Obey The Government!

Obey the Government

March 27, 2021

“For God is the One who put it there” ~Romans 13:1

Phil, the church’s accountant, was stunned out of a sound sleep by the shrill ringing of his phone. Clearing the fog of sleep he answered and learned, to his consternation, that five of his congregants were in jail and needed him to post bond. The same frustrating five who willingly put themselves in opposition to the government, whether local or federal. As they saw it, the government is corrupt and needs someone to challenge it and they were those someones! But from Phil’s perspective, all these Christians did was stir the proverbial pot, bringing pain and problems, as well as wasting the churches money without any positive change. This morning, he took his time getting dressed.

An hour later, as they left the jail, Phil said, “I’ve got to say my piece here. When are you people going to stop causing all this trouble? You’re giving the church a bad name, not to mention Christians in general. Oh and people’s offerings too. Have you ever thought of that? Do you think the rest of us give tithe and offerings with the expectation of paying your bail?”

“Listen Phil, someone has to stand up for what’s right in our government. We can’t allow these corrupt people to just have their way, overtaxing us, forcing us to follow biased and wrong-spirited laws. We have to force the government to do what’s right!”

“Right according to who? You bunch? If you’re really concerned for the general welfare of your fellow citizens, run for office and really make a difference instead of acting like irresponsible teenagers; not to mention violating the Bible. Have you considered that?”

“What are you talking about, Phil. The last thing we would do is to violate God’s Word. God expects us to defend the downtrodden and those who cannot stand up for themselves.”

“Are you serious? What downtrodden are you helping? As for violating God’s Word, read the 13th chapter of Romans and see how you line up.”

“Well, what about in the Book of Acts when Peter and some others were arrested and they said they had to obey God rather than men.”

“Actually,” Phil replied, “ that happened because the apostles were preaching Jesus as well as performing miracles in His name. They were arrested but an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates, brought them out and told them to “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life.” and then they were re-arrested and that is when Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

By this time they had arrived at the church. “I want you to come inside and we’ll have some coffee and share a little more about God establishing governments and kingdoms,” Phil said.

By now everyone was looking forward to what they might learn from the Lord. “Let’s look at Daniel 2:21, “World events are under [God’s] control. He removes kings and sets others on their thrones. He gives wise men their wisdom and scholars their intelligence.” We must remember that God is all powerful and very involved in world events. He is the creator and has a plan for His creations.”

“Now, let’s look at Romans 13:1, “Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power.” During the Lord’s last three years on earth, did he ever say to his disciples that we must form groups and set about to overthrow this corrupt, evil government? Did Jesus confront any person of authority and demand better civil rights for everyone? Did he confront the Romans who were arresting, torturing, and killing His followers with demands they be released? Just the opposite.

One day Jesus called his disciples together and said, “Among the heathen, kings are tyrants and each minor official lords it over those beneath him. But among you it is quite different. Anyone wanting to be a leader among you must be your servant. And if you want to be right at the top, you must serve like a slave. Your attitude must be like My own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28

“So,” Phil began, “what should we do about injustice and social wrongs? Since we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, we should always begin with the advice dispensed by the Book of James 1:5-8 “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him; He will not resent it. But when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect Him to tell you for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind; and every decision you then make will be uncertain, as you turn first this way, and then that. If you don’t ask with faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer.”

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will disappear, but My Words remain forever.” Matthew 24:35

Since this is true, shouldn’t our focus be on spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Imaginary Roadblocks

“God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness” ~2 Timothy 1:7

I’m 37 and not married. 

I’m married but can’t have children.

I don’t know who my mother/father is.

I am not clever or articulate.

I am short and  chubby.

I didn’t invest my money and now I am living on a minimal income. 

I made bad choices and I am a loser.

These are imaginary roadblocks and those who hold these ideas think they are losers, failures; they think life has passed them by and the Lord is not playing fair with them. They believe if these so-called problems were rectified, life would be so much better. They would be satisfied and content. Not true.

Many years ago I was at a conference led by a Catholic priest. During one of the classes he said, “You cannot listen to your feelings. We all have them but you cannot allow them to lead your life. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are!”

At first I rejected his statement as ridiculous. But after a few hours of ruminating, I realized he was correct. Feelings are just that, feelings. Let’s go back to the list above. Each of these statements are tied in to feelings. For example, I’m 37 and not married. Possible feelings: “I am never going to find the right guy and enjoy family life. What is wrong with me?”

I don’t know who my father is. Possible feeling: “I am a loser not knowing who my father is. I have no sense of identity.” Another person may say, “I know who my father is and he was a terrible, mean-spirited, drunk who caused great sadness and fear in our family.”

If we focus on what we don’t have, we allow those pesky feelings to rule our lives. A man was overheard to say on the day of his college graduation, “I am so frustrated. I missed graduating with an A average by just a couple of grade points. I feel like the whole experience was a bust!

Another graduate who held a great celebration party just graduating college, cannot understand the other person’s attitude. They would think it strange to find disappointment in such success. Feelings can take you down.

2 Timothy 1:7 “God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and a sound mind.”

Pause a moment. God. The creator of everything says He has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power, love and a sound mind! That is a promise. Do we believe it? Or do we allow our feelings to trample on this promise?

Fear sneaks in right behind doubt and we fall apart. The what-if’s come roaring in followed by I’m not worthy and we reach for our well-worn loser hat and slink down the road, muttering, “I knew it was too good to be true. I knew it wouldn’t last.”

Guess what we are actually saying? “God is a liar!” Shocking isn’t it. Of course we never utter those words but that is what we secretly believe. 

“I’d never call God a liar,” we shout pounding on the table. “That would be ridiculous and just wrong.” However, when we read 2 Timothy 1:7 and allow fear to tear life from our grasp, we are proclaiming loudly that it is not true. Faith in Christ brings new life, life built on the foundation of God’s love, grace and mercy. The unifying element which ties this all together is forgiveness, God’s and ours. Reading His Word, talking to him openly (known as prayer), brings God-given results in every situation, no matter how we feel!

We must resist our negative feelings and “rely on the power of God, who has saved us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” 1 Timothy 1:8-9

God’s Gifts!

February 14, 2021

“It is the Holy Spirit who is the source of them all” ~1 Cor. 12:4

I remember it so well as though it happened recently. I attended a growing church and was a novice photographer. I wondered if I could capture the joy and exuberance of my fellow worshipers as they sang and praised the Lord. To accomplish this, I needed an additional zoom or telephoto lens. I prayed and asked the Lord to show me how to find such a lens within my budget. 

It was a week or two later that a man in the congregation stopped me after church and said, “I have a gift for you. The Lord put it on my heart to give you all my camera gear!” The following weekend I met him at his home and he gave me two cameras and four lenses. He told me that he was spending too much time with photography instead of with his family and God directed him to give it all to me. I received his gift with joy!

And what about our relationship with The Holy Spirit and His free gifts to us? Do we gladly receive them with eager expectation as I did with the camera gear? Or do we hem and haw, wondering what gift we may have or if we have a gift at all. This question is easily answered in 1 Corinthians 12. If we believe the Bible to be God’s Word then our question regarding Spiritual gifts is answered in Corinthians.

Verse 1: And now, brothers, I want to write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of you, for I don’t want any misunderstanding about them.

Now we know the Holy Spirit gives each of us special abilities (gifts).

Verses 4-7: Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. 5There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving. 6There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are his. 7The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church (Body of Christ).

How wonderful, the Holy Spirit is the source of all of God’s Gifts and—He displays God’s power through us as a means of helping the entire Christian Church! How powerful and essential. Am I still a doubter? Or do I trust God. It’s all Him. There is no begging, no pleading on our knees night after night. God freely gives gift to benefit the Church.

Verses 8-11: To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; someone else may be especially good at studying and teaching, and this is his gift from the same Spirit. 9He gives special faith to another, and to someone else the power to heal the sick. 10He gives power for doing miracles to some, and to others power to prophesy and preach. He gives someone else the power to know whether evil spirits are speaking through those who claim to be giving God’s messages—or whether it is really the Spirit of God who is speaking. Still another person is able to speak in languages he never learned; and others, who do not know the language either, are given power to understand what he is saying. 11It is the same and only Holy Spirit who gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have.

Contemplate these gifts: giving wise advice; studying and teaching; special faith; power to heal the sick; performing miracles; power to prophesy and preach; discerning evil spirits and God’s Spirit; speaking an unknown language; power to understand what the unknown language says.

These gifts are beyond our human efforts which is why the Holy Spirit “gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have.” The key is, He gives us spiritual gifts. God is the originator and the Holy Spirit is the dispenser. 

When my friend said he was giving me all his camera gear, I was thrilled and filled with anticipation. Once I unwrapped the gift, so to speak, I put it into action quickly, becoming familiar with how it all worked; learning everything I could about each piece of equipment. So should we be concerning God’s gifts—filled with anticipation, walking in faith. Verse 7, above says, “The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church (Body of Christ).”

Do All Roads Lead to Heaven?

“You must be born again”  John 3:7

Years ago, down in the South, two children were going at it on the grassy front yard; yelling, scratching and pulling hair. After several minutes of this mayhem, the front door opened and their mother called to them in a melodious, magnolia-infused voice, “Y’all play sweet now.”

Many people seem to think that this scenario represents God’s attitude toward us. After all, He wouldn’t want to offend or insult any of His creations would He? Or would He?

“God helps those who help themselves” is one quote attributed to God which, if followed, makes us equal partners with God. We work hard at helping ourselves and God comes along to give us a reward and a pat on the back. God becomes our buddy, our helper, who is anxious that we should have whatever we want. This idea of God is non-threatening and easy to get along with. After all, God is love! Right?

John 3:16  For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.

“Familiarity breeds contempt” is an old quote not heard much anymore. However, it speaks truth to most relationship situations. For example, when we read the Bible verse, John 3:16 over and over, year in and year out the words lose their power. We become contemptuous of what God is saying through this easily spoken series of words: “God loved the world so much he gave his only Son, so if we believe in him we won’t die!” Cool.

If all roads lead to God then why in the world would God have given His only Son to die for all people everywhere? What would be the point of such a drastic measure if every religious belief system leads people to God?

Consider the harsh reality of the words in John 3:16—He gave his only Son. Gave his only son? Did God give Jesus something? How serious is this? If you know history at all then you probably know that Jesus was falsely arrested, beaten nearly to death and then forced to drag his own cross through the streets—to the place of his death—where nails were driven through his hands and feet, attaching him to the cross. Yes, large spikes driven through his already torn, bloody and ripped flesh. A sledge hammer was used to pound the spikes through his hands and feet. This represents God’s love!

Because the world is so familiar with those words, “God loved the world so much…” we have come to a place of treating them with little respect or comprehension. God loves you and I so much that He put the sins of all the world on His only Son, Jesus. Jesus became sin for you and me. My sins are forgiven when I understand that Jesus died for them. Truly beyond our human understanding. However, I have faith that it happened. And my faith has transformed my life…both now and forever.

So, is God our buddy who is not really too worried about what road we take to heaven? Not really. Why would God bring Christ to the world to die as a sacrifice for sins and then casually say, “Hey, don’t worry about your faith or belief. It’s all good.”

All roads do not lead to the same destination. Neither in this world or the next.

Matthew 7:13-14  Heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate! The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose its easy way. But the Gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.

Acts 4:12  Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved.

John 14:6  Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Ephesians 2:8-10  Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it. It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.

Romans 10:9-10, 13  For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in his heart that a man becomes right with God; and with his mouth he tells others of his faith, confirming his salvation. Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

So then, do all roads lead to heaven? No! However, God has done everything possible, including the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, to provide a way for us to spend eternity with Him. Faith in Christ brings forgiveness and eternal life.

Glory to God!

Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone) | Courageous Christian Father

Soli Deo gloria is a Latin term for Glory to God alone. It has been used by artists like Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Christoph Graupner to signify that the work was produced for the sake of praising God. … Christians are to be motivated and inspired by God’s glory and not their own.

Contented

“And My people will be satisfied with My goodness.” Jeremiah 31:14 

A synonym for contented is satisfied. And God has made us fully satisfied because of our relationship with Christ. Since that is so, when I become discontent or dissatisfied, I am actually saying God’s hand in my life is not sufficient to keep me contented. Which brings me to the unhappy conclusion that I am tearing at the fabric of my eternal relationship with my Lord and Savior. Rather than immersing myself in His Word and bathing myself in true contentment and satisfaction, I have turned to my own selfish desires where I find, not surprisingly, discontentment. Lord Jesus, forgive my shallow desires and bathe me in your everlasting Word. 

2 Corinthians 12:10  “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

Romans 5:1-5  “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  

Philippians 4:11  “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”  

2 Corinthians 9:8  “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”

1 Timothy 6:6-8  “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.”

Hebrews 13:5-6  “Your life should be free from the love of money. Be content with what you have, for He Himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you. 6 This is why we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper, and I won’t be afraid. What can people do to me?”  

Proverbs 30:7-9  “O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. 8 First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! 

    Give me just enough to satisfy my needs 9 For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name. 

What now? We are laid bare before God, our excuses piled high like cord wood, waiting for a heavenly match to set them afire, burning away the impurities with only glowing hot embers of faith and contentment in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ remaining.  

Oh God, thank you for your eternal patience, grace and mercy. We see your light of hope gleaming brightly just over the horizon, beckoning us ever nearer to walk along this life-path, hand-in-hand. 

“But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sins.”  1 John 1:7 

Our Position in Christ

May 9, 2020

“My sheep listen to My voice—no one can snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:28 

On occasion, there may be events in our lives that lead us to believe we have been shunned or ostracized by a person or from a group. If that happens, it is painful and confusing. It may be that we caused the action or it may not. Sometimes it is the result of cross words or misunderstandings. However, if our position with the person or group has changed and we’re no longer welcome, hurt and insecurity gain momentum. What is wrong with me, we wonder. 

Fortunately for all followers of Christ, we will never be ostracized from the true Church, which is the Body of Christ. Our position is permanent, eternal and secure. Jesus paid the ultimate price for our membership and standing. No matter how difficult life becomes, Christ remains our intercessor, pleading with the Father on our behalf. 

1 Peter 1:3-5   ”All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,  and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.  And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” 

1 Corinthians 12:12-13  “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”

John 6:39-40  “And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” 

Romans 8:38  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” 

Cindy sat dejected on the bed as Paul packed his suitcase and grabbed arms full of clothes from his closet. He was leaving. He “needed his space to really embrace life to the fullest” he gave as his reason for wanting a divorce.

Four lives changed forever; Cindy, Paul and their two children.

“Paul you promised in our wedding vows to stick it out through sickness and health, richer or poorer,” she reminded him.

As he snapped the suitcase locks and grabbed his overnight bag Paul replied, “I know but things have changed, Cindy. We’re different people now!”

Unlike this scenario which happens far too often, God never changes His mind and will always keep us close to His heart.

Hebrews 13:5  God has said, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.”

Building Blocks

When I transferred schools in the middle of the eighth grade, I went from an elementary school (kindergarten to 8th grade) to a junior high school (7, 8, 9). By the time classes began for the 9th grade, I felt as though I was pretty important. After all, the 9th graders were top dogs. 

     Unfortunately for me, my imagined importance failed to benefit my lack of attention in Algebra class (why didn’t someone tell me that algebra is the foundation for all math classes from then on? Oh, they did?) Anyway, I studied little and stumbled through with a C average (C means I never fell asleep in class). 

     The following year meant high school and geometry class. A fascinating subject which focuses on shapes, sizes, angles, and properties of space. Guess what! Contrary to what I thought, geometry uses algebraic formulae to work out all the problems. Algebra. The class I barely passed and had little accumulated knowledge about. Instead of a hill, I had a mountain to climb.

     While taking algebra, I had a textbook but used it very little, therefore I was poorly informed regarding its contents. That may describe some Christians; we have the textbook but seldom read its contents which leaves us poorly informed and ill prepared for spiritual warfare. 

     We Christians proudly declare our love of and faith in God’s everlasting Word, the Bible. And yet, when we read those challenging verses which would require life changes, how often are they disregarded or ignored? If I’m honest, fairly often. Let’s look at some examples:

     1 Timothy 2:8  “In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.” Does this accurately describe men in our places of worship? Do we take time for men to pray during service with holy hands lifted up to God? If not, why not? Our textbook instructs us to do so.

     1 Timothy 2:9-10  “And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.”

     What? Are you serious? Women have fought long and hard to find equality in a male dominated world. This is harking back to ancient, caveman ideals. Surely this is not literal. This must be like a parable or thought-provoking words of wisdom, right?

     What do these two verses say? Are they not clear enough? Just because the church has abandoned these instructions does not make them null and void. Rather it makes us haughty enough to believe we can disregard them since they don’t fit into our society today. To please those who find these verses archaic and offensive, the church has relegated them to “that was for those days, for that specific situation.” 

     Really? Remember the textbook example above? Ignoring these verses is like me ignoring the foundational algebraic instructions in my textbook. And how did that work?

     Romans 10:13  “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Let’s take a vote. Everyone in favor of this verse being relevant to today’s world and our society, raise your hands. Don’t be ridiculous, you say. That verse is essential to the Gospel. We can’t just ignore important verses in the Bible. After all, the Bible is God’s Word that lasts forever (1 Peter 1:25).

     And yet, deciding certain verses are no longer pertinent or applicable today is ignoring God’s Word. Somehow we’ve decided by consent that verses too challenging or distasteful should be altered or outright ignored. How can we possibly be that audacious? That irreverent? 

     2 Timothy 3:16  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 

     If we are followers of Christ, we cannot allow ourselves to ignore sections of the Bible in favor of soothing ruffled feelings. 

     Hebrews 4:12  “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

Bunnies and Eggs?

Dean, Cole and Brad were having their weekly meeting at their favorite coffee shop. Brad was the coffee aficionado who seemed able to discern between every coffee variety. He only drank black coffee…very dark! For Dean and Cole, it was part friendship and part lattes. Their idea of good coffee was espresso (any variety), steamed milk and syrup. As to where coffee originated, they hadn’t the slightest idea. This week was the week before Easter Sunday.

Since Brad was an active Christian, Easter was a special time of the year. “Ok, what does Easter mean to you guys?,” he said.

“Bunnies, eggs, and delicious ham dinners,” said Cole.

“Chocolate bunnies, candy eggs, and fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy at our house,” Dean said. “As I look back on it, I think the candy part was my folks’ way of getting us to behave during that season. If we misbehaved, not so much candy.”

All three chuckled and got off on an obedience tangent for a minute. “Did either of you go to church or even hear about Jesus and the resurrection when you were kids?” asked Brad.

Both men agreed that church or mention of Jesus’ resurrection was absent from their childhood. “My aunt Ethel was a Christian I think. She always gave us Bible stuff around Easter time. One time she gave all three of us kids Bibles with our names in gold. That was cool!” said Cole. “Now that I mention it, she was always a caring, generous woman. I got into some serious trouble once when I was 17 and she bailed me out and paid my fines. She also got me a job which changed my life. Because of my Aunt Ethel, I own my furniture company. She got me a job with her brother who built furniture. That’s how it all began.”

“No church or Jesus or resurrection in my family either,” said Dean. “But my girlfriend in my senior year was a Christian and her father had a rule that anyone who dated his daughters, he had two, had to attend their church. I figured that was simple enough so every Sunday evening I went to their little church. I think that was an important step in my becoming a Christian later. I got pretty attached to the young pastor. It seemed like he could see inside my mind but he was not judgmental, he was full of love. You know, real love without conditions. Funny how I walked away from my faith over the years.”

Savoring another sip of his coffee, Brad said, “I don’t know if you guys know this or not but I never knew anything about Christ or His resurrection until I was in my twenties. We never went to church or even talked about God. Easter was like you both described, egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, candy eggs and other types of treats. We didn’t go to church first but went to my grandparents or aunt and uncle’s place for a ham dinner with all the trimmings. My grandmother, my aunt and mom all cooked the feast while we played outside. Those are good memories too.”

“That brings up a valid question then, Brad, what’s wrong with keeping those family traditions at Easter. You just admitted those are good memories and we all feel the same way. Why do Christians have to make such a big deal about this?,” said Cole.

“You make a good point, Cole. Actually, we shouldn’t make such a big deal about the normal festivities with candies and special ham dinners. We should realize that they are separate things and keep them separate. If you’re not a Christian, you aren’t interested in hearing about the resurrection of Jesus while you’re expecting family festivities; even though it is the most significant event in all of history. To unbelievers it is boring or intimidating or downright frustrating to be forced to hear about that. 

“I guess what has happened is the church has adopted easter egg hunts, chocolate bunnies as prizes and candy eggs as well. It is the church that needs to establish its priorities, not the world. Maybe the church felt like they were being left out or were taking away a treat from their members so they added “Christian” easter egg hunts with candy prizes after a sermon on the resurrection. However,  by combining the two things, the church is diluting the message of His resurrection. How can we spend an hour or more singing and preaching about the risen Lord and then follow that with an easter egg hunt? 

“Let me read from the Book of Matthew guys,” said Brad.

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.”      ~Matthew 28:1-6

Separation

“Nothing can separate us from His love” ~Romans 8:38

Do you ever have those powerful feelings that overwhelm the Bible teachings of God’s eternal, forgiving love for His followers; Feelings that remind us of our sins— bad choices, gossip, lust, greed and create a feeling of separation from God? As one man said, “Feelings are neither bad nor good. They just are.” We all have feelings that are both bad or good. But, like a stubbed toe, they will pass and should never be the rudder of our ship.

Let’s look at a few Bible verses for encouragement and a reminder of God’s position about leaving or ignoring us:

  • Romans 8:38-39 Living Bible (TLB)

“For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.”

  • Romans 10:9 Living Bible (TLB)

“For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

  • John 10:27-29 International Children’s Bible (ICB)

“My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never die. And no person can steal them out of my hand. My Father gave my sheep to me. He is greater than all, and no person can steal my sheep out of my Father’s hand.”

  • John 6:37-40 Living Bible (TLB)

“But some will come to me—those the Father has given me—and I will never, never reject them. For I have come here from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to have my own way. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the Last Day. For it is my Father’s will that everyone who sees his Son and believes on him should have eternal life—that I should raise him at the Last Day.”

  • 1 Peter 1:3-7 Living Bible (TLB)

“All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family.

Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead. And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see.

So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here.These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.”

So— when those very strong negative, discouraging feelings arise and demand attention, stand against them by using God’s Word, the Bible. God saved us by our faith, not our performance or goodness. His salvation is FOREVER! Jesus gave His life to qualify as the eternal sacrifice for ALL our sins. Don’t listen to the voice of doom that reminds you of all your failures. Go directly to your knees and confess to God. He has already forgiven them. As J. Vernon McGee used to say about confessing your sins to God, “You might as well tell Him because He knows anyway!”