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Mark_8:34 “And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”.

Have we, in the modern-day church “taken up our cross and followed Christ”?  I grant you there are Christians in the world who have; who have been tortured, even killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ.  But we, who have been blessed by being born and raised in a country where there has been religious freedom; do we experience any persecution, rejection, hatred, discrimination, for our faith in Jesus?  I’d say in the majority of cases; its missing!!  Why?  Where is my Cross? 

Let me ask a question.  Am I the only one who has hesitated in talking about my faith, convictions, and beliefs because it wouldn’t “go over well” with my audience?   We have gone to the extreme of being “tolerant and sensitive” so that we are overly careful of not “offending” anyone.  Our “thought process” is something like; “it is more important to remain, friends, than to offend them by talking about sin, judgment, hell or prophecy.  They will think I’m a fanatic, extremist, crazy, obsessed!” So what do we do?  Talk about anything but our religious beliefs!  In our daily lives we are not noticeably different than anyone else – so we “fit in”.  Sorry, but that isn’t what the Lord intended for us to do.  As a matter of fact, it says in: 

Romans_12:2 “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”. 

2 Corinthians_5:17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. 

John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”. 

Is there any reason for us to be “hated” by the world?  I would say probably not if we agree with them, do not confront them, or are not noticeably different from them.  So we go along from day to day being loving, sensitive, tolerant and not speaking or standing up for the Truth, our Faith, or our Convictions.  Not standing up for what the Holy Bible says is right and wrong!  After all, we want to be “liked”, not “hated”.  We want to avoid controversy, conflict, confrontation, at all costs.  We fear rejection, hatred, trouble – but Jesus said we could expect it in this broken world. 

John_16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. 

John_15:20 “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;  

Romans_12:14 “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not”. 

This does NOT mean we should hate or revile those who don’t believe as we do.  It says we should “Bless them”.  God loves them and we should also love and forgive them.  The question is; do they “know” how we believe? 

1 Corinthians 4:12-13  And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. 

So, we’re starting a new year; can we deny our fears, emotions, and pick up our cross and follow Jesus?  People shouldn’t care about our “opinions” ~ it should come from our “authority” which is God’s Word.  His Word says: 

Gal 5:19-21  When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God”. 

It seems pretty clear to me that we have “accepted” practices that we conveniently refer to as “cultural changes” that are NOT acceptable to God!  Sex outside of marriage is “fornication” and is immoral.  So many young people today “co-habitate" rather than marry!  It’s wrong and sinful, as is adultery, pornography, homosexuality, trans-genderism!   All sin is wrong and abhorrent to God, and we are all sinners.  The difference is in recognizing sin – asking for forgiveness – and repenting (or turning away from that sin)!   

I Corinthians 6:9-10Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God”.  

Abortion is Wrong!  Taking a life is Murder.  Exodus 20:13  “Thou shalt not murder.

In Old Testament days the “pagans” put their children/infants on a fiery alter as a “sacrifice” to a “make-believe god” named Molech.  God let the Israelites know what He thought of that practice (as well as homosexuality) in: 

Leviticus 18:21-22  And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.  

Another lie of the devil is that “there are many paths to heaven” ~ ~ “It doesn’t matter which “god” you believe in”!!  Wrong!!  There is Only One God and One way to salvation! 

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 

Ephesians_4:6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 

To use today’s slang, we need to be “Woke” to reality.  It’s Not our job to change people, BUT it IS our job to “let our light shine” in a dark and broken world.  At my age, it may be a little late to make this realization, but I hope I can be used to awaken others to “Where our Cross Is”!!  We have been way to quiet and tolerant, and have found ourselves in a very immoral and decadent world.  Please pray that I will be bold and courageous in this new year ~ I’ll be praying for you!!

God Bless!  Dan

Posted by Dan Hubbell with
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            Have you finished your Christmas shopping??  Do you have any idea how much money people spend at Christmas?  I don't know if you have the same practice, but every year our family gets together for Christmas morning to open the gifts; and every year the room seems so crowded with gifts there is hardly room for the family.  And, every year we say, “Next year we're cutting back on the number of gifts” ~ but we never do. 

            I realize I'm old, but things have changed considerably from when I was a child. Perhaps some of you “seniors” can relate.  My father was a mail-carrier and we (my mother, father, three older sisters, and myself) lived in a two-bedroom ~ one bath, bungalow in central Illinois.  Christmas meant that I would receive one or possibly two Christmas presents.  Our first activity on Christmas morning was to go to church – regardless of the day of the week.  We would have a “Christmas Service” and all the kids would receive an apple or an orange, and a small box of hard Christmas candy.  Afterward, we would come home and open our present, or presents. At the time, I didn't realize that we were “poor” as no one had explained that to me.  I had great gratitude and appreciation for the gift received; and would protect it and care for it as a “prized possession.”  At 83, I still have an electric train and part of an “erector set” I received way back then!  All of that was great, but the thing I enjoyed most was giving a gift to my Mother.  Like so many other boys, I had a paper route, and mowed lawns, earning a little money during the year.  In December, I would empty my bank and go to what we considered an “elite” store to buy my Mother a gift.  It was always a fancy dish or piece of crystal, and I couldn't wait for my Mother to open the package and see the joy in her face.  It taught me a valuable lesson that is pointed out in: 

Acts_20:35:  “and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. 

Luke_6:38:   Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 

            I believe “giving” is the secret behind living an “abundant Life”!  It pleases God, it pleases the recipient, and it pleases you!  

Luke_11:11:  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 

Luke_11:13:  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? 

John 15:13:  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 

John 3:16:  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

Matthew_20:28:  Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. 

Luke_22:19:  And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 

John_13:34:  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 

John_14:27:  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. 

Acts_2:38:  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

As you can see, giving is emphasized in the Bible.  It should be a prominent characteristic of every Christian.  When you think of what our Lord and Savior has given to us, it boggles the mind.  Jesus, the creator of all things agreed to leave the splendor of heaven (a place so wonderful, we can’t even imagine it), and come to earth (a tiny speck in the universe) as a servant.  He lived a perfect, sinless life and at the very prime of that life, He was rejected, beaten, spit upon, mocked and crucified.  He didn’t have to accept that kind of treatment—He was God.  He willingly allowed it to happen, laying down his body as a sacrifice for our sin.  He was selfless, always giving of Himself--teaching, healing, loving, feeding, rescuing, showing the right way to live.  We know that on the third day, He rose from the dead and forty days later ascended back to heaven, sitting at the right hand of God the Father.  He will return one day to take us with Him to that wonderful place.  This is the “Gift” Christmas is all about. 

Most of us spend quite a bit of money at Christmas time to give gifts to family and friends.  We mean it as a symbol of our love and appreciation for them, but the real truth is the gift doesn’t last that long.  A few months or years and it is forgotten, obsolete, lost, or thrown away.  The most precious gift you could give anyone is the Gift of Christmas ~ Jesus!  Tell them the good news; that He became a baby in Bethlehem, just so He could become the perfect, Holy sacrifice for our sins.  He loves them, and if they accept and believe in Him, He will give them Joy, Peace, Hope, and Life—all that this world and any amount of money can never offer.  This gift is eternal ~ it will last forever and will always satisfy. 

If you haven’t accepted this most precious Gift, I pray you will right now.  This Gift is always available.  All you have to do is accept it and believe!   Have a Blessed Christmas! 

Posted by Dan Hubbell with

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