Saturday, October 31, 2020

Know The Word; Know The Truth

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
                                                                               (John 17:13-17 KJV)

On the night that he was betrayed Jesus prayed for his disciples. He prayed that they and we might be sanctified through the truth; that we might know the truth. 

There was a lot of heresy in the church of Martin Luther's day. There was a lot of superstitious nonsense promulgated by the clergy. I don't think that all of the clergy did this maliciously. I believe that they simply did not know the truth. Not all of them had regular and actual access to the word found in scripture. They taught and preached what had been taught and preached to them. A whole lot of that lacked truth.

Thankfully, much of that changed with the reformation. During that time period, Martin Luther translated the Holy Bible into German so that the pastors and lay people could read the word of God for themselves.

We have that access today in whatever language we speak. Yet, I often hear really crazy un-truths about what the word of God says coming from not just lay people; but, clergy as well. The lay people get many of these false ideas from the clergy.  They simply don't bother to read what the word has to say for themselves. 

I am not saying that you should not attend worship and hear the word of God through the clergy. You should!  Rather, I am saying that we all need to spend more time in daily devotions reading and meditating on the word of God so that we might know the truth. 

Thank God for the many saints who have come and gone before us. Thank God for the saints who have witnessed to the through the many generations since our Lord gave himself on the cross for us. Thank God and get to know him! Thank God for the word of truth who is Jesus the Christ.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Saved By Faith

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

For years Martin Luther struggled with feelings of guilt. He could not accept that there was nothing that he could do to receive God's love and God's forgiveness for his many sins. He truly worked hard to do enough to earn God's grace. He finally understood. By reading and translating scripture into his own language he finally  understood and accepted that fact that he could do nothing; that there were no good works by which he could earn his own salvation. That is the work that Christ did on the cross for all who would believe. 

Martin Luther finally came to understand that by grace we are saved through faith and that is purely a gift from God. There are no good works that we can do to be saved. Christ did it all for us! 

Thanks be to God for his mercy his great!

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Quit Whining And Rejoice In Christ Our Savior!

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson

Matthew 5:1-12 KJV

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

+++

Quit whining! Rejoice! Thank God that you live! Hopefully, prayerfully, you live for him! I know that life can be very tough at times. Many are persecuted for what they believe. Some are persecuted for what they don't believe. But, Jesus reminds us that those who are persecuted for his sake will inherit the kingdom of heaven.

When I look back at the history of the world, I am reminded how fortunate we are today. Yes, there are still injustices. But, no one gets their hand chopped off for stealing a piece of fruit from a vender to feed their child. There are most often consequences for theft; but, not so drastic as they were in years gone by. No one is getting egregiously accused of being a witch and being burned at the stake. We actually have running water and can stave off illnesses caused by poor or no appropriate hygiene. We have a lot to be thankful for!

Consider how Christ died for us even while we were yet sinners. Consider the love he has for us. Is not the fact that we are saved and heirs of the kingdom of heaven through the sacrifice that he made for us a blessing!? Rejoice in that blessing! 

Things can be hurtful today. There is no doubt about that. Regardless, sometimes we need to stand up and speak the truth no matter what might happen afterwards. At other times, maybe we just need to quit whining about what we don't have and thank God for what we do have. Sometimes we just need to do what that old cliche "Count your blessings" tells us to do. Sometimes, we just need to recognize that those things we count as times of suffering maybe actually be blessings. 

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:3)

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Death Is Not The End


For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.                                                                    
                                                                                        (1 Peter 1:4-5 KJV)

We will all die. Unless the Lord comes before that time and takes us bodily to himself, we will all die. Death of the flesh is inevitable. But, thanks be to God through Jesus Christ this is not the end. Despite that some (including some clergy) say that death is the end, according to the word of the Lord, it is not the end! 

In St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians he wrote:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
                                                                                 (1 Cor 15:50-55)

Christ has destroyed the power of death with his death. If we do not have to fear even death than why do we so often fret over the little obstacles in this world. Jesus, himself, tells us that we should not be worried; but to believe in him; to trust that he will take us to be with him.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 
                                                                                (John 14:1-3)

Do not be afraid. Trust in the word of the Lord and live in peace no matter what would attack you; no matter what obstacles you might have to face. Just as the grass withers and the flowers fade so must our flesh. But, the word of the Lord stands forever. That word is the gospel, is the good news, of the eternal kingdom of God is at hand and is for you through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Do not fear. Trust in the word of the Lord that brings you such good news!

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 
                                                                                 (John 14:17)

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Two Edged Sword

Photo by #John Arthur Photography
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb 4:12 KJV)

In battle, the two-edge sword is a tool of destruction. It can also bring about healing. When men were wounded, the sword was placed into a hot fire and then placed on the wound to close the wound by forming a scab. This would help the wound to heal. 

The word of God is like a two-edged sword. It will destroy any notion that we are above reproach even while it brings healing to our guilty consciences. The word of God wounds and then... it heals the wounded soul.

Do not fear the word of God no matter what it might expose in your life that needs to be changed; that needs to be healed. New life does not begin until there is a death to the old one. 

The word of God will bring healing and wholeness to your soul.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Saints and Sinners

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin."
                                                                            (1 John 3:1-5 KJV)

Each and everyone of us transgresses the law. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8) Yet, God loves us sinners enough to send his only begotten Son to die on the cross for us. He died to take away our sins.

We, who are sinners, are also saints by virtue of the blood that was shed on the cross for us. Even though the sinner in us is way more apparent at times than the saint in us; God still calls us his children. We are brothers and sisters with and in Christ. We are one in the family of God. 

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.." (Heb 2:9-11)

"...Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." (Rom 4:7)

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson
PSALM 46 KJV 

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

+++

Let not your heart be troubled. Do not fear. Be still and know that God is with you now and always to help you on the way.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

A Fearsome And Awesome God


And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. 
                                                                                 (Rev 14:6-7 KJV)

When is the hour of judgment to come? Is it here even now? Does it come at the hour of death? Is there a final day when we will be judged together? There are a lot of different theories. I personally don't think it really matters. There is something more important to concern ourselves with and that is as long as we breathe here on earth we ought to be proclaiming the Kingdom of God and glorifying His Holy Name.

Jesus said: 
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." 
                                                                                     (Matt 24:35-39)

Only God knows when the hour will come when Jesus will return or when that day of judgment will come upon us. Noah believed God and so prepared for the flood as he was instructed. Do we really believe God and are we prepared?

We are all sinners and deserve no mercy. But, this awesome and fearsome God is a God of mercy. On that fearful day when we must face judgment we can say with faith, my sins have been wiped clean by the blood of the innocent lamb who is my lord and savior, Jesus the Christ, and who has already suffered the consequences of my sins.  

Our God is a fearsome God. He says: "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand." (Deut:32-36) He is also a merciful God. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)" (Eph 2:4-5)

God is God! All honor and power and glory belong to him alone. The power that he wields is worthy to be feared. Yet, he is loving and merciful and desires only good for all that he has created.

When will that final day come? Only God knows. In the meantime: live life trusting him for your salvation, loving him, and giving him all glory!

God's Peace - Pr. J. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Do No Harm


Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
                                                                                   (Rom 13:9-10 KJV)

St. Paul wrote to the Romans that we should do no ill to our neighbors. Those neighbors include everyone and not just those who live next door. In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus tells us that the one who not only does no harm; but, shows mercy and helps the one in need is the good neighbor. You don't have to know them to help them. You don't have to live next to them to have mercy.

It also follows that sometimes our actions harm people we aren't even aware that we harm. Lately,  I have been hearing "Do no harm" a lot. What does this mean? For those who remember their confirmation class days you might remember that purposefully breaking the commandments does harm to others. Unintentionally breaking them does as well. But, as Christians we try not to break them even as we acknowledge we are not always successful in those attempts.

These attempts to follow the law can be most fruitless if we follow the law for the sake of the law. The law will not save us. Only Jesus saves. His love saves us. It is love for others that will empower us to do what is right and to not harm others. It was love for us that drove Jesus to the cross for us. It is his love; the spirit of his love, that empowers us to do good rather than to harm our neighbors. 

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us."  1 John 4:7-12) 

Do no harm. Cast off the ways of darkness and live life! Walk honestly and strive to do no harm to your neighbors both known and unknown to you. Be kind! "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." (Luke 6:31)

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Signs and Wonders

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson
So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.

Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.

So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. 
                                                                                 (John 4:46-53 KJV)

"Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.." (vs 48)

How many signs and wonders have we seen and yet our faith is less than a mustard seed? It always amazed me that whenever I led or attended healing services they were so very poorly attended. Does no one want to be healed? Does no one believe that God will answer our prayers for health and wholeness?

Actually, I believe that maybe many of us are afraid to see the signs and wonders of God. That might mean our lives will change forever and we kind of like living in our sickness. We sort of like sin. We don't want to be made whole because if we are made whole we might stand up, walk, and follow Jesus.

In reality, we have all seen signs and wonders. We just fail to acknowledge them. We have seen the lame walk; the cancer victim live years after doctors predicted they would die. As we have gotten to know Jesus a little more intimately, we have already seen radical changes in our lives and in our lifestyles. But, does get any credit or glory for this new life; for the healing of our spirits? In some case, yes. In other cases, I am afraid that our egos step in and claim credit for it all.

Miracles abound. They are all around us. Healing and wholeness occur. 

May the Holy Spirit open our ears and our eyes and our hearts to a greater understanding of all that God has done for us. He has granted us wholeness in Jesus Christ our Lord.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

He Died For The Good We Do Not Do

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8 KJV)

It is a joy to worship and to serve the Lord. Yet, we often find that we are doing exactly the opposite. This is part and parcel of the sinful nature of humankind. We know what is right. Yet, we find ourselves being steered in the wrong direction. 

St. Paul, the great missionary and evangelist found himself in the same situation. He wrote: 

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Rom 7:16-20)

There are days when we can be torn between which direction to go in. Is one way wrong and the other way right? Which is which? Which way will lead me to appease the flesh and which way is the way that the Spirit of God would have me go?

When Peter, James and John witnessed Jesus transfigured on the mountain and speaking with Elijah and Moses they heard a voice coming from the cloud that hung overhead: "This is my beloved Son: hear him." (Mark 9:7) 

Listen to him and follow in the way that he would have you go. Sometimes, that still is easier said than done. The world, our flesh, our sinful natures sometimes want to shout over the Word of the Lord and it can be confusing. We can be pulled in many directions by all of these voices. Like Paul, we will do what we ought not do even when deep inside we know that there is a better way; even when we don't want to do it. 

Thanks be to God for his mercy is great. He has sent his only begotten Son to take away the sins of the world. Thanks be to God for the Lamb of God, "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Gal 1:4-5)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Rejoice In Your Salvation!

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.                                                                                                     (Psalm 51:10-12 KJV)

Each and every morning we have the opportunity to start all over again. We do not have to keep living in the same old mess. We can take a look at yesterday and know what we might need to be changed so some things don't happen again today. That is called repentance. We don't have to keep doing the same old stuff that keeps dragging us down day after day. 

In repentance we turn to God and He will lift us up with His Spirit. We have a mighty God who can take hold of our hearts and make them clean. God is with us.  He will not abandon us. Trust not in yourself; but, in the one who by his blood has gifted us reconciliation with the one who has created us and makes us whole.  He has saved us! Therefore; rejoice in your salvation!

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Forgive And Pray For Your Enemies

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.

And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. 
                                                                                    (Acts 7:55-60 KJV)

There are times when we might think that we will never be able to forgive someone. Yet, here is Stephen following in the footsteps of Jesus, forgiving those who are putting him to death. A young man Saul, is witness to this event. This young man you probably know better as St. Paul, missionary to the gentiles. Yes, Paul the great persecutor of Christians was there to witness and encourage the stoning of Stephen. 

Saul persecuted Christians. That is, he persecuted them until the day that he met the ascended Lord on his way to Damascus to hunt down even more Christians. In that encounter with the Lord, the Lord asked Saul why he was so busy persecuting him. That was the day that the old man in Saul died and Paul began to live and serve the Lord even to his own death. One of the most ardent persecutors of Christians became one of the greatest missionaries ever once he met the Lord. We can never know what the Lord has in store for any of us, not even our enemies.

Forgive your enemies and pray for them, even as our Lord Jesus and Paul and many other saints have gone to their deaths, praying for and forgiving their enemies. For our hope is not in this world. Our hope lies in the promise that as we draw our last breaths that we, too, might look to the heaven and see the glory of God, with Jesus standing at His right hand.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Tripping Up Jesus

Wait On The Lord

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson
Psalm 27:11-14 KJV

Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. 

+++

Way too often we try to get those things, including the outcomes, that we want. We want what we want and we want it now. But, those things that we desire are not always what we need or what is best for us. It may seem like too much hardship or struggle to have to wait to work things out the right or the best way so we rush things and the end does not always end up the way that we anticipated that it would end.

Things may feel hard; but, there are times when we must endure and trust in the Lord to see us through. The Lord know what is good for us. Wait on him. He will open the doors that are meant for you. 

Do not make rash decisions to try to get what you want. Be of good courage and wait on the Lord and you will see the goodness of the Lord.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Gifts Of God Cannot Be Bought By Us

 Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.

And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. 
                                                                      (Act 8:9-15, 17-24 KJV)

It takes time to really get to know the LORD. We may hear the message and believe; but, it still takes time to really get to know; to have a relationship, with the LORD. There are many lessons to learn along the way in order to grow in Christ. Some of us take longer than others to learn the lessons.

Simon, the sorcerer, did not understand fully when he was first baptized. The people thought that he had great power; that is, until Philip came to town. Philip was busy proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Even this sorcerer, Simon, heard Philip, believed, and was baptized. 

When Peter and John came to town, they prayed and laid hands on the new believers because they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. In his zeal, Simon wanted this ability to lay on hands so that people might receive the Holy Spirit. Whether he wanted it to make himself look good or in order for even more people might come to know the Holy Spirit or both, we do not know for sure. It may have been a noble quest or it may have been a self-centered request. A real problem was that Simon thought that he could buy this gift. He did not yet know Jesus enough to know that the gifts that are given us were purchased by His blood. They cannot be bought.

A few years ago, I tried encouraging an elderly woman to return to worship now and then, as she was able. She had no problem getting around; but, no longer drove so I promised to pick her up. She did not want to go. Her response was "I paid my dues." I reminded her that we cannot buy salvation. She was a very lovely woman and it made me very sad to think that her relationship with Jesus all these years had been a relationship built on the law and not the graceful love of God. She, had indeed been very faithful in attendance when she was younger. But, I wondered, had she really heard and understood the message of God's gift of love to her, in His Son, Jesus the Christ. Had she accepted Jesus Christ as her one and only savior?

When Peter and John pointed out Simon's sin in thinking he could purchase God's gifts it appears that he repented and grew from the lesson as he asked for prayer. May we all be willing to accept that our works will not purchase for us any of God's gifts. May God help us to, day be day, to grow in relationship with Him, our Father, our Savior, our Counselor.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Acceptable In His Sight

Photo by John Arthur Mattson

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 KJV)

Psalm 19 is one of my favorite prayers from scripture. I pray it before just about every sermon or message that I share aloud. Pastors like to talk and sometimes the words of our lips can get away from us as we jump from topic to topic on subjects that have more to do with personal agendas than anything that will glorify God. We are all sinners, sanctified in Christ Jesus. As sinners, we ought to pray that the Lord, himself, will guide our lips and our hearts in a way that is acceptable to him.

Lord, God, help us to speak those things that will be acceptable in your sight. Amen.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Rejoice And Sing Praises

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson

 PSALM 96 (KJV)

O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.

Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.

For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.

For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.

Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice

Before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

+++

There is only one God worthy to be praised. All of creation knows this; except maybe humankind. May the Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth open all ears to hear; our eyes to see; and our hearts to love and worship Him.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

For The Good Of The Whole Body

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.                                                                    
                                                                               (Rom 12:2-5 KJV)

The world would tell us that it is all about us as individuals. It is about taking care of our own needs and wants first. It is not and yet it is. Life is about each of us as individuals using the gifts that God has given us to serve and glorify God and to serve one another that we might live in unity peaceably. 

It is not about each individual getting what they want in the way that they want it. It is about each of us giving of the gifts that we have been given. Whether we like to admit it or not we do depend on each other. We cannot live without the help of others. We cannot grow or thrive in a vacuum. Families and communities need to be there for each other and to support one another. 

In a very real sense it is also about us as individuals. The individual will use the gifts that they have been given for the good of the whole body in Christ.  

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Don't Let Fear Corral You!

 

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." (Jer 29:11 KJV)

The evil in the world is worse than it has ever been! The world is falling apart! The world will end if so and so is elected! Not! I do not believe a word of it. It is time to quit listening to the fear and hate mongering media!

Evil has been in the world since the dawn of time. The world will end when God decides it is time for it to end and not a second before. There is no reason to fear for those who trust the Word of God. The end that God has in mind for all who believe is an unexpected and good end. It is not an end that we should fear. After all; Jesus reminded his followers over and over again not to fear; not to be afraid.

According to St. Paul: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Rom 8:18)

Hate and fear mongering has corralled many into dark places. It is time. It is past time to step out into the light and live life! Trust that God has a good plan for you!

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Show The Children The Way

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson


My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:

Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:

We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:

Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:

My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
                                                                                   (Prov 1:10-11 KJV)

Having served at a juvenile correctional facility I have known a few young men who followed in their parents' footsteps with the end result ending up in the correctional facility. The parents were grieved; but, not necessarily grieved because these young men did anything wrong. They were grieved because they were caught.

That was, fortunately, only a few of the parents. Most of the parents were grieved because their children had not listened to them. They had not taken their advice to stay away from those things that would get them incarcerated or worse dead.

Most parents genuinely care for their children and try to lead them on a good path; a path that will help them to truly live abundant lives. 

Do not hinder your children; but, help them to follow in the way that our Lord Jesus has set before us.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.      
                                                                                       (Matt 18:4-6)

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Celebration Invitation

Do What Is Just

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
                                                                                   (Phil 4:4-9 KJV)

Rejoice! Do what is right. Do what is good! Do what is virtuous!

Trouble comes in larger quantities when we focus on twisting the truth; when we focus on vengeance rather than justice; whenever we put ourselves first to the detriment of others.

St. Paul encourages the Philippians and us to do what is right and rejoice. I have heard such slanderous gossip lately that it just boggles my mind. The only positive thing that comes from it, if there is one, is that the true spirit of those who do this is revealed. All we can do is pray that their eyes, ears, and hearts be opened so that they might repent and give glory to God for the good things that he has ordained for us.

Vengeance and attacks on perceived enemies will get us no where except stuck in the muck and mire. It will cause much animosity. However, when we focus on and follow in the way that Jesus, who is the truth, has set before us the peace of God will be with us.

Do what is right. Do what is just. Live in peace and rejoice!

God's peace - Pr. J.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Listen And Discern


Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. (Prov 19:20-21 KJV)

There was a time when the advice of elders was actually listened to. It was not always followed; but, it was at least listened to. The hearer would then decide for themselves whether the advice was good or bad advice for their particular situation. 

Some of us learned some hard lessons by not taking good advice. Sometimes we learned hard lessons by acting on bad advice. We can and should respectfully listen to advice of those who have much more experience than we do; but, then we must also decide whether that advice is good or bad. Just because something appeals to us does not mean that it is going to be good for us. Does the advice fall in line with what the Lord would have us do? Or, does it fall more in line with someone's personal agenda and ego?

Search the word of the Lord. Listen to the counsel of the Lord. "For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly." (Prov 2:6-7) "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5)

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Friday, October 9, 2020

One God

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson

"If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, "Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him." 
                                                                                  (Deut 13:1-4 KJV)

In the 1980's Shoko Asahara founder of “Supreme Truth” released the nerve gas sarin on five crowded subway trains during morning rush hour in Tokyo. Jim Jones founder of "People's Temple" ordered hundreds of his followers to kill themselves. Most of the followers, if not all, of the "Order of the Solar Temple," another doomsday cult, were either killed or committed suicide in the 1990's. Marshall Applewhite the leader of "Heaven's Gate" masterminded a mass suicide in 1997. They believed that a spaceship following the Hale-Bopp comet would pick them up and take them to a higher plane of existence after they died.

These were only a few of the false and dangerous prophets from the last few decades. There have been false prophets since the beginning of history. They and their followers lived without faith in the one true God. They believed a lie and died at their own and their leaders hands.

There are many false prophets. There are many false gods. But, there is only one God who is the Creator and Redeemer of all things. Only Him shall we worship.

"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 

One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 

One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." 
                                                                                      (Eph 4:4-6)

Worship Him alone!

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

On This Mountain

Photo by Pr. Judy Mattson
On This Mountain

And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.

And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. 
                                                                                             (Isa 25:6-9 KJV)

No more tears... No more crying... We look to the day when the covering that is cast over all of us is completely removed. We look to the day when all people will rejoice in their salvation in the very presence of God; in the very peaceful presence of God.

We can look for the way to peace for most of our lives; but, until we know Jesus the one who lived and died and lives again for us we will not truly know it. We will be doomed to chase after whatever it is that we think we're searching for until the day we abide with and in Christ in his Kingdom.

No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:12-15)

Our Savior has come. His kingdom has come through his death and resurrection. Thanks be to God that we can live in that kingdom in peace!

Lord, God, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." (Matt 6:10)

Abide in Christ! Abide in his Kingdom! Live in peace!

God's Peace - Pr. J.