Jesus Loves Me

Matthew 28:1-2, 5-6

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 
And the angel answered and said unto the women, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, Which was crucified. 
He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

 

It was early in the morning. Jesus’ followers had been through so much over the past few days. Not only did they watch their Leader being tried for crimes He did not commit, but they also watched His accusers crucify Him on a cross between two thieves. Their emotions must have run the gamut. They were probably exhausted from fear and anxiety. Their leader was gone. What would they do?

 

The women made their way to the tomb where His body had been buried. As they approached it, a sound, like an earthquake, roared in their ears. The angel of the Lord had come down to roll away the stone. He sat there, looking at their bewildered expressions.

 

“Do not fear,” he said. “I know you are seeking Jesus, Whom they crucified.”

 

The women probably nodded their heads in disbelief.

 

“He is not here,” the angel continued, “for He is risen, as He said.” Then he invited them into the tomb to see for themselves.

 

As the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection approaches each year, this story begins to consume my thoughts. I often wonder how I would have felt had I been looking for my Lord early that morning. I wonder how I would have slept had I witnessed his death two nights before. I wonder what I would have talked about with Mary, His mother, and John, His dear friend, and the rest of the disciples who walked with Him over the past three years. I wonder…

 

The greatest part of the story is that we no longer have to wonder at all. He rose from the grave early on that morning, and He later ascended into the heavens to be seated next to the Father. He is now interceding on the behalf of all the saints of God who still live here on the earth. But even better still is the fact that He loved the world so much that He died to pay our debt of sin. On that rugged old cross where the body of Jesus hanged in shame and humiliation for all the world to see, my sin hanged on that cross with Him…all because He loves me.

 

So, when all is wrong in the world, and it seems that there is no one that I can turn to for encouragement, I sing a simple little song at the top of my lungs, to remind myself that…

 

Yes! Jesus loves me! Yes! Jesus loves me!
Yes! Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so…

John 3:16

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Covenant

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 12:3

In today’s society, we rarely use the term “covenant” anymore. You will only hear this word in Christian circles. People do not think of any agreement being unbreakable anymore. Now, everything is done via “contracts”, and needless to say, with a cunning enough lawyer, anyone can get out of a contract. One’s word used to mean that it is as good as done. That is no longer the case. People will as soon lie to each other as breathe.

One of the most important covenants is in dire straits today. That is the covenant of marriage. I have heard it said that the divorce rate in the United States is at fifty percent. I do not know if that number is correct, but I do know that everywhere you turn, people are abandoning their marriages. This is not only true of non-Christians, but it is true of Christians also. Everyone from laypersons to pastors are falling victim to divorce. Marriage is under attack like it has never been in my 40+ year lifetime. Satan is doing all he can to break up the family because he knows that his days are numbered. On the other hand, as believers we trust God to do everything from give us a job to heal our bodies, but we do not trust Him to work out our marital difficulties.

In the western world, we really have the wrong perspective concerning marriage. We get married thinking that this other person will complete us or bring some level of happiness into our lives that cannot be obtained without this other person. The fact is that happiness is fleeting. One moment, a person can be on top of the world, and in the next moment, anything can happen, and that mountaintop experience can seem like it was light years in the past. The only thing that is really lasting is the joy of the Lord….(Nehemiah 8:10)

I looked up the word covenant in the dictionary. Even the dictionary definition does not do the biblical meaning of the word any justice. One definition says that covenant is “the conditional promises made to humanity by God, as revealed in Scripture.” Now, I do not remember God giving Abraham any conditions by which His promise would remain valid. Genesis 12:1-3 says “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”


Where in those statements do you read that God told Abraham He would do those things IF Abraham did something in return? Nowhere. God’s covenant is unconditional.

The second definition of the word covenant said “the agreement between God and the ancient Israelites, in which God promised to protect them if they kept His law and were faithful to Him.” Once again, nowhere do you read that the Lord told them that they had to be faithful to Him in order for His covenant to remain valid. As a matter of fact, if there had been conditions, then it would not have been a covenant at all, it would have been a contract. The people of Israel would have voided the covenant had it been based on their faithfulness, because they got tired of waiting for Moses and started dancing around a golden calf! As we have already established, man can wrangle his way out of a contract pretty easily, but a covenant is not meant to be broken. That is why God said in Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” When a man decides to “leave” and “cleave”, he is in essence giving his word that this covenant bond of marriage will be forever.

Marriage is under attack today like never before. I can speak from personal experience, because I have gone through trials in my own marriage. I do think, however, that when one really loves the Lord and wants to please Him with their lives and glorify Him in all that they do, one cannot, with a clear conscience, walk away from marriage as if it had never happened. The process of divorce causes a split in one’s soul that cannot be compared to any other loss. Marriage ties the two souls together; divorce tears the souls apart. It does not matter how amicable a couple thinks their divorce is, the fact is that they have split the soul.

How can the body of Christ stop this epidemic from spreading any further? There are a few things that we need to learn to work on in order to save our marriages. First, we need to learn to forgive. When two people marry, each one needs to realize that they are marrying another sinful person. That person is as imperfect as they are, and there are going to be times when they make mistakes. Each person will fall short of the other’s expectations from time to time. But God is faithful, and He can bring restoration and healing to any situation if one or both parties have a heart that is good soil.

We also need to learn submission. A man or a woman who is not willing to submit to the headship of Christ is not going to submit to a spouse. Submission, by the way, is not just for wives. Husbands need to learn the art of dying to their flesh for the sake of their wives, which will bring harmony back into the home. When he shows her that he is willing to do what is necessary, she enjoys a sense of peace and security, which colors all that she does in and outside of the home.

There is so much that I could say about covenant. The main point that I want to make is that covenant is unbreakable. Covenant is lasting. Covenant is forever.

God’s covenant with Israel is still in effect today. I know that many think that the church has replaced Israel, and that God has rejected her because she has rejected Him, but that is not the case. God is still blessing those who bless Israel, and He will still curse those who curse Israel. His covenant is everlasing. It will never be broken.

No, it is not hotter than hell…

(This post is from August 2010. That year, the heat was almost unbearable. I described it in this post, and I took the title from a sign that I saw in front of a church not far from our home…I hope you enjoy it.)

Matthew 13:42
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 13:50
And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Mark 9:45-46
And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

If you live here in the south, then you know about the heat. There are days when it is so hot that it seems like the heat wraps itself around you like a blanket when you step outside. Sometimes it is so hot that you cannot breathe. The air is dry, the sun is bright, and the temperatures are soaring.

It has been that way most of this summer. The temperatures have ranged from hot to ridiculous. For those of us who suffer seasonal allergies, the heat is difficult for a number of reasons. Once it gets so hot, the air quality is just not good anymore, and that cause sinus infections, post-nasal drip, and allergy attacks. I have suffered more this summer with my allergies than I think I ever have in my life. One of my daughters struggles with allergies as severely as I do, but my whole family has suffered. The heat has gotten to us.

The bright sunshine is also very draining. For anyone who has to work outdoors for any amount of time during the summer months, I have so much compassion for you. My suggestion is to drink plenty of water, but drinking more water does not cool you off. The heat is so exhausting that after I have been outside for more than just a few minutes, I have to come inside and sit down. I have cut grass in the heat. Now, after cutting the grass with a non-self propelled push lawn mower up and down the hill in my front yard, I have to do more than sit down. I usually have to lie down in the middle of the floor underneath a ceiling fan to cool off.

I hate the summer months. I hate the heat. I have lived in the south all of my life and I should be used to it by now but I never get used to it. I have never and suspect that I will never like heat.

But there is a heat that is nothing near what I have described to you. There is the “furnace of fire”. My fear is that several people that I know and love are headed for that furnace. The heat there is immeasurable. My grandmother used to say that hell is “seven times hotter than the hottest day you have ever lived”. Now, how she thought that she could measure it, I will never know. But I do know this: when Jesus comes to set up His earthly kingdom, I want to be a part of it. I do not want to be one of the ones who dies without the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not want to have lived my entire life only to die physically, meet the Savior, and have Him tell me to depart. Then, worse than that, I do not want to have to be sentenced to eternity in the place where the “…worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:44) I have experienced the heat of the southern states. That heat is enough for me. And I am sure that the heat that I have experienced is nowhere near as hot as the heat to which the soul that dies for all eternity will experience. So, just in case you are wondering, wherever you may be today, the answer is no, it is not hotter than hell.

Out With the Old…Really?

Matthew 15:6
Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

2 Thessalonians 2:15
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.


I am a traditional girl. I was raised in a small farming community, and there were some traditions that my grandmother instilled in me that will never die. In 2010, however, tradition is sometimes deemed a bad thing.

For instance, this morning in church, I was embarrassed to notice a couple of women who came to church as scantily clad as possible. They wore spaghetti strapped tops with low-cut necks. They were very busty women, to put it mildly.

I stood about eight feet away from these women. I noticed them and instantly I thought, oh my goodness…if I am embarrassed, I know some of the men are also! (Praise the Lord my husband and my son were not nearby.)

My problem is that I remember a time when those women would have been embarrassed to come to church dressed like that. I remember a time when the church “mothers” would pull a young woman to the side and tell her about the way she was dressed. As a matter of fact, my grandmother would not allow her daughters or granddaughters to wear open-toe shoes to church. She said, “That preacher is already struggling enough without having you sit on the front pew with your red-painted toes.” I thought of my dear grandmother as I looked at the young lady sitting next to me on the front row in church today with a short dress on, and her toes painted red.

So what is my point? My point is this: we have done such a great job at pointing out some of the “bad” traditions until we now think that they are all bad, and we have dismissed some of the greatest traditions simply because they are traditional! No longer do pastors feel the need to wear a shirt and tie in the pulpit. It is ok now to come to church in shorts, flip-flops, sandals, jeans, sweats, or whatever. Do I think that dressing this way makes a man less of a pastor? No I do not. Do I think it makes him less of a Christian? I do not. I do, however, believe that it sends a message to the congregation that the man of God who stands before the audience to proclaim the Word of God is serious about what he is doing and saying. I think it lets the people of God know that he does not take the Word of God lightly. He does not treat it the same way that he would treat a trip to the beach, or an afternoon in the park. I know there are some awesome Bible teachers who do not wear shirts and ties to church, but I do think that it is a bit more appropriate than some of the garbage that I see people wearing nowadays.

I have digressed tremendously.

In the passages of scripture that I mentioned at the beginning of my monologue, I see two opposing views on traditions, one good and one bad. In Matthew 15, we have a situation where the Pharisees are using traditions to override God’s commandments. That is never good. It is never ok not to do what God says in order to fulfill a long-standing tradition. Not only am I not encouraging that, but I discourage it strongly. God’s commands are always the final authority, the standard by which we all should judge ourselves. Never would I take the teaching of my grandmother, should it have been erroneous, and elevate it above the teachings that God left for us in His Word. My grandmother would not have encouaged that either.

In 2 Thessalonians, however, Paul shows us that there are some tradtions that come from God and we are to hold fast to them. Now, am I saying that the tradition of dressing a certain way when we go to church comes from Paul or 2 Thessalonians or even God Himself? I am not. I do believe, however, that the tradition of having a standard of dress was born in the hearts of men and women who love and want to honor Jesus with their lives and bodies. Paul did say to believers in 1 Timothy 2:9 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety” and that says to me that something needs to give when we talk about appropriate church attire. Ladies, come on! If it is a man that you are trying to attract, the kind of man who would be attracted to your over-exposed body is not the kind of man that you want. If that is the kind of man that you are looking for, then church should not be the place where you go to find him. (Although I am sure that you could find that kind of man in church.)

My desire is for the church to be the church. I desire to see the church go back to being the place where the standard is set. I am old enough to remember a time when the sinners who never went to church showed respect for the elderly and for the people of God. I remember a time when my grandmother and I could walk the downtown streets of my hometown and if there were a man smoking a cigarette on the street, he would put his cigarette out in my grandmother’s presence. I remember a time when drunks would hide their beer or wine when they saw the preacher coming. I remember a time that one’s sin would be so embarrassing that he or she would do their best to hide it.

That is no longer the case. Traditionally, when a young lady became pregnant out of wedlock, she went into the house, and that is where she stayed until the baby was born. No one threw a baby shower for her to celebrate the result of her sin. As a matter of fact, she was so embarrassed about what she had done that she made herself as invisible as possible, at least until after the baby was born. Should her baby have been condemned because of the way that he or she was conceived? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, I am thinking of one of the greatest Bible teachers in the world who was born to a single mother. Had he been condemned, the gospel may not have reached much of the world where he has taken it.

Traditionally, stores that sold magazines with nude photos in them covered the magazines with brown paper bags so that the cover could not be seen by all the customers. Now, not only can you walk right into the grocery store and buy something that is nearly x-rated, but you can also access that filth on the internet. Away with tradition.

I will never move away from the traditions that I hold dear. I still, to this day, will not wear open-toe shoes to church. That is something that my grandmother taught me and it just will not go away. I will not wear sleeveless dresses and tops to church. My grandmother would not allow that either. I heard a man say once that one of the things that really turned him “on” about a woman is her arms. So I have taken responsibility not to purposely attract any man with any part of my body, including my arms.

As I was sitting in front of my dresser doing my hair, I looked at my neckline and asked the Lord if it was too low. Anyone who knows me knows that I never wear low necklines. But I just wanted to make sure that I am actually following the standard that I think everyone else should follow. If I am going to judge others, then I too should be judged by the same standard. I know right now you are quoting Matthew 7:1. Quote it all you like, the Word gives me the right to judge the actions of other believers in the same chapter, if you read down to verses 16-20.

So, while I know that we no longer live under the law, but now we live under the grace of God, which is given to us freely through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, I also know that if we live by God’s Word to the letter of the law, the world would be a better place. If we worshipped no other gods, honored our parents, did not lie, steal, kill, envy, commit adultery and all that other stuff, life would be so much better. And if we honored the traditions established by our forefathers not only in this country (because it was founded on Christian principles whether we want to believe that or not), but also our forefathers in the faith, then this country and this world would be a much better place to live in.

But then, maybe that is part of God’s plan. Maybe He doesn’t want us to get too comfortable because we are not going to be here much longer. You think?

Choose Ye This Day…

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Joshua 24:15

In a lifetime, we will make millions of choices: whether they are what to wear in the morning as we start our day, what to eat, what job to take, what person to marry, or which god we will serve. The balance of our lives hangs on our choices.

I know a person who made a very bad choice. This person walked closely with the Lord for many years, but got weary of life and the things that happened in life, and so this person decided to take matters into their own hands. This person made choices that I know for a fact, if those things could be re-done, they would be. These choices have had a devastating effect on this person, and it burdens me to look at the promising life that once stood before my friend, and the heartbreak that exists for my friend today.

Sometimes when we make choices, we seek the Lord whole-heartedly. We ask Him what He would have us to do. He shows us beyond a shadow of a doubt what he would want from us, and when we comply, He blesses our efforts. God loves obedience and submission.

Sometimes also, we make choices in which we do not seek the Lord. Instead of asking Him what we need to do, we ask Him to conform to our plans and to bless the situation into which we are about to thrust ourselves. It is during those times that God can either decide to show us common grace, which is the grace that He shows everyone, regardless of whether they believe, or He can allow our situation to swallow us up. Either way can work to our good, because if He is gracious to us, we have His love and mercy to show for it, or if He is not, we can choose to learn a dear lesson from the Lord.

Joshua gave the children of Israel a choice: he gave them the history of how their fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Aaron had all walked with the Lord, and the Lord blessed them. He protected them from and delivered unto them their enemies. He delivered them from Eqypt and took them to the place where He had promised. He told them that the least they could do is serve Him. But they had to make a choice. They had to choose to serve the God of the Bible or the god that they had constructed. Joshua decided that he and his household would serve the Lord.

Have you made that decision for your household? Have you decided whom you will serve? Do your children and your spouse know the God that you serve? Do they serve Him also? Choose this day to live for the Lord and walk closely with Him. It is a choice that you will never regret.

The Heart of the Matter is the Matter of the Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luke 13:3,5

As I sat in church listening to an awesome message about repentance, the pastor emphasized these words: “The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.” He talked about true repentance. Repentance, as defined by McMillan’s Dictionary, is “deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for wrongdoing”. I think that definition is pretty clear. In a nutshell, when one repents of his wrongdoing, there has been a change in his heart that makes him no longer desire to be bound by that wrongdoing.

I am thinking very deeply about this because we live in an age where people do not acknowledge sin for what it really is: sin. We re-name everything. Phobias. Insanity. Addictions. These are just a few of the names we give to our sin. It makes my blood boil to hear someone say that someone is “not guilty by reason of insanity” or they were incompetent to stand trial or some garbage like that. The label that I detest is addiction. People throw that word around like the wind. Every time someone does something that they know they should not do, and the compulsion to do it is so great that they will not restrain their flesh, they call it an addiction. I have never, nor will I ever buy into that garbage. These people are not addicted. What they are is sinful. What they need, more than counseling, or a pill, or a shoulder to cry on, is a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus. They need to be in God’s Word constantly, and if they surrender themselves to the power of the Holy Spirit, I cannot be convinced that change would not come.

The pastor’s statement stuck in my mind all the way home: the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. In other words, in order to gain deliverance from the sins that have us bound, we must decide in our minds and be convicted in our hearts that the sin is wrong. We have to change the way we think about the sin. That is the only that we will be able to stand against the temptation that the world uses as bait.

I have personal experience with repentance and changing my heart concerning my sin. Growing up in a musical family, I was exposed to all types of music very early on. I listened to everything: gospel, Christian, pop, r&b, funk, rock, country, jazz, classical, and anything else you can think of. I was really into music. The music had such an influence on me that I thought that the music must be imitating life, and I should behave the way the music suggested that I behave. Music is so powerful that it can have a person living in some kind of fantasy world that is not even possible. My grandmother, who was a godly woman, talked to me about my “obsession” with music. She told me that if I were serious about my walk with the Lord, that I could not take in all kinds of music and still present myself holy and acceptable to the Lord. It wasn’t until many years later, after my oldest daughter was born, and I witnessed her attraction to music. The same kind of music that had influenced me years earlier was beginning to sneak into my daughter’s spirit. I sought the Lord and He began to convict me that neither she nor I needed to be listening to the “devil’s music” (which is what my grandmother used to call it). The Lord convicted my heart suddenly and completely, and from the time my daughter was very young until right now, and now she is an adult, I did not allow her or anyone else to listen to secular music in our house.

My struggle was with music. Now, there are many other struggles out there. Some people struggle with drugs or alcohol. Others struggle with internet pornography. Still others struggle with over eating. Whatever the struggle, the only way that one is going to change the behavior associated with that thing is to change the way that they think about it.

Do not fear, my brothers and sisters. God is able to deliver you from anything that may be bringing you distress. God loves you and wants you to be free to serve Him in spirit and in truth. He is a God of another chance and another chance and another chance. He gave me lots of chances and I thank Him for them.

John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God sacrificed His Son for all of us, and none of us deserved it. Take advantage of a privilege that you do not deserve. If you want something for nothing, the grace of God is the only place where you can get it!

Terrific Potential

Oh my, this is such an awesome example of the love of God! Just wanted to share this and hope that it encourages anyone who may be falling prey to the accusations of our adversary, the devil…

 

 

Terrific Potential

 

“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 a hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11
 (NIV)

 

A shoe manufacturer decided to open his business to the Congo market and sent a salesman to the underdeveloped country.

 

The salesman wrote, “Prospect here nil. No one wears shoes.”

 

The manufacturer wrote back, “Market potential terrific! Everyone is barefooted.”

 

At times, all we see is our faults and failures, and we convince ourselves the prospect of our spiritual success is nil.

 

Fortunately, we have a God who sees not only our past and present sins and mistakes; but He also sees our hopeful future, that one day we will be

finally renewed and eternally with Him!

 

He has the ability to see the big picture and understand that our earthly struggles with our human nature will end once and for all when He returns for us. If we would keep that in the forefront of our mind, we might never lose hope.

 

We cannot let the enemy constantly remind us of our failures and convince us that our shortcomings define who we are.

 

Instead, we have to meditate on God’s Word, allowing Him to renew our hope that one day we will be like Him.

 

by David Jeremiah