The Reason for the Season

christmas-tree2 Christmas is here once again, and many of us are busy making those last minute shopping trips to find just the right gift for that special friend or family member. And whether you live in an area with a snowy white Christmas or a warmer tropical setting or somewhere in between, the stress of holiday shopping and the budgetary strain seems to affect us all. Between fighting the crowds at our local mall or paging through the websites of our favorite on-line retailers, the commercial aspect of Christmas can be challenging. It is amidst all this stress that I’d like to encourage you to take time to reflect on the real reason for the season, the birth of Jesus Christ.

In this regards, it is very fortunate for us that Luke took the time to thoroughly research the facts surrounding the birth of Jesus while those facts were still contemporary and that he composed those facts into a written record that is still available to us today in his Gospel. But can we really trust the record Luke left? Well, the evidence supporting the historical accuracy of Luke’s narrative is myriad, but let’s look at one specific piece of evidence right now. First, we’ll start with an excerpt from the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 2:1-21 – At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.

This part of the Christmas story starts with a census being taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Publius Sulpicius Quirinius is known to have governed Syria during 6-9 A.D. Josephus records that a census taken in 6 A.D. sparked a violent Jewish revolt, this is also mentioned by Luke in Act 5:37. Quirinius oversaw this census and played a major role in putting down the rebellion. But this cannot be the census Luke is referring to here in the Christmas story because it occurred much too late to fit Luke’s chronology. Luke was far too meticulous in his recounting of events to be accused of such a chronological error.

And, indeed, archaeology has upheld Luke’s accuracy. A fragment of a stone tablet discovered near Rome in 1764 contains an inscription in honor of a Roman official who was twice governor of Syria during the reign of Augustus. The name of this official is not found, but details listed among his accomplishments could fit no one other than Quirinius. Thus, we conclude that Quirinius served as governor twice. And other ancient records mention a “first” census being ordered by Augustus in 8 B.C. Evidently, this earlier census was not carried out in the Palestinian region until 2-4 years later, perhaps due to political difficulties between Rome and Herod. But Luke does state in verse 2 that the events he recounts occurred at the time of the “first” census taken while Quirinius was governor (obviously indicating there were more than one). Thus, Luke’s accurate rendering of these historic events is validated by the evidence and can be considered completely trustworthy.

Based on this decisive evidence, we can conclude that Luke’s telling of the Christmas story is reliable and I hope by presenting this evidence here it helps you see that Christmas really is a celebration of true historical events. And, as such, it should inspire us to pursue a relationship with our Creator who loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to live among us, to die for us, and to be raised again that we might be reconciled to Him. Yes, Jesus truly is the reason for the season!

With this in mind, then, we see that the greatest Christmas present ever is the gift of grace given by God through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Christmas season is a perfect time to accept that gift, if you haven’t already. Just take a few minutes to get by yourself and talk to God. Admit your wrongs to Him and turn your heart and mind toward Jesus (this is called repentance). Then confess Jesus is Lord and promise to follow Him to the best of your ability. As it is written, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

May you have a very Merry Christmas!

If you would like more information about becoming a Christian, we are happy to help. Please drop us an email at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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Vote 2018

Vote 2  With all the political ads running on TV and radio, and all the signs and billboards, one can hardly miss that election season is upon us once again here in the USA. Election day is set for Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 and I hope you already are planning to get involved by casting your vote. The Bible has plenty to say about government; for example, Exodus 18:21 gives us a leadership model: “But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.” Likewise, Deuteronomy 1:13 says, “Choose some well-respected men from each tribe who are known for their wisdom and understanding, and I will appoint them as your leaders.”

Examples of government are woven throughout the Bible, sometimes good, sometimes maybe not so good, but the government is put in place by God to bring order to society. In Romans 13:1,4 & 6 we read: “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God….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….Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.”

In the USA, we are very fortunate in that we are allowed the privilege of voting and, therefore, we can influence the direction of our government. This is a great right and should never be taken lightly, especially for the Christian as we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). So we should cast our votes to reflect God’s values so we influence the process with the truth of God. Indeed, for the Christian, it is not just a right, but a responsibility!

But how do we know what the candidates stand for? Often, the TV ads tell us more about how the candidates feel about their opponent than where they stand on the actual issues. Despite their claims, we find that all too often the ads we hear and see are full of error, half-truths, and misleading rhetoric. It can be hard to discern which candidates most align with the values we know to reflect the truth found in God’s Word, so how do we decide? Fortunately, there are many resources available to us. I will list a few really good ones here, but there are likely others available in your state:

iVoter Guide – this resources allows you to input your zip code and find responses from the candidates on actual issues of importance. And remember that a candidate’s failure to respond to questions on a specific issue is a response in itself!

Family Research Council – this resource will help you understand important issues of our time and the platforms of the major political parties. It will also help you find where to vote in your area and can even help you to register in some areas.

Christian Voter Guide – offers many resources for researching issues, voting locations, voter guides, etc.

You can also easily research the candidates by typing their name in your favorite search engine to find their campaign websites. So do your research, become an informed citizen, and get out and vote on November 6th, 2018. You can make a difference and your vote does count!

May you be blessed.

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Do I Really Need A Parachute?

Parachute 1  Imagine the scene. You’re on a commercial airliner flying to the destination of your dream vacation. You’ve saved your money for several years to pay for this trip and your excitement level couldn’t be higher. You’re no stranger to flying, but this trip is definitely special. The flight attendant takes you through the usual flight safety warnings and before you know it the plane is up in the air. Only ten hours of flight time and you’ll be there!

Then the captain makes an announcement that catches you by surprise: “Ladies and gentlemen, the flight attendants will be coming through the cabin shortly with a parachute for each of you. Please take the parachute and strap it on your back.” Now if the announcement ends there, you will probably be wondering why they are handing out parachutes. You’ve flown before and this has never happened so you’re probably wondering all kinds of things; maybe even looking out the window to see if there is smoke or fire or anything out of the ordinary.

But what if the captain’s announcement continued this way, “Folks, the parachutes will make your flight more enjoyable, please strap the parachute on, sit back and enjoy your flight.” Now the flight attendant hands you this thing about the size of a small backpack, you strap it on and sit back in your seat. Except you can’t get comfortable. The parachute makes it impossible to sit normally and soon your back is sore and you start to become angry at the airline. What in the world is going on? After not too much time, you take the parachute off and make it known you will not wear this thing.

The parachute most certainly did not make your flight more enjoyable and you now have  backache causing you to feel contempt for the airline, the captain, and the parachute. You will have nothing to do with any of them after this flight. They are already ruining your dream vacation.

But what if the captain’s announcement went this way instead, “Folks, the flight attendant will soon hand each of you a parachute. Please calmly strap your chute on before helping those around you. The plane has developed a serious malfunction and will soon crash to the earth, but you will be guided to a door where your parachute will help you land safely on the ground.” With this additional information, won’t you gladly strap on your parachute and endure whatever discomfort it might bring for the assurance of safety that comes with it? I should think so!

So you see it is only when you have the complete picture of the situation that wearing the parachute makes any sense at all. Likewise, it is the same with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I were to come to you and say, “Friend, you need to accept Christ,” you would likely wonder to yourself why in the world would you need to do that. My statement simply wouldn’t make sense. And if I said to you, “If you accept Christ it will make your life better,” you might very well give it a try, but eventually something would happen to make you question if your life was truly better, and you might end up turning away from Christ because the promise I gave you was not fulfilled. It is only when we have the complete picture that the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes sense.

So to fully understand the Gospel (which means “good news”) you need to first understand your need for it. Just as understanding that the plane is about to crash made the need for a parachute understandable, knowing that we are sinners helps us understand our need for Jesus. The Bible says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23) and the reality is, deep down inside, we all know we have made mistakes; we all have done things that have hurt others, we are all guilty. In fact, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we have likely felt the weight of that guilt much more often than we care to admit to others. To deny this is to be disingenuous just as the Apostle John wrote, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” (1 John 1:8)

Perhaps the bigger problem for most of us is that we tend to compare ourselves to others and then, despite our self-knowledge and the guilt we feel, we conclude we’re “not that bad” especially compared to (insert name of notorious sinner). And isn’t that natural? In fact, not only is it human nature, it is the very ploy of the devil to make us think we don’t need God, for Satan is the father of lies just as Jesus says in John 8:44: “He (Satan) has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” And the Apostle Peter warns us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

So don’t believe the devil. Believe the Bible instead! And the Bible says, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” (Romans 3:10-12)  I honestly think the reality is that I don’t need to convince you of your guilt. I believe we all instinctively know the truth about ourselves deep down inside. And, therefore, being knowledgeable of our sin, what we really need to comprehend is that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God said about Himself in Exodus 34:6-7: “I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.”

God does not let the guilty go unpunished. Not the guilt of the worst person you can think of, not my guilt, and not yours. The guilty receive punishment, and that punishment is death. But God, in his infinite love and mercy, made a way for us to escape that punishment and to receive eternal life. And that way is Jesus because Jesus paid the penalty for us. So the Gospel is this: “God so loved the world He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) And just as the impending plane crash is why you need the parachute, sin is why you need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Availing yourself of the Gospel is almost as easy as strapping on the parachute; just talk to God. Admit to him you have sinned and you need his mercy. Accept the free gift of grace he offers through Jesus Christ; for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And now you know the full story! God bless.

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Right Before Our Eyes

eyes 5  In chapter 3 in the book of The Acts of the Apostles (or “Acts” for short) a story is told of a man who was crippled from birth, who was brought daily to the temple, where he would beg for money to support himself. The man was incapacitated in his ankles and feet and could not stand or walk on his own. So he would be brought to the temple gate known as The Beautiful Gate, where he would ask for money from those entering the temple. One day, the apostles Peter and John approached.

The impaired man asks them for money as he would any other person. The book of Acts records the exchange that follows this way: Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. (Acts 3:4-8)

Luke (the author of Acts) continues his description of this miraculous healing event by describing how amazed the people standing nearby were at this miracle. Before their very eyes this man, who they recognized as the man lame from birth, and now approximately 40 years old, was healed and was now walking and leaping for joy. Peter recognizes the opportunity before him and begins to preach a sermon to the people, using the healing of this man as the launching point for his Gospel message. As Peter is preaching he is confronted by the temple leaders and arrested, but not before many of the people listening to Peter believe and are saved.

The next day, Peter and John are brought before the high council and questioned about the healing and the message they were delivering. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, responds to the questioning with a Gospel message that includes this line from Psalm 118:22: “The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” Peter is unabashed in his claim that there is no other name on earth or in heaven by which men must be saved, the name of Jesus Christ. I find what happened next to be remarkable, if not a bit flabbergasting:

Acts 4:13-22:  The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves.

“What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.

But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”

The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years.

Take a moment and read that again and contrast the two different reactions to the healing of this man. We see that the man who was healed and the crowds who had witnessed his healing are praising God for what they have seen and experienced. They believe what they saw and many of them accepted Peter’s Gospel message as a result and now have new life in Christ. The high priest and Jewish leaders, on the other hand, though they cannot deny the miracle because the healed man is standing right there in front of their eyes, remain stubborn in their attempt to cover it up, to stop Peter and John from preaching of the Gospel. Yes – you are reading that correctly – the man who was lame from birth, who was well-known to everyone in the area, who the Jewish leaders also knew was lame, is standing right there in front of them completely healed, and the council knows and admits they cannot deny it. But all they are concerned about is stopping the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Just as we see throughout the four Gospels, the high priest and the temple leaders are interested in but one thing; maintaining their power structure and status. So instead of the natural reaction of awe and wonder at this miracle, they engage in what can only be described as willful disregard for the facts. You’d think that, in the face of the evidence – the healed man standing right there in front of their eyes – that they would recognize the error of their ways, repent, and believe, but they do not. And this reaction is not unlike what we see around us to this very day –  people who continue their willful refusal to accept the Gospel message despite the fact that no honest historian denies that Jesus Christ was a real historical figure, that the evidence supporting the authenticity of the Bible is simply overwhelming, and that many millions of lives continue to be dramatically changed to this very day. These people continue to practice willful disregard of the facts, and nothing I write here is likely to convince them to change their mind.

The now-healed lame man stands right before their very eyes. They cannot deny it because to do so is irrational and illogical (though some still try). They are, as the Bible says in Romans, without excuse and one day they will stand before the living God and they will be judged. God’s judgment is always perfect, always fair, always just. But the Bible tells us “it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

So which camp do you fall into? Chances are, if you’ve read this far, you either believe or are ready to believe. It is in God’s great mercy and love for us that he provided a way by which we may be saved and we may experience the fullness of life that He intended for us. That way is through Jesus Christ. Jesus came to this world though the virgin birth, lived among us, experienced life just as we experience it, and then willingly laid down his life as a sacrifice for us. But on the third day he rose again, thereby defeating death once and for all.  In Romans 10:8-13, the Apostle Paul writes: And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If you haven’t already, won’t you make today the day you believe the Gospel message and call on the name of the Lord?

Learn more at KnowGod.org

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

That’s One Big Book!

Big Book 1  A manuscript that is essentially the founding document of Alcoholics Anonymous, which members of the recovery group call, ”The Big Book,” sold at auction recently for $2.4 million to Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts football team. It is the third time the 161-page typed document has been sold. It had previously sold in 2007 for $992,000 and for approximately $1.5 million in 2004. The manuscript includes notes and scribbles from one of AA’s founders, William Wilson, more commonly known as ”Bill W.” With more than 30 million copies sold, translations in 67 languages, and the world wide success of Alcoholics Anonymous, the “Big Book” is certainly a big deal!

There is little doubt that Alcoholics’ Anonymous has helped many people and it is pretty easy to see why the original manuscript of the Big Book would have such a high monetary value; but there is a book that has helped even more people, that has been translated into even more languages, and that is far more infamous. That, of course, is the Bible. It was hard to find exact numbers everyone agreed on, but as near as I can determine, as of 2017, the full Bible has been translated into 670 languages, the New Testament alone into 1,521 languages and smaller portions of Scripture into 1,121 other languages. And while the Big Book has sold approximately 30 million copies since it was first published, the Bible sells about 100 million copies per year.

AA’s Big Book was first published in 1939, nearly 80 years ago. To this date, as the original manuscript sells at auction, no one questions its authenticity. And why would they? Eighty years ago is what we would call “very recent history”. It is easy to compare the Big Book in circulation today with the original manuscript and conclude they are the same. With the Bible, we have approximately 5800 Greek manuscripts and about 24,000 complete or fragments of manuscripts in other languages such as Latin, Aramaic, Coptic, and so on. Some of these manuscripts date to within decades of the original writing. For example, the Gospel of John is believed to have been written between 70 AD and 90 AD. The earliest manuscript evidence is a portion of John’s Gospel known as Papyrus 52, which is dated to approximately 125 AD, or within about 50 years of the original. That’s less time than has elapsed since the original manuscript of the Big Book was written!

The amount of evidence supporting the authenticity of the Bible we read today is staggering. Consider this comparison: Homer’s Illiad is generally thought to have been written in approximately 750 BC. To date, 647 manuscripts of this book have been found. Only 190 contain a complete copy. The oldest manuscript is dated around 400 BC, or 350 years after the original was written. Despite this rather large time gap, no one questions the authenticity of the version of The Iliad we have today. Yet, as we mentioned, the Bible is supported by far more manuscript evidence dating far closer to the originals. And the documentation for the Bible doesn’t stop with the manuscript evidence; I do not have space here to go into all the details, but ancient, non-Christian sources also confirm many New Testament events as being historical. Some of these sources are: Flavius Josephus (A.D. 93), the Babylonian Talmud (A.D. 70-200), Pliny the Younger’s letter to the Emperor Trajan (A.D. 100), and the Annals of Tacitus (A.D. 115-117).

So when we read the Bible today, we can be confident we are reading an authentic document. Psalm 19 describes the Bible as perfect, trustworthy, sweeter the honey, and more desirable than pure gold. Psalm 119 declares that the way of purity is found “by obeying your Word” (Psalm 119:9). The writer of Hebrews teaches that “the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12) And the Apostle Paul tells us that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16).

In today’s world, it seems western culture has moved towards individuality and decision making based on felt needs. Children and young adults are told to be aware of their feelings and that what is right for them may not be right for everyone. This is, of course, very bad thinking – though it is nothing new. We read in the book of Judges, more than once, the words: “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (see Judges 17:6 and 21:25) History throughout the ages has shown that this never turns out good. Never. People, and society, need a moral guide to be successful. Of course, God knew this and so He gave us the Bible. The Bible is absolutely reliable for teaching us everything for Godliness and living. It is our moral compass and owner’s manual for life. By studying the Bible, you will be prepared to interpret events in the daily news, understand the behavior of your children, correctly discern the social issues affecting our world, and more. It is absolutely rich with truth from our Creator God, who’s greatest desire is that we should live long and full lives.

And the Bible is also 100% reliable for bringing each of us to eternal life through the grace of Jesus Christ. In the words of AA’s founder, Bill Wilson, “no one is too discredited or has sunk too low to be welcomed cordially.” We all inherently know that we have made mistakes, that we have done things we regret. Not one of you reading this would dare claim to be perfect, nor would I. And the Bible agrees, saying: “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) The unfortunate reality is that those mistakes we’ve all made are called sin and sin separates us from God; but God made a way for us to be reconciled to Himself through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts, we are assured that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21) And so we find “we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:11) Won’t you avail yourself of this grace today, if you haven’t already?

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) And those are words you can count on, for we know the Bible is 100% reliable!

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Reviving The Soul

Reviving the Soul3   Those of you who have are regular readers of this blog probably already know that at one point in my life I had a bit of a problem with drugs and alcohol. For anyone new here, suffice it to say that when it came to following the rules, I didn’t. I won’t dig into the details on that, I’m sure most of you reading this have experienced your own rebellious streaks at one point or another. If I have learned anything, it’s that I’m not nearly as unique as I might have once thought myself.

This rebelliousness that most of us have gone through, or perhaps continue to struggle with, is nothing new. Give a thorough reading to the Old Testament and you’ll see example after example of individuals and groups who rebel against God. The words “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (ie: Judges 17:6) have regular occurrence. It seems by our very nature we are a pugnacious lot.

While there are all kinds of rules we are expected (and sometimes reluctant) to follow, such as income taxes, speed limits, and the like; let us be concerned with the laws that God has set before us. In the Bible, from beginning to end, we find God has lots of rules for us. I won’t take the time to dive into a detailed analysis of all God’s rules, for such an analysis is beyond the scope of this blog, so let’s just focus on a few examples, taken from the Ten Commandments.

“You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) So let’s get honest with each other. Who has not stolen something at least once in their lives? Maybe it was just a little something, like a few office supplies from work. It didn’t have to be something big, it was still stealing if we appropriated for ourselves that which belonged to someone else. And someone who steals is called…a thief, right?

And then there’s the rule that, perhaps, I struggle with more than any other: “You must not covet your neighbor’s house…..or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17) I suspect I am not alone in my covetousness. For me, it’s usually gazing upon that beautiful new truck that my neighbor just bought, or some other shiny object in my neighbor’s garage for which I feel such avarice. Have you not found yourself desiring that which belongs to someone else? Go ahead and admit it!

We are always tempted to wonder why God has such rules for us. Perhaps the answer to that question actually lies, in part, within one of those rules. In Exodus 20:12 we find this truth: “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Ah, there we have something “then you will live a long, full life….” Yes! Our understanding of why God has rules for us is revealed in that statement.

Now, almost from the first moments of our lives we are already failing to honor our parents. “Be home before dark.” “Eat your vegetables.” “Do your homework.” “Don’t play in the street.” I think we all know why our parents had those rules in place for us. In all likelihood, we have (or had) similar rules for our own children. Because we love them dearly and we want them to survive in this world and to be all they can be. And now we see, in the fifth commandment, that God wants the same for us: to survive in this world and to be all we can be!

In today’s world, a lot of people think God’s rules are archaic and irrelevant; but many of us have the same rules for our children as our parents’ had for us because, as adults, we have come to realize those rules were sensible in every way. And so it is with God’s rules, they made sense then and they make sense now – for it is only when we follow God’s rules that we experience all that life has to offer. It is only when we follow God’s rules that reach our highest potential and experience true freedom. And it is when we disregard those rules that we experience the most pain.

The psalmist wrote: “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” (Psalm 19:7-8) So we see here that following God’s instructions will revive us, make us wise, bring joy to our hearts, and give us insight for living because God’s rules are perfect, trustworthy, right, and clear. And just as applicable for us today as our parents’ rules are for our own children or granchildren!

When I rebelled against my parents’ rules I was first and foremost rebelling against God and my life was a constant uphill struggle. Sure there were some happy times, but deep inside was constant unrest and deep dissatisfaction with life. But I have found the more I follow God’s instructions, like the psalmist says, the more peace and serenity I enjoy. I want you to know that peace and serenity, too, so I invite you to try life God’s way. What have you got to lose?

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

And Justice For All

courtroom-898931_960_720   She was walking home from work one evening. She had made this walk dozens of times since she took the dinner shift at the restaurant where she worked. Almost always between 10:00pm and 11:00pm; her route took her down the street, through the park, and just over the bridge near her apartment. Once across the bridge it was a quick stroll across the back parking lot and she was home. Very routine. She never imagined she would one day join the list of #metoo victims but this night there was a man waiting for her.

She had served him a few times at the restaurant, and he had taken a fancy to her. So much so that, hiding along her route, he had watched her walk home night after night for a couple weeks. He knew her route and he knew her routine. She always walked with her headphones on, her waitress outfit was dark red, the restaurant’s color, so passersby rarely noticed her, but there was little traffic anyway and rarely was anyone around at that time of night. He formed a plan. He was a very troubled man, and this was not the first time he’d done this.

One night, he hid between the cars in her apartment parking lot and waited. When she crossed the bridge and started through the parking lot, he stood up behind her, followed her quietly to the door. Coming up behind her, acting as if he was just going to see friend, he struck up a brief conversation, as two people heading to the same destination might, and she easily let him follow her inside and up to her floor, where he had stated his friend lived also. But as she unlocked her apartment door, he suddenly turned around and violently pushed her inside. And there, in her own apartment, he brutally attacked & raped her.

Thanks to the video surveillance at her apartment, it did not take the police long to identify the attacker and arrest him. And the DNA evidence assured a speedy trial and easy conviction by the jury. The evidence against the man was simply overwhelming. And there he stood at the sentencing before kindly old Judge Thomas. The judge was known as a loving family man and a deeply caring friend, always putting the needs of others before his own. But here, in the courtroom, faced with such convincing evidence and the resulting guilty verdict, there was only one thing the benevolent judge could do – he handed down the maximum allowable sentence.

And would any of us handle it differently than Judge Thomas? Surely not! In fact, knowing the facts of the case, we might feel that no punishment is harsh enough; such cases usually trigger our emotions in ways that are deeply passionate. This is not really all that surprising, though, because we are created in the image of God and we know that, in addition to being a perfect, loving Father, God is also supremely just, and he punishes sin wherever he finds it. Like the judge in our fictitious story, God is loving, caring, and benevolent…but completely just.

And so while we don’t often like to talk about judgment, the Bible tells us judgment is coming and we do well to understand this. The writer of Hebrews notes that it is appointed to a person to die once and then comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27). John the Baptist spoke about God’s coming judgment saying, “Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees.” (Matthew 3:10) and Jesus frequently spoke of coming judgment with statements such as: “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!” (Matthew 5:22) and: “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.” (Matthew 12:36) and: “Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.” (John 16:11) So the coming judgment might not be a popular topic we see that it is one of vital importance.

At this point many might say, “I’m am not concerned about judgment because I’m not that bad of a person, surely my good deeds will outweigh my bad on judgment day.” But even a statement like that reveals what we all know to be true about ourselves, that despite the good things we have done, we all have done bad things, too. So let’s not be disingenuous by refusing to admit our sins. We all have guilt and we all know it intuitively. And God doesn’t grade on a curve like your high school teacher, he judges sin wherever he finds it.

But God, being the loving, perfect, and just judge, made a way for us to be redeemed by sending his one and only Son to the cross to pay the penalty for us. And here we find the real conundrum; regardless of our sins, we can be forgiven only if we accept God’s free gift of grace through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. But many refuse. And this is where judgment comes. Jesus said, “But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.” (John 12:48) And in John 3:19 he said, “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” And in John 3:36, “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”

But in Romans 8:1 we read: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” And in John 3:18 we read that: “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” So it is really very simple, we all know we have sinned, but we can avoid God’s judgment simply by acknowledging our sin and believing the Gospel message that Jesus died and rose again for us. The Apostle John wrote: “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” (1 John 4:9) and “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” (1 John 5:12) That is the Gospel message. If you haven’t already, won’t you please believe starting today?

And for those who may be victims, who may have suffered by a crime committed by another, please know that Jesus loves you dearly and he stands with you, arms wide open, able to understand by his own suffering, and that he will one day make all things right. He spoke these words in John 16:33: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” And we are assured in the book of Revelation that one day: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4) So we cry with you, come quickly Lord!

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.