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“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
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I take “As often as you eat,” literally.
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Some say that the breaking of bread and partaking of the cup (Communion) is for the Body of Christ corporately and not for the individual, citing Acts 2:42, “And ‘THEY’ continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  they speaking to the communal aspect of communion. However, if you follow that logic then prayer and doctrinal studies is also (only) a corporate activity.
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That can’t be the case.
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I’ve also heard it said that if we do it too often, it becomes a meaningless ritual. Well it is a ritual, but if ‘remembering Jesus’ two or three times a day becomes meaningless to you, then you have other issues you need to deal with.
Together or alone, Communion is communing with God and the reason me and my house (together or alone), celebrate Christ’s sacrifice by remembering Him at every meal. It’s not a huge or elaborate affair, nor do we believe it should be. Simply put, we simply remember what Jesus did for us in prayer. That’s all Jesus asked and that’s all we do.
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How often should we remember Christ’s grace? 
Every time we eat and until He comes again.

Having said that, we have freedom in Christ and it would be legalistic for me to suggest that this is how Communion should be done every time, everywhere. Christians have the liberty to recall Christ’s atoning sacrifice as often as they please. If once a week or month is sufficient for you, who am I to argue.

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness (adultery and lust), not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:12-14)
 
sdMany people believe in parachutes. That is to say they know what they do and believe (for the most part) that they’ll perform as advertised, but they would NEVER put one on. Myself included.
 
And for many people, it’s the same way with Jesus. They believe Jesus is who God says He is, but they’re not going to ‘put Him on’ because to do so would mean to alter their lifestyle.
 
Some believe that they can put Jesus on just before they die. That’s like saying they’ll jump out of the plane just before it crashes, but having no idea when that will occur or that it’s happening now.
 
When the Bible talks about belief (or faith), it’s with the understanding that the ‘believer’ trusts to the point of obedience. In other words, if you truly believe (if your faith is real), you will do as Jesus (God) has commanded.

When Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Matthew 7:28-29

In Chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus delivers His Sermon on the Mount, beginning with the Beatitudes. It was in the previous chapter that Jesus began to gather His disciples and gave them this promise: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” So they followed Jesus all about Galilee, as He taught in the synagogues, as He healed the sick, and finally to a foothill where they would receive their first fishing lessons: ‘Ten Steps towards Salvation,’ more commonly known as the Beatitudes.

Afterwards it would be recorded that they were amazed at His teaching (probably) because these things had never been presented by anyone (specifically any Rabbi) before. I’ve heard it said that when the Rabbi’s taught, they’d preface their remarks with, “According to Rabban (our master) Gamaliel…” or, “As Hillel the Elder would say…” giving their authority and honor to their teacher. Jesus made no such prelude and as a result His astonished listeners took note that He spoke of His own authority. The doctrine Jesus presented was of His own making; it was new, it was provocative, and it was perfect.

It’s here that we identify the purpose of the Beatitudes as they are not merely ideals that focus on love and humility or even a moral standard by which folks should ascribe. No, there was a bigger picture being presented here, one that is characterized by a narrow path. It is the destination realized in the personal receipt of God’s grace via the redemptive of power of Christ’s finished work on the cross and I would submit that if we handle them in any other regard we are sidestepping their inherent worth.

As we expound briefly on each tenet, I’ll characterize the Beatitudes as drtsteps with the understanding that salvation is based upon faith alone, not works or steps. Having said that, in the Beatitudes we see a growth process that every believer goes through. Fundamentally these spiritual positions are the bases that an evangelist should broach, in this order, when sharing the Good News.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”

If salvation in Jesus Christ is our ultimate destination (and it should be), then it’s clear to see that step one, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” has less to do with worldly ideals or moral character, but rather it is the realization of spiritual poverty due to (our) sinful nature. I believe Jesus is conveying to His disciples that in order to lead a soul towards salvation, the lost need to take ownership of their spiritual depravity. When the Apostle Paul wrote, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), this was the point he was driving home. It is no accident that poor in spirit is first in this sequence. It is in this vital first step that we first recognize that we’re not okay and move closer to discerning our solution in Jesus Christ and can begin to see the blessedness of the situation.

“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24-25a)”

“Blessed are those who mourn”

Step two, “Blessed are those who mourn,” is the consequence of grasping step one; if there was sincerity in that first step, we will be mournful. It’s at this place where we may first recognize the blessing of Jesus as our comforter and healer. This is the circumstance we find the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8:11. Jesus said to her (and He says to us), “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

The Apostle Paul wrote of this location as well: “[G]oddly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).” We don’t get to this point unless we take ownership of the message presented in steps one and two.

“Blessed are the meek”

In step three, “Blessed are the meek,” we recall the maxim, ‘meekness is not weakness, but rather strength under control.’  In our Christian realm it speaks to submission to God (for) our own good, but more importantly for His good purposes. It’s here that God breaks us in the same way a rancher would break a wild stallion. Just as a broken vessel will give up its contents, so to in our brokenness we are emptied. In this place Jesus encourages us, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matthew 11:29).” This is the blessing of the meek.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” 

We have realized our spiritual poverty, we have mourned and been comforted, and we have been emptied. In this condition it is only natural we would desire replenishment. We are hungry! At some point during the process, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence inside us to guide and to give us understanding. We also learn that steps two and three are maintenance steps and if a daily spiritual routine is not established, we will regress in some fashion.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”

Filled with His Spirit, we discover that the fruit of the Spirit is love and out of love grows mercy towards others. We recall Luke 7:47, “Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” If we have been attentive students through the previous steps, we will likely appreciate the great volume of sin that Christ has cleansed on our behalf. Aside from all the blessings we will have received up to this point, this fruit bears witness to the changes God is making in us.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”

In step six we see the difference between the cleansed heart and the pure heart. All believers have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, but a pure heart comes as a result of finishing the race, so to speak and step six speaks directly to the sanctification (or refinement) process. We see glimpses of God throughout our journeys, and of course we see Him more clearly when we are closest to Him, but it is when we finish well; our purified state, we shall see Jesus. In step six there is encouragement to continue on this narrow path.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”

Step seven speaks to evangelism and sharing the great wealth that we have received in Jesus Christ. It should be obvious that when we share the Gospel, we’re sharing the Prince of Peace, therefore in every instance we are peacemakers. Zacharias said Jesus will “Guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:79)”

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you”

Steps eight and nine (and ten for that matter) are related and often listed together as the eighth Beatitude. There is some redundancy and I sense that Jesus repeats Himself not because eight and nine are somehow more important than the first seven steps, but rather to emphasize that these things will occur if we are faithful and obedient servants.  We could also argue that if Jesus had omitted this information, He would have not given us the entire story.

We also see that these two promises affirm that if they are occurring, then we are walking properly. In other words, it is a prophetic pat on the back from Jesus Himself that we’re on the right path. In contrast, if these things are not happening in our Christian walk it should give us pause. It could be that we haven’t been practicing our peacemaking skills or that our tendency is to only preach to the choir.

“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

We plainly see that it echoes steps eight and nine, but it reminds us we’re in very good company. The lesson of step ten is to exercise the blessings that we have received as a result of our salvation and our ongoing purification, and that we are paying it forward. We see the Beatitudes as a series of road signs bringing us to very specific places of blessings. It’s here in step ten that Jesus proclaims if we’ve enjoyed the journey so far and joyfully anticipate what lies ahead, it should be reflected in our attitude and demeanor. Again, if it’s not, something is askew.

In conclusion, I believe that in teaching His disciples the Beatitudes, Jesus provided a checklist of the issues that needed to be addressed when sharing the Gospel message. In one sense it was coded (as were the Parables of Jesus) so the masses would not necessarily glean from them initially, but these lessons weren’t for them necessarily, but for those who would be sent out to share the Good News. We could also note that in the same manner that the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9) is a model prayer not to be recited word for word (necessarily), so are the Beatitudes a model to be recalled in sequence as a reminder to the bases we should cover when sharing the Gospel message, the continual discipleship process, and of course for periodic self-examination, as per 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

 

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1)
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Not every Bible verse we read may give us peace and comfort initially. A good portion of Scripture is instructional, designed for our well-being particularly when we’re unable to see the bigger picture. This was the
ecase for me four years ago. Romans 13:1-5 was not a comforting piece of Scripture to me, but I discovered peace and comfort in God in my obedience to His word. Like it or not (and I did not) Barack Obama was my president and I was going to submit because God said so. To put it another way: I feared not the man, but the Lord. I still do, therefore #Notmypresident was never an option.
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Now (for me) the tide has turned and I have a sense these Godly directives will be a bit easier for me to follow, but for you maybe not so much. Perhaps these last four years for you were smoother, but now you’re faced with submitting to folks you may very well despise. As I’ve previously outlined – I feel your pain and I can relate to what you’re going through. I am here to tell you that if you truly fear God, you would do well to comply with His directives. In so doing there is peace and there is comfort.
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.” (Romans 13:1-5)
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Now of course this is all grand counsel if you are a Christian. If you are not, the Bible and all of God’s tenets are foolishness to you, which happens to be another position I can relate to. The solution for me was to submit to Jesus Christ and His perfect will for my life. Prior to receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior, there was no peace or comfort, only temporary solutions to problems that I had absolutely no control over. In Jesus I discovered the solution.
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If you’re still reading and you’re not a Christian, I suspect that perhaps you’re feeling God attempting to draw you closer into a relationship with him. If that is the case, the onus is upon you to respond to Him and I’d encourage you to investigate further.
Please don’t hesitate to comment or ask a question.
Being a Christian not hard, but if you think it is, you are blessed.
 
You’re blessed because the Holy Spirit has revealed to you that you’re operating in your self-centered, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-serving, and self-concerned flesh. You’re also blessed because there is a solution, Jesus put it this way: “Deny (yourself), and take up (your) cross and follow Me.”
 
Stop listening to those who are preaching that being a Christian is slhard. They are enablers. Unless they offer a carnal explanation, they’re errantly providing you an excuse to remain stuck in your flesh. They’re also calling Jesus a liar, for He said that His yoke (teaching) was easy and His burden (those things that come with being a follower of Jesus Christ) is light.
 
Remember, Christ’s teachings are easy and carrying the Christian load is light. If this isn’t the case for you, you’re not doing it right. Most likely you’re selfishly looking back to the fleshly desires of your heart, just like Lot’s wife did.
 
Disclaimer
No Christian is exempt from struggling in their flesh, no one. Some just do it more than others and have come to believe it’s the norm. However, when we falsely proclaim that the Christian life is hard, we’re ignoring the root of the problem and justifying Spirit-less behavior, but when we submit ourselves to the sanctification process, we are essentially allowing Jesus to make these ‘flesh-to-Spirit’ changes in us on a daily basis. Fighting the change; wrestling with God to remain in our flesh, is what’s hard.

For Study: 

“Walk in the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4)
 
“Set your minds on the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5-8)
 
“Put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:13)
 
“Be led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14)
 
“Know the Fatherhood of God by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:15-17)
 
“Hope in the Spirit” (Rom 8:22-25)
 
“Pray in the Spirit” (Rom. 8:26-28)


Crass vs Crook

Crass or crook: those are our options come election day, 2016 unless of course you choose to opt out of the process this year.

I understand.

thYou and I wish the choices were rather between ‘class and crook‘ so we could sleep better after the election, but that is not our reality. Lets face it folks, collectively as a nation this is our fault and we have gotten what we deserve.

What should we have expected after decades of moral decline? Are we really surprised that crass shows up on the scene when we have been approvingly inviting adultery, fornication, and lewdness into our living rooms via cable TV for the last however many decades? I am not surprised, but I am guilty.

Let’s Look at Porn

Porn is just the tip of this filthy iceberg, but did you know that according to one source, “While few people openly admit to watching porn, 66 percent of all men and 41 percent of American women view pornography at least once a month.”

I’ve watched porn, have you? (that’s a rhetorical question and you are not obliged to answer). Frankly, I am the one who is ashamed and embarrassed of my past behavior and how it has led to our present condition. How can I possibly judge the words that come out of a man’s mouth in a private conversation when my words and deeds over five decades have contributed greatly to the moral decline of this country. I am an accessory to this perversion, having participated in the creation of an environment where illicit behavior is both condoned and encouraged. Sure, I’ve repented and turned away from these heinous activities and turned to Jesus, but that in no way negates the fact that I have been complicit.

Having said that…

I know plenty of crass people (don’t worry, I’m not going to name names). I also know plenty of crooked people, having been in law enforcement for so many years. The thing with criminals is that their former conduct often disqualifies them from holding public office as well as many other jobs. Like it or not, that is the law of our land.

This is not the situation with one of our presidential candidates. Technically speaking, she is not a criminal; she has not been formally charged with any criminal activity, nor has she ever been found guilty of any charge. Having said that, we as a nation cannot help but notice the huge cloud of criminality that hangs over her head. Many of us notice it and talk about it daily, and many others notice and work to sweep it under the rug. Of course the situation is only exasperated when our Attorney General and Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation seem to be working with and for the suspect, rather than the good of our country.

It all just smells oh so foul.

As I said before, I know plenty of crass folks. And so do you. The truth be told most of the people we deal with are or have been crass. This list includes, but is not limited to doctors, lawyers, teachers, policemen, mechanics, and the list goes on and on. I could tell you stories and you could tell me stories. And they could likely tell stories about us. However, there is one thing that many (if not most) of these people have in common: they know their job and they do it well.

So it is with the crass fellow who happens to be running for President of these United States: he knows his job, he does it well, and there is not a raging storm of criminality hovering above his head. He’s crassy, not classy, but he is forgiven.

So there we have it. I’m voting for crass over crooked. I’m not excited about it, but I believe crass has better credentials when it comes to getting this nation economically, Constitutionally, and securely  stabilized.

The Bigger Picture 

I’d be remiss if I left out these pertinent Bible passages:

Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 6:23, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:13 “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 

“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (Psalm 37:1-2)
 
Christians, satan’s minions are at it again, now striking us here in the NY/NJ area. It is in the midst of these disquieting times that we are called to be Biblical voices of reason. As others panic and search tdesperately for solutions, let us be the calm and fret-less ones that they can turn to. Our hope, our peace, and our joy is in Jesus Christ and we must bring Him into any circumstance as the calming Agent. This is our calling and this is our duty.

We shall not cave in. We will get up, go to work, and function as we normally do. Terrible things will always happen, but we will not be terrorized into silence or dormancy. According to my Bible, these tribulations make the obedient Christian stronger! We have the choice to cower or tower. Let us choose wisely. 

Believers and unbelievers together are negotiating the same troubled waters, but let the faithful continually proclaim the ease of Christ’s yoke and burden. Yes, we face the same pain, grief, and challenges, but Christ’s way is easier and lighter. Let us never be caught saying that being a Christian is difficult, when it is the faithless who are having the most burdensome times of it. In Christ Jesus we have the easier and lighter Way; we must be a reflection of Him in trying times. In the face of death we are fearless for one reason only: we have a hope rooted firmly in Jesus and all His promises. In troubling times it is crucial we share this hope. Share these words if you agree!
 
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive [d]and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Overcoming The Times

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Whosoever Believeth in Him

Whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus Christ) should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Dedicated 2 Jesus Christ and Jesus said, Take Heed that No Man Deceive You

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

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