Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Right to Enter

A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.  Psalms 100:1-5 KJV

One of the very first passages of scripture I memorized was the 100th Psalm out of the King James Version of the Bible.  I recall the time very vividly because I worked hard to get it down during Vacation Bible School at Parkland Baptist Church.  That Psalm has been with me almost sixty years.  Remembering is not one of best attributes anymore.  So many things have faded away but that scripture has remained clear.
I’m certain I did not understand the depth of this Psalm as a young boy in Tulsa. Oklahoma but today it is a wonderful invitation to come before a Holy God with praise and gratitude.  What a privilege and a blessing such an opportunity provides.
The right to enter a private place usually requires some form of credential or authority.  You don’t just walk in to a private place without invitation and recognition.  We pass by many places that are comfortable and provide help and provision each day but we have no right to enter.
On a recent golf trip to Arkansas our foursome had traveled over five hours and then played a round of golf and were anxious to get to the house we had rented after dinner.  Leaving the restaurant we were at the mercy of the GPS system for directions.  While we felt certain the turn from the restaurant parking should be to the right for the main gate the system said go left.  So we did.  We traveled quite a distance and had a lot of reservations about whether we were going the right way.  The last few turns the GPS gave led us deep into the woods.  We were almost certain we could hear the banjo from the movie Deliverance playing in the trees.  Finally we came to a gate but we did not have a card to enter.  We were less than two blocks from the house but could not pass the gate.  In order to get there we had to drive completely around to the main gate where we had a pass to show and get through.  Frustrated is an understatement for the way we felt at 11:00 at night.
As we backed down that dark road I thought about this Psalm and the invitation that God gives to Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. It is only His grace that opens the gate and allows us access.  Jesus told of a wide road that leads to a wide gate and destruction and a narrow road that leads to a narrow gate that leads to life.  That gate is the cross and it alone is our key to the kingdom.
As we sat outside that gate it was sad to know that just inside was rest and comfort but we did not have the key.  Too many will travel a long way only to discover they have no access the Kingdom of God.  They will try all of their earthly keys of good works, sacrifice and religion but none will open that gate.  I thank God for the key to the Kingdom…the Cross of Jesus Christ!
Scripture to Claim:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.  Matthew 7:13-14 NASB

Monday, May 30, 2016

Decoration Day

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance of those who have died in our nation's service.  It is a time to remember, reflect, and honor those brave men and women who have selflessly given their lives to keep us free.  Because of these brave heroes, through the grace of God, America became and remains the greatest nation in the world.  John 15:12-14 (NIV) 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
Here, we find that our Lord recognized the tremendous sacrifice involved when a person is willing to give up their life for their friend.   He describes it as an act of “great love.”   Who better to be able to understand and define the very essence of self-sacrifice and love, but our Lord Himself?
Think about what Christ has done for His people.  He willingly humbled Himself and came to the earth, God in human flesh, giving up the glories of heaven to live among us.   Then, during His life on earth, He set the ultimate example of service, teaching, feeding, praying for and healing those who were in need.   Next, He was willing to be falsely accused, mocked, physically beaten, mistreated and convicted for a set of crimes that He did not commit. Finally, submitting to a horrible death of slow suffocation while hanging on a cross, all so that His people could receive forgiveness and deliverance from their sin and its results.  This is what the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ brought about for us.
Remember in the above verses Christ Himself said there was no greater love among man than to die for a friend?  How much greater is a love that would make Jesus, God the Son,  be willing to die for an enemy, one that wants nothing to do with Him and who rebels against Him at every turn?  It is described as “the love of God” that cannot be fully understood by man. Romans 5:8 (NIV) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This is the ultimate example of love for another.
On this Memorial Day weekend, let us remember the brave soldiers who have so unselfishly given of themselves for us.   Let’s not only appreciate their actions but then take steps to help these veterans and their families whenever and wherever we can.
But also this weekend, let us remember the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us so that we might be saved from our sins and live a life of victory through Him.  And then out of appreciation for His works, let us give ourselves for others, obeying the perfect law of Christ…that is to love one another.

Scripture to Claim:
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.- John 15:13

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Unrealized Reward

Hebrews 11:32-40
It seems that all we have of deep value has been bathed in blood.  Our freedoms especially, both spiritual and national, carry the stain of sacrifice.  On Memorial Day we pause to remember.  Remember in such a way that we don't just give a polite nod to the past, but acknowledge with gratitude the sacrifices of others.
Scriptures encourages us to remember in order to honor, respect and show gratitude to those who have blessed our lives by their sacrifice.
The sacrifice of those who gave their lives in faith is rewarded only as we respect and live in the gift they provided.
Martyrs sacrifice their lives in hope that those who follow will benefit from their gift that their sacrifice may not be in vain.

Remember the Sacrifice of Patriots   John 15:13

The cost of freedom is blood.  On Memorial Day we give thanks for sacrifice.
There's no greater myth than that of the self-made man or woman. 
May we never abuse the liberty we have received by selfish indulgence on pleasures that weaken the moral strength of this great nation.
Those who died did not die for license to enable our weakness but liberty to discover our opportunity.  

We Reap Much Good We Did Not Sow   Galatians 6:7

People count. We need to remember the people who made an impact on our lives.
Sadly, many who have not paid the price don’t recognize the value nor the need of responsibility with freedom.

Where Do We Reap Good From Others?- –  Philippians 1:3-4


SAINTS- Matthew 16:24

Christianity was created for us by the blood of Christ and preserved for us by the blood of martyrs.

Remember the Sacrifice of Christ Luke 22:19 -

Remember Our Responsibility Galatians 5:13-14

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