Monday, March 31, 2008

An Open Book Test

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account
(Hebrews 4:13 – ESV)

Nothing is hidden, thoughts, emotions, desires, feelings, imaginations, actions, any secret thing is known by God fully, even the motivations that may not be clear to us are fully known and understood by God. The word for naked here means you are laid bare, that you are stripped. You are stripped of excuses, stripped of rationalization, stripped of supposed reasons, stripped of your own righteousness, stripped of anything that you think justifies you from being judged.

Those things you try to hide, and even those things that are hidden from you, none of this is hidden from God, it is right out in the open, and we are naked before Him. You can’t hide from God, you are an open book, and when you open the book, the Word of God, it shows you this fact. God knows better than you do how bad you need to be operated on, to enter in. Do you believe it, and will you enter in, or will you think you can do it whenever or wherever you want to, and rebel against God, against His word, against Christ, and fall back into sin?

Not only have we been stripped, we are also exposed, and this means something more. The word for exposed is trachelizo – like tracheotomy – to bend back the neck, as a victim exposed for sacrifice, the perfect tense implies that this is our continuous state in relation to God. Not only are we out in the open, uncovered, but also the executioner has our neck held back and the knife at our throat. That is you before a holy God. His word will judge you perfectly, precisely, completely, revealing every flaw, every thought, every word, and every deed.

Of him to whom we must give account – we are exposed and we will have to deal with the Living Word, the Logos. It is Jesus Christ who is holding the knife.

You either push forward in the war, or you fall back in retreat and run AWOL, you become a deserter. But the Word will find you out and try you and convict you of treason and lay the executioner’s sword against you, ready to strike the deathblow. You need to forget your supposed dignity today, you are naked and exposed, what you need to see is your desperation today. As Hebrews says, “today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your heart.”

The people this was being written to knew the truth, they had a decision to make, they couldn’t just know the truth of Jesus intellectually but then live like a Jew to avoid persecution, and we cannot know the truth about Jesus and live like the rest of the world to avoid confrontation, persecution and suffering. The knife is at your throat, what will it be?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Sermon: A Very Certain Call

Matthew 27:46 (Reading Psalm 22)

The days leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ are what we typically call the “Passion Week”. These days are marked by events that portray many prophetic passages from the Old Testament being played out. We could list many, but to name a few: Zechariah 9:9 – Matthew 21:5 (riding on a donkey) / Psalm 118:26 – Matthew 21:9 (the shouts of Hosanna) / Psalm 69:9 – Matthew 21:12 (driving out the moneychangers) / Psalm 8:2 – Matthew 21:16 (the praise of children) / Zechariah 11:12-13 – Matthew 27:9-10 (the thirty pieces of silver, the price of betrayal). This is important to note because, as the biblical writers point out, Jesus was revealing things in fulfillment of previous scripture, which had temporal fulfillments but their ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah was veiled, in a sense.

Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 that Jesus was crucified and resurrected in accordance with what the Old Testament had prophesied of. In Romans 1:1-4 Paul tells us that God used the prophets of old to show that the promise of the gospel was not a new thing. Jesus Himself stated in John 5:39 that the scriptures about the Messiah were about Him, and after His resurrection Jesus told the two disciples on the road to Emmaus that all the Old Testament essentially pointed to Him (Luke 24:25-27). And so it is no wonder then, to discover that this quote from Jesus, which seems such a mystery, is actually the fulfillment of a great Old Testament prophecy written by the hand of David. Part of the mystery of this verse, Matthew 27:46, is revealed by looking back at Old Testament scripture of Psalm 22.

This cry from Jesus illustrates the depth of His suffering of soul as He felt Himself regarded as sin though He was sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are reminded of John 3:16, Isaiah 53, and 1 Peter 2:24 as we see the Son of God bearing the sin of the world. This cry of desolation comes at the close of the three hours of darkness. However, it was not only a seeming cry of desolation but also a declaration. Jesus was not simply playing a role, only acting out a part. No, His pain and suffering were very real, but even amidst this agony He knew what the conclusion would be.

Still, Jesus suffered the ultimate loneliness. Some of the people that had shouted “hosanna” were now shouting, “crucify Him”. Some of the disciples who had stayed with Him had now denied, deserted, and betrayed Him. But much worse than all of this, as bad as it was, much worse, more worse than we can possibly imagine, was the forsaking by the Father of His Son. The Father had spoken words such as, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” but now was silent. The Father had let the Son be beaten, spit upon, mocked and mangled at the hands of men, finally to be hung on a cross, a tree, a curse to a Jew, which Jesus was. But He was more than a Jew, He was the Son of God, and all this other pain and suffering was nothing compared to the absence of that sweet communion Christ had always known. Jesus’ faith did not fail, He cried out “My God, My God”, and He cried out to God, not against God, but the Father did not answer Him in tenderness, but with wrath (Isaiah 53:10). Even when Jesus had poured out His own blood in the prayers at Gethsemane, God the Father was still with Him, and He had the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, as He had always known. But He had known nothing of the pain of desertion and the suffering of damnation He endured on the cross.

Yet this wasn’t an uncertain cry but a very certain call. When Christ called out to God in this manner, clearly He was consciously quoting this part of Psalm 22 as an illustration of the fact that He was fulfilling all of this Old Testament prophecy. Jesus drew the attention of the Jews to Psalm 22 while He was hanging on the cross. The observant Jew immediately knew what Jesus was referring to. The observant Jew also knew that Psalm 22 was a Messianic Psalm. Now being a prophetic person (cf. 2 Samuel 23:2) David probably knew of the Messianic nature of this writing, but it did have original intent for him as well. David did not conclude in his prayer of Psalm 22 that God had in reality “forsaken” him; though it might have appeared that way to his enemies and the spiritually shallow who did not know the God of Israel that David knew.

Jesus, however, was in a real sense “forsaken”, yet He also knew the final outcome of all this, and so therefore endured the greatest suffering of all time. David had been victimized, but his was not the cry of a victim, but the voice of a victor whom God would deliver out of all trials. Jesus’ cry was about suffering the world’s penalty due to sin, but it was signifying more than just that. It was the voice of the eternal victor who proclaimed the eternal victory of the Messiah to His people who were the victims of their own sin. Every person who has ever been born has felt alone and forsaken and wonders if God is real and if He cares, even Christians go through these sorts of things. But only Christians, those born again to a living hope can also cry, “it is finished” (John 19:30), and thereby know that God will never leave nor forsake them, on account of Christ. When you do that it is not an uncertain cry but a very certain call.

Jesus, in quoting this first verse of Psalm 22, He was revealing that it prophesied of Him and how He would atone for the sins of man against a holy God. Jesus invoked and appropriated Psalm 22 as being applicable to that scene of the final hours of the cross. These words make manifest the agony and suffering that Christ was under as He is intimately and personally identified with the judgment of God upon man for sin. To suppose that He was merely complaining, or that He was unaware of the meaning of the words of that Psalm, is to completely ignore all His teachings on these subjects (Matthew 20:18-19). Christ knew He had to die for our sins, He knew the cup was handed to Him of God. This is the mystery of God forsaking God, and to try and separate God from the man Christ, who hung on the cross, is like confessing that God was made flesh, but then abandoned it when needed most. Christ suffered as a divine-human, yet in the sense of payment for our sins, Christ was separated from God.

So then how do we answer the objection of why Jesus prayed, "if it be possible, let this cup pass from me", and why did He cry, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me" when He already knew perfectly well? The answer is that these things were said and done of God for "man's benefit." He wasn't complaining as an eternal example of His own weak faith or His delicate nature, or His frail humanity. He said these things as a reference key for us to unlock the words of the prophets and the psalms that spoke of these things. Christ is revealing to us by these comments that "He" was the God-Man prophesied to come as the Savior of Israel, and the Savior of the world. In other words, God is telling His people to search the scriptures and compare scripture with scripture, that they may see what these words He spoke signify and pertain to.

Psalm 22:7 / Matthew 27:39
Psalm 22:8 / Matthew 27:43
Psalm 22:16 / Matthew 27:35
Psalm 22:17 / Matthew 27:36
Psalm 22:18 / John 19:23-24
Psalm 22:22 / Hebrews 2:12
Psalm 22:31 / John 19:30
Psalm 69:21-22 / John 19:28-30

Forsaken, He was literally suffering the pangs of hell for us, an atonement that is beyond our comprehension. We cannot comprehend it but we can adore Him for it. I have often said that when we can see the heights of His holiness compared to the depths of our depravity, then we will know the measure of His love to us.

Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon on Matthew 27:46, said it this way: You shall measure the height of his love, if it be ever measured, by the depth of his grief, if that can ever be known. See with what a price he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law! As you see this, say to yourselves: What manner of people ought we to be! What measure of love ought we to return to one who bore the utmost penalty, that we might be delivered from the wrath to come? I do not profess that I can dive into this deep: I will only venture to the edge of the precipice, and bid you look down, and pray the Spirit of God to concentrate your mind upon this lamentation of our dying Lord, as it rises up through the thick darkness – "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Jesus did not cry out over mere human suffering or despair. It wasn’t the physical pain that hurt so much, but the mental anguish, and the torment of His soul, that was the real suffering. That was what Jesus called the “cup” when He was agonizing in the garden of Gethsemane the night before. Many had been and would be tortured and placed on a cross to die, perhaps even other innocent men. But no other man would suffer for the sins of the world, the spiritual wrath of God upon mankind, placed upon Jesus at the cross of Calvary.

Christ spoke these words of seeming abandonment not because of His humanity as many suppose, but because God is illustrating that in essence, we were in the body of Christ (Romans 6:6-11). It was "we" who deserved to be forsaken of God, and to suffer. Our Savior was speaking on our behalf, taking that suffering as a substitute for us.

So the answer to the rhetorical question of "why," is because He had the body of the iniquity of us all. He had “become” sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He was forsaken in the sense that God allowed Him to suffer and die upon the cross for the sins of man. God could have stopped His wrath at any time, but then we would have been condemned with the rest of the world, and His promise to Abraham unfulfilled. Christ had the sin of all His people laid upon Him, and that is why God had forsaken Him. His wasn't a cry of despair because He was a man, but of pointing out that God had prophesied this. He was forsaken that scripture might be fulfilled. He said it that we might understand that He was forsaken for us. When the great darkness fell across Calvary for 3 hours, it illustrated the purpose of Christ in absorbing the darkness of Hell that we deserved. These words from our Savior make it clear that, on the one hand, He understood why He had to suffer – this was His mission (Matthew 20:28) – and, on the other hand, that He was supremely confident of the Father's ultimate deliverance of Him through the resurrection of His body before it had even seen decay (Psalm16 – Acts 2:24-31), for the second half of Psalm 22 is hymn of victory (v.22-31). This wasn’t an uncertain cry but a very certain call.

Torment and triumph – Jesus went the way of the cross to atone for our sins, and also to help us to follow Him to the cross that we might put our trust in Him during trials, even those leading to death. Hebrews 12:2 – when you have to take up your cross and you feel the pain and it seems like God has forsaken you, remember, to look to Christ. Why has God forsaken Him, so that He might win for us the victory and when it seems like God has forsaken you it is so that He might give you the victory and to declare His glory.

Now we may understand this truth a little better today, but I do not want to stop there. I want you to make a vital connection with Jesus today. We may know this truth in our heads, but we need to have it in our hearts. We may have the conception, but we need to make the connection. The bridge from conception to connection is compassion. This is the way for His reality to become our reality. Jesus really suffered and He knows that we suffer, and we can call to Him in faith. Our cry to Him is not in vain it is a very certain call.

We can cry out knowing that we will not be forsaken. Jesus cried this out so that we will never have to. He cried this out to show that even in the darkest moments we could have utter assurance of our final victory in God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39). We can have real pain and suffering, and real tears as we cry out in seeming despair, but we can also know God in the midst of it all, and through it all, and through to the other side of despair to declare His victory.

Because Christ suffered the penalty for us, we can be assured that we will never be forsaken (Hebrews 13:5). God has not forsaken you no matter how far down in the pit you have sunk. His arm is not so short it can’t save; He can bring you out of the miry clay and stand you on the solid rock. He can do for you as He did for the imprisoned prophet Jeremiah and bring someone to pad the ropes as He pulls you up from despair (Jeremiah 38:6-14).

For those of you have already called to God to save you, but you are living in a daily despair, let me make this connection even more real to you today. In this life we will have tears on our face and tears in our armor. It is no disgrace to cry out to God when bearing the cross and feeling the pain. God knows we live in an imperfect world. He understands our difficulties. He realizes that we will have complaints, but we have a right way and a wrong way to complain. We need to be honest with ourselves that we may be honest before God, and we need to learn to bring our case before Him in the right way. We should make our complaints with honesty, trust, and hope.

It is good to feel emotion. Sometimes it is good to feel bad; look at the Psalms, depressed feelings are often a legitimate part of our relationship with God, as strange as that may sound. We often think of Psalms as a book of praise (which it certainly is), but laments and grievances to the Lord make up more than 60 of the 150 psalms. God can interact with us through the context of our depression. He has wise and loving motives although we may not see them.

Christians can and do get depressed, to varying degrees, and for varying durations. This is not always about a lack of faith or a direct result of personal sin or some symptom of a problem with the spiritual life. Depression is not a punishment from God; it may be instructive to you and certainly for others. The truth is that it is in some sense compatible with Christianity.

We seem to sell the Christian life in America today with too much triumphalism and denial of feelings, but look at the Psalms, look at our text today and Psalm 22, and see that we as Christians need to embrace and realize a more fully orbed biblical dealing with feelings. This is not to excuse and embrace wrong thinking, but to deal with depression and emotion in the way we see demonstrated as correct in scripture. Not all of this in scripture is correct; we see both the right and the wrong way. The Jews in the wilderness complained in the wrong way (cf. Psalm 78:41) but also in the Psalms we see that you can complain to Him in a way that indicates you are trusting Him, instead of grumbling in a way that amounts to an unbelieving accusation. Take a close look a Psalms 42-43 to get a feel for what I am talking about. Remember, Jesus cried out to God, not against God.

Colossians 2:14 – There was a real record of our sin debt, and God the Father told Christ it must be paid. If that sin debt weren’t paid then no one would be allowed to enter into heaven. But Jesus Christ accepted His role as redeemer, he agreed to pay the sin dent of humanity with His own life, given for His own people who would call to Him in faith. God put the record of our sins in the palm of Christ’s hand and then He put a nail through it! Remember that when you feel like you are in the devil’s grip. Satan has no power to control you, he only fools you into thinking you are his instrument, but instead yield yourself to be an instrument of Christ’s righteousness. Jesus has got you in the palm of His hand.

Christ was forsaken that we might never be. His cry wasn’t an uncertain cry but a very certain call. Make no mistake, you are receiving a very certain call today. Do you believe that? If you do, then cry out to the One who will certainly save you. We are not forsaken. Let us adore the One who endured for us. Amen.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Winners Way

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
(1 Peter 4:12 – ESV)

The gospel is not something we grow out of, but something we grow into.

Christ is the mold, and we are to pour our gospel saturated lives into that mold. As we become more and more conformed to the message of Christ, and into His likeness by the Spirit of God through His Word, we are fulfilling our destiny, which is to be conformed to the image of Christ. We begin to think, speak, and do those things Jesus would do.

It isn’t that we receive the gospel and that then we receive material blessings, significance, and influence, and things the world is also chasing after. Too often what Christians view as success is according to the same standards as the world, only with supposedly godly motives, like, “I want more money so I can give more money”. However, the gospel isn’t the fast track to worldly goals somehow baptized into sanctity by our profession of Christ. No, Christianity isn’t supposed to make us look like winners in the world’s eyes.

Why do so many fall for this false teaching? Because it only reinforces what they already believe to be true without having to change their thinking, without ever having to be renewed in their minds. For them this type of “Bible teaching” tells them what they already think is morality and this false teaching solidifies it by giving it a measure of credibility to them.

It is telling them something they already know instead of renewing their mind. It is actually reinforcing their mind, their darkened mind, not letting the light in. It is as if they are getting used to the dark, they think they are seeing more light, but they are only learning to maneuver around in the darkness, avoiding certain things or using them as place markers, but all the while having to bump into things they could see easily if they just had the light turned on.

What the world calls the winners way God calls the sinner’s way.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Prophetic Priorities

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said…
(Acts 13:2 – ESV)

Your ministry to God is more important, and comes before, your ministry for God.

How many times do we fail this standard? We may have some great revelation, some wonderful thing to say, some great idea, but we are so driven we forget our true purpose. It isn’t about what God has given us, or what we think we know but others don’t, it is God Himself that matters. The deal is already done, it is our privilege to proclaim it, not rush to name it and claim it. You don’t always have to “get on with it”; sometimes the interruptions are the main thing itself.

This is where many otherwise gifted people become blind. They are asleep to a big part of life. Indeed, many who are getting excited about the things of God don’t recognize the process God uses to grow us up. The reason so many don’t recognize opportunities to minister is because they think they have something “better” or “bigger” to do at the moment God is bringing a “certain person” or situation into focus. Often it is a situation that they need to learn to be able to handle that “bigger thing” when it comes along. However, that big thing won’t come along or we won’t be successful at it until we learn these smaller lessons, which of course are not smaller at all, just smaller in our own, finite minds.

That is the overall thrust of what I am trying to say today. We must acknowledge God, in humility, in weakness and in strength, we must thank Him for all the things that come before us, and all of these things are opportunities to minister, or be ministered to.

It isn’t about acquiring ministry, but about being ready and available for ministry, not as we see it, but as God calls us to it. Think about Peter and John at the gate beautiful (Acts 3:1-2): that man was there every day, but the Apostles knew exactly when they should do the works of God. Think about Jesus, and the “certain man” at the pool, how come he got healed (John 5:5-8) and Jesus left the other sick folk alone? Minister in the place God has you now; you are there for a reason. Why should He move you on when you won’t give Him glory where you are now?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wearing the Right Watch

Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts
(Psalm 90:12 – HCSB)

One way that we often forget to give thanks to God through Jesus Christ is by the use of our time. However, that doesn’t mean just to be busier “about God’s business” by just being busier. It means living each moment as an opportunity to serve God, in whatever situation you find yourself in, not just waiting to get to that thing you want to do for God (Colossians 3:23-24). Sometimes your responsibilities for God can keep you from God.

The difference between living out our purpose and being driven is most clearly seen in what we do with time. The driven are fanatical time managers – time-mongers, time-herders, and time-hoarders. Living requires time management, true, but not the kind that attempts to quarantine most of what makes life what it is: the mess, the surprises, the breakdowns, and the breakthroughs. However, that is what many if not most people do, especially as they become “successful”. These are pitfalls of trying to be a Christian success, one is acquiring, another is avoiding. Avoiding and acquiring hinder you from acknowledging God in every situation.

If you try and control every situation, you are controlled by every situation. Too much rigidity strangles purpose. The more we try to manage time, the more anxious we get about it, and the more we get distracted and lose our purpose. Many driven people, at some point, forget their purpose. They lose the point. The very reason they began something – something that may have been noble – fades under the weight of their striving. Being driven too hard, their purpose gets displaced by greed for more, or dread of setback, or force of habit. Their drive eventually becomes their purpose.

Truly purposeful people manage time less and pay attention more. The most purposeful people I know rarely over-manage time, and when they do, it's usually because they're lapsing into busyness and guilt. The distinguishing mark of purposeful people is not time management. It's that they notice what is really going on for all it is worth. They are being and living prophetically. They acknowledge God, they thank God in all and for all they do.

We can miss that, and miss wisdom. Too often we become so time-obsessed that we take no time to really notice. We look at our watch, and think that we need to just hurry up and get on with it; we need to go watch the big game, right? See what this text proclaims: those who number their days carefully gain a wise heart. However, it is not numbering them by the clock, but by the experience. The people who do this become God's wise men: those calm, unhurried people who live in each moment fully, savoring simple things, celebrating small epiphanies, unafraid of life's inevitable surprises, adaptive to change yet not chasing after it. We must learn this many times.

The truly purposeful are not trying to move on to the next thing, and scratching another thing off the list, they are living God’s purposes to the full in every moment. They are truly awake to the life of God. Instead of thinking about the next big thing, pay attention to how God is present in each moment, in its mad rush or its rigmarole. He is present in both.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Divine Detours

…but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
(Acts 16:7 – ESV)

Paul had a purpose and could have been driven; he knew his mission and was bound and determined to see it through. He was to deliver the Gospel to the whole known world, to the Gentiles. Yet he stayed three years in Ephesus, and he didn’t complain about his purpose and his lack of time, or tell God how he needed to be set free or the Gospel wouldn’t get out when he was imprisoned. He knew that he may be bound but the Word of God was not bound. He had people pray for an open door, but was sensitive to the Spirit when he felt driven to go somewhere but was told not to.

How many times have we started out on a godly, good course, one where God had indeed been taking us to, only to have Him give us a detour, or change our course? Do we cry and complain, or do we give thanks and comply?

Jesus knew where He was going; to Jerusalem and the Cross – yet He didn’t seem to keep track of time and didn’t seem in a hurry. He paid attention to the opportunities that came before Him. He didn’t stumble at interruptions; He used them as a tool. He was hospitable to interruption; He was looking for the “curveballs” that life throws at us all. Learning this secret will help you master your emotional roller coaster, my friend.

Jesus didn’t rush to the deadline for His death, but He still arrived on the scene in Jerusalem in perfect time. We can take the time to thank God through Jesus Christ for all and everything that happens to us, and every situation we find ourselves faced with, because God has everything under control, and His timing is perfect. Thank God through Jesus Christ when you get “interrupted” this week. Stop trying to acquire or avoid and start trying to be faithful wherever you are at. Don’t just move on, but enter in. Amen.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sermon: March 23, 2008

Romans 4:23-25 / Matthew 16:13-21 - The Fear of Easter

We will be posting all future sermons through "sermon audio" can find a link button just below the profile box to the right...God bless you...

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday Special: Pastor Dave Arnold #12


Marguerite Higgins served as a war correspondent during the Korean War. She received the much-coveted Pulitzer prize for her international reporting of the struggle. Marguerite wrote an account of the Fifth Company of Marines, which originally numbered eighteen thousand, in their combat with more than a hundred thousand Chinese Communists: “It was particularly cold – 42 degrees below zero – that morning when reporters were standing around. The weary soldiers, half frozen, stood by their dirty trucks eating from tin cans. A huge marine was eating cold beans with his trench knife. His clothes were as stiff as a board. His face, covered with heavy a beard, was crusted with mud. A correspondent asked him, ‘If I were God and could grant you anything you wished, what would you most like?’ The man stood motionless for a moment. Then he raised his head and replied, ‘Give me tomorrow’.”

In Acts 17:30 and 31, we read, “God…has given assurance to all by raising Christ from the dead.” The late C. M. Ward wrote, “Easter changed the destiny and hopes of all men. It proclaimed and proved that man is not only mortal – he is eternal. Easter made a new world for everyone.”

Easter speaks of GOD’S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS PROMISES. In the Messianic Psalm 16, verse 10, Christ expressed prophetically to His Father, “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” Paul declared in, Acts 13:34 and 35, that the resurrection of Christ was a fulfillment of this promise. Matthew Henry said, “We may depend upon God’s promises, for He will be as good as His Word. He is so kind that He cannot deceive us, so true that He cannot break His promise.” Joshua 23:14, “Not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled” (NIV).

Easter speaks of God’s CARE AND COMPANIONSHIP. We read that Christ lives to make intercession for us, and He sympathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15 and 7:25). Concerning Israel’s forty years in the wilderness, Scripture declares, “He put up with their ways in the wilderness,” Acts 13:18. This could be translated, “He bare them as a nursing Father,” revealing His tender, compassionate, and patient care. The Message Bible says, “He took good care of them for nearly forty years in that god-forsaken wilderness.” Charles Spurgeon said, “I have a promise that hangs up before my eyes whenever I awake every morning, and it has continued in its place for years. It is a stay of my soul. It is this: ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee’. Difficulties arise, funds run short, sickness comes; but somehow or other my text always seems to flow like a fountain – ‘I will not fail thee nor forsake thee’.”

Easter speaks of HOPE. These words appeared in the “Lost And Found” section of a newspaper’s classifieds: “Lost: MY WILL TO LIVE. If you find it, please return it to me.” The Apostle Peter said that we have “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1 Peter 1:3. Kenneth S. Wuest defines this “living hope” as something “more than a hope that is alive. It is actively alive. It is an energizing principle, a spontaneous, overflowing, buoyant thing. It is a hopefulness, a spirit of optimism, a looking ever upon the bright side of things, an expectancy of continued blessing and joy.” Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Easter speaks of LIFE. In Romans 5:17, Paul said we can “reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Christ said to Zacchaeus, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10. The word “lost” here does not mean lost in the sense of being mislaid. Here it is used in the sense that something may still be possessed, but of no value. One may possess a watch of great value, but if its mainspring is destroyed, then it is lost. It is impossible to tell time by it. It is valueless. Zacchaeus, as he was living, in his approach to life, character, and outlook, was of no value to God in this world. He was lost, contributing nothing of purpose in life, morally and spiritually bankrupt. A Communist in Hyde Park, London, pointed to a homeless person and said, “Communism will put a new suit on that man.” A Christian standing nearby said, “Yes, but Christ will put a new man in that suit!” Anna Quindlen declared, “The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.”

Easter speaks of FREEDOM FROM THE GUILT OF THE PAST. Romans 4:25 reminds us, Christ “was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” Only God, the perfect judge, can declare the guilty perfect. The biblical word for “forgiveness,” used in both the Old and New Testament, translates, “sending the offense away.” Christ assumed the burden of human sin on the cross, and, through His resurrection, assures our forgiveness by taking the offenses away. Billy Graham, in his article, “Are You Ready To Meet God?” (Decision, May 2006), expressed, “I saw in a cartoon where someone wrote to a pastor and said, ‘Dear preacher, what does God mean when He forgives us’? The pastor wrote back and said, ‘All your files are deleted’.” Psalm 18:24 states, “God rewrote the text of my life” (The Message).

Easter speaks of IMMORTALITY. 1 Corinthians 15:53 promises, “This mortal must put on immortality.” D. L. Moody, before his home-going, exclaimed, “Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody is dead. Don’t you believe it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone higher, that is all! I was born of the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die, but that which is born of the Spirit will live forever!” “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive,” 1 Corinthians 15:22.

A soldier requested, “When I die do not sound taps over my grave, but reveille – the morning call, the summons to rise!”

Dave Arnold, Pastor – Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, March 21, 2008

Just For You

…to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
(Hebrews 2:17 – ESV)

You have heard it said that if you were the only person on earth, Jesus would have come to die for your sins. That is true, but we need to see that in proper perspective. He would do it not just because He loved you so, and He does, but the fountainhead of that love flows because His holiness demanded it, the sin was an assault on the throne of God that must be dealt with, and attack on the infinite worth of God, and it required a payment that you could not meet.

He would have done so, not because you were worth saving, but because even one sin is so horrible and such an affront to God’s glory that He must punish it with absolute justice, and since He is of infinite worth, that punishment would be unfathomable, and He would have to pay for it Himself. Think hard and clearly on that. That Jesus had to die shows the worthlessness of any payment we could try and make for sins, and the infinite worth of God.

That statement about Jesus dying just for you makes us feel good about ourselves, and our worth, but we need to realize that we are supposed to worship God, regardless of what He has done for us, He is God Almighty. He died just for His Father, and you as the beneficiary of that plan. This does not diminish His love for us in any way, it lifts up the holiness of God and shows it to be the spring from which God’s mercy and justice can be met together in Christ.

His love is grounded in His holiness not in our worthiness or faithfulness and His holiness is that from which His love springs, not vice versa. Hallelujah, I pray you see it, and if you don’t, consider well what I say, and ponder it until God grips you with this truth of His glory.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sex: A Must Read!

This post by Bill Gnade goes to the deeper issues regarding the scandal of Eliot Spitzer. You need to read this post!!! It will go in a direction you might not have anticipated. These are important truths that need to be sounded out again and again. We are at war, and the Enemy is using every one and every tactic imaginable to rape our eyes and sap our souls.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hope Rising

…we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel…
(Luke 24:21 – ESV)

We were hoping: these disciples had a hope that they felt was disappointed. Their hope was really not disappointed; but in some ways their hope was misguided (that it was He who was going to redeem Israel as a political revolutionary, right then). Really, their hope was fulfilled in a greater way than they could have ever dreamed of. How often do we want a Jesus who simply blesses us without our commitment to knowing who He truly is, and why we really need Him?

The only thing these disciples had to go on was the testimony of others, and they were slow to believe. The report of the women meant little to them, and the report of Peter and John who had seen the grave clothes meant little, because Him they did not see. The resurrection of Jesus happened as a one-time event; the power of His resurrection is an ongoing reality that will culminate in our own bodies being resurrected. Jesus wants to know from them what He wants to know from us: can we believe without seeing with our own eyes?

Jesus says they were foolish, and slow of heart to believe; we often think the main obstacles to belief are in the head, but they are actually in the heart. No matter how many intellectual arguments you may bring to the table, however, you cannot argue the fact that you are not perfect. You must be more than innocent; you must be perfect to get into heaven (Matthew 5:48). Innocence is not perfection, which is why Jesus sinless life is as important as His death and resurrection, because it is His life that He gives to us (Romans 5:10). He is Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). It isn’t how sincere you are, or how good you are compared to the other guy, it is whether you measure up to the standard, and that standard is Jesus. You may be as good as me, but are you as good as Jesus?

Jesus acts as if He might continue on farther, but does not want to force His company on these disciples; even though they don't know this is Jesus in their midst, they know they want to spend as much time as they can with this guy! Jesus won’t always force Himself on you, but if you are interested, He will stick around and you will get to know Him better, and it is often in that process that He reveals Himself to people. We spend our lives either doing or trying to do what we are interested in. It’s the great principle of most people’s lives. If you are becoming interested in the kingdom of God, in things greater than yourself, than you are indeed closer to the kingdom than you might think. Life isn’t about just you, is it?

Sometimes we are with Jesus and we don’t even know it, until He reveals to us the condition of our hearts. Jesus can be right in front of you, walking with you and sitting down with you at every meal – and yet your eyes can be restrained from seeing Him. Pray that God would open your eyes to see Jesus as He is, with you all the time.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Paid In Full, Not Paid In Hell

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
(Luke 23:46)

These words of Jesus were used to fulfill the prophecy of Psalm 31:5. Jesus had laid down His life voluntarily, when He wanted to and how He wanted to (John 10:18), which we know was in accordance with the Father’s will. He suffered the wrath of God for us on the cross.

There is a sinister teaching out there that says that Jesus, before His resurrection, while He was in the tomb, was actually suffering at the hands of demonic forces in hell, paying the price for our sins there, not having finished the matter on the cross. That is blasphemy. Jesus didn’t suffer additional torment in hell at the hands of demons (Psalm 16:10 / Acts 2:27). He had control over His own spirit, and after the Father had poured out His wrath upon our Lord, Jesus suffered no additional punishment. The Father crushed His soul, not Satan (Isaiah 53:10-11). The cry of John 19:30, it is finished, is a victory cry. Christ meant what He had said; the price for redemption was paid in full at Calvary.

This brings up another point. Have you ever seen pictures, cartoons, comics or other depictions of people in hell with Satan ruling, and demons tormenting them? This isn’t what the Bible depicts hell as being like. Demons will not be tormenting people in hell; it is God who will be punishing the wicked. The devil and his angels are going to be tormented themselves, not allowed to assist in tormenting others (Matthew 25:41 / 2 Peter 2:4). Remember the demons that wondered and asked Jesus, “art thou come hither to torment us before the time” (Matthew 8:29)? It is Jesus who will torment the demons, not the other way around!

Jesus won the victory on the cross; He paid our sins in full right there. Listen to what the bible tells us: Colossians 2:15 (NLT) – In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ. Jesus didn’t have to make a deal with the devil; those demonic forces weren’t going to have a beat down session in hell with Christ as the whipping boy. They didn’t know what was coming; if they did they wouldn’t have wanted Christ on that cross (1 Corinthians 2:8). This is why Paul preaches Christ, and Him crucified, not Christ, and Him suffering in hell (1 Corinthians 1:23).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Special Music: Goodness and Mercy

Our church's minister of music, Chris Cohen, has, together with his wife and daughter, produced this beautiful piece of music based on Psalm 23...I am sure you will be blessed by it...enjoy!

Goodness and Mercy

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Saturday Special: Pastor Dave Arnold #11


The late Arthur Ashe, Jr. is a professional tennis legend. As a black growing up in the south, he lived in a black neighborhood, went to black schools, drank from specific water fountains, and rode in the back of city buses. Entering the world of tennis, there had never been a single, top-caliber, black tennis player. The reason: tennis was then the most segregated of sports. Though exceptionally talented, he played only in black American Tennis Association tournaments. His trainer and coach, Dr. Walter Johnson, wanted him to compete in white U.S. Lawn Tennis Association tournaments, because they were the important ones. Though making application time after time, he was often rejected without explanation. Patiently, he would apply again the next year. Years later, in an article for Readers Digest, Arthur wrote, “At times, I got discouraged and wanted to quit tennis, but Dr. Johnson pointed out that one quality of a champion is the ability to endure.” Arthur Ashe, Jr. did persevere, and became one of the outstanding professionals in tennis. He became a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team, from 1965 to 1970, and won a long list of titles, including the U.S. Open, Australian Open, and Paris Indoor Open. He refused to “jump ship.”

In Acts, chapters 27 and 28, Luke the historian records Paul’s journey by sea to Rome. Soon after leaving port, they were engulfed in a raging storm for fourteen days and nights. They lost sight of the sun and stars, and had no charts to guide them. The waves were mammoth in size, the passengers were frightened, the hull cracked, and water was pouring in. They were in a terrible situation. Luke says, “And the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship,” but Paul admonished, “Unless these men stay in the ship, they cannot be saved,” 27:30 and 31. What he meant was, “Don’t Jump Ship.”

Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president of the United States said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race.”

This story, that Luke has recorded for us, gives us several vital lessons about “jumping ship.”


Fear and panic. “Then fearing,” 27:29. In his book, “Move Ahead With Possibility Thinking,” Robert Schuller quotes the words of Dr. Butler of Baylor University, “When things get tough – don’t move. People and pressures shift, but the soil remains the same no matter where you go.” He then adds, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

Confusion. “And we were exceedingly tempest-tossed,” 27:18. Vance Havner wrote, “If you get to a place where you don’t know what to do, give God the benefit of the doubt. He will clear the track.”

Impatience. “And when we had sailed slowly many days,” 27:7. It has been stated, “Storms make a strong tree, testings make a strong Christian.” In a certain university, a student was complaining at the length and difficulty of the curriculum, and questioned whether or not it would be possible for him to take a shorter course. “That all depends,” answered the professor, “on what you intend to make of yourself. When God makes an oak He takes a hundred years, but He can make a melon in a few months.” Hebrews 6:12 teaches us that it is “through faith and patience we inherit the promises.”

Discouragement. “All hope that we would be saved was finally given up,” 27:20b. Numbers 21:4 tells us, “And the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way.” Billy Graham wrote, “More people fail through discouragement than for any other reason.”

SECOND: THE BEST OF BELIEVERS GO THROUGH STORMS. Paul was in the will of God, traveling in obedience, when the storm struck. In Acts 23:11 we are told, “But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so must you also bear witness at Rome’.” Obedience to God produces storms. Abraham obeyed God, and reached the Promised Land to find a famine. Jacob obeyed God, and found his family turned against him. David obeyed God and hid in caves, because King Saul sought to kill him. Paul obeyed God, and found himself in prison. He stated, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” 2 Timothy 3:12.

THIRD: HUMAN NATURE IS TO RUN FROM THINGS WE DISLIKE. “And the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship,” 27:30. Teens get upset at home, and they leave. Students get bored at school, and they drop out. Marriages fall apart because of difficulties. Remember, seldom is anyone happy who makes a sudden, irrational decision. It is like the girl who said, “No one is going to tell me what to do,” so she got married. Or the young man who complained, “I’m tired of taking orders,” so he joined the Marines. Question: How will you ever get a miracle if you do not stay where you need the miracle? Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Phillip Brooks testified, “I do not pray for a lighter load but a stronger back.”

FOURTH: HALF THE PRESSURE IN STORMS COME NOT FROM THE STORM ITSELF, BUT FROM THE FEELING YOU WILL NEVER GET OUT OF IT. “Now when neither sun nor stars appeared many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up,” 27:20. Remind yourself that every problem has a lifespan, and the darkest hour has only sixty minutes. “For a little while…you have been grieved by various trials,” 1 Peter 1:6.

FIFTH: IT IS USUALLY IN STORMS WE EXAMINE OURSELVES AND FIND THINGS THAT DRAG US DOWN. “And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day we lightened the ship,” 27:18. We seldom deal with overloads in our lives in smooth waters. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1.

SIXTH: STORMS OFTEN DRIVE US INTO NEW AREAS OF MINISTRY AND USEFULNESS. They can work to our advantage. In chapter 27, three times we have the word “driven.” The storm that threatened them drove them to the Island of Malta, where God worked miracles for the natives through the ministry of Paul, chapter 28. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” Romans 8:28.

In the diary of Christopher Columbus we have these words:

“This day we sailed on.

The storms were buffeting the ships.

This day we sailed on.

The Pinta was breaking apart.

This day we sailed on.

There was hunger and darkness.

This day we sailed on.”

They “sailed on,” and opened up a new world for mankind.

Luke ends the story with, “And so it was that they all escaped safely to land,” 27:44b.


Dave Arnold, Pastor – Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Fl.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©