Then & Now

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I grew up in a small rural community consisting of family and friends. We could ride our bikes up and down the blacktop road, knock on a neighbor’s door, or just walk in. Our homes were the epitome of shows like, “Ozzie & Harriet,” “Father Knows Best,” and “Leave It to Beaver,” with a bit of “Dennis the Menace” thrown in.

Two churches graced our neighborhood and filled with our families each Sunday morning. They were the places to be.

Every Spring and Fall my church hosted a revival. A special guest preacher came each night for a week, sometimes two, and expounded the word. Singing, testimonies, prayers, the word, and altar calls made up the services. During the week children came to know Jesus as their Savior, some adults, too. Other adults and older youth would find their way to the altar for a time of renewing their commitment or simply, drawing closer to the Lord.

When the revival ended, all were tired but filled with a renewed spirit ready to take on the world in the Lord’s name. Then when summer came so did baptisms in the creek or pond.

Many years have passed since those days, and many changes live in our community. We no longer know our neighbors, except the few left from days gone by. Our children aren’t safe to wander the road. Only one church remains and its saints are few in number. We know longer have revivals.

Did the day of revivals and the age of the Great Awakenings slip away in the night? My pondering question this week is this:

How can the Church experience revival again, or can it?

“And that, knowing the time,

that now it is high time to awake out of sleep:

for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Rom. 13:11

Thank you, for taking time to comment.

What Can One Person Do?

Nehemiah a captive Israelite serving as the cupbearer of the King of Persia took bold action.

“Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid…” Nehemiah 2:2.

This looks nothing like boldness to us but sadness showed Nehemiah was not happy to be in the king’s presence. Nehemiah explained his sadness over the state of Jerusalem’s waste and destruction. To which the king answered, “For what dost thou make request?”

Nehemiah had his list ready: He wanted to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city. He wanted letters from the king for safe passage. He wanted timber from the king’s forest for the building.

The king granted all Nehemiah asked for.

Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem. He challenged his countrymen to rise up and rebuild the destroyed city and lead them to complete it in fifty-two days despite opposition from their enemies.

And that was the easy part. For it took his lifetime to lead the people in spiritual reformation and revival. How did it happen?

Nehemiah began with prayer.DSCF4721

“And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.” Neh. 1:4.

God’s answer.

“And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.” Neh. 2:8b.

For Us:

 I have heard whispers of another Great Awakening on the horizon. Is there? I don’t know. I do know the people of God need strength to endure these times and to live in victory over this world.

When Dr. David Jeremiah answers the person who says, “I’m doing fine under the circumstances”, he says, “We do not live under the circumstances for we are overcomers.”

When Nehemiah faced opposition, he prayed and persevered. God’s hand was upon him and he overcame. Revival came. It begins with praying for one another that we all may come into the fullness of Christ.blogreligious-2598299__340

Pray for one another.

*Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

[Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;]Eph. 6:18.

Pray we walk worthy of the Lord bringing forth fruit.

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened;

[…we…do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom, and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.] Col. 1:9-10.

Pray we live as citizens of God’s kingdom.

that ye may know what is the hope of his calling,

[That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.] 1Thess. 2:12.

Pray we remember Christ is our life and hope.

and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

[To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory;]Col.1:27.

Pray we live in the power and glory of Christ.

and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him for the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places

[That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death…I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.] Phil. 3:10,14.

Pray for Christ to have first place in our lives.

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

[For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him; And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn for the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.] Col. 1:16-18.

Pray we grow in the fullness of God in Christ.

And hath put all things under his feet and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” 

[And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace…John 1:16; Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.]Eph. 4:13.

Then let us…bloggratitude-1201944_960_720

“Sing forth the honour of his name; make his praise glorious…

and be assured…

“But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.” Psalm 66:2,19,10.

What can one person do? Pray. As our voices reach the throne room of God, we are no longer one voice but many. The King will grant our request. Is there another Great Awakening coming, a revival? I don’t know. What will you do?


*The scriptures not referenced are found in Ephesians 1:15-23.

Returning to the Cross

“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first work…”Rev. 2:5.

“…from whence thou art fallen…blogmistake-1966448__340

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:

that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off,

and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” 2Peter 1:3-9.

It’s time to remember what it cost our Savior to purge us from our old sins and from the corruption of this world to make us partakers of the divine nature abounding in it.cross-sunset-sunrise-hill-70847.jpeg

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.

Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot…

Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…

Hereby perceive we the love of God because he laid down his life for us…

We love him, because he first loved us.” (Rev. 1:5; 1Peter 1:19; 1John 3:1,16; 4:19.).

Meditate on the love the Father has for you that He would send His Son, His only begotten Son to take your death, God’s wrath poured out upon Himself for you.

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Image courtesy of pixabay

Read the crucifixion story from all four Gospels and experience anew the love of God in your heart. As you read, remember the love of Christ Jesus that brought you to the foot of the cross in the first place. Kneel at His cross once again and let Him examine your heart. This is where we first knew His love for us. It will be the place we find it again. Let your love be revived.

And if we should choose to ignore what the Spirit is saying? We are told, “…or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Rev. 2:5.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” John 3:19-21.

If we are in danger of forsaking our love for Christ as individuals or as a gathered body of believers, hope is born upon return to the love we left. This love withholds nothing from Him who loved us,  and begins again to do what we do out of a heart completely sold out to Him in love, completely sold out to Him in character, completely sold out to Him in our thinking and in our strength. Let’s remember, repent and return. May our flame of passion for the Lord never burn out.

What comes to your mind when you read of the crucifixion of our Lord?

Do You Have Spiritual Heartburn?

Before leaving the work the Lord has done this summer and getting back to the bible series started in the Spring, there are a couple of things the Lord has worked on in my heart about my own walk, I want to share with you. Know this, if you have spiritual heartburn, there is no antacid that can cure it. In fact, I hope mine becomes a chronic condition.

blogchapel-2738911__340“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;” Rev. 2:1.

Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords, our Good Shepherd, stands among His church, who are to be the light of His life shining forth His glory to a lost world, and holds those ministering His word in His right hand.

“…These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand…The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches…Rev. 1:20. Two possibilities exist. These angels are literal angels  or they are the ministers of each of the seven churches in Asia this letter was sent to. For the sake of my point, with no positive conviction of which I believe, I’m going to address the angels as ministers of the church.

“…the seven stars…For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake…2 Cor. 4:5; And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding…Jer. 3:15; Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28.

Ministers of the gospel, yours is a great responsibility. But you are not on your own. Your are held,

“…in his right hand…Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation; and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great…Ps. 18:35; Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:  I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isa. 41:10.

Not only is Jesus Christ with you to lead, strengthen, and speak through you but He is among His church, His people.

“…who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks…the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches…Rev. 2:20; For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them…Matt. 18:20; And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them…luke 244:15; And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?’’ Luke24:32.

As a pastor’s wife, I know the weight laid on a minister’s shoulders and in his heart. To the ministers the Lord says, “…let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Gal. 6:9. God’s grace is sufficient for all your need. What He has called you to, He equips you for.

And to the body, how long has it been since you sat under teaching that left your heart burning for more?  If you sit under the teaching of faithful pastors, pray, “…always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Eph. 6:18-20.

Next time we will visit  why many no longer have a heart burning  for the scriptures, why the light of life is in danger of being extinguished.

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 5:14-16.

The Temple Bride

 

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Rev. 21:2

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you…the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are…What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”(1Cor. 3:16,17;6:19,20.)

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The church of Jesus Christ is not a building made with hands but built by the Master builder, piece by piece, or as we have seen this week, member by member. Each member provides a valuable function in order to complete the whole.

“…the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”Eph. 4:16.

Do you question your importance in the body, the completed church of Christ? You are where you are, gifted and empowered to supply in the working of the body to build it up in love. Each part strengthens another part, just as a support beam in a building holds up a floor or rafter. By the way, I’m not a carpenter so forgive me if my analogy is a little off. I think you get the picture. You are valuable to the completion of the church because Christ has put you in it, right where you are needed.

Here is where the analogy changes.

pexels-photo-291759.jpeg“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish… Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Eph. 5:25-27;Rev. 19:7,8.)

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal…And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament: and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Rev. 21:2;Rev. 21:10;Dan.12:3.)

“…Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb… And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”(Rev. 19:9;Rev. 22:17.)

Are you dressed for the wedding of eternity?  Not only are you an invited guest you are a member of the wedding party, the bride of Christ.

And the bridegroom says, “…Surely I come quickly.”

SIDE NOTE: If you would like to receive a chart, “Time Lines of Major Prophetic Passages”, dealing with the coming of our Bridegroom, leave me your email and I will be glad to send you one. It is the product of my recent study of Revelation through Precept International Ministries. I would be glad to share it with you and hear your comments and opinions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does Your Temple Look Like?

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” 1Cor. 2:10.pexels-photo-345135.jpeg

My friend and I walked along the deserted one lane dirt road leading to the construction site of my future home. We gasped in amazement when we caught sight of what, the day before, was only a foundation. Atop it sat four outside walls, partitions, a roof and several men laying the roof. I’m not sure why our reaction was astonishment. Not just one but several master builders had joined forces to help our house go up. The men in my husband’s family remind me of those God called to use their talents to build the temple, all being gifted carpenters. Anything these men build is built right, built to last.

Paul cautions the Corinthians to “take heed how he buildeth thereupon”, speaking of the foundation of the gospel of Christ, Paul has already laid. He then cautions them to use only the best materials for they will be tried by fire. It’s important what is used lasts.

“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every mans’ work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. “ 1Cor. 3:12,13.

Gold…Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ… Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience(endurance, NASB)… I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich… (1Pet. 1:5-7; James 1:3; Rev. 3:18a)pexels-photo-567983.jpeg

Silver…”The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O lORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever… And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness… I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Ps. 12:6,7; Mal. 3:3; Rom. 12:1).

Precious stones…Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it… Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. for the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than find gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her… the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel… (Prov. 3:13-15;Matt. 13:45-46;Prov. 20:15b).

Wood, hay, stubble…For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch… THIS PEOPLE DRAWETH NIGH UNTO ME WITH THEIR MOUTH, AND HONORETH ME WITH THEIR LIPS; BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN THEY DO WORHSHIP ME. TEACHING FOR DOCTRINES THE COMANDMENTS OF MEN.” (Mal. 4:1;T Matt. 15:8,9).

What do your walls look like, strong and enduring or a little shaky?

SOME CREATIVE FUN: Think about this week’s posts concerning the church, add your own perception and build a main character profile using the church personified. Do it in list form or paragraph style to describe your character.

For example: Her beauty extended beyond the softness of her eyes, the welcoming smile. It emanated from a source deep within.

Now you take it from there describing your character (male or female) , his/her greatest need and what makes the person likeable. Have fun.

Leave your thoughts in comments and next Thursday, if I get several, I will post them and you can vote on your favorite, excluding your own.

 

Caution, Church Under Construction

“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God…I declared unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved…For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:16; 1Cor. 15:1-4; Matt. 16:18).blogchapel-2738911__340

Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of the foundation laid out by the apostles and prophets:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens, with the saints, and of the household of God: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. In whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Eph. 219-22.

Even as the Lord told King David He would build him an house, He is building us a house, a habitation for himself. He provides all the material to build us into a holy temple.

  • The Holy Spirit“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth… And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance… But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things… when the Comforter is come…even the Spirit of truth…he shall testify of me… the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (John 14:16,17a; Acts 2:3,4; John 14:26; John 15:26;Acts 2:39).
  • The Word“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me… So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God… BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURETH FOR EVER. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you…As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”(John 5:39; Rom.10:17; 1Pet.1:25; 2Pet. 2:2,3).
  • The Body“for as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit…But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him…Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular… And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (1Cor. 12:12,13,18,27; Heb. 10:24,25).

With the foundation laid and the proper tools, the framework goes up quickly.

“And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. They that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls…And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:40,41,47.

Half the walls are constructed, when a Gentile man’s prayers are answered and the other half begins to be built.

030“…Cornelius, thy prayer is heard…Then Peter opened his mouth, and said Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him…While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they which were of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 10:31,34,35,44,45.

The Church is still under construction but its day of completion draws near.

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Rev. 21:3.

How is God using you to build His church?

 

 

 

 

How’s Your Foundation?

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Isa. 28:16.pexels-photo-276092.jpeg

“Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation …For other foundation, can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ…Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it… Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, BEHOLD, I LAY IN SION A CHIEF CORNER STONE, ELECT, PRECIOUS: AND HE THAT BELIEVETH ON HIM SHALL NOT BE CONFOUNDED…(1Cor. 3:11; Matt. 16:16,18; 1Pet. 2:6.)

…a stone…You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them…And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever… The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever. (Dan. 2:34,44, NASB; Rev. 11:15 NASB.)

…a tried stone…Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil… Seeing then we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin… And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.( Matt. 3:1; Heb. 4:14,15;Phil. 2:8)

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…a precious cornerstone…The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner… Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the STONE WHICH WAS SET AT NOUGHT OF YOU BUILDERS, WHICH IS BECOME THE HEAED OF THE CORNER. Neither is there salvation in any other: for  there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Ps. 118:22; Acts 4:10-12).

This Jesus is to those who come to him, “…as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious…Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, THE SAME IS MADE THE HEAD OF THE CORNER. AND A STONE OF STUMBLING, AND A ROCK OF OFFENCE, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed.” 1Peter 2:4,7-8.

I don’t know whether this quote originated with my brother-in-law but I remember him saying, “Jesus is either a stumbling stone or a stepping stone.”  Which is He for you?

“…a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste…For the scripture saith, WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH ON HIM SHALL NOT BE ASHAMED. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. FOR WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.” Rom. 10: 11-13.

Will you try to flee the wrath that will come or are you standing on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ? By the way, there is no place to flee or hide and there are no other choices. Which is yours?

 

The Old Country Church

“And Simon Peter answered and said,Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt. 16:16-18.

My toothless grin, gangly arms and legs, and blonde pigtails with strands of hair sticking out this way and that identified me as the tomboy who feared nothing, almost nothing.Churchthumbnail_IMG_0080

The country church, with its high steeple, filled each churchthumbnail_IMG_0079Sunday with friends, family and giggling, whispering children. Sitting high on a hill, cradled by woods it looked like a painting by Norman Rockwell(Okay these two pictures maybe not but remember cameras don’t show it all). Two things tainted my joy attending this picturesque church.

The basement, unfinished and haunting to a seven-year-old often, at least in my memory,  contained secret hiding places for these humongous black snakes. More than once, a squeal would carry up the stairs and some brave man would come rescue us. And people wonder why I don’t like basements or snakes.

Then there were the outhouses, one for men and one for women.  Now, mind you, the women’s sported a four seater, two tall seats for grownups and two small seats for children. But the outhouses sat on the edge of a hill near the woods. I cautiously opened the door, peered in every corner and even down the hole. I had no plans of a snake sneaking up on me while I took care of business. I would have waited until I got home, but that’s what we had at home, too.

Of course, now, I look back on these memories and laugh. Faces, pass through my mind, who have long been gone. I treasure the memories of those who cared enough to give us a place to worship together, loving one another, singing off-key, pastors preaching holiness, heaven and hell, praying at the altar. It wasn’t until I was much older I realized these were the things that make a church, not the building.churchthumbnail_IMG_0083

The common thread among us was, and is, knowing Jesus Christ the Son of the living God as our Lord and Savior as we joined one another on the journey homeward. It’s good to know the church of the living God goes beyond any one building into the far reaches of the world. I’m thankful to know you as my brother/sister in Christ. May we join hearts and hands as we continue on this journey.

Did you have the privilege of growing up in church? What special memories do you hold dear?

Heavenly Father, thank you for making us one in you.

 

The Bridegroom Cometh

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“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”1

The blood of Christ paid the purchase price of His bride, the church. “My beloved is mine, and I am his…”2 The purchase price satisfied the Father of the bride. The resurrection of our Bridegroom provides the evidence of the Father’s approval of the purchase price. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”3  The Holy Spirit sealed the wedding covenant guaranteeing the bridegroom would return when His home was made ready to receive His chaste bride. “…after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of this glory.”4 “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”5” “…Christ, also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that is should be holy and without blemish.”6

In Revelation 21 John witnesses the bride, the dwelling place her Bridegroom has prepared and the wedding of ages.

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Rev. 21:2,3).

The city is described in greater detail further down in this chapter. But here is where we find the Bridegroom has come and taken His bride to himself to dwell with him and He with her. He has taken her filthy rags:

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”(Rev. 19:7,8).

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes…”  Crying is replaced with laughter. “…no more death…” Death gives way to life. “…neither sorrow, nor crying… ”Sorrow turns to joy. ”…neither shall there be any more pain…” Rest replaces pain. “…for the former things are passed away.” The heavenly reigns, the earthly has been dethroned.

“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new…” He adorns his bride with a new incorruptible, immortal body.  “It is done.” And John saw it all.

Each day brings the church closer to its wedding day. I believe it is soon, but no one knows for sure. What I do know for sure:

“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”

And ours is to, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matt. 25:13.

Are you ready should the cry be heard tonight?

Heavenly Father, may we, your bride, live pleasing to you, bringing you glory. That at the appearing of our heavenly Bridegroom we will have no reason to be ashamed. Thank you for loving us with so great a love. Amen.

 

(1Matt. 25:6; 2SOS 2:16; 3John 1:12,13; 4Eph.1:13b,14; 5John 14:2,3; 6Eph. 5:25b-27)