas to show love to one another.

The greatest gift given in history is the gift of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a sacrifice for our salvation.

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But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.

—Ephesians 2:4-8

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saved

For the Joy

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What is joy?

What is happiness?

Recently, I heard someone say that joy was the result of Jesus and that happiness was the result of happenings.

This is one of those statements that can be taken apart and pondered over from every angle.

What kinds of happenings make us happy?

Driving a new car?

Getting married?

Being selected for a special job?

Winning a medal?

Having a baby?

Finishing school?

Falling in love?

Almost anything could make us happy in the right circumstances.

What kind of joy does Jesus give?

That’s more difficult to describe, isn’t it?

A sense of deep personal worth.

A strong awareness of His presence.

A faith that comforts.

A belief that above all else, we are loved.

Joy comprises all these and more.

Of great importance is the distinction between things that could happen and what is already and forever in existence.

The joy in our heart that comes from Jesus fills our souls, remaining a constant source.

Happiness from any given situation may flourish and then decrease.

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Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

—from Nehemiah 8:10

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joy of the LORD

 

 

Prince of Peace

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For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting  Father, Prince of Peace.

—Isaiah 9:6

While visiting a large city, I saw a building with crosses on the rooftop.
With gold colored accents, the structure seems majestic.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we remember who He is and who we are.
He is our Savior.
He is our Prince of Peace.
We are His forgiven children…

 

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everlasting

The Son of the Most High

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A very beautiful Christmas song is “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.”

I have been listening to an instrumental version this Christmas season.

Here are the words, telling of the coming of Jesus:

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

Behold, a Branch is growing
Of loveliest form and grace,
as prophets sung, foreknowing;
It springs from Jesse’s race
And bears one little Flow’r
In midst of coldest winter,
At deepest midnight hour.

Isaiah hath foretold it
In words of promise sure,
And Mary’s arms enfold it,
A virgin meek and pure.
Thro’ God’s eternal will
This Child to her is given
At midnight calm and still.

The shepherds heard the story,
Proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of Glory,
Was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped
And in a manger found him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flow’r whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness ev’rywhere.
True Man, yet very God;
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens ev’ry load.

O Saviour, Child of Mary,
Who felt our human woe;
O Saviour, King of Glory,
Who dost our weakness know,
Bring us at length we pray,
To the bright courts of Heaven
And to the endless day.

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In the Bible, we have the account of how an angel was sent to Mary:

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

—Luke 1:28-33

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called

 

 

 

 

 

Prince of Peace

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At the Advent gathering, each of us lit a candle, giving a word of testimony to those around the table.

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

—Isaiah 9:6

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nativity 3

Now is the Time

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If you do not know Jesus as your Savior, today could be the day you change that.

If you do not know what would happen to you if you were to die, today could be the day that know for sure.

If you do not know that God is ready and willing to forgive you, accept you and save you, today is the day you can be confident that He does.

Ask Him for forgiveness.

Tell Him you believe.

Commit your life to Him.

Today…..

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As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
    and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

—2 Corinthians 6:1-2

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favor

The Road That Leads to Life

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There is a lakeside park that I enjoy visiting about an hour’s drive from my home.

Besides the scenic view over the water, the wild birds that frequent the area and the peaceful atmosphere, the stone street that runs through it is very inviting and nostalgic.

Flanked with vintage street lights and flags, the thoroughfare is inviting and spacious.

If given the choice, I would most definitely choose to walk down this lovely street than on a narrow footpath off to the side.

After all, who wouldn’t?

Jesus spoke about choosing the right road spiritually.

We can choose the road that most people take.

The faithless road apart from Him.

It’s big, wide and spacious.

It’s inviting and flanked with alluring temptations.

There’s one problem, though–

It leads to destruction….

 

The other road is narrow.

Only a few choose it.

It is a road of faith in Jesus, leading to life.

The wide road is appealing and enticing, for sure.

But choosing that one over the narrow road of faith in Jesus is just not worth it.

It’s not worth your own destruction.

Instead, choose life.

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Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

—Matthew 7:13-14

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narrow gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Leave With You

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Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

–John 14:27

Jesus comforted His disciples by saying these words.

I think He wants me to be comforted by them, as well.

When so much is going on around me that constantly invites worry, I can have peace.

Jesus says, “My peace I give you.”

Jesus says, “I do not give to you as the world gives.”

Jesus says, “Do not let your heart be troubled.”

Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.”

In my human mind, I can respond with, “But what if…..”

With my surrendered heart, I can respond with, “Jesus, I accept Your peace.”

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peace

Name Was Not Found

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If you’ve ever tried to get a visa on your passport in order to enter a particular country, then you know it can be a complicated matter.

It’s likely that you’ll have to answer a lot of questions on a form.

Maybe more than one form, even.

Some of the questions might turn out to be pretty hard to answer.

Questions about your job.

Your parents.

Your grandparents.

Your driver’s license.

Where you were born.

The list goes on and on….

Even after you send in the information, it is always possible that your request may be denied.

You’re not allowed in.

No particular reason.

Just, “No.”

But what about getting into Heaven?

There aren’t any forms to be filled out.

Your job status doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter who your parents were.

It doesn’t matter who your grandparents were, either.

Really, it doesn’t even matter when you were born.

The only thing that matters is if you have believed in Jesus and repented of your sins, asking for forgiveness.

Look at these verses:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

—Ephesians 2:8-9

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

—Romans 10:9

That leaves us with a question.

So, what if you don’t believe and repent?

It’s not a popular topic and it can certainly cause some divisive arguments.

In the book of Revelation, the Bible speaks of the book of life:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

–Revelation 20:11-15

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Not many people want to talk about the “So, what if you don’t” question.

Not many people want to talk about the passage above from Revelation.

It’s frightening.

I believe that my name is written in the book of life because I have believed in Jesus and repented of my sins.

Still, I am frightened for those who have not.

If you feel that your name would not be there, why not change that right now.

God is ready to hear your prayer.

It’s not too late…..

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book of life