Humbly Pray

The Pharisee was a fine gentleman, who spoke well and had the respect of the entire community.  He was the sort of fellow we would all like to invite over for dinner. A man with a good testimony; he followed the law without fail and made sure to give a tenth of his income to the temple. There was one problem with the Pharisee, he was proud. He thought he was better than everyone else. (Luke 18:9-12)

There was also a tax collector and as expected he was not very popular. No one wanted to have him over for dinner. All tax collectors were suspected of cheating and cheating the poor of Israel.  They were seen as traitors since they collected taxes for Rome. Some considered tax collectors to be simply the worst. Well it’s not like tax collectors are any more popular today. (Luke 18:13-14)

They both came before God to pray. The Pharisee came before almighty and holy God and thanked Him for making him so wonderful. He was proud of how good he was. Perhaps he simply wanted to remind God. God was not impressed.

The tax collector understood his condition. He was completely aware of God’s holiness and how far sin had taken him from God’s presence. He approached God with all the reverence God deserved and all the humbleness his state required.  Jesus explains that he could not even lift his head and beat upon his chest on account of his guilt, shame and pain. God was pleased.

Jesus explained that the tax collector was forgiven or justified and the pharisee would not be. (Luke 18:14) We must be careful to come before God in reverence, and humility, understanding that we are sinners and He is holy. We are in need of forgiveness. This is the very reason why Jesus gave His life, that we may be forgiven, if we simply believe.

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It is a Wonder!

It is a Wonder!
It is a wonder You love me so
It is a wonder You do not go
Each praise and song is Your delight
You watch me day and night
But then when You I do not seek
Thoughts wander and I grow weak
Thoughts that are too dark
Words and even actions that miss the mark
It is a wonder You still do not go
It is a wonder You love me so
To my knees with tears
To mighty God with fear
“Forgive me please, I want to be true.”
For a Love that comes from You
Make me strong in every way
Help me not to stray.
It is a wonder You do not go
It is a wonder You love me so

© Samuel Melendez. All rights reserved

From Bibleaid on repentance

Audio Jonah is forgivenLost but foundA repentant tax collectorCan I be forgiven

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Who made hell?

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 2 Peter 2:4

Who created Hell? God did of course. God created all things. It says so in John 1:1-3. Why would a loving God create hell?

God placed every star in the heavens, planted every flower and good fruit, filled the earth with animals and gave it all away as a gift to Adam and Eve. What an incredible gift. He not only created the entire world for mankind, he specifically created a paradise called the Garden of Eden. The most beautiful, wondrous place man has ever seen, other than heaven. It was paradise. Then why was there a need for hell.

Lucifer is the key character here. He was the Angel of Light and a minister of music. A great and powerful angel, he was able to lead a rebellion against God. He and one third of the Angels were defeated and condemned. (Isaiah 14:11-16, Revelation 12:1-4) Now they roam the earth free to tempt torture and deceive humanity. However John in the book of revelation explains that after Jesus returns to establish his Kingdom forever, the devil and his angels will be condemned to the lake of fire for all eternity. (Revelation 20:10).

This terrible place we call hell has many names and descriptions. It is dark, filled with fire, and designed to torment for all eternity. It is described as the lake of fire, hades, gloomy darkness, eternal punishment , fiery furnace , eternal destruction , place of torment , eternal fire , unquenchable fire ,utter darkness ,a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, the second death, and the abyss.

Unfortunately some of mankind will be there. It will hold all sinners. Revelation 21:8 also says “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Actually this pretty much includes us all, because we are all sinners. (Romans 3:23) There appears to be a problem. We don’t want to go to hell. The good news is we don’t have to.

The price of sin is death. God explained this to Adam and Eve. (Genesis 2:17) The Israelites where directed for many centuries to perform animal sacrifices to pay for their sins. But the ultimate price of the sin of all humanity past present and future would take a very special sacrifice. This would be The Messiah, the Christ, Jesus, God made flesh would have to die on the cross to pay the price. What we must do now is repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our lord and Savior.

Praise God our true destiny, determined by God from the foundation of the world, has always been to be with Him for all eternity. It has always been God’s plan to walk and live with us. He invites us all to accept His sacrifice, let us not reject such a precious gift.

Try these Verses-on-hell

The Messiah has come!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

In the eternal past He saw our suffering. He saw our pain. He saw the helplessness of our existence and knew then that He would have to come. All along he watched as humanity grew further away from God. The devil and his lies replaced the truth and man would find false gods made of stone and wood. Barbaric practices, human sacrifice, torture and enslavement, became common. Then the moment came.

The spirit descended upon Mary and she did conceive. A baby boy like no other in history; for this one descended from the heavens. This child was God himself made flesh for all humanity to see. The shepherds came and worshiped. The wise man traveled from far and brought gifts, while a wretched king hunted for Him.

God’s greatest gift had come and now for those who believe there is no more darkness. Helplessness is replaced with peace and worry with Joy.

He grew among them, but they did not recognize Him. Some thought Him common, the son of a carpenter. While others with anger, said “they saw the devil in Him”. Many more pursued Him for a miracle. Many shouted, “Son of David heal me!” Some, perhaps a few, dared to wonder. “Who is this man, who talks to the wind and it obeys. Who is this man who awakens the dead? Legions of demons tremble before Him. Could He be the Messiah? “

They took him away in secret, in the darkness, without cause. He was innocent. They thought it was their plan; it had been His from the very beginning. He freely gave his life. He shed his blood, drop by drop it fell to the ground, as they whipped him and beat him. They nailed him up high for all to witness and thought him defeated.

Then came Sunday morning, the most glorious morning ever seen. The stone rolled away and out came the “bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16). Death was vanquished and no longer our master. He overcame and the victory is ours. We will live with Him forevermore.

Receive Him as Lord and be saved. He returns and His own anxiously wait. The Messiah will come with crown and sword. He will rule and His kingdom will never end!

Consider these Verses on O.T. Prophecies-of-Jesus

Think you’re strong? The enemy is not impressed.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12

Samson was what so many of us would like to be, the strongest and boldest man on the planet and a real live action hero and his feats and reputation where unmatched in all of history. The only individuals that would compare would all be considered mythological, such as Hercules or Achilles. He was not only strong he was also the greatest warrior, a true killing machine.

There is one remarkable incident were the Israelites, scared of the Philistines agreed to turn Samson over to them. Samson not wanting to harm his fellow Israelites allowed himself to be taken into custody. They tied him up and left him for the Philistines. When the Philistine army arrived, Samson broke the ropes and with the jawbone of a donkey as his only weapon killed 1000 soldiers. (Judges 15:13-15) That is not just brute strength. No ninja or knight in history could compare to Samson.

Samson is probably one of the few bible heroes who never showed doubt in his ability. He understood from the beginning the great gift God had given him and used it quite effectively against Israel’s enemies. However, Samson became overconfident and blinded by passion.

Samson fell for a harlot, Delilah. She begged him to tell her the secret of his strength. After several lies Samson finally gave in and told her the secret. As a sign of separation and dedication to God he was never to cut his hair. This was a direct command from God that was never to be violated. It proved his obedience and loyalty to God. Samson failed. Delilah lulled Samson to sleep and cut his hair. God departed from Samson and he was like any other man. The philistines captured him and took out his eyes. (Judges 20:1-16)

When we become a mighty instrument of the Lord and He uses us with great results it is difficult to remain cautious. We grow in confidence and often see ourselves stronger and bigger than what we are. We might even think we are invincible, like ninja Christian warriors or action heroes for the kingdom of heaven. However we are still flesh and blood. We can still be tempted and hurt. Even if we forget our weaknesses the devil knows them all too well. When we do feel strong it means it is time to seek God even more, in prayer and in the study of scripture. Samson should have done likewise.

When Samson reached out to God, he found mercy. God gave Samson another opportunity and in his final act as the greatest warrior, Samson killed about 3000 Philistines, including all of their powerful lords. (Judges 20:25-30)

If in our moment of strength, we do grow over confident and fail, God is still merciful and able to reestablish us. However it is best to remain cautious even when we are at our best, for the enemy is ready to exploit every opportunity.

Lost, but Found

for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. Luke 15:24

He watched as his beloved son just walked away in the distance. The pain was too much to bear. What challenges would his son face? What dangers, especially carrying such a large amount of money. It was half of the estate. His son had just made a horrible demand. “I want my share of the inheritance now. Give it to me,” he shouted. The father reluctantly gave in and now his son was gone.

Every day he must have watched and hoped, trusting in God to care for his son. If only he would return. He would most certainly be forgiven.

A long time passed. No doubt that kind of money took a while to spend. But then on the most glorious, wonderful day it happened. He barely recognized his son. But surely it must be him. Beneath the rags, that thin young man was his beloved son. The father could not contain himself and quickly began to run. In no time he had reached his prodigal son and took him in his arms.

The boy was sorrowful and soon expressed his shame. He had wasted all of his inheritance and had betrayed his father. He recognized that he was no longer worthy of being called his son and hoped he could be a servant. He was truly repentant. The father, forgave him and not only welcomed him back as his son, but began one of the greatest celebrations the family had ever had.

If any of us were to turn from God this is how he would receive us back, with love and mercy. God presently waits for those who have gone astray and if any are willing to return He welcomes them with open arms and celebrates. The joy felt in heaven as on earth is indescribable, for each and every soul that is saved!

A repentant tax collector

“Today salvation has come to this house” Luke 19:9

Zacchaeus was the most hated man in the Jewish town of Jericho. He had managed to steal from most and take from all. He provided the Romans with a bounty of wealth and property. He was of course the tax collector.

This hated tax collector had become aware of the arrival of the great prophet, some believed to be the messiah that was promised to Israel long ago. Zacchaeus was curious, perhaps even hopeful that this great man may be able to help him in some way. It is typical for those of us in need to see Jesus as an answer. But Zacchaeus most likely did not lack for anything. This seemingly materialistic man, who had cheated the poor people of Jericho, must have realized a spiritual need, a sign that he was ready for repentance.

Jesus upon seeing the tax collector hiding in a tree, immediately informs him that he would be visiting him in his house that day and that he must come down from the tree. However Jesus never makes mention of Zacchaeus’ sins until Zacchaeus does something truly wonderful.

He admits to his wrong doings and humbly tries his best to make up for all he has done wrong. He tells Jesus “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Luke 19:8) He is filled with guilt and understands the pain and suffering he must have caused others. This is why he does more than just offer to pay back what is rightfully owed; he offers to give them 4 times the amount. This extra amount is punishment he is placing on himself. Zacchaeus is truly repentant.

True repentance comes with a sincere recognition of wrong doings. It is absent anger, the type of anger that can follow being caught. Anger is also absent because we do not seek to blame anyone else but ourselves, and we wish to make amends as quickly as possible. We do not believe ourselves worthy of forgiveness, instead we are grateful to be forgiven. Unlike a judging crowd or a group of Pharisees, Jesus saw his heart and recognizes true repentance in Zacchaeus. He says “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9)

Zacchaeus provides us all with a mirror to reflect ourselves in and check to see if we are truly repentant of our sins. It is wise for us to take a long look and be sure. Our salvation depends on true repentance that is absent anger and excuses. Most importantly we will receive forgiveness gratefully, knowing we never deserved it.

Apple of God’s eye

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

When did we become the center of God’s eyes? Was it when with His hands he formed Adam? Was it when he dreamed up Adam’s great love Eve? Was it when they first spoke or was it their first smile? We were the Apple of God’s eye before the creation. He had the entire Universe planned so that we could exist and prosper.

He certainly placed the stars in the heavens for us to ponder them. He set the oceans in motion that we might have adventures, placed the mountains to inspire us and filled the earth with animals to delight us.

But even before that He already had planned our future. Our purpose was always to be with Him. He knew we would fall and need redemption. He knew we would need forgiveness. Scripture reveals that since the foundation of the earth the plan of salvation had already been made. (1Peter 1:18-20, Ephesians 1:4) Jesus knew even then that his destiny was earth and to be the once and forever sacrifice, that the world could be saved. (John 3:16) The sacrifice of Jesus pays the price of our sins so that we might forever be with God, fulfilling Gods ultimate desire for us, to be with Him.

Some would have us believe that we are accidents of the cosmos. But are we to believe that while rocket ships, super computers and skyscrapers all have designers and makers, the most intelligent creative complicated being on this planet was just an accident?

Certainly we are the apple of God’s eyes and we are forever in His living hands!

Can I be forgiven?

“..And Jesus said to her,“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

John 8:11

I stood before the Master, surrounded by my accusers.  There were so many witnesses. They all could attest to my wrongs.  I had been caught in the very act.  What hope could I possibly have? Soon I would be condemned.  But then the strangest thing happened.  The Master did not say a word.  He went to the ground and began to write.  He then turned to all my accusers and said these words. “He that is without sin among you, let him be first to cast a stone at her” I braced myself ready to be killed.  But all I heard was the sound of stones falling to the ground and people walking away. Could it be?  Had I been spared?  What I deserved was death and yet I stood here alive.

He then spoke to me. My heart was calm. An incredible peace came over me.  , “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  “Has no one condemned you?” I looked around and answered “No man, Lord.”  Then with these words He changed my life. “Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more.”

Can I be forgiven? Without a doubt! Forgiveness is not easy for you or me.  Even forgiving ourselves can be a challenge. Often it is difficult to move on from sin.  However if we come before God with a sincere heart, truly repentant of our sins, and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior, we are forgiven.  Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross.  There he was crucified and shed every last drop of blood so that we might be cleansed of our sins and forgiven.

Although once we are forgiven, Jesus expects us to make a habit of righteous living. While it is no longer our habit to live a sinful life we still fail and believe me Jesus knew we would.  This is why He taught His disciples to pray the “Our Father”.  The line in question is “forgive us our trespasses…” He is still willing to forgive. But we must remember to apply that clear directive to our lives as well, “now go and sin no more.”

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