The Grave: Life’s Final Fear

the grave

“So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.” Mark 15:46

Death. It comes no matter how we try to prevent it. We are all dying.

The grave is the final fear of us all. The unknown of what’s next has caused people to fear this final stage of life. Even Jesus faced it. Knowing in the garden the cup He would drink overwhelmed Him.

This day, more than any other, the Christian should think of death as the cruel curse Satan has played on all of us. Today, the father of lies has placed man’s greatest fear in “a tomb cut out of a rock” and “rolled a stone against the entrance.”

Sealed up. Never more to be opened. As if to say this thing called death is final.

But to understand death is to examine His death. As the disciples ran in fear they would be next, we look to what His death meant.

Jesus came to live the life we never could and to die the death we will never know. His death on the cross paid the debt of sin and caused the death of sin. We will not know what it means to die IN sin because His death was that price for us.

We don’t linger here because every born-again follower of Jesus Christ died IN Him that day. “And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him” (Romans 6:8). Saturday is here but Sunday will come.

Like every other fear, faith gets the last word. Matthew Henry said, “He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.” Our life and death are hidden in Jesus. This final fear will not best us because God gave His best for us.

This is not over!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

 

From Noon Till Three

noon till three

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.” Mark 15:33

A simple sentence. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention this darkness that saturated the hill called Golgotha.

We preachers have tried to explain why it was there. One reason the light of the world was dying. Another reason because God couldn’t look at our sin that lay like a filthy slime on our sinless Savior.

From noon to three—it was those three hours that He thought of you and I. It was then that my sin and yours was so heavy on the skin of the Savior that maybe, just maybe, your name and mine crossed the mind of the Messiah.

This old song says it best: https://youtube/eXX1AiljoIE

Think of it. Jesus, the very Son of God, hung sin-soaked in the stench of our sin and He thought of us. He who knew no sin now knew ours. He saw the real us and decided to love us anyway.

Don’t decide you know what He did until you understand what we are. This world that we live in stinks to high heaven with the garbage pile of sin. It’s so filthy God couldn’t look at it, and the darkness hid the very face of God from His own Son.

But, Jesus not only paid for our sin He placed it on Himself. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24). He took all our sin away. In the darkness, it wasn’t just forgiven like a debt paid off, it was forgotten like it never, EVER, happened.

By Himself, sin no longer reigned on Earth. The writer of Hebrews says, “When he had by himself purged our sins” (Hebrews 1:3). The word is like the levitical ritual of a cleansed leper who is now pure. It means that the STAIN of sin is washed clean AND the guilt of sin is GONE.

Think of it. In three hours, the Son of God made us clean and completely forgiven.

On this Good Friday, somewhere from noon till three, pick a time and think of Him. After all, you were on His mind.

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

4 Facts of Forgiveness

forgiveness

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 

A survey was made of 200 married adults regarding forgiveness: The researchers were wondering how one’s ability to forgive others would affect their marital satisfaction and personal well-being. The results were incredible!

This research suggests that there is a huge relationship between marriage satisfaction and forgiveness. In fact, it appears that as much as one-third of marriage satisfaction is related to forgiveness.

Not only does the ability to forgive impact the marriage relationship, it was significantly related to personal emotional distress. As forgiveness ability went up, individuals reported fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue!

Jesus said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”

But what does this mean?

It doesn’t mean God won’t forgive our sin if we can’t forgive others. It means we won’t be able to accept God’s forgiveness for ourselves. We won’t feel forgiven by God because we have a hard time forgiving others.

There are many in our world who struggle with the reality of forgiveness. They have been victims of all types of abuse and trauma. People who have been lied to and lied about. So let’s clear up some misconceptions about biblical forgiveness.

By stating 4 Facts:

1. When we forgive a person, this does not mean we are instantly over it.

It’s not just all over. Forgiveness takes time and it may take years. Just because we say,
“I forgive you” doesn’t mean we feel it right away. It will be difficult, especially in areas of abuse.

2. When you forgive a person, this does not mean you have to be their friend again.

You won’t be best friends after an apology it depends on how deep the hurt and the length of hard feelings. The severity and the length of the hurt is important.
3. When we forgive a person, this does not mean that we trust them, yet.

Trust is something that will take time—it’s earned. And again it depends on how long the hard feelings and severity of the wound.

There is nothing biblically based that says we have to trust them again.

4. When we forgive a person, we are not avoiding the pain we are opening the door to healing.

Choosing to forgive, and it is a choice, starts releasing the person from our justice to God’s justice. GOD is much better and making a person miserable than we are. Give it to God.

Forgiveness is an ACT of FAITH.

Richard Rohr said, ”If you do not transform your pain, you will surely transmit it.”

OR Hurting people Hurt people.

Giving it to God means I won’t transmit my hurt to someone else specifically—my new relationships. This isn’t easy BUT when we forgive we take the journey at the pace we are able to handle…the deeper the hurt, the longer the journey.

But as a Christian, because we have been forgiven, we should have a deep desire to forgive others. At times forgiveness is very difficult. But trust God. Accept the apology and give it when needed.

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

1. Peter J. Larson, New Forgiveness Research Jan 27, 2003

How to Make Others Better

others

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3

We speak a lot about leadership. Being strong leaders, focused leaders, and growing as a leader.

But how do we make others better when we aren’t leading? Do we lead from behind?

During the Second Great Awakening in America, Charles Finney was in the forefront among the great evangelists. God was using him to change the culture of the church. He began what we call modern day evangelism.

Many people know him.

However, few know the name, Daniel Nash.

Daniel Nash was born in 1775 at an unknown place in the USA. No one knows what happened in his life before he was 40.

What we do know about him is at the age of 40 he became the pastor of a Presbyterian church in upper New York State. During his first year there, around 70 people were saved in something of a mini-revival.

But he withdrew after being voted out of the church. The rejection from those he loved wounded him deeply. Also, as a result of a serious eye infection, he spent several weeks in a dark room where he could not read or write.

The broken preacher began to pray earnestly, and so began one of the greatest prayer evangelism ministries ever.

Nash, at the age of 48, dedicated his life to prayer. Long before Finney would arrive in a town, Nash would be there in an empty cellar or boarding house room praying for the power of God to enter the city.

Finney told this story: “When I got to town to start a revival, a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house.”

The lady said, “Brother Finney, do you know a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten a bite of food.”

She continued,“I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn’t know what to do. Would you please come see about them?”

“No, it isn’t necessary,” Finney replied. “They just have a spirit of travail in prayer.”

Finney knew that God sent Nash to help make him a better preacher. Finney said this about Nash, “He concentrated entirely on praying for people who were so hard that they could not be reached in any other way.”

Nash is a mighty example of how God changed a man’s circumstance to make someone else better. We don’t talk about that much, but how many of us have had people who have strengthened our faith?

Being fired as a pastor isn’t what preachers aspire to. It is even viewed as negative on our resume. But God has a way of taking our worse tragedy and changing it to a mighty triumph.

Within four months of Nash’s death, Finney left evangelism for the pastorate. The great prayer warrior of his crusades was gone.

If you want to see the grave of Daniel Nash, you have to drive to upper New York, almost to the Canadian border. There, in a neglected cemetery along a dirt road, you will find a tombstone that says it all:

DANIEL NASH
Laborer with Finney
MIGHTY IN PRAYER

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Is it Worth it?

worth

Many times, in our personal lives and in church we ask the question is it worth it?  Is this relationship worth it? Is this thing I’m buying worth the price? Is the diet and exercise I’m doing worth it? Let’s see what the Bible says:

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  Psalm 126:5-6

The principle of sowing and reaping tells us we get out of something what we put in. There must be hard work, a level of commitment or persistence to the goal in order to receive a feeling of reward in the end.

However, that’s not the day we live in. We want it now. We think that success should show on our first day on the job. We think showing up should be enough.

Much like church. Without commitment or a persistent focus on prayer can God bring revival to a church or community?

This is what King Hezekiah is writing about here in our text. He’s calling for the former glory of Israel to be restored. He’s NOT asking for a physical blessing of prosperity but a spiritual revival in the land.

The king is praying Lord send a great revival IN your people.

You’ll notice in v.1 he starts with praising God and then in v.2-3 he announces, “The Lord has done great things.”

It is God’s people praising Him for how good God is. When we think of this in the world today, isn’t that exactly what people need to see in us? We need to tell the world: We believe Jesus has done great things for us and let us show you by how we live.

But sometimes we give up. If you are a church member you may have at least thought about giving up on the church. If you are a pastor you may have thought about a job change.

What do we do? Remember the promise. Reaping brings joy.

It is true rejoicing only comes through tears of pain. But isn’t it worth it?

Keep Looking up! Heaven is closer than you think. May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Do We Have Total Obedience?

obedience

“But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.” Matthew 3:15

The baptism of Jesus was an unusual event. We know John the Baptist knew he should have been baptized by Jesus. We know Jesus was baptized to show us we need to be baptized as a public sign of salvation, and to be obedient to God’s will.

We also know that Jesus was doing this to be totally obedient to the will of the Father. This was a picture of His humility.

The Bible tells us, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8

The Son of God showed us what total obedience looked like. It involves sacrificing our will and our rights to perform God’s will in whatever God wants in His kingdom.

If that means, we get walked on like a doormat today—so be it. If that means, we get hurt by brothers or sisters in Christ—Thank you, Lord. If that means, closing our mouths and not giving our opinion—Go, God!

Crazy?

Words like humility, sacrifice, and death are fading from our Christian vocabulary. The celebrity status some Christians enjoy and the rise of social media have taught us to toot our own horn.

We all have something to add to the kingdom but that might not be celebrity status. It might be to simply wake up today and die to our will, to “Take up our cross and follow Him.” There are many things Jesus has done for us and showed us but the biggest thing is dying to us.

Total obedience is saying, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Don’t forget to Pray!

Pastor Rodney 

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

 

 

How to Keep a Right Spirit

right spirit

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11

Bragging. It’s not a new thing. From kings in the Bible to athletes in a big game, the art of bragging has been around a while.

Some people see nothing wrong with bragging. Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

We’ve even modified bragging. There is a new term now called “humble bragging.” You know, “I am so humbled that they put me on the cover of TIME magazine…AGAIN!

Sadly, pulpits and pews have had a few pride infested words slung around. Our flesh fights our spirit.

We must be careful that we don’t boast about our attendance, baptism numbers, or altar movement. The tempter is always trying to get a foothold in the church.

Here in Matthew 3 John the Baptist is being used by God to prepare God’s people. Repentance was the one-note message JTB preached. Turn from sin and turn to God. An about-face sends us in God’s direction and away from ours.

The converts were massing to hear JTB preach. “Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him.” (Matthew 3:5) Talk about a popular preacher. JTB became the biggest news in the Jerusalem Times.

How did JTB respond?

Like we should. When people shout our praises, we sing Jesus’. “He who is coming after me is mightier than I.” God may be doing His work through me but it’s not about me. Donkeys can preach when touched by God.

JTB’s humility resonates with these words, “whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.” Carrying clothing was the sign of a servant. Carrying smelly sandals would have been the least favorite part of the clothing.

Whenever we get prideful we must ask if we smell like a servant because our spirits get sour with pride. Prideful preaching and teaching forgets the needs of the people who hear us. Our words must be His words. After all, they are His people, not ours.

Let’s pray!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

 

Pastor, Are “THEY” or “THEM” in Your Church Too?

crowd of people

“They” have been in every church I served and they seem to be members of every church my friend’s pastor. “They” show up in Deacon’s meetings, committee meetings, phone calls, and even in emails.

Who are they?

“Pastor, they are upset. The decision you made, the phone call you didn’t make, the out-patient surgery you missed, they got their feelings hurt. You pastor offended them.”

That’s right “they” have family members named “them.”

They and them have been around a while. They are easily offended and they never give you the benefit of the doubt. They question your motives, shake your hand, and even give a friendly smile.

You may never know who they are because they never talk with you, they go to others and talk about you. And, we never know how many of them there is.

They ruin our sleep, and can even wreck our ministry. Jesus speaks to they and them and how to deal with those people.

1.Don’t Worry

Would it help if Jesus dealt with them too? Jesus told the disciples about them. “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour. What you should speak:” Matthew 10: 19

Is it possible to not worry about them? They will talk, they will complain, and they will hurt our feelings but we aren’t to worry about them.

Sometimes in our churches, they go to other leaders and the leaders don’t know what to do with them. They grew up with them. Now suddenly they are not happy. They need to be heard. Spiritually mature deacons realize these people are the ones who habitually complain.

The next step is to talk with them. But they seem to always be nameless. Even when pushed a church leader will say, “They didn’t want their name mentioned.”

What? How can I find out who they are? If I can’t talk to them, then how can this be fixed?

Jesus speaks again to this, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.”  Matthew 10:23

Sometimes they become louder than the rest of them. They get their way and we are left wondering why this all happened. Rest assured we are not alone.

Jesus gives another way to deal with them:

  1. Do Not Fear

“Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” Matthew 10:26

Fear paralyzes us. Jesus says that they will be brought out into the light. That’s right Jesus will uncover them. They will not remain anonymous. These people will not stay hidden forever.

We may not see them here but Jesus will have an uncovering party in heaven. The hidden words will be revealed. The secret meetings will be seen.

Please know pastor, names will be taken. The scales will be balanced. We may have to move churches but God will move heaven to make this happen.

They will answer. I’m starting to feel better about them. How about you?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

 

What is Your Call?

call

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” (Matthew 3:1-2)

John the Baptist was the long-awaited prophet of the Messiah. By all accounts today he was a different sort of dude.

He wouldn’t have made it past most pastor search committees, but he gives us so many glimpses of the glory of God that we can certainly see how Jesus called him, Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;” (Matthew 11:11)

John the Baptist had what we all need, a clarity of call.

If we take a minute, we can see his message—Repent! And, we can also see his mission was to proclaim the Messiah.

We all have the same mission as him. Tell the world about Jesus. But, we do that differently.

It’s the message that we must see. This is the way we are gifted. A prophet will be an in your face, black and white messenger (like John the Baptist). Proclaiming repentance. But, an encourager we tell people about the love of God.

This is the message we have. Born into us when we were born again.

It’s also the problem we have with each other. Prophets tend to think they are right all the time. After all, we do need to repent. Right?

That’s why we must clarify our call. Most of the arguments in our churches and on social media are centered around our different gifts. Without a clarity of call, and the spiritual maturity to see our differences, we may end up being so right we think everyone else is wrong.

We need prophets. We need encouragers. We need mercy, knowledge, administration, and on and on. But we also need the grace to let others fulfill their call.

So, what is your call?

Don’t forget to pray!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Do you Remember all God’s Done for you?

remember

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’”

“They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”  Nehemiah 1:8-11

After repentance, Nehemiah’s prayer centers on God remember what you said. If we sin you will scatter us, and you did. But in v.9 if we turn to you and obey you, God you will call us to you again. Remember Father and he lists three things:

1)Of His Promises­—(v.8-9)

Lord, you promised if we turn to you and obey you would deliver us.

It’s important in prayer to quote scripture. Not to remind God but to settle it in our hearts.

Lord, you said, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Lord, you said, “Call unto me in the day of trouble,”

Lord, you said “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:”

The promises reassure us.

2)Of His Power—(v.10) “Thy great power.

When we pray we’re not only talking to our heavenly father, but also the God of everything. He said that in V.4.

Oh, God can’t deliver America—we’re hopeless. He delivered Israel at the Red Sea. God can’t save my husband, or wayward child—oh really, God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, God delivered Daniel. God even saved Nebuchadnezzar, an evil king.

3)Of His Plans—(v.11)“who desire to fear thy name: and prosper,”

That reminds me of what God told the prophet Jeremiah: “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

God wants to bless us. God wants us to walk in victory. God’s plans are that we live Holy, happy lives and point the way to Jesus.

Do you remember all God’s done for you?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.