“THE FEW, THE PROUD . . . “

“BUT SMALL IS THE GATE AND NARROW THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO LIFE, AND ONLY A FEW FIND IT” MATTHEW 7: 14

READ: MATTHEW 7:13-27

‘THE FEW, THE PROUD…’ MANY OF US CAN FINISH THIS SLOGAN. THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORP HAS USED THIS MAGNIFICENT LINE…’THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE MARINES!’…SEEMINGLY FOR DECADES. THIS MAY BE THE STRONGEST RECRUITING SLOGAN OF ALL THE ARMED FORCES. THE MARINES HAVE A SPECIAL BOND, A UNIQUENESS, WHICH THEY PERSONALLY IDENTIFY. THE SLOGAN MAGNIFIES THE BROTHERHOOD WHICH SETS THEM APART. TO TAKE NOTHING AWAY FROM OUR OTHER ARMED FORCES; THE ARMY HAS THE RANGERS. THE NAVY HAS THEIR SEALS. THE AIR FORCE HAS THE WORLD’S GREATEST PILOTS. BUT, THE MARINES ARE THE FEW, THE PROUD.

THERE IS ANOTHER SPECIAL GROUP WHO ARE SET APART AS ‘THE FEW AND THE PROUD’. CHRISTIANS. ARE YOU PART OF THE FEW AND THE PROUD? WITH A LARGE PART OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION, THERE ARE STILL LIMITS TO THE NUMBERS OF CHRISTIANS.

CHRIST TELLS US IN TODAY’S BIBLE READING OF THE SMALL GATE AND THE NARROW ROAD. WE UNDERSTAND, THE SMALL GATE REFERS TO THE FEW WHO WILL BE ABLE TO ENTER AND THE NARROW ROAD IS FOR THE FEW WHO WILL BE ABLE TO COMPLETE THE WALK IN ORDER TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. JESUS TELLS US IN VERSE 21 OF TODAY’S READING: “NOT EVERYONE WHO SAYS TO ME, ‘LORD, LORD,’ WILL ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, BUT ONLY THE ONE WHO DOES THE WILL OF MY FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN.”

ARE YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE TO ENTER THE SMALL GATE AND WALK THE NARROW ROAD AS BELIEVER? ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE ‘ONE’ OF THE FEW JESUS SPOKE? YOU CANNOT WALK THE PATHWAYS OF THIS WORLD GIVING INTO SATAN’S DAILY TEMPTATIONS. IF YOU ARE NOT SURE YOU WILL BE WELCOMED INTO HEAVEN, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. DON’T WAIT. FIND A QUIET PLACE IMMEDIATELY AND GIVE YOUR LIFE TO JESUS, ASKING HIM TO SEND THE HOLY SPIRIT TO RESIDE IN YOU. THANK HIM FOR FORGIVING ALL YOUR SINS AND ASK HIM TO PREPARE A PLACE IN HEAVEN FOR YOU.

ONLY A FEW WILL ENTER…’THE FEW, THE PROUD….THE REAL CHRISTIANS’. ARE YOU ONE OF THE FEW, THE PROUD?

TODAY’S PRAYER: “JESUS, MY LORD, I WANT TO ENTER THE SMALL GATE AND WALK THE NARROW ROAD. I WANT TO BE ONE OF THE FEW. I ACCEPT YOU AS THE SON OF GOD, MY SAVIOR, WHO GAVE YOUR LIFE SO THAT I MIGHT LIVE IN HEAVEN FOR ETERNITY. THANK YOU FOR LOVING AND ACCEPTING ME. AMEN.”

“I WILL GIVE THEM A PIECE OF MY MIND!”

“WHOSE TONGUE UTTERS NO SLANDER, WHO DOES NO WRONG TO A NEIGHBOR, AND CASTS NO SLURS ON OTHERS;” PSALM 15:3 NIV

READ: PSALM 15:1-5

HAVE YOU EVER GOTTEN SO MAD, YOU THREATENED TO GIVE SOMEONE A PIECE OF YOUR MIND? AT A TIME LIKE THAT, YOU NEED TO BE REMINDED OF A FEW GOOD WORDS OF ADVICE; ‘IF I KEEP GIVING AWAY A PIECE OF MY MIND…IT WILL NOT BE LONG UNTIL I WILL NOT HAVE ANY OF MY MIND LEFT!’

AT A TIME OF ANGER, YOU ARE BETTER OFF TO THINK MORE AND SAY LESS. IT MAY NOT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER AT THE MOMENT, BUT YOU CAN KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT YOU WILL BE BETTER OFF IN THE LONG RUN. DON’T GIVE IN TO SATAN’S TAUNTS WITH HARSH WORDS.

THERE IS A GENERAL RULE OF PHYSICS: ‘ONE MASS OR OBJECT CANNOT OCCUPY THE SAME SPACE AS ANOTHER MASS OR OBJECT.’ WE CAN USE THIS EXAMPLE TO HELP US UNDERSTAND HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT IN YOU PREVENTS SATAN FROM BEING IN YOU. WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT INDWELLED WITHIN US, SATAN USES ALL OF OUR OUTWARD SENSES TO INFLUENCE US. SATAN USES OUR TOUCH, TASTE, SMELL, SIGHT AND HEARING TO TEMPT US TO HIS WAYS. SINCE HE CANNOT INFLUENCE YOUR HEART, HE WORKS TO INFLUENCE YOUR MIND FROM OUTSIDE YOUR BODY. GIVING SOMEONE A PIECE OF YOUR MIND MAKES IT EASIER FOR SATAN TO HURT THEM AND YOU.

GIVE OTHERS ENCOURAGEMENT FROM YOUR HEART. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS INDWELLED IN YOU AS A BELIEVER. THE HOLY SPIRIT HOLDS YOUR HEART.

SPEAK TO OTHERS FROM YOUR HEART, NOT FROM A PIECE OF YOUR MIND.

TODAY’S PRAYER: “LORD, THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME EVEN WHEN I AM ANGRY AND SAY THE WRONG THINGS AT THE WRONG TIME. BE WITH AND HELP ME BE IN CONTROL OF THOSE STRESSFUL TIMES WHEN SATAN IS TAUNTING ME. AMEN.”

“WHO IS YOUR NEIGHBOR?”

“‘WHICH OF THESE THREE DO YOU THINK PROVED TO BE A NEIGHBOR TO THE MAN WHO FELL INTO THE ROBBERS’ HANDS?’ AND HE SAID, ‘THE ONE WHO SHOWED MERCY TOWARD TOWARD HIM.’ THEN JESUS SAID TO HIM, ‘GO AND DO THE SAME.'” LUKE 10: 36-37 NIV

READ: LUKE 10:25-37

DO YOU KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS? WE USUALLY KNOW THOSE WHO LIVE DIRECTLY NEXT DOOR, BUT HOW ABOUT TWO DOORS AWAY? WHAT ABOUT THREE OR FOUR DOORS FROM YOU OR THE FAMILY LIVING AROUND THE CORNER?

WITH THE INVENTION OF AIR CONDITIONING DECADES AGO, WE FOUND IT WAS MORE COMFORTABLE TO STAY INSIDE THAN OUT. THIS LED TO LESS AND LESS SOCIALIZING WITH OUR NEIGHBORS. IN DAYS PAST, WE NOT ONLY KNEW WHO OUR NEIGHBORS WERE, WE KNEW ABOUT THEIR LIVES AND FAMILIES. WE KNEW WHERE THEY WORKED, WENT TO CHURCH, THE NAMES OF THEIR CHILDREN AND MORE.

JESUS TOLD THE STORY OF WHO OUR NEIGHBORS ARE. HE EXPLAINED THE SIMPLICITY OF LOVING OUR NEIGHBORS NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE. HE STARTED WITH TEACHING US TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS AS OURSELVES. JESUS’ PARABLE TOLD US OF A MAN ROBBED, BEATEN AND LEFT TO DIE ON THE ROAD. BOTH A PRIEST AND A LEVITE PASSED HIM WITHOUT OFFERING HELP.

THEN, A SAMARITAN CAME BY AND HELPED THE BEATEN MAN. THE SAMARITAN (WHOSE PEOPLE WERE LOOKED DOWN UPON BY THE JEWS) BANDAGED HIS WOUNDS, PLACE THIS INJURED MAN ON HIS DONKEY AND TOOK HIM TO AN INN. BUT, THE STORY DOES NOT STOP THERE. THE SAMARITAN EVEN PAID FOR THE ROOM FOR THE MAN AND OFFERED TO PAY THE INNKEEPER ADDITIONAL FUNDS ON HIS RETURN.

FROM JESUS’ PARABLE, WE GET THE PHRASE ‘A GOOD SAMARITAN’. ASK YOURSELF: “AM I A GOOD SAMARITAN?” DO YOU PASS BY AND IGNORE THOSE WHO NEEDS HELP? DO YOU CLAIM TO BE TOO BUSY OR DO YOU NOT WANT TO GET INVOLVED? DO YOU MAKE EXCUSES AND SAY SOMEONE ELSE CAN BE A BETTER HELP THAN YOU?

WE CAN ALL BE BETTER NEIGHBORS. OUR NEIGHBORS ARE NOT JUST THOSE WHO LIVE CLOSE. OUR NEIGHBORS ARE OUR CO-WORKERS, OUR KIDS’ TEACHERS AND COACHES, THE CASHIER AT THE GROCERY, THE FELLOW CHANGING A FLAT TIRE ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD OR THE UNEMPLOYED SINGLE MOM STRUGGLING TO PROVIDE FOR HER CHILDREN. OUR NEIGHBORS ARE ANYONE AND EVERYONE.

REACH OUT AND TAKE CARE OF THE NEXT ‘NEIGHBOR’ YOU SEE.

TODAY’S PRAYER: “MY FATHER IN HEAVEN, THANK YOU FOR ALL THE TIMES YOU ALLOWED ME TO BE THE NEIGHBOR WHO NEEDED HELP AND FOR PROVIDING THE GOOD SAMARITAN TO HELP ME. GIVE ME INSIGHT TO RECOGNIZE OTHERS WHO NEED MY HELP AND THE ABUNDANT ABILITY TO PROVIDE THE HELP THEY NEED. AMEN.”

“WHO IS THE THIEF?”

“BUT THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME LIKE A THIEF. THE HEAVENS WILL DISAPPEAR WITH A ROAR; THE ELEMENTS WILL BE DESTROYED BY FIRE, AND THE EARTH AND EVERYTHING DONE IN IT WILL BE LAID BARE. 2 PETER 3:10 NIV

READ: 2 PETER 3:8-17

WHILE MAKING A PURCHASE OF STEEL PIPE FROM A COMPANY’S STORAGE YARD, I OVERHEARD THE OWNER TELL ONE OF HIS EMPLOYEES TO ‘KEEP AN EYE’ ON A CERTAIN CUSTOMER. THE OWNER HAD WATCHED THE MAN PUTTING SOME SMALL ITEMS INTO HIS TRUCK. LATER, THE MAN WENT TO PAY FOR ITEMS THAT HAD BEEN LOADED ONTO HIS TRAILER. THE OWNER ASKED; “WHAT ABOUT THE THINGS IN YOUR TRUCK?” THE MAN MUMBLED THAT HE HAD ‘FORGOTTEN’ ABOUT THE ITEMS.

THE OWNER OF THE BUSINESS TOLD ME HE LOSES 3% OF HIS INVENTORY TO THIS TYPE OF THEFT. HE LOSES THREE DOLLARS OF EVERY ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS HE SELLS. WITH THIN PROFIT MARGINS IN A SMALL BUSINESS THESE LOSSES HURT HIS ABILITY TO KEEP HIS BUSINESS OPEN AND TO MAKE ENOUGH PROFIT TO PROVIDE FOR HIS FAMILY. WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO GIVE THREE DOLLARS OF EVERY HUNDRED DOLLARS OF YOUR INCOME TO AN UNDESERVING THIEF?

AS WE LOOK AT OUR SOCIETY, RETAIL STORES HAVE ATTACHED SECURITY TAGS AND LABELS TO ALMOST ALL TYPES OF PRODUCTS. THEIR EXIT DOORS ARE WIRED TO SOUND AN ALARM IF THE CASHIER DOES NOT REMOVE OR INACTIVATE THE TAGS. STEALING HAS REACHED AN EPIDEMIC LEVEL.

OUR SOCIETY IS MORE AWARE OF THE ONGOING PROBLEM. TOO MANY OF OUR CITIZENS FEEL WHATEVER THEY WANT IS THERE FOR THE TAKING. IT MIGHT BE YOUR CAR, YOUR MONEY, INEXPENSIVE ITEMS…EVEN YOUR IDENTITY. WHATEVER THE ITEM IS, IT DOES NOT BOTHER THE THIEF IT BELONGS TO SOMEONE ELSE.

SCRIPTURES TELLS US THIS IS NOTHING NEW. IT MAY BE GROWING, BUT THIEVES HAVE BEEN AROUND SINCE TIME BEGAN. EVE AND ADAM TOOK FRUIT FROM THE TREE THAT WAS NOT THEIRS. CAIN TOOK HIS BROTHER’S LIFE. JACOB TOOK THE BIRTHRIGHT OF HIS BROTHER. PAUL, BEFORE BEING SAVED BY GRACE, STOLE FROM THE PEOPLE HE COLLECTED TAXES FROM. THROUGHOUT OUR BIBLE, WE ARE TAUGHT THESE LESSONS. CLEARLY, WE SHOULD UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE IN RIGHT AND WRONG. WE SHOULD PROTECT WHAT IS OURS AND RESPECT ALL THAT BELONG TO OTHERS. IT IS SO SIMPLE: “THOU SHALL NOT STEAL.”

THERE IS A DIFFERENT THIEF AS WELL. IT MAY BE ANOTHER PERSON OR IT MAY BE OURSELVES. GOD HAS GIVEN US RIGHTS AS BELIEVERS. WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE RIGHT TO WORSHIP OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. PROTECT THAT RIGHT. DO NOT LET ANOTHER PERSON TAKE THAT RIGHT AWAY. DO NOT GIVE THAT RIGHT TO WORSHIP GOD AWAY BY NOT ATTENDING CHURCH AND BIBLE STUDIES. DON’T STEAL FROM YOURSELF. DON’T BE A THIEF OF YOUR OWN TIME TO WORSHIP YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER AS HE LAID OUT IN THE SCRIPTURES. ENJOY IT OR LOSE IT…..

TODAY’S PRAYER: “HEAVENLY FATHER, THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE GIVEN TO ME. I AM SOMETIMES TOO AWARE OF THE MATERIAL THINGS I HAVE AND NOT ALWAYS OBEDIENT IN TAKING CARE OF THE SPIRITUAL THINGS YOU HAVE HONORED ME WITH. HELP ME BE MORE AWARE AND PROTECTIVE OF YOUR LOVE AND OF MY RIGHT TO WORSHIP YOU AS YOU HAVE COMMANDED. AMEN.”

“GOD HAS A PLAN!”

“‘FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU,’ DECLARES THE LORD, ‘PLANS TO PROSPER YOU AND NOT TO HARM YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU HOPE AND A FUTURE.'” JEREMIAH 29:11 NIV

READ: JEREMIAH 29:10-14

“IF I DIDN’T HAVE PROBLEMS, I WOULDN’T HAVE ANYTHING!” IS YOUR LIFE THAT PESSIMISTIC? DO YOU GET UP, GO TO WORK, COME HOME, GET A LITTLE SLEEP, JUST TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN? WE ARE EITHER BLESSED WITH OUR ROUTINE OR OUR ROUTINE CONTROLS US.

FOR SOME, IT SOMETIMES FEELS LIKE WE ARE EITHER FACING A PROBLEM OR WE ARE ON TOP OF THE WORLD. A COMFORTABLE POINT IN BETWEEN IS RARE IN THIS HECTIC WORLD.

IS THERE A STORM IN YOUR LIFE THAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK? YOU DON’T NEED TO JUST ENDURE A SITUATION. THE TROUBLES IN THIS LIFE ARE SATAN’S GRASP ON HUMANITY. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT SATAN CAN CONTROL YOU. YOU CAN DEVELOP A FAITH THAT SAYS ‘NO’ TO SATAN AND ‘YES’ TO GOD. YOU CAN RELY UPON GOD’S STRENGTH WHEN YOU STOP DEPENDING UPON WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS YOUR OWN STRENGTH. YOU CAN RELY UPON GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU.

ACCEPT THESE FACTS: YOU NEVER HAVE HAD THE WISDOM OF GOD. YOU DO NOT HAVE THE WISDOM OF GOD. YOU NEVER WILL HAVE THE WISDOM OF GOD. GOD KNOWS MORE THAN YOU CAN EVER DESIRE TO KNOW.

GOD HAS A PLAN. GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOU. GIVE UP LIVING LIFE YOUR WAY AND EMBRACE GOD’S WAY. DO YOU HAVE A PLAN FOR GOD IN YOUR LIFE?

TODAY’S PRAYER: “DEAR GOD, THANK YOU FOR HAVING A PLAN FOR MY LIFE. HELP ME BE PATIENT AND UNDERSTANDING IN LEARNING YOUR PLANS FOR ME. HELP ME LISTEN TO YOU AND YOUR PLANS FOR ME WHEN I ATTEMPT TO MAKE MY OWN PLANS. I NEED YOUR PLANS. AMEN.”

“A BAD ODOR”

“THIS IS HOW WE KNOW WHO THE CHILDREN OF GOD ARE AND WHO THE CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL ARE: ANYONE WHO DOES NOT WHAT IS RIGHT IS NOT GOD’S CHILD, NOR IS ANYONE WHO DOES NOT LOVE THEIR BROTHER AND SISTER.” 1 JOHN 3:10 NIV

READ: 1 JOHN 3:1-10

AS I WALKED INTO THE FAMILY ROOM, I WAS STRUCK BY AN OVERWHELMING ODOR OF DAMP ASHES IN THE FIREPLACE. IT HAD BEEN A COUPLE OF DAYS SINCE THE LAST FIRE AND I DID NOT REMEMBER TO CLOSE THE FLUE. WITH SEVERAL DAYS OF LIGHT RAIN, THE ASHES HAD ABSORBED THE MOISTURE. NOW, THE ODOR COMING FROM THE ASHES WAS MORE THAN UNPLEASANT.

OUR LIVES ARE OFTEN MUCH LIKE THE ASHES. WE ABSORB THINGS AROUND US. WE TAKE ON THE GOOD THINGS AND THE NOT SO GOOD THINGS. THE GOOD AND BAD WE TAKE ON FROM OUR ENVIRONMENT INFLUENCES THE GOOD AND BAD WE DISPLAY TO OTHERS.

WHEN WE ABSORB THE BAD AND NOT SO GOOD THINGS, WE CAN ALSO GIVE OFF AN ODOR. OUR ODOR MIGHT BE RECEIVED BY OTHERS AS A BAD ATTITUDE, ANGER, UNRIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT, SELF PITY, AGGRESSIVENESS OR EVEN UNCARING ATTITUDES. WE CAN TAKE ON THE ‘BAD ODORS’ OF THE EVILS OF THIS WORLD IF WE ARE NOT STRONG IN GOD’S WORD.

HOW DO WE AVOID TAKING ON AND GIVING OFF THESE BAD ODORS? WE CAN AVOID THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM TO START WITH. SIN IS LIKE THAT. AT FIRST, IT DOES NOT SEEM ALL THAT BAD. BUT, THE MORE WE ALLOW THE SIN INTO OUR LIVES, THE MORE WE BECOME LIKE THAT SIN. IT CAN GET TO A POINT TO WHERE WE ARE SO SUBMERGED IN THE SIN. THEN, OTHERS WILL TURN AWAY FROM US BECAUSE OF OUR ‘BAD ODOR’ OF SIN.

GOD OFFERS TO CLEANSE US OF THE ‘BAD ODOR’ OF OUR SINS. YOU CAN GET RID OF YOUR SINFUL ‘BAD ODOR’ BY SIMPLY PUTTING YOUR TRUST AND FAITH IN JESUS. OUR LORD HAS TAKEN ON ALL THE SINS OF ALL HIS BELIEVERS. HE WILL TAKE ON ALL OF YOUR SINS AS WELL AND REMOVE ALL THE SINFUL ‘BAD ODOR’ AS WELL. TRUST HIM AND SUBMIT TO HIM, TODAY.

TODAY’S PRAYER: “THANK YOU LORD JESUS FOR TAKING ON ALL OF MY SINS AND REMOVING THE ‘BAD ODOR’ OF THOSE SINS. THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME UNDERSTAND THE PRICE YOU HAVE PAID FOR MY SINFUL ACTIONS; PAST, CURRENT AND FUTURE. YOUR MERCY BLESSES ME. AMEN.”

“DOUBTING THOMAS”

“THEN JESUS TOLD HIM, ‘BECAUSE YOU HAVE SEEN ME, YOU HAVE BELIEVED; BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET HAVE BELIEVED.'” JOHN 20:29 NIV

READ: JOHN 20: 19-30

JUST DAYS AGO, AN ESTIMATED TWO BILLION CHRISTIANS AROUND THE WORLD GATHERED TOGETHER TO WORSHIP A RISEN LORD. OF THESE BILLIONS OF CHRISTIANS, THERE ARE DIFFERENCES IN THEIR FAITH DOCTRINES. YET, ALL BELIEVE AND KNOW JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD SENT TO TAKE ON THEIR SINS AND OF HIS RISING FROM THE GRAVE.

THOMAS WAS NOT WITH THE OTHER DISCIPLES WHEN JESUS APPEARED TO THEM. WHEN THE OTHERS TOLD THOMAS OF THE RISEN LORD’S VISIT, THOMAS WAS NOT CONVINCED. THOMAS STATED HE WOULD BELIEVE ONLY IF SAW THE SPIKE HOLES IN JESUS’ HANDS.

HOW MANY OF THE OTHER DISCIPLES WOULD HAVE DOUBTED JESUS’ APPEARANCE IF THEY HAD NOT BEEN PRESENT? WOULD YOU HAVE BELIEVED IN JESUS’ APPEARANCE, RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, IF YOU HAD BEEN A DISCIPLE THAT WAS NOT PRESENT? IT IS EASY TO SAY YOU WOULD HAVE BELIEVED, YET THOMAS PROVED THE LIKELIHOOD OF DOUBT.

BECAUSE OF HIS DOUBTS THE PHRASE OF BEING A ‘DOUBTING THOMAS’ IS COMMON IN OUR LANGUAGE. IF YOU HAD BEEN THERE IN THOMAS’ PLACE, WOULD THE PHRASE BE KNOWN TODAY AS A ‘DOUBTING BILL’ OR A ‘DOUBTING KATHY’?

THERE ARE STILL FIVE BILLION ON THIS EARTH RESISTING JESUS BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE THE PROOF JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD WHO WAS RAISED FROM THE GRAVE. WHAT THEY LACK IS FAITH.

THERE IS A DIFFERENT FAITH. THE FAITH YOU HAVE IN YOURSELF, KNOWING YOU CAN BRING OTHERS TO KNOW JESUS AS WELL. YOU HAVE THE STRENGTH OF THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT. START PLANTING THE SEEDS TODAY. YOU CAN FULFILL THE GREAT COMMISSION. USE YOUR FAITH BY GIVING FAITH TO OTHERS.

DON’T BE A ‘DOUBTING THOMAS’. YOU CAN LEAD OTHERS TO BELIEVE!

TODAY’S PRAYER: “DEAR LORD, THANK YOU FOR SENDING YOUR SON TO FORGIVE ME AND TO TAKE MY SINS SO THAT, IN TIME, I CAN RISE AS HE DID. GIVE ME STRENGTH AND THE FAITH TO WITNESS TO OTHERS OF JESUS’ LOVE. HELP ME TELL THEM THEY TOO CAN BE FORGIVEN OF THEIR SINS. AMEN.”

“HE IS RISEN . . . WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW?”

“HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID. COME AND SEE THE PLACE WHERE HE LAY.” MATTHEW 28:6 NIV

READ: MATTHEW 28: 1-10

EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES IN THE UNITED STATES ARE REPORTED TO BE THE MOST ATTENDED…EVEN MORE THAN CHRISTMAS. ONE LOCAL MEGA CHURCH HAS SO MANY ATTENDING SERVICE THEY START THE SERVICES ON THURSDAY BEFORE EASTER TO ACCOMMODATE THE CROWDS…A TOTAL OF 8 SERVICES OVER 4 DAYS! SMALL CHURCHES WHICH NORMALLY HAVE ONE SERVICE EXPAND THEIR SCHEDULE TO ACCOMMODATE THE CROWDS. TODAY IS THE DAY OF OUR RISEN LORD. WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW?

THE STORY OF JESUS’ SHAM TRIAL, HIS BEATINGS, HIS CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION GIVE US A GLIMPSE OF ALL HE DID FOR US. BELIEVERS ACROSS THE WORLD REJOICE IN THE RISEN LORD. WHILE IT IS GREAT TO SEE THE MULTITUDES IN CHURCH, THOSE WHO ARE ATTENDING SERVICES ONLY A FEW TIMES A YEAR ARE ROBBING THEMSELVES. GOD’S MESSAGE IS CONSTANT, NOT JUST A FEW TIMES A YEAR. THE WONDER OF FELLOWSHIP AND WORSHIP WITH OTHERS BENEFITS EACH OF US. WE NEED TO DO WORSHIP HIM OFTEN, NOT JUST ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR.

IF YOU ARE NOT A MEMBER OF A LOCAL CHURCH, FIND A CHURCH TODAY TO PRAISE OUR RISEN LORD WITH OTHER BELIEVERS. IT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SLEEPING IN, HAVING A LATE BREAKFAST, MOWING THE YARD, AN EASTER EGG HUNT, PICNIC OR FAMILY BBQ. OUR RISEN LORD SHOULD BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN OUR LIVES. EASTER IS THE DAY OF OUR SAVIOR’S RISING.

ONE OF MY FAVORITE SERMONS IS TITLED ‘STAND UP FOR JESUS’. DURING ALL THE EVILS JESUS ENDURED AND HIS CRUCIFIXION WHO STOOD UP FOR HIM? WHO TOLD PILATE OF JESUS’ LIFE AND OF BEING THE SON OF GOD? WHO STOOD UP FOR JESUS WHEN EVERYONE WAS DEMANDING HIS DEATH? WOULD YOU? WILL YOU TODAY? WILL YOU MAKE CELEBRATING THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY OTHER ACTIVITY TODAY?

WHILE, WE CELEBRATE THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD, JESUS CHRIST, WITH CHURCHES PACKED, HOW LONG WILL STAND UP FOR HIM. MONDAY MORNING THE CHURCHES WILL BE EMPTY OF THE CROWDS. WILL YOU TAKE THE MESSAGE OF JESUS’ DEATH AND RESURRECTION TO THOSE YOU WORK WITH ON MONDAY?

‘WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW?’

TODAY’S PRAYER: “JESUS, OUR RISEN LORD, YOUR TAKING ON OUR SINS MADE THE UNWORTHY WORTHY. WITH YOUR SACRIFICE, YOU PAID THE PRICE FOR US. YOU PAID THE PRICE WE COULD NEVER PAY AND STILL WE STUMBLE. HELP US TODAY TO STUMBLE LESS AND APPRECIATE YOU MORE. GIVE US STRENGTH TO MAKE TOMORROW AS IMPORTANT AS TODAY AS WE CONTINUE TO WORSHIP YOU. AMEN.”

“LIFE IS A PAIN!”

“BUT THEY KEPT SHOUTING, ‘CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!'” LUKE 23:21 NIV

READ: LUKE 23: 1-47

LIFE IS A PAIN. IT IS FULL OF CHALLENGES, DEPRESSIONS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS. WE SUFFER FROM ILLNESSES, BROKEN FAMILIES, DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE, UNEMPLOYMENT, DEATH OF LOVED ONES AND MORE. WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THESE THINGS?

GET OVER IT! GET JESUS! INSTEAD OF MOANING AND GROANING, COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS. MAKE A LIST OF ALL THE BAD THINGS IN THIS LIFE AND THEN MAKE A LIST OF ALL THE GOOD THINGS. BE SURE TO START YOUR ‘GOOD THINGS’ LIST WITH JESUS LOVES YOU. BE FAIR WITH YOUR ASSESSMENTS. AS YOU WRITE YOUR LIST, KEEP IN MIND ALL THE LITTLE THINGS AS WELL AS THE MAJOR SITUATIONS. BE MINDFUL OF HOW MUCH BETTER OFF YOU ARE THAN OTHERS MAY BE.

LAST YEAR, I SENT A BIBLE TO A MAN IN A REFUGEE CAMP. UPON RECEIVING IT, HE WROTE A NOTE OF THANKS. IN IT, HE TOLD ME OF HAVING A BIBLE BUT HE GAVE IT TO SOMEONE WHO NEEDED IT MORE THAN HE DID. WHAT A CHRISTIAN MODEL TO HUMBLE EACH OF US. A BIBLE BEING ONE OF HIS ONLY PHYSICAL POSSESSIONS AND HE GIVES IT AWAY….GIVES IT TO SOMEONE WHO NEEDED IT MORE THAN HE DID. WOULD YOU GIVE AWAY YOUR BIBLE TO SOMEONE WHO NEEDED IT MORE THAN YOU?

JESUS SUFFERED TO GIVE US HIS LIFE….A LIFE HE GAVE UP SO THAT WE MAY LIVE. GOD UNDERSTOOD WE NEEDED A REDEEMED SALVATION AND SENT HIS SON. JESUS ENDURED THE PAIN OF THIS LIFE SO THAT WE CAN LIVE PAIN FREE FOR ETERNITY.

JESUS ALLOWED HIMSELF TO BE FALSELY ACCUSED, SUBJECTED TO A SHAM TRIAL, TO BE USHERED BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN PILATE AND HEROD ONLY TO BE TORTURED BY BEATINGS AND THRASHINGS OF WHIP TO A POINT WHERE HE COULD BARELY WALK. THEN HE SUFFERED THE AGONIZING HUMAN DEATH OF THE CROSS. YET, EVEN WITH HIS DYING BREATH HE FORGAVE A THIEF ON THE CROSS NEXT HIM AND WELCOMED HIM INTO HEAVEN.

JESUS DID NOT COMPLAIN OF ALL OF LIFE’S PAINS. WHY SHOULD WE? LIFE IS PAIN AND WE CAN DEAL WITH IT! PUT YOUR HOPE, FAITH AND TRUST IN JESUS AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR. GIVE ALL THE PAINS OF YOUR LIFE TO HIM.

TODAY’S PRAYER: “JESUS, THANK YOU FOR DYING FOR ME. HELP ME TODAY UNDERSTAND THE LIMITATIONS I HAVE IN DEALING WITH ALL THE PAINS IN THIS LIFE. HELP ME TURN THESE PROBLEMS OVER TO YOU AND TO RELY UPON YOUR STRENGTH. AMEN.”