Shall I Not Drink My Cup

10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” ~ John 18:10-11

Judas had led a company of armed soldiers, along with some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees, to where Jesus and His disciples were in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Simon Peter saw what was going on, he drew his sword in a daring attempt to defend Jesus, and he struck Malchus, the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

But Jesus shouted to Peter, “Cephus, put your sword away! Do you not think that I can call on my Father and He will put at My disposal more than ten thousand of His angels? Or do you suppose that I should not drink the cup that is given to me? If I do not drink, how then can the Scriptures be fulfilled? And if the Scriptures are not fulfilled, you have no life; you have no salvation.”

By saying and doing this, Jesus has set a precedence for us. If Jesus, being God, felt it necessary to drink the cup that He was given, how much more should we feel the need to drink the cup that is given to us. Too many times, we as Christians hope for a certain situation to turn out such and such a way and when it does not happen the way we have designed its conclusion, we are crying, “Woe is me! Woe is me!”

We’ve all been given a cup to drink; shall I not drink my cup, and shall you not drink your cup? Of course we should, to each his own cup, to each his own trials and rewards. What God has called you to do is not what God has called me to do, and vice versa.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs tells the story of Peter being warned that Nero was seeking an opportunity to put him to death. It stated that the believer’s persistence for him to escape the city was so strong that he was persuaded to flee. As he was coming to the gate, he saw the LORD Jesus coming to meet him.

“LORD, where are You going?” Peter asked Him. “I am come again to be crucified,” was His answer. It was then that Peter had to answer for himself the question, “Shall I Not Drink My Cup?” And Peter turned around and went back into the city. He was crucified upside down at his own request, as he did not feel worthy to suffer in the same manner as the LORD had.

We all have a cup to drink, some more bitter than others. Still, we must all drink the cup that is handed to us. Serving Jesus is not all peaches and cream. It is not all sunshine and games. Some will have to drink the cup of suffering, or the cup of persecution, and others the cup of Martyrdom, and some the cup of joy and increase. Whatever your cup, whatever my cup, we must all drink.

Dear Heavenly Father, help me not to complain about the cup that I have been handed. Help me not to look at others’ blessings and complain, but rather to be grateful that I have the privilege to drink the cup that is handed to me. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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Much Fear And Trembling

16 and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. ~ Galatians 2:16CSB

As far as salvation goes, there is absolutely nothing you can do to earn it. It is received the moment that you accept Jesus as your own personal LORD and Savior. Now, this isn’t to say that works are of no effect because the Bible tells us that we must work out our salvation with much fear and trembling.

Therefore, you have everything to do with your own salvation. It all depends on how you live and how you interact with your fellow people. For instance, Jesus said that if we don’t forgive those who trespass against us, our Heavenly Father will not forgive us our sins.

Now, does that sound like you have absolutely nothing to do with your salvation? No, it depends wholly and completely on you. So, the next time you’re tempted with the lie that you can do whatever you want and you’re good, reconsider your actions.

Heavenly Father, thank You for saving me, and please help me to live for You and to be pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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Stop Hiding The Light

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; And he that winneth souls is wise. ~ Proverbs 11:30

It’s politically incorrect to share Jesus with anyone these days. So, most Christians keep their faith to themselves. Their friends, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, etc., have no idea that they are Christians. Many feel this is the best way to not force their beliefs on others, but is that what we’re doing when we share our faith? God’s main purpose for us is to return to Him, but as Paul said, “How can they believe if they have never heard? And how can they hear if no one ever tells them?”

When we share our faith, we’re not forcing it on others; we’re giving them the opportunity to get to know Jesus. We’re giving them the opportunity to be saved. To remain silent and never share your faith is like hiding your light under a basket or burying your coin in the ground. It becomes useless to us and those around us. We don’t have to force salvation down someone’s throat to give them the opportunity to learn more about our faith. We just have to be willing to allow the Light of Christ to shine through us.

Peace. Love. Go Forth and Stop Hiding The Light.

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Seek First Love

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

The Holy Spirit manifests His presence in two main ways: fruit and gifts. Jesus says in Matthew 7:15-20 that we will know the difference between sheep (Christians) and wolves in sheep’s clothing (non-Christians) by their fruit. So, the Holy Spirit displays His presence by the fruit we bear. Now, out of the Fruit of the Spirit, there is one fruit that we must all have: love.

Paul explains you can have all of the gifts in the world, but they are nothing unless you have love, the most important thing of all. Many of us desire the gifts of the Spirit, as we should, but we lack one thing: love.

Smith Wigglesworth was a man of God who saw miracles happen. He himself performed many miracles in the name of Jesus. He even resurrected his wife when she died. Even though he saw miracle after miracle, his main goal, his main objective wasn’t to heal as many people as possible or to perform as many miracles as possible. Smith Wigglesworth’s main objective was to save as many souls as possible. He wanted to win as many people to Christ as he could through his testimony and sharing the Gospel; he was a true evangelist at heart. Why? Because he understood that miracles and healings were amazing gifts, but the heart of the Father is love. His desire is that none should perish, but all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

We should all seek miracles, healing, signs, and wonders, but in order to truly have those things, we first need love. Not just any love either, but the love of God. We need to love the world the way God loves the world, not the things of the world, but the souls. When soul-winning (building the Kingdom of God) becomes our main focus, the rest will begin to fall into place.

Peace. Love. Go Forth and Seek First Love.

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Value Others

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. ~ Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Sounds like a very tall order. You know what they say, “If I don’t look out for me, who will?” And that is a fair enough question, considering today’s societal climate. Everybody’s busily attending to their own affairs and not concerned with anyone else. Most people cannot empathize with others in things that they themselves have not experienced. If it hasn’t happened to them, there is no sympathy, no leeway.

Last night, heavy storms with high winds spawning tornadoes starting on one side of the state passed through our area, heading to the other side of the side of the state. A little boy was found walking on the road by himself, separated from his parents. The comments were such as: Why is no one looking for this child? Take care of your children. And other mean comments such as these. The people making the comments more than likely did not experience any hardships during these devastating storms. Neither do they know what happened to separate the child from his parents, or if his parents are distraught with looking for him, or even if they can look. They do not know because the authorities did not know at the time.

But that is not the way it should be. Paul said that we should basically put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and not make rash judgments like that. He said, humble yourself and value others above yourselves. We are to look out for other people’s interests. Not that we neglect our own interests to our own hurt in favor of others. But for instance, if you go to a place of business and the attendant there gives you more change back than you should have, that is not a blessing from the LORD. It is more like a test from the LORD. I’ve heard people say, “They should be more careful.” Which is true; you need to pay attention. But on the same token, we do make mistakes, and we need to be more forgiving with each other and extend more grace.

Or they will say, “If God didn’t want me to have it, He wouldn’t have given it to me.” God does not take something from someone to their hurt to give to you. You had better check yourself because the measure you judge with will be measured back against you. Think about it this way. If it was you, would you want that person to give you back the extra money they just received? Of course, you would. Some businesses might require them to pay the money back as a policy to limit employee theft. You never know.

So, the next time you are faced with the temptation to judge someone else harshly or to withhold a blessing, consider that person as you would like to be considered yourself. Learn to value others. Make a conscious decision to speak well of others and put them first, not to your own hurt, obviously, put to your own profit in eternity. Father, help me to value others, even in this selfish world of ‘me first.’ LORD, help me to understand that it is for my own eternal profit that I do such things. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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No Sacrifice Left

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. ~ Hebrews 10:26-27

Once you have accepted Jesus as your own personal Savior and have had your sins forgiven, you are now expected to live a life free of sin. You no longer indulge in the blatant sins you used to commit. But the popular saying these days is, “No one is perfect. We all make mistakes,” and that is true. There is no one that is perfect, and we all do make mistakes. But that does not hinder us or stop us from chasing down perfection and pursuing holiness in order to try to achieve it. And the mistakes that we make are not the same ones that we’ve been making everyday for the last two years.

I believe that when someone starts talking about no one is perfect and we all make mistakes, the question that needs to be asked is, what kind of mistakes are you referring to? Because adultery, or fornication, or pornography is not a mistake, it is blatant sin, and if any of those are current in your life, you need to repent and change your ways. Living like that is not chasing perfection. That is a fearful expectation of judgment.

The next thing is, if you continue living in a way that is contrary to what Jesus has determined is the right way, then that would suggest that you have more self-love than you have love for Jesus. You would never deliberately hurt your parents, your spouse, or anyone you truly love. It is the same with Jesus; you can’t use the excuse that Jesus understands…That is an excuse for you to continue feeding the lust of the flesh, and when you willfully feed the lust of your flesh, you hurt Jesus and grieve His Holy Spirit. And we are not to do that. We are to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30). We no longer do the things that we know will hurt Him or cause Him pain. We love our LORD, therefore, we must protect our relationship with Him by keeping in Him and He in us. We can only do that through obedience.

The bottom line is, if you are saved but you continue to deliberately sin, there is No Sacrifice Left for you. You cannot trample the blood of Jesus and expect no consequences. So, if you have walked away from the LORD, or if you have been doing things that are wrong in Jesus’ sight, stop making excuses and repent and begin to live a righteous life in the strength of the LORD and pursue holiness.

Heavenly Father, help me to live for You. Help me to be obedient to Your commands and to Your Word. Help me to guard and protect my relationship with You that I might be pleasing to You. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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Seek The Anointing

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on David from that day forward. Then Samuel set out and went to Ramah.  14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, and an evil spirit sent from the Lord began to torment him, 15 so Saul’s servants said to him, “You see that an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command your servants here in your presence to look for someone who knows how to play the lyre. Whenever the evil spirit from God comes on you, that person can play the lyre, and you will feel better.” 17 Then Saul commanded his servants, “Find me someone who plays well and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is also a valiant man, a warrior, eloquent, handsome, and the Lord is with him.” 19 Then Saul dispatched messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would pick up his lyre and play, and Saul would then be relieved, feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. ~ 1 Samuel 16:13-19, 23CSB

David was a good musician, but it wasn’t his skill that helped Saul; it was his anointing. See, oftentimes, we think that our skills and talents are what will let us touch lives, but that isn’t true. God doesn’t just use us because we’re talented or skilled. Look at Moses. He uses us because He anoints us for different things.

Look at Peter’s Pentecost message; it’s not deep. It’s nothing special. He just repeats the series of events as they happened, and three thousand souls were saved and joined the Church (Acts 2). My Dad always talks about an old-school preacher who preached a simple message of repentance, yet those in the audience gripped their chairs with all their might because they were afraid they fall out of their chairs and straight into Hell. Hundreds were saved.

God isn’t limited by your skill or talent but by the willingness of your heart. The Spirit of the LORD will move with the anointing of the LORD. It’s not based on anything physical like your talent or skill. It’s based on the spiritual; it’s based on your willingness to follow God regardless of what may or may not happen.

Peace. Love. Go Forth and Seek The Anointing.

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Don’t Justify The Means

6 When they came to Nacon’s threshing floor, Uzzah reached out to the ark of God and took hold of it because the oxen had stumbled. 7 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and God struck him dead on the spot for his irreverence, and he died there next to the ark of God. ~ 2 Samuel 6:6-7CSB

The Israelites had just recovered the Ark of The Covenant. They were dancing for joy before the LORD as they were bringing it to the city of David. They set the ark on a new cart and two men guided it, Uzzah and Ahio. All was going well until the oxen stumbled and Uzzah reached out his hand to stable the ark.

He didn’t do this because he had no respect for God but because he didn’t want the ark to fall. Yet God struck him down instantly because of his sin. God didn’t see Uzzah as protecting the ark. He saw him as disobeying God’s commands. The ark was to be transported by specific people carrying it by the poles, not on a cart pulled by oxen and guided by two men.

The Ark of The Covenant was beyond sacred. It housed the Mercy Seat on top, where God Himself would descend in a cloud. Now they’ve not only put it on a cart pulled by oxen, they’ve almost dropped and had to touch it to re-steady it. The action and intent may seem to justify the means but it doesn’t.

So often, we think that if we do the wrong thing for the right reasons, God will justify us, but that’s not true. God is a just God who doesn’t see in grey like we do. He only sees in black and white. Either it’s wrong, or it isn’t. In fact, God would rather you do the right thing for the wrong reasons than the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Here’s what I’m saying, Uzzah’s intentions were to keep the ark from falling and being damaged, yet He still sinned and was therefore punished. In the New Testament, Paul addresses those who preach the Gospel for money, and says at least the Gospel is being preached. It may be done for selfish reasons but at least people are hearing about Christ. At least people are hearing about the hope of salvation.

The intention will never override the action. Because at the end of the day we are judged by our actions, not what we intended to do.

Peace. Love. Go Forth and Don’t Justify The Means.

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Be Friendly

44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. ~ Matthew 5:44-48

So many of us strive for friendship with the world. We want the world’s acceptance and love. Many even go out on a limb and say, “Well, Jesus was a friend of sinners.” Here’s the thing: Jesus said to be His friend is to follow the command He has given. To follow His command is to allow Him to change you from sinner to saint. Therefore, Jesus isn’t a friend of sinners but a friend of saints. What does that mean for us?

We are to do the same. There was never a time when Jesus refused to eat or drink with someone. There was never a time when Jesus mistreated or condemned someone. Jesus spoke with and ate with anyone willing to sit down with Him. But even in all of His kindness, Jesus always corrected the sins of those He ate and spoke with. He never allowed Himself to be tainted spiritually for the sake of the feelings of another (Ezekiel 33:8), but He did it with love.

He didn’t call the woman at the well an adulterous whore, no He simply told her what her sin was, having many husbands. Jesus didn’t even bring up her sin until she did. Before that, Jesus was speaking to her about the living water He had that she needed. When they came with a repentive heart, Jesus didn’t even mention their sin, like the unnamed woman who cried at His feet wiping them with her hair. Jesus simply said, though her sins are many they are forgiven. He never once mentioned what those sins were.

Often, we believe that as Christians, we need to shun those who don’t meet our standards, but the Truth of the matter is that we should be willing to speak with and eat with anyone willing to do so.

God Himself lets His sun rise on both the wicked and the righteous. In other words, His mercies are renewed each morning for both because each day is another chance to follow Christ and do better than the day before.

God Himself also sends rain on the saint and the sinner. He pours out blessings on each. God doesn’t hate anyone. He doesn’t hate the wicked, His desire is that all come to repentance and accept Him. Paul asked this:

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

Romans 10:14

We aren’t to be a part of the world, but we are to be in the world shining the Light of Christ with all willing to hear. For if no one tells them, how are they to believe? Therefore we are to be friendly with all, but not friends with all.

Peace. Love. Go Forth and Be Friendly.

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Strive For Friendship

 12 This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. ~ John 15:12-15CSB

Jesus is often referred to as a friend of sinners, but that’s not quite right. Jesus says that the overzealous religious people of His generation accused Him of being a friend of sinners, as well as a drunkard and a glutton in that same sentence, but we never refer to Jesus as either of those last things. So, why do we refer to Jesus as a friend of sinners?

When I see this being used or referenced in today’s world, it’s being used by people justifying their own sin. They say Jesus hung out with prostitutes and deviants, but that’s not true either. Jesus was friendly with everyone. He spoke to and ate with anyone willing to listen. After being in His presence, one of two things happened: the person changed their ways, or they were left where Jesus found them.

For Jesus to be a friend of sinners is to say Jesus is a friend of the world. But this is impossible. Look at what the Scripture says:

4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:4

Jesus wasn’t an enemy of God; He was, is, and always will be God. Jesus was friendly with everyone but wasn’t a friend of everyone. Look at what He tells His disciples:

14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.

John 15:14-15CSB

This is after Jesus washes their feet. After the Last Supper and the LORD’s Supper. After Judas goes out to betray Jesus. It’s just Jesus and the eleven. They had been following Him for about 3 ½ years. Three of them had witnessed the transfiguration and saw Moses and Elijah with Him. They had all cast out demons and healed the sick. Nevertheless, they weren’t His friends until that night when He would be arrested before sunrise and killed before the next sunset.

If these men, especially Peter, James, and John, were not counted as Jesus’ friends, how can we say Jesus is a friend of sinners? Yes, it sounds good. Yes, it makes for a good talking point, but there isn’t any Truth to it. Jesus said if you are my friends, you will do what He has commanded. That means to allow Him to wash you in His blood and Word that you might no longer be a sinner but now a saint.

Therefore, don’t allow the twisting of Scripture to confuse you. Don’t allow your ears to be tickled by the deceived. Seek a true relationship with Christ, a true friendship that will change you. If your religion doesn’t change you, then it doesn’t save you either.

Peace. Love. Go Forth and Strive For Friendship.

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