Thursday, March 31, 2016


“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person” (John 2:23-25 NIV).
A dictionary defines sycophant as “a person who tries to please someone in order to gain a personal advantage.” Such a person is not reliable, but only the discerning ones would discover him/her and relate with him/her accordingly. Gullible people easily fall into the deceit of sycophants and later regret such action.
Jesus Christ knew this well and He did not allow people to mislead Him by their eye services. Twice, in the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ did not entrust Himself to the people. On the first occasion, during a Passover festival in Jerusalem, many people started following Him, but He knew who they were (see John 2:23-25). On another occasion, because of the miraculous signs that Jesus Christ did, many people began to praise Him as the expected Prophet. They even intended to forcefully make Him their king. However, He withdrew from them and went to another place (see John 6:14-15). It is interesting that the crowd in Jerusalem that honoured Jesus Christ as He rode triumphantly on a donkey into Jerusalem (see John 12:12-18) were the ones less than a week later crying “Crucify him! Crucify him!” They opted for the release of a criminal and insisted that Jesus Christ should be crucified (see Luke 23:13-25).  
This is a great lesson for every one especially those in position of leadership. Not every one that is singing your praise or that is seemingly loyal to you has your interest at heart. Many people are loyal to people in leadership position because of what they can get from the leaders. Only discerning people will act wisely and do not allow sycophants to deceive them with their false praises. People that are shouting “Hosanna” today may cry, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” tomorrow.
Beware of sycophants!
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Resurrection Verified by Eyewitnesses

“He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”
1 Corinthians 15:5–7

Paul also builds a case for the resurrection of Jesus Christ by giving the evidence of eyewitnesses. The testimony of eyewitnesses has long been considered one of the strongest and most reliable forms of evidence.
The first person Christ appeared to after His resurrection was the apostle Peter. Now, remember, Peter had denied the Lord three times just a few days earlier. Yet Jesus had selected Peter to be the leader of the apostles, so it made sense that the first person He appeared to was Peter. That appearance transformed Peter forever. It gave Peter the courage to be a bold defender of the Christian faith, to be willing to give his life for Christ. How do you explain the metamorphosis that occurred in Peter? The only way to describe it is that he had seen the resurrected Christ.
The resurrected Jesus appeared not only to Peter but also to “the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:5). That’s a reference to the apostles. Now, when Christ rose from the dead, technically there weren’t twelve apostles; there were only eleven. Remember, Judas had hanged himself and Matthias had yet to be selected. But “the twelve” was the title they went by.
After that, Jesus appeared to “more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain”—that is, they were alive at the time Paul was writing—“but some have fallen asleep”—that is, they had died (v. 6). Jesus Christ appeared to five hundred people at one time. We don’t know the circumstances of that appearance, but Paul said those people to whom He appeared are well known. Some of them were still alive, so the Corinthians could talk to them if they wanted to get firsthand testimony.
Do you ever stand in the supermarket line and look at those tabloid magazines? I’ll confess, some of them grab my attention every now and then. You’ll read these fantastic headlines, like someone spotted Elvis at a Walmart or at McDonald’s. Has anybody ever fallen for that? Does anybody really believe Elvis is alive? There are people who hope he is alive. But if it came down to it, would anybody be willing to give their life for that fact? On the other hand, what if five hundred people all said, “We saw Elvis Presley. We saw him here.” And not only that, these five hundred people were willing to say, “We believe this so much, we are willing to die for this.” Now, that would cause you to think again about whether Elvis Presley was alive, wouldn’t it?
Here were five hundred people who said that they believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ was alive. Not only that, but the resurrected Jesus also appeared to James, his half-brother. James didn’t believe his half brother was the Lord until Jesus appeared to him in His resurrected body. Then James became one of the leaders of the early church and wrote the epistle we have in our New Testament.
The resurrection of Jesus is proven by the testimony of the many eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after He rose from the dead.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Without Resurrection, We’re Dead in Our Sins

Dr. Robert Jeffress

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
—1 Corinthians 15:16–18
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “If Christ has not been raised . . . you are still in your sins.” If Christ is still in that tomb, it means when He died He didn’t die for our sins as He promised; He died for His own sins. You see, the Bible says, “The person who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:20). The reason we die is because of our sin. And if Jesus remained in that tomb it meant He didn’t pay for our sins; He was paying for his own sins. 
That has a logical implication. Paul says if Christ stayed in the tomb, then our loved ones have also perished. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then those who have gone before us—our Christian loved ones—have perished. “Those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Corinthians 15:18).
Now, that word “perished” doesn’t just mean dying physically. It means to suffer eternal separation from God. Think about it. If we are still in our sins, if Jesus Christ has not paid for our sins, then every Christian loved one who has preceded you in death that person died in their sins as well. And because of that, right now they are suffering separation from God for all eternity. It means your Christian grandparent, your Christian parent, your Christian mate, your Christian child or grandchild, your Christian friends and loved ones who have died—they are all suffering the eternal torment of hell right now. Do you believe that? 
That’s what Paul is saying. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then you’re still in your sins and so are your loved ones.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Cutting Down the Green Tree

Dr. Ray Pritchard
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and your children” (Luke 23:27).
This is perhaps the most overlooked statement Jesus made on Good Friday. He made it as he walked the Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Sorrows” that led to Calvary. Seeing women weeping for him as he drags the cross on the way to his own execution, he tells them three things:
1. Weep for yourselves and your children (vv. 27-28).
2. Terrible times are coming (vv. 29-30).
3. There will be no escaping that judgment (v. 31)

Weep, but do not weep.
Weep for yourselves, do not weep for me.
Strange words coming from the Savior’s lips.

These words would be fulfilled in AD 70 when the Roman army sacked Jerusalem and tore down Herod’s temple. In the last, terrible days before Jerusalem fell, women and children would suffer the most, as they always do when war comes.
These solemn statements are Jesus’ last recorded words before he is crucified. Shortly he will cry, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” We must take these two statements together, and we must not separate them.
The word of judgment: Weep for yourselves.
The word of grace: Father, forgive them.

We must not pass over the illustration Jesus used: “For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:31). The meaning seems to be, “If they do this to Jesus, the tree of life, what will they do to the nation whose unbelief has made it barren and ready for judgment?” This is Jesus’ final lament over Jerusalem.
When the nation, through its leaders, rejected Jesus, there was nothing left but the judgment of God. We must apply this lesson to ourselves. What will be the outcome for any nation blessed with gospel preaching that does not receive it? Earlier in this Lenten series, I pointed out that Jesus’ Triumphal Entry was a “Day of Visitation” for Israel. For a moment in time, the whole city asked, “Who is this man?” Now we have the official answer: “He is a criminal worthy of death.”
The same Jesus who said, “Come to me, all you weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest,” also said, “Unless you repent, you too will perish.” Both statements deserve careful attention. The day of grace comes to an end sooner or later. This is true for individuals, families, cities and nations.
Thank God, there is grace for every sinner.
But let no sinner use that as an excuse to sin.

The Lamb of God is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
We must not trifle with him.

Weep for yourself. Weep for your loved ones. Weep for your nation. Pray that we will turn to Christ while we can. As the daughters of Jerusalem learned 2000 years ago, the day comes when they cut down the green tree.
Lord Jesus, forgive us for being complacent in an age of grace. Give us broken hearts for those who do not know you. Amen.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Accidental Cross

Dr. Ray Pritchard
“As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus” (Luke 23:26).
We don’t know much about him.
He was just a bit player in the great drama surrounding the death of Christ. For a brief moment, he steps on the stage, plays his part, and then leaves, never to be mentioned again in the Bible.
We know his name: Simon.
We know where he lived: Cyrene, a city in northern Libya, not far from the Mediterranean Sea, about 115 miles east of Benghazi. It was 900 miles from Jerusalem.
It happened something like this. Having been sentenced to death, Jesus begins to carry his own cross to the place of execution. The crossbeam alone would weigh around 100 pounds with the entire cross being around 300 pounds. To carry even the crossbeam would be a staggering load for someone in Jesus’ condition.
The Romans assigned four soldiers to form a square around a man being crucified, while a fifth soldier walked in front carrying a placard naming the man’s crime. They intentionally made the criminal carry the cross through the main streets, by the city gates and the market square. They wanted to frighten the city by turning crucifixion into a gruesome spectacle.
What a contrast!
Five days earlier Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as the crowds cried out, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Gone are the cheering crowds.
Gone are the shouting children.
Gone are the palm fronds.

A few days earlier the whole city asked, “Who is this man?”
Now imperial Rome answers, “He is a condemned criminal.”
The same city that welcomed him now throws him out.
He will be crucified outside the city walls, consigned to the dung heap of history.

Bloody, beaten, more dead than alive, Jesus struggles to carry his cross. Step by step he drags the instrument of his own death toward Golgotha, the Place of the Skull. Every step is agony. The crown of thorns presses upon his brow. He has been beaten so badly that his face is covered with bruises, welts and cuts. Human spit mixes with dirt, sweat and blood.
Seeing Christ stumble and fall, the soldiers realize that he will never make it to his own execution. So they grab a man from the crowd.
That man is Simon of Cyrene.
Luke 23:26 says that Simon was compelled to carry the cross behind Jesus. Surely this fact was meant to linger in our minds. Simon stands as a symbol for every believer. He shows us what Christ meant when he said, “Take up your cross and follow me."
This is what a Christian is. He is a Christ-follower.
This is what a Christian does. He takes up his cross and follows him.

Though we can’t be certain, tradition suggests that Simon and his family became followers of Jesus. If so, then this “accidental cross” became a saving cross for this man and his family.
Sometimes we find the cross.
Sometimes the cross finds us.

That leads me to ask two simple questions with eternal implications:
Have you ever found the cross of Christ?
Has the cross of Christ ever found you?

Simon has a message for you and me. If he could speak across the centuries, I think he would say, “I have found my cross. Have you found yours?”
 Lord Jesus, may I never be ashamed and never hesitate to pick up my cross and follow you. Amen.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

They Gambled for His Clothes

Dr. Ray Pritchard
“When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four parts, a part for each soldier. They also took the tunic, which was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it, to see who gets it’” (John 19:23-24).
 The soldiers rolled dice while Jesus was dying.
 The soldiers who did the actual crucifying got to split up the garments of the unfortunate victim. You might call it a little added bonus for serving on an otherwise gruesome detail. In the best of times, crucifixion was a messy, bloody, unpleasant business. No one would complain about the soldiers rolling dice for the clothes of a murderer or a thief or a terrorist.
 But Jesus was different.
 As the long series of trials had shown, Jesus had not committed a crime. He didn’t deserve to die, and certainly not by crucifixion. Yet here he was, the rabbi from Nazareth, the miracle-working teacher of God’s truth, the one they called the “King of the Jews,” who was in fact the Son of God.
As he hung on the cross, suspended between heaven and earth, beaten, bruised and bloody, every breath an agony, the soldiers cast lots for his clothes. After the soldiers divided the main part of his clothing, they decided to cast lots for his tunic. The fact that it was seamless, woven from top to bottom in one piece, means that it was a valuable piece of clothing. Such a garment would be ruined by dividing it, which is why the soldiers cast lots.
 This act also fulfilled Psalm 22:18, They divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing.” Did the Roman soldiers know they were fulfilling Scripture? Of course not. They were merely doing what soldiers do sometimes: rolling dice to decide the winner. But even in that tiny detail we see the Holy Spirit at work. Although man’s cruelty was in full bloom that day at Calvary, nothing happened apart from God’s plan. When the Father determined that his Son should die, he even arranged the rolling of the dice for Jesus’ tunic.
Though hated by the rulers, he is loved by his Father who oversees every detail of his Son’s death. Stripped of all his earthly possessions, he is not stripped of his Father’s care.
What seems to be the cluttered rush of events turns out to be the plan of God unfolding to bring salvation to the world. Even the soldiers gambling for Christ’s tunic fit into the divine plan.
He was stripped of everything that we might be clothed in his righteousness. Charles Wesley’s hymn And Can It Be? has a verse that speaks to this truth:
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Lord Jesus, we are amazed by how far you went for us. May our lips never fail to sing your praise. Amen.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Other Thief on the Cross

Dr. Ray Pritchard
“Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: ‘Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!’” (Luke 23:39).
Two thieves were crucified with Jesus.
We mostly remember the one who repented.
But what about the other one?

Here’s what we know for sure. These two men were both criminals of some sort. Luke uses a word that simply means “evildoer.” Matthew and Mark use a different word that means “robber” or “plunderer.”
It’s also helpful to know that when Jesus was first crucified, both criminals began to mock him by shouting insults. Anyone looking at the scene shortly after 9 AM would have concluded that the two thieves were equally disdainful of Jesus, the man hanging from the center cross.
We’ll talk about the penitent thief tomorrow.
For a moment let’s focus on the crook who didn’t repent.

He began to shout at Jesus, “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!” When the text says he yelled it as an insult, the verb is the one from which we get the word blasphemy. The impenitent thief blasphemed the Lord Jesus by mocking his power. Note the tone of what he said, “Aren’t you the Messiah?” That’s different from saying “If you are the Messiah,” which involves a bit of doubt. What he really means is, “You’re obviously a fraud because if you were the Messiah, you would rescue yourself and us.”
Both thieves had exactly the same experience that morning. They were both taken from their cells, both forced to carry their own cross, both had nails driven through their hands and feet, both were in terrible physical condition, and both men would shortly die. Beyond that, both men had the same chance to observe the man on the middle cross. They both heard him cry out, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Both men knew they didn’t have long to live.
One man used his dying moments to blaspheme the Lord. He obviously did not fear God. Angry and desperate, soon to face God in judgment, he did not repent.
The crowd taunted Christ and dared him to come down from the cross. Reflecting on this, William Booth said, “They claimed they would have believed if he had come down; we believe because he stayed up.”
We learn much here about the hardness of the human heart. Some people prefer hell to heaven so that is where they will go. Some will not be persuaded even when they are in the presence of Jesus.
We learn something about our Lord from this. Though the crowd taunted him to come down, he would not turn from his rescue mission on behalf of the human race. If he had come down, we would all be lost. Thank God he stayed on the cross and died for us.
Philip Bliss, beloved gospel musician and good friend of D. L. Moody, wrote “Hallelujah! What a Savior!” shortly before his untimely death in 1876. The second verse reminds us of what Jesus endured while he was dying:
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you stayed on the cross all the way to the end. Hallelujah! What a Savior! Amen.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Saved at the Last Second

Dr. Ray Pritchard
“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:43).
Jesus died between two thieves.
One man wanted nothing to do with him, but the other man wanted to be forgiven. Let’s take a look at that second thief.
Was any man ever in a more desperate situation? Brutally crucified, he is dying in agony for crimes he had committed. He is a guilty man justly punished. He deserves to die and he knows it. By sundown, he will be dead.
His case has been tried, the judgment announced, the sentence carried out. All purely legal avenues have been exhausted. This man is as close to death as you can be and still be alive.  Now at the last moment he makes one final appeal to the Supreme Court of the Universe: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42).
I submit to you that here we have the most amazing example of saving faith in all the Bible. Jesus is hanging next to him, a bloody mess, a sight awful to behold. His feet and arms are nailed to the cross, ropes hold his body upright so it won’t fall off. Every movement is agony, every breath torture. Beneath him and behind him the howling mob screams for blood. They jeer, they hiss, they curse, they spit, they roar like wild hyenas. They cheer as he coughs up blood, they shout with approval when someone aims a rock at a piece of tender flesh. It is garish, hellish, brutal and inhuman.
Somehow this thief saw Jesus at his weakest moment, and he believed in him. He is a crucified sinner trusting in a crucified Savior. No man ever looked less like a king than Jesus did that day, yet this man saw him as he really was.
Jesus’ answer is simple and clear: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). What a day this was for that misbegotten criminal. In the morning he’s in prison, at noon he’s hanging on a cross, by sundown he’s in paradise. Out of a life of sin and shame, he passed immediately into eternal blessedness.
Remember that two thieves were crucified with Jesus that day, but only one believed. As J. C. Ryle put it:
One thief on the cross was saved, that none should despair; but only one, that none should presume.
This very bad man was saved at the very last moment. Thank God it is so. He had lived an absolutely rotten life, yet he died a Christian death. It happened by the grace of Jesus Christ.
Over two hundred years ago William Cowper wrote a famous hymn called There is a Fountain that includes a verse about the dying thief. To my knowledge, this is the only hymn that mentions this man:
The dying thief rejoiced to see,
That fountain in his day.
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.

All that God wants from us . . . and all that he will accept . . . is simple faith in his son, Jesus Christ. When we place our faith in the Lord Jesus, in that very moment we are saved.
The question is simple. Are you ready to die? You have nothing to fear if you know the Lord.  You are not ready to die if you don’t. Do you know him? What will you do if you don’t know him?
 Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making a way for sinners to be saved at the very last second. With all my heart, I am trusting you as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What’s Your Verdict?

By Rick Warren

“‘What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?’ Pilate asked them” (Mark 15:12 NIV).

Two thousand years ago, in the Middle East, an event occurred that permanently changed the world. Because of that event, history was split. Every time you write a date, you’re using the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as the focal point.

What does this mean to us today? In one sense, Jesus Christ is still on trial. He’s on trial in the heart and mind of every person who has not yet acknowledged him as the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

Was Jesus a liar, a lunatic, or Lord?

Jesus claimed to be the Savior of the world. In John 12:47, he is recorded as saying: “I didn’t come to judge the world. I came to save it.” Some people say, “I believe Jesus was a good teacher.” But he couldn’t be just a good teacher, because a good person would not say, “I’m God, and I’m the only way to Heaven” unless it was the truth.

So, what’s your verdict?

Is Jesus who he says he is? Is he God? Or is he a lunatic or a liar?

If he is who he says he is, when will you start following what he says to do with your life?

Today, you sit in judgment of Jesus Christ. Just as Pilate asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?” you also must decide whether or not he was who he said he was.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How Much Will March Madness Cost Our Economy?

Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture

March Madness began yesterday for men's college basketball teams. There are more winners and losers than the sixty-four teams that began the tournament, however.
If you're one of the forty million people who filled out a bracket, know that your odds of predicting the winner of every game are one in 9.2 quintillion. (Baylor's loss yesterday ended my chances.) But beer and pizza companies always win during March—beer consumption escalates nearly thirty percent, while pizza orders increase by nineteen percent.
Meanwhile, productivity in America loses. Experts estimate that lost wages paid to distracted and unproductive workers could reach as high as $1.9 billion. That amount of cash stacked in dollar bills would reach approximately 120 miles into the atmosphere. That's seventeen times higher than the altitude at which commercial jetliners fly. 
Clearly, what we do in private affects what we accomplish in public.
This fact relates to our spiritual lives as well. In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers claims that "my worth to God in public is what I am in private." Why is this true?
One: Private sin enslaves us to sin. Jesus was clear: "Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin" (John 8:34).
As Chambers explains, "The penalty of sin is confirmation in sin. It is not only God who punishes for sin; sin confirms itself in the sinner and gives back full pay. No struggling nor praying will enable you to stop doing some things, and the penalty of sin is that gradually you get used to it and do not know that it is sin. No power save the incoming of the Holy Ghost can alter the inherent consequences of sin." Sin always leads to more sin.
Two: Private sin leads to public shame. James warned us: "Desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is full grown brings forth death" (James 1:15).
C. S. Lewis observes: "Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself." What you choose determines who you are.
Three: You cannot measure the eternal significance of present faithfulness. When we see Jesus, "whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Corinthians 9:6).
So choose personal obedience to God's word and will. You will avoid enslaving sin and public shame, and your faithfulness will be rewarded forever. Oswald Chambers asks, "Is my master ambition to please him and be acceptable to him, or is it something less, no matter how noble?"
What is your answer today?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Whatever It Takes

by shani4jc

In Luke 19, we read the story of Zaccheaus who wanted to see Jesus as He passed through town. There was only one problem...Zaccheaus was too short to see over the other people. Not easily deterred, he climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see over the crowd. Many of us may be familiar with this story, but I have to admit, I have never thought too much about the role the tree played in the story. I mean, it's just an ordinary tree, right? Nothing special...just a regular tree except for one was a tree that was planted long in advance to meet the need of someone who wanted to see Jesus. God knew before the tree was even a seed that one day it would serve as a tool to help someone see Him. I wonder how many times as that tree grew that God looked upon it and smiled, knowing how it would help Zaccheaus get a glimpse of His Son. He does the same for us, you know! There is no limit to what He would do to help us see Jesus. He divinely orchestrates every single detail of every single life in order for each of us to see Him! He will grow a tree, move a mountain, dry up an ocean...whatever it takes for us to get a glimpse of Him! Why does He go to so much effort for us to see Him you may ask? It's simply because He knows that once we catch a glimpse of Him, we will never be the same!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Defeating the Enemy

by shani4jc

"Be sober, bi vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." 1 Peter 5:8-9

Most of us are keenly aware that we have an enemy, Satan,  whose primary goal is to destroy us.  He is relentless in his pursuit of us, wanting nothing more than to annihilate us in the most painful way possible.  He hates us with a passion!  He never backs down...he never grows tired of hurting us.  The Bible tells us to fight him by resisting him.  How are we supposed to resist an enemy that comes disguised as the most beautiful thing we have ever seen?  How are we supposed to resist an enemy that hides in the shadows, waiting for a single moment in which we let our guard down, to sneak in and attack?  There is only one way to resist clinging to Christ!  On our own, we are no match for our enemy; however, in Christ, our enemy is no match for us.  We can't defeat Satan by facing him...we can only defeat Satan by facing God.  Never forget that you are victorious in Christ.  When the enemy is on your heels, run to Jesus.  You can be guaranteed that the enemy will flee.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Already Judged

by Dr. Charles Stanley
John 3:17-18

As a society, Americans are fond of their rights. We're very protective of our liberties, even when they might bring harm rather than good. That can be true of spiritual matters as well. For example, exercising the "right" to reject God's plan of salvation leaves a person in a condemned condition.

I have heard the following phrase often in my years of ministry: "I don't believe God is going to condemn me to hell." I agree, but not with the comment's intended meaning--that a person is worthy of heaven on the basis of his own merit. You see, it is true that the Lord doesn't condemn people to hell. He allows them to opt for that eternal destination themselves. They have a right to choose.

God says that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ have been judged already (v. 18). In other words, by rejecting--or politely ignoring--their need for a Savior, unbelievers have chosen to remain unsaved and unforgiven. Scripture teaches that there will one day be a judgment, but God has already determined that those who trust in Christ will stand with Him while the rest will be sent away (Matt. 25:34-46). An unrepentant man or woman is not condemned by God but, rather, has chosen to remain in the company of all those condemned by their own free will.

God desires that everyone come to a saving knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9). To that end, He has granted each person the right to decide whether or not to follow in obedience. However, those who reject the Savior are forewarned that they have settled for condemnation.

Friday, March 18, 2016


By Francie Baltazar-Schwartz
Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"

He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.

"Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life."

I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him.

Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.

I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.

Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Life after Death

by Charles Stanley
Luke 12:16-20

The thought of dying frightens many people. But believers have no reason to fear. Jesus's resurrection and empty tomb prove that there is life after death!

Unbelievers who dread their demise have two different approaches to life. One group piles up wealth, good deeds, or worldly success in the hope of passing it on to their children or to charity. They expect to "live on" in the memories of those who benefit from their hard work. But it is the rare person who's still remembered a few generations later. And none truly live on.

The other group chooses to laugh in the face of death. Their philosophy is "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" (1 Cor. 15:32). Their existence seems pleasurable from the outside, but can you imagine a more futile way to live? God does not intend for us to go through life with such meaninglessness.

Here's the key to significance: fulfilling our unique, God-given, eternal purpose. In this life, we do not labor to leave a physical legacy or waste our days pursuing pleasure. Instead, we help those in need, influence our culture, and reach out to the lost. And when a believer enters the heavenly place Jesus has prepared, he or she keeps on working for Him.

For the believer, death is not a fearsome end. It is the doorway to a new life of serving the Lord in heaven. Our days on earth are just the beginning of our existence. This time will seem like only a few minutes compared to an eternity spent in His presence.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jesus Receives a Compliment from His Enemies

Dr. Ray Pritchard
“Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians” (Matthew 22:15).
Twenty years ago my older brother took me to visit a cemetery outside Florence, Alabama, near the remains of an antebellum mansion called Forks of Cypress. The mansion was built in 1830 by James Jackson, an early settler of northwest Alabama. My brother and I walked among the ruins of the mansion and then crossed the country road into the dense forest on the other side. After a quarter-mile we found the Jackson family cemetery. There was no sign marking the spot—only a five-foot-high stone wall surrounding about fifty graves. Inside we found a tall marker over James Jackson’s grave with a long inscription extolling his virtues, which were many.
As I walked along, my eyes fastened on the marker of one of his sons. There was a name, a date of birth and a date of death, and a five-word epitaph: “A man of unquestioned integrity.”
Five words to sum up an entire life. Sixty-plus years distilled into five words. But what truth they tell.
“A man of unquestioned integrity.” I cannot think of a better tribute.
In the Bible one man stands out above all the others as the preeminent example of integrity—Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. He was the only truly blameless person who ever walked this earth. All the other great men had their weak points. But not Jesus. No one could pin an accusation on him to make it stick. Not even his enemies.
Matthew 22:16 tells us how His opponents sized up His character in the last few days of his life. The statement comes from the Pharisees who “laid plans to trap him in his words” (verse 15). They sent some of their well-trained disciples to trick him with semantics. Ponder carefully their opening remarks: “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.”
This isn’t just a compliment. It’s an honest evaluation of Jesus by men who intended to murder him. The Pharisees and the Herodians didn’t like each other, but both groups hated Jesus.
What does Integrity involve?
Reputation: “We know”
Commitment to truth:

In words: “You teach the way of God.”
In relationships: “You aren’t swayed by men.”

Consistent lifestyle: “You pay no attention to who they are.”
Even as they attempted to trip him up, Christ’s enemies had to confess that his reputation, his commitment to truth, and his consistent lifestyle made him a man of integrity.
Why is this important? If Jesus had any skeletons in his closet, this was the moment to display them publicly. But they didn’t because they couldn’t because Jesus was exactly what he seemed to be. His life matched his lips; his deeds matched his words; his character backed up his claims.
That’s what integrity is all about.
We hear a lot these days about family values and the need to rediscover virtue in American society. But the basic building blocks of virtue are actually very simple. We’ve known them all along: honesty, perseverance, faithfulness, kindness, loyalty, self-control. The problem isn’t in the knowing—it’s in the doing.
My mind wanders back to a forgotten tombstone and those five simple words; “A man of unquestioned integrity.” I’m not sure what anyone will write on my tombstone. But I wouldn’t mind if someone felt I deserved those five words.
It’s a noble goal for all of us.
Lord, help me to live so that no one will be surprised to find out I’m a Christian. Amen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Render to Caesar--and to God!

Dr. Ray Pritchard

A Roman denarius from the time of Christ

“Therefore give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
No one likes paying taxes.
We’ll start there because that’s where the Pharisees and the Herodians started. It helps to know that these two groups didn’t like each other, but they both wanted Jesus dead. Because most Jews hated the Romans and hated paying the taxes the Romans imposed, the Pharisees and Herodians came up with a question for Jesus that was meant to trap him.
Here’s the question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?” It’s tricky because if Jesus says no, he wins popular approval, but the Herodians will report him to Rome as a revolutionary, bringing swift reprisal from the army. If he says yes, he satisfies Rome but loses face with the masses who hated their Roman overlords.
Jesus doesn’t directly answer the question. Instead, he asks his questioners for a coin. They gave him a Roman denarius (pictured above) with the image of Emperor Tiberius on the front with the inscription, “Tiberius, Caesar Augustus, Son of the Divine Augustus.” On the reverse was “Pontif Maxim,” meaning “High Priest” of the ancient Roman religions. Besides being a monetary unit, it also promoted idolatry because it deified the Roman emperor.
Since Rome issued the coin with the emperor’s image, it meant that the emperor “owned” that money. The same is true today. An American $5 bill has a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, meaning it is legal tender issued by the government. I happen to have a handful of bills in my wallet right now. None of them have my picture. If I tried to pass off bills with my image as real money, I would soon be arrested for counterfeiting.
Jesus’ answer has two parts:
1. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Jesus seems to be saying, “Look at the coin. Caesar’s image means the coins belong to him. Give him what he demands,” which means “Pay your taxes.”
2. Give to God what belongs to God. We can understand this properly by asking, “Whose image do we bear?” Just as the Roman denarius was stamped with the image of Caesar, we have been stamped with the image of God. He made us, he owns us, and we owe our life to him.
There is a deeper sense in which Jesus is saying, "You need to decide what matters most. If Caesar wants money, give him money, but Caesar is not God. Pay your taxes, but do not forget your higher allegiance."
The Lord wants to make sure that we “give to God what belongs to God.” He’s not just talking about money. We owe the Lord everything. We must not hold back on him.
The familiar hymn Take My Life and Let It Be shows us the true application. In successive verses, the song says:
Take my Life.
Take my Hands.
Take my voice.
Take my silver and my gold.
Take my will.

And then finally,
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee,
3ver, only, all for thee.

If we follow that progression, we will always end up in the right place. We will take all that we have and give it gladly to the Lord, and we will be “ever, only, all for thee.”
No wonder they were amazed and could not answer him (v. 22). His words hit too close to home.
Will you today give to God what belongs to him?
My Lord, when I am tempted to hold back, may I remember that you never held back but gave yourself for me. Please help me live ever, only, all for you. Amen.