Breaking News: Jesus of Nazareth Has Risen from the Dead! The Tomb Is Empty!

April 1, 30 AD: At about 4:30 this morning, Mary Magdalene reports that she went to the Jesus’ tomb and found it open. She peered inside and saw that Jesus was nowhere in sight. His body was gone and his burial cloth was neatly folded up. According to John, “So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”  So, Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.  Both were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.  Then the disciples went back to their homes.”

John also stated, “But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.  And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”  Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”

In another eyewitness account, Luke states, “ That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,  and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.  Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”  And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.  But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.  Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,  and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.  Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”  And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Luke continues, “So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So, he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.  They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”  Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

Jesus appeared to his disciples. According to Luke, “ As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”  But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. “And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,  and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

It is reported that Jesus ascended to Heaven. Look at what our eyewitness Luke says, “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.  While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.  And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.”

Present Day: Surely, Jesus was truly the Son of God! He did rise again and that is why we celebrate Easter every year. Easter is not about the Easter Bunny, eggs, or candy. It is about the very Son of God, who died an agonizing death for the redemption of our sins. It is about the fulfillment of Scripture. In which God would give mankind another chance by sending His Own Son, into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it.

The Gospels are very clear. There is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ. Look at what the Scripture says about how to be saved:

Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 3:3 – “Jesus said, I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10:9-11 – “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

2 Corinthians 5:15 – “And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”

John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Revelation 3:20 – “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

It is our hope that if you have been searching for the “Truth” that you would recognize that Jesus is the “Truth.” If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for you and your guilt and sins and you also believe that He rose again in three days to show that He truly is the Son of God, then pray this prayer.

“Heavenly Father, I have sinned against You. I want your forgiveness for all my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose again. Father, I give You my life to do with as You wish. I want Jesus Christ to come into my life and into my heart and live in me. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

I pray that many who read this story will come to Christ Jesus and that you will know the saving Grace and Forgiveness only found through Jesus Christ. It is a life style change that will forever change your heart and your life. Once you come to Christ, Jesus will send His Holy Spirit to dwell with you and help to teach you, through the Word of God. Get affiliated with a true Bible believing church and become a disciple of Christ. Get engaged in the Word and develop a relationship with God. I know that God’s Not Dead because I speak with Him daily through prayer and through His Word. Having a true relationship with Jesus Christ is a way of life that I hunger for.

I hope that you find Jesus Christ today! Happy Easter! He Has Risen! He Has Risen Indeed!

Sources: The Gospel of Luke and John, The Book of Romans, 2 Corinthians, and Revelation.

Copyright © April 1, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Didn’t I Ask the Question?

Most recently, I learned that a good client passed away suddenly. He appeared to be healthy and in better shape than I am in. And yet he died suddenly. Many people will ask why did God allow him to die as opposed to someone who has chronic health problems? The answer to that is unknown until we get to heaven ourselves. But this is not the question at stake. The question at stake is “Why didn’t I ask the question?”

Many are probably wondering right now, what is the question that I am talking about? I will get to that in a few sentences. Before I do that, let me just say that we take for granted that we have time. Time is on our side and that we can do whatever we want. As a non-Christian who may be thinking, “I want to enjoy life and not make a God commitment until I sow my oats!” Or the family member whom you have spoken with and he laughs in your face and tells you, “I have time!” Time? Do we really have time? Is time really on our side? My friend, although in great shape, had a brain aneurism and died. He was one year younger than me and yet he died.

When I found out about my friend, as I was speaking with his wife, I could barely talk for fear that I would start weeping as I was so sorrowful of her loss. Not only was I sorrowful, but I had never asked the question. There were five questions that I should have asked, but never asked. Was it because I feared rejection? Was it because I did not want to offend anyone? Was it because that I did not know how to communicate my question to him? Was it because we did not have time to discuss such a subject matter? Was it because I disobeyed God by not asking these simple questions? Was it because…..? And the list of why’s go on!

I could have asked five simple questions in conversational form. But as a believer in Jesus Christ; as a person who “proclaims” that he loves God with all his heart, soul, and mind; as a person who believes what Christ said that we are to “love our neighbor as our self;” I did nothing! I say that I love my neighbor, but my actions do not prove that to be true because if I truly did love my neighbor, I would have asked those simple five questions. But I didn’t and now I have to live with what I did not do! I will have to answer to God when I die and go to stand in judgement. I can hear Him asking me this question, “Why didn’t you ask the question?” I will stand guilty of being silent and unloving. Guilty of not loving my neighbor as myself!

What is the question I should have asked? If I am to love my neighbor as myself, I should have cared more about his spiritual life as opposed to his business life. I should have loved him as my own brother as opposed to keeping silent about spiritual things. I should have asked him, “Do you have any kind of spiritual belief? To you, who is Jesus? Do you believe there is a heaven and a hell? If you died right now, where would you go? If heaven, why? If what you believe were not true, would you want to know it?” The last question is if they do not have a belief in Jesus Christ. Now here is the rub. Not asking these questions or questions like them will never allow you the opportunity to show your love as well as the love of Christ to your neighbor. Who is this neighbor I am speaking about? It is anyone you know and do not know. It could be a friend, relative, next door neighbor, customer, or an unknown person. The direct question I should have asked was, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” But those five forms of questions ease one into conversation about faith.

Fortunately for me as well as for him, he did know Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He was a believer and he was a Christian. How do I know this? Because his wife told me that they have joined a bible believing church and that they were involved and that they both believed. Praise God for my friend’s salvation and that he is with Jesus right now. But that does not excuse my silence! We are all called to share our faith and yet we sit on the sidelines and do nothing! We go to church, sing and praise God, read Scripture, listen to a powerful and motivating sermon, have the benediction, go out to eat after church, then go home to rest. Then we go to work on Monday through Friday, without ever opening our mouths to tell someone about Christ. I say we because I am part of that group. I failed miserably at what I so much talk about and yet I never asked him the question. Lucky for me that when he died, he was a believer in Jesus Christ! But that did not negate my responsibility to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Many will say, “Don’t be that hard on yourself!” I will tell you that if God is bringing this to my mind as a teaching tool, then whoever is reading this blog should also be aware that God will hold us all accountable for not obeying Jesus Christ’s commandment that we are to take the Gospel throughout the world, even if we never leave the comforts of our own town. We are to open our mouths and tell someone about the saving grace of Jesus and His salvation. Don’t use the excuse of not being comfortable about speaking to someone. Jesus Christ was not comfortable at all when they arrested him, beat him, flogged him to where his skin was so mangled and his blood flowed down. They tried him and placed a crown of thorns on his head. They mocked him as they made him carry a heavy cross to the place where they then crucified him. Before he was crucified, he had to willfully crawl onto that rugged cross. His hands and feet were nailed to that wooden rugged cross. They used nails like railroad spikes. It was a gruesome and cruel way to die. And yet our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ did that for us, so that our sins would be forgiven. He died a most horrible death and yet we cannot even experience a little of uncomfortable talk to a friend or a client! Fortunately for us, Jesus died for our sins and transgressions. He was in the tomb for 3 days. On that third day, he arose and lives forever with God the Father.

My point is that I should have said something. I should have at least asked my friend if he had ever made a personal commitment to Christ? I never recall that I even asked him anything about his spiritual life. And I grieve that I never did. To love my neighbor as myself should mean that I also tell them about the greatest gift that has ever affected me and my life. My love for God and my love for Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation.

Look at the following Scripture:

Matthew 22:36-40 English Standard Version (ESV)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

From now on, I will try to follow Jesus Christ’s commandments better and will love my neighbor by asking a simple five questions that can lead into a wonderful conversation about God’s saving grace. What about you? Do you want to see a friend or loved one die and you never asked them about their spiritual belief? Consider not making the same mistakes that I have made by not being obedient to God. Our faith calls all of us to action in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we say that we love someone, then if we really do, ask those simple questions.

Can you hear it?

Can you hear it? Can you hear it? That still small voice. Is God speaking to you? I have heard that voice. I have heard His voice and I want to seek Him in all I do. As a Christian, we are ALL called to share our faith and share the Gospel of Christ to all who will hear. That still small voice will speak to you, open doors for you, if you are willing to TRUST in Christ.

I am currently 60 years old and am about to graduate in May with a Masters in Christian Ministry. I heard that still small voice years ago prompting me to go back to college and earn my degree. Graduating will open many more doors for me in business as well as in marketplace ministry. I hear that small voice saying to “trust me.” God has placed a burden on my heart to minister to people who normally would not attend a conventional church, but would be open to friendship and the sharing of my faith.

I hear that still small voice telling me to get the training I need so that I can help others in the corporate world find faith in Christ through corporate or marketplace chaplaincy. God can use anyone willing to open his or her heart to Him and stepping out on faith to follow His leading. You don’t need to go overseas for ministry. Ministry opportunities are right in your own town or neighborhood!

For years, I have done what I wanted to do. I have ignored the calling. I have lived a Christian life, but was selfish in my own desires. But God has not left me alone. I still hear that still small voice and have finally yielded to it. God continues to place people in my path for ministry. I really do not have to go far to find them. I believe that God wants each of us to just be open to His calling and He will lead others to us in order that we may share our faith with all who will hear and is open to His Word.

Someone recently asked why I could not just skip Graduate School and do this? My answer is that I want to learn The Bible better and how to share my faith in a more accepting manner. I think that in order to do what I hear God calling me to do within the business world, I needed more training. I have a heart for ministry and for people. I go to sleep thinking about it. I wake up thinking about it. It is constantly on my mind. The question is this: “What have I really done for the cause of Christ?” As a Christian, I feel like I have wasted a good portion of my life in what I wanted as opposed to what God has been calling me to do.

At this time, nothing will change, as I am still an independent businessman, sharing my faith with others when the opportunity arises. I am still involved in my work, helping people to secure their financial futures with offering them the protection they need in the event of a disaster. I plan to continue working and running my business as my business is what opens doors of ministry. But the difference now is that I have heard that still small voice very clear and I have yielded to it.

“Can you hear it? Can you hear it? That still small voice!”  Yes, I can hear it! I hear it! My question to every Christian believer is “Can you hear it? Can you hear it? That still small voice!” If you hear it, then what are you going to do about it?

Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © February 22, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Knowing God

Many people continue to ask, “How can I truly know God?” One of the devotionals that I recommend is Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God Day-By-Day.” This devotional is easy to understand and is written for a layperson. I have quoted some of his devotional in this forum in order to share with you how easy it is to have a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Scriptures:

John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Philippians 3:8-10, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

According to Henry and Richard Blackaby, “Knowing God through experience is much different than knowing about God through a theological textbook. According to the Bible, you cannot say that you know Him unless you have experienced Him.”[1] In order to experience God, one must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, His one and only Son, whom He allowed to be sacrificed for the redemption of our sins. Blackaby wrote, “Biblical knowledge always involves experience.”[2] Without the experience of knowing God, one is missing out on the love that only Christ can bring. Blackaby wrote, “Jesus prayed that you would experience the depth and width and height of His love and that you would enjoy God’s full and unending love in the day-to-day experiences of life.”[3] Therefore, if there are any biblical truths that you are not experiencing, ask God to bring it into your everyday experience.[4] God will bless you with those experiences once you commit yourself and make the changes that need to be made in order for you to experience the fullness of God.

Bibliography

Blackaby, Henry, and Richard Blackaby. Experiencing God Day-By-Day: The Devotional and Journal. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1997.

The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

It Should Have Been Me

Today, as I think about what Jesus did for you and me, I had an image in my mind. It was of the pounding of spikes, like those nailed into railroad ties. As I closed my eyes, I could see Jesus crawling onto the rugged cross after being illegally arrested, tried in the middle of the night, and early in the morning, sentenced to die a horrific death. They beat him, scourged him with a whip with metal shards imbedded in the ends of the cat of nine tails whip. They beat him almost to death. Then they fixed a thorny crown of thorns on his head and marched him through the streets to the hill carrying that heavy rugged cross. Then that is when he crawled onto that cross and they nailed each hand into the cross beam. I can hear the pounding of the metal in my mind and his anguished screams. They then placed his feet on top of each other on a type of foot platform and nailed his feet together. That is when the Roman Centurions lifted the cross up and jammed it upright into its mount. Jesus hung on that cross for hours. It was a long day and he suffered from thirst as well as most likely congestive heart failure.

As he was dying, he spoke seven times. The first, he cried out to God. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Then a thief who was also being crucified asked Jesus to remember him. And Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). “Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.” Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother” (John 19:26-27). Then Jesus cries out again, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34)

Then Jesus, while suffering and in anguish spoke, “I thirst” (John 19:28). They placed a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished;” and he bowed his head and gave over His spirit (John 19:29-30). Then Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

As the Roman Centurion looked upon Him, a great earthquake occurred and the Temple Veil was torn into. The Centurion said, “Surely, this truly was the son of God!” Then I realized that the Centurion was me in my dream and I awoke thinking that I am unworthy to even carry Jesus’s sandals because I am guilty. He took my blame and my sin and yet I had been forgiven by His mercy and grace. I stand looking up at that cross weeping for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He took my place on that cross. It should have been me.

Copyright © February 12, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Is Time Running Out?

Just last Fall, I had the pleasure at singing at my Mother-in-law’s funeral. Now I know what most of you are thinking? How can I say that I had the pleasure singing at her funeral? Although her physical body was in the bronze casket, her spirit was already with her Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. I was honored having been asked to sing by both my Brother-in-law and my Wife.

Her funeral was beautiful. Her life of Christ was celebrated and it was disclosed that she touched many lives. The service started with the pastor giving the prayer and then I got up to sing Mom’s favorite song, “How Great Thou Art.” While leading in congregational singing, I looked out at each face and saw many grief-stricken faces. Then I wondered, if these people really understood where Mom was?  I wondered, would the Holy Spirit open a Divine Appointment for me to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to many of her friends and family who may not really know Jesus as their personal Savior? I came prepared to present the Gospel of Christ to whoever will have opened their hearts to hear.

Mom had a special relationship with God. You see, she was a Believer and she loved everything about God. She wanted more than anything to see her entire family come to Christ. She prayed for them that they would become Christians. But she did not have any control over individual decisions about coming to God. As a matter of fact, a man, woman, boy, or girl cannot get into heaven on the coat tails of their Mom or Dad, Grandma or Granddad. One cannot be saved by osmosis. What this means is that many people believe that because they are in association with family, wife, husband, brother, sister, boyfriend, or girlfriend; that they are Christians. This is farthest from the truth.

So how does one become a Christian? Here are some Bible Scriptures that will help someone to understand what it is to become saved. And let me explain also, when one prays to ask Christ into their lives, unless they really believe it and open their heart for a heart transformation, then God will judge them for their insincerity. Therefore, here are the verses that I want to share with you about Salvation through Jesus Christ.

If you have a Bible, turn to these Scriptures and read these out loud for full understanding:

Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 3:3, “Jesus replied, I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10:9-11, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe with your heart, that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart, one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, one confesses, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame.”

2 Corinthians 5:15, “And He died for all so that those who lived should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”

Revelation 3:20, “Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in.”

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, will have eternal Life.

John 3:17, “For God did not send His Son into the world, that He might condemn the world, but the world might be saved through Him.”

This is my invitation to you. If you have been running from God all of your life and thinking that you have more time or that you can make a commitment to God later, you may not have any time left. Once you die, there are no more opportunities for forgiveness. That is it! You will have sealed your fate eternally by not accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. When I looked on every grief stricken, ashen face, I saw your anguish and you did not know what your tomorrow was going to bring! So why not come to Christ? Why not make the commitment before it is too late?

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior right now, then get down on your knees right where you are and bow your head and ask God to forgive you of all your sins. You could pray a prayer like this:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I have sinned against you. I want forgiveness for all of my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose again. Father, I give you my life to do with as you wish. I want Jesus Christ to come into my life and into my heart. This I ask, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

If you have done that, then I want you to get involved in a Bible believing church who will start to mentor and disciple you to help with your new conversion to Christ Jesus. I hope and pray that you have prayed that prayer and have asked Jesus Christ into your heart. May God Bless you and keep you.

This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without express written permission.

Copyright © January 27, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Make Disciples, Who Make Disciples, Who Make Disciples: Acts 1:8

In Acts 1:8, Jesus gave instructions to His disciples as well as all Christians. He said that we are to take the Gospel throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the utmost parts of the world. So, according to Dr. Mark Becton of Grove Avenue Baptist Church, our commandment from Christ is to “make disciples, who will make disciples, who will make disciples.” If that is the case, then according to Pastor Becton, in the Richmond, VA area alone, there are 1.3 million people. Out of that 1.3 million people, 70% have no engagement with any evangelical church. Therefore, over the next 25 years, we need to birth 150 new churches to keep up with the population.

The Richmond, VA area is growing with a diverse population of immigrants from other nations. Many of these people are intermarrying within our own culture. The nations from overseas are now in our area. Considering that there are 70% of 1.3 million people who are not engaged in attending church and are probably lost without a Savior, we must birth many new churches to meet the needs of the population. This will take resources to accomplish this. Therefore, this opens a commitment of all born again Christians to stop warming the pews and get involved in the ministry of their Lord and Savior. There are few leaders and workers in the Church but many attenders. My recommendation is that the Church train these men and women to share their faith right where they are and where they live.

70% of 1.3 million is 910,000 souls who do not know Jesus as their personal savior in the Richmond, VA area. If this number is accurate, we need to do a better job as Christians in sharing our faith. We can no longer depend on just a few to do all the work. This is going to take all Christians to engage in conversation. The largest resource to use is not monetary, but for the Christian to open their hearts and open their mouths to speak and engage in conversations that can change lives.

Many times, in the past, I have referred to William Fay’s “Share Jesus Without Fear” as a tool to learn how to share your faith. This is an excellent tool that even the beginner or new Christian can learn and accomplish without any reservation. Sure, we will need monetary resources. All ministries need money as resources to function. But we are going to need human resources to go out into our neighborhoods, businesses, schools, and marketplaces; to live a life of Christ incarnate. We are to Share Jesus Without Fear when the Holy Spirit opens Divine Appointment opportunities. If you are a Christian, and you never, ever, opened your mouth to share your faith, then I would say that you are out of our Lord’s will. It is not an option but a commandment to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

This is why I started my ministry, Marketplace Evangelism, in order to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the area and the marketplace. I am a tent maker, meaning that I go to work every day. I listen out for Divine Appointment opportunities where people are searching for help and an answer. I never, ever, force my faith on anyone. But I strive to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God and I try to treat people with compassion and forgiveness. If members of congregations would do the same, they could make a huge impact with the leading of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Churches need resources, but the most important resource needed are the followers of Jesus Christ to ante up and kick in! Kick in like men and women going to war against the evil one. Our battle will not be physical, but spiritual. But many Christians are complacent with attending church on Sundays and then leaving, never thinking about the mission during the week. Many will continue to leave all the heavy lifting work to a very few. But this is not what Christ has commanded of us! Therefore, it’s imperative that men and women learn to share the Gospel so that others will come to Christ.

References:

The Victory Hour. Television. Directed by Mark Jenkins. Performed by Mark Becton. 2017.

Fay, William, and Linda Evans Shepherd. Share Jesus Without Fear. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1999.

Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © January 13, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

What Is In Your Cup? Love or Hate?

My sister recently sent me an analogy comparing a coffee cup to a person. The analogy goes like this, You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere. Why did you spill the coffee? 

“Well because someone bumped into me, of course!” Wrong answer. You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup. Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out. Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you, which WILL happen, whatever is inside you will come out.

It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled. So we must ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?” When life gets tough, what spills over? Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility? Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions? 

You choose!

Today let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation; and kindness, gentleness and love for others” (Author Unknown).

Let’s examine this a bit further. We all as humans put on our best fronts when we are out in public. We have a public self and a private self. In public, we may act like we are so good and without sin or blemish. We want our friends, co-workers, and clients to think the best of us.

But in private, the real “you” comes out. Not only that, when one gets angry, just the right recipe may set someone off to say the most ghastly and hateful things. For instance, when people consume too much alcohol, then their inhibitions are lowered. If they are angered, they may curse and abuse you because they are intoxicated. Unfortunately, this is the real person. They have shown just how dark their heart really is and the hatred they have for whomever they are cursing.

Before my true conversion to Christ, I had anger and hatred inside of me. But it was through Jesus Christ’s love and forgiveness that allowed myself to forgive and move forward. My angry self was cleansed and emptied and replaced with the Holy Spirit, which started to change, transform, and shape my heart into the man that I am today.

So, are you filled with love or do you harbor anger, resentment, and hatred towards another person? I can guarantee you that whatever is harbored inside of you will come out. If you do not know or have not experienced the real and true love of Jesus Christ, please consider surrendering your life to Him. He will forgive you. If you are an existing Christian, but have anger problems, please reach out to a Christian Counselor for help.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:5-6)

If someone offends you or angers you, is it okay to be angry for days?

I do not believe that anger is a sin, but if the emotion of anger leads to an action of assault or even murder, the actions are sin. Remember in the analogy, I mentioned someone who may be intoxicated, and then cursing another brother or sister in Christ out, the alcohol lowered the inhibitions and actually allowed the sinful nature to take control.

The Bible states in Ephesians 4:26-27, “26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.” By festering anger over a period of time, it removes you from communion with God and allows the devil to have a foothold on this part of your life and character.

James 1:20 states, “for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” What this means is that the anger of man is more concerned about man as opposed to God. Anger rooted in sin will produce strife. See 2 Corinthians 12:20, “For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.”

There are consequences to being angry and allowing it to fester for days. See Matthew 5:22, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Therefore, to avoid sin, we should forgive quickly. We need to forgive because if we do not, then how can we ask God to forgive us? Forgiveness of a wrong is what God has called us to do. Forgiveness is an act of love.

And speaking of love, take a look at 1 Corinthians 13. “13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Practicing love will overcome anger. How can one state they love God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind as well as state they love their neighbor as their selves, and yet not forgive someone and fester hate in their heart? How can one say they love God and yet curse and abuse their brother and sister in Christ? Don’t blame it on the alcohol. The alcohol just lowered the inhibitions so that the real “YOU” showed up! If you have experienced this type of behavior, seek help from a qualified counselor or clergy. Ask Jesus Christ to forgive you and move forward and sin no more. God will forgive you if your are genuine and really mean it!

Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © December 3, 2018 The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

 

 

Is Prayer Mandatory or Considered a Supplement to the Christian Walk? Part 1

Is Prayer Mandatory or Considered a Supplement to the Christian Walk? Part 1

Is prayer mandatory in the Christian walk or is it supplementary? I know many Believers who are not comfortable with praying in public. I personally like to pray silently, but there are times I must take the lead and model prayer for others. We often see people requesting prayer via social media and others state that they will pray for them. But do they really pray? This article is geared to sharing some Scripture and some points in how we should be conducting prayer and how prayer does affect our walk with Christ as well as others.

I most recently wrote a short paper on a Personal Prayer Analysis. I did some simple research of the four Gospels and found the following:

“Upon investigating the Scriptures in the four Gospels, where Jesus revealed an approach to prayer, this student used a Bible Gateway word search engine of the words pray, prayer, and praying. The result returned twenty-eight verses or passages. The descriptions were given as the following seventeen topics: Pray for Enemies, Pray Alone, Pray All Night, Early Morning Prayer, Keep Watch, Humble Heart, Exorcism Prayer, Baptism, Pray in Secret, Lord’s Prayer, Children, Faith, High Priestly Prayer, Temple is House of Prayer, Temple Prayer for all Nations, and Forgiveness. Of these topics, two references were found for Pray for Enemies; Four references were found for to Pray Alone; two references were found for to Pray All Night; three references were found for to Keep Watch; two references were found for Temptation; two references were found for the Lord’s Prayer; and three references were found for Faith. The remainder topics had one reference each. Of these references, what stood out the most was to pray often such as all night prayer, to pray in secret, to pray alone, to pray for our enemies, to keep watch or else we will be tempted, to have faith in what we ask, to come to the Father like a child, and if we do not know what to pray, Christ gave instructions by example with The Lord’s Prayer” (Lee, 2017, 4-5).

Of the twenty-eight verses and passages, the following chart was constructed to determine what Scriptures referenced prayer and for what subject.

Description Reference Description Reference
Pray for Enemies Matthew 5:44 Pray in Secret Matthew 6:5-6
Luke 6:28    
Pray Alone Matthew 14:23 Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6:9-13
Mark 6:46   Luke 11:1-4
Mark 14:32    
Luke 9:18 Children Matthew 19:13
Pray All Night Matthew 26:36
Luke 6:12
Early Morning Prayer Mark 1:35 Faith Matthew 21:22
Keep Watch Matthew 26:41 Mark 11:24
Mark 14:38 Luke 18:1
Luke 21:36 High Priestly Prayer John 17:1-26
Humble Heart Luke 18:10-14
Temptation Luke 22:40
Luke 22:46 Temple is House of Prayer Luke 19:46
Exorcism Prayer Mark 9:29 Temple Prayer for All Nations Mark 11:17
Baptism Luke 3:21 Forgiveness Mark 11:25

 

“As this student researched and read through all the Scriptures, he realized that his own prayer life needed an overhaul. Although he prays, it is not often enough. For instance, Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-6 that when we should pray, we should not pray to impress others as depicted in verse 5, but to go into our room and pray to the Father in private and in secret. This student does not spend enough time praying. While Matthew 26:36 shows Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, He told His disciples to sit while he went to pray. In verse 27, He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and he began to pray. He prayed for an hour and his disciples could not even keep their eyes open. But the indication from these passages is that people should pray, in private, or even with two or three other Believers, so that they are seeking God during times of trouble. As Jesus was facing ultimate condemnation and crucifixion, his disciples could not seem to pray because of their weakness. In this student’s own life, he strives to pray and stay faithful in prayer, but has been found weak in his practices” (Lee, 2017, 5-6).

How can one start a prayer life? Look at part of my conclusion from this short paper.

“In conclusion, this student must become more disciplined in his approach to prayer. He must find a private and quite place away from technology to pray. When praying, he will start using The Lord’s Prayer and then continue to have a conversation with the Father. He must come to the Father like a child and have childlike faith. He must have a humble heart and pray for not only his forgiveness, but to pray that he will forgive others for any wrongdoing in which they have done to him. He must pray for his enemies. He must pray to keep watch so that he will not be tempted by the ways of the world or distractions from prayer. He needs to become more disciplined to get up early and pray before others rise and the day starts. At times, when he needs to get closer to God, he needs to search Scripture, pray, even if it’s all night, so that he will seek God first in his life. This regimen must be done alone, so that he will have that intimate and personal relationship with his Father. He can no longer use the excuse or procrastinate because this intimate relationship with God is needed in his life. Fasting will also be incorporated as this will bring the student closer to God. He will strive to pray multiple times each day and it should start early in the morning” (Lee, 2017, 6-7).

Now that we have discussed prayer and the types of prayers, let’s get into what John MacArthur et al. states about prayer. Donald G. McDougall states, “Prayer by individual Christians, by Christian leaders, by the corporate body of the church, by small groups, and by men are all necessary. The content of prayers should focus predominately on ultimate spiritual battles with the forces of evil rather than on the mundane affairs of everyday life. A right purpose and a proper attitude should determine the matter of prayers” (MacArthur, 2005, 144).

McDougall states that God’s people need to learn to pray. McDougall reminds us that to get a remedy for problems, you must pray. Look at James 4:2, “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” Look at the latter part of the verse, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” Prayer is quite the remedy (MacArthur, 2005, 145).

McDougal continues, “At the very root of it all is the need for each believer to realize that prayer is foundational; prayer is not supplemental. Believers need to pray more, to pray more often, and to pray over many more issues. The reminder to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 is just as applicable today as it ever was. If we are to experience the blessings that only God can give, we as God’s people must humble ourselves and pray” (MacArthur, 2005, 146).

In conclusion, to set up prayer time, one must know how to pray as well as what to pray for. Jesus gave us a model prayer, which is called The Lord’s Prayer. Here is the prayer:

 

Our Father, who are in Heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day, our daily bread,

And forgive our trespasses and sins,

As we forgive those who trespasses and sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

And the power, and the glory,

`                 Forever.

Amen.

The above prayer is an excellent prayer to start with and then start to pray for other things that will glorify God. Please look at the prayer guide and determine what you are to pray for. Read the associated Scriptures and follow the leading of the Lord Jesus in prayer.

This is the beginning of a series of articles, which are meant to help those with determining what and how to pray. The best way to start a prayer life is to read Scripture and then start a conversation with God, through prayer.

Bibliography

Lee, Joseph T. “Personal Prayer Guide.” Rawlings School of Divinity, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA, 2017.

MacArthur, John. Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005.

Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © December 28, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

His Unspeakable Gift

We are in the amazing season of Christmas; celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. The creator of all, the very Son of God took off His royal robes and stepped from the throne room of Heaven into the womb of a peasant girl. Instead of a myriad of the Heavenly Hosts, His birth was witnessed by lowly animals in a borrowed stable. He was delivered into the calloused hands of a carpenter and placed in a rough manger of hay. He chose to go from His place of unlimited glory and power to the pain and poverty of man. Stepping from the infinite to the finite; the Lamb of God clothed Himself in human flesh and began the painful path to the cross where the perfect Son of God would become sin for me; trading His purity and righteousness for my filthy, sinful rags so that I would never have to pay my own sin debt. The agony of the cross cast an ominous shadow over the manger as the Christ child lay sleeping that first Christmas night. His gift of life is offered to kings and beggars alike; calling us to humbly turn our hearts in wonder and thanksgiving toward the star over Bethlehem as we kneel before our Savior and Lord; born to be crucified so that we may have eternal life. How can we do anything but fall to our knees in humble praise and worship; thanking Him for His unspeakable gift?

Pamela Lee Amick,Copyright © December 25, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.