Posts Tagged ‘hope’

I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask for no more out of life.”  ― Henry Fielding ―

I would like to tell you an inspirational story that I heard many years ago.  The main characters are a successful, well-educated, somewhat self-centered American investment banker and a simple village fisherman.  This little story helped me to decide that it was time to slow down, reevaluate my priorities, and live my life with joy – no matter what the circumstances.  This is a tale of a life well lived.

One day a well-to-do businessman was on vacation in a small coastal Mexican village.  He was standing at the pier about mid-day when a little boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The businessman complimented the fisherman on the quality of his catch.

“How long did it take you to hook them?” The businessman asked.

“Only a little while.” The fisherman replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The businessman then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs and some extra to share with my friends.” The fisherman said.

The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The fisherman said, “I sleep late when I want too, fish a little when I need too, play with my children, take a daily siesta with my beautiful wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip some wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a very full and busy life, señor.”

The businessman scoffed, “Busy life? I am a Harvard MBA”, he said, “and I could really help you”.

To which the fisherman replied, “Help me señor”?

“Yes, help you”, snapped the businessman.  “First, you should spend much more of your time fishing so that you can sell all the fish you do not need.  With the excess profits you can buy a much bigger boat. With the increased earnings from the bigger boat you could then buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the fish processors and eventually open your own cannery. You would then control the product, processing and distribution. Of course, you would eventually need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move first to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The fisherman then asked, “But señor, how long will all of this take?”

To which the businessman replied, “About 15-20 years of long hours and hard work, stress and sacrifice.”

The fisherman then asked, “But what then, señor?”

The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions of dollars.”

“Millions of dollars, señor? Then what?”  Said the fisherman.

The businessman replied, “Then you would gather up all of your money and retire!”

“Retire señor? And what would I do when I retire?” Asked the fisherman with a smile.

The business man exclaimed, “Enjoy your life, man! You will move to a small coastal fishing village where you would get to sleep late, leisurely fish for a little while each day, play with your grand-kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip fine wine and play your guitar with all your amigos.”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “But señor, I already have this life. That is what I’m doing right now.”

And that’s when the businessman’s voice grew silent.

– Author Unknown –

Over the many years since I first read this inspiring text, I have stumbled upon many variations of the story. Most versions feature a lone fisherman who lives in a tranquil little village. He owns a small boat (his business) and enjoys a simple life. In short, he personifies a life well lived.

The fisherman has a definite understanding of what it means to be content. He doesn’t see the simple life as unrewarding or insignificant. On the contrary, he explains to the success driven businessman, “I have a very full and busy life.” And he defines his view of “full and busy” like this,

“I sleep late when I want too, fish a little when I need too, play with my children, take a daily siesta with my beautiful wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip some wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a very full and busy life, señor.”

Idealism? For sure. But very instructive. You see, the fisherman’s satisfaction appears to flow from living a balanced life. He works to meet his needs but he also values his relationships and cherishes his commitment to family, friends and community.

My main job is to live with deep contentment, joy, and confidence in my everyday experience of life with God. Everything else is job number two.” ― John Ortberg

In contrast, the businessman seems wise in his own conceit. “I am a Harvard MBA”, he boasts, “I can help you”. Mr. Overdrive appears to be motivated by a desire to accumulate wealth. Ironically, the goal of his empire building mindset is to secure for some future time what the fisherman already enjoyed—a simple and relaxed life. In his blind arrogance he seems to have forgotten that God alone owns the future. It reminds me of a story in the Newer Testament that Jesus shared.

15 …Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.

16-19Then he told them this story: The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: “What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.” Then he said, “Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself – you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. I’ll take it easy and have the time of my life!”

20 “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barn full of goods—who gets it?’ 21 That’s what happens when you fill your barn with self and not with God. (Luke 12:15-21 MSG)

In this parable we are introduced to a rich farmer who thought he had it made. He was very successful. In his way of looking at life, it was time to kick back, relax, and have the time of his life!  Not so fast. God showed up and called the man a fool. “Tonight you die.” He said.  “And your barn full of goods—who gets it?”

You see, the present is all we really have. Just think about the people who will die unexpectedly today. In spite of all of their plans, wealth, success, etc., etc., they no longer have a future here on spaceship earth. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow – no one!

Please do not misunderstand the purpose of my discourse today. Wise planning is good. Hard work is virtuous and necessary in this lifetime. Success can be a wonderful experience. Money isn’t necessarily bad either (it’s the love of money that is at the root of evil – not the money). But, when we become so future-oriented and success driven that we lose sight of living in the moment, life begins to lose significance.  That’s what happens when your life is mostly about self-interests without attentiveness to the things that please our Creator.

It’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want. I got everything I need and nothing that I don’t” – Zac Brown Band

I’m not suggesting that we should all run off to a small coastal fishing village and live slow, simple lives (although, personally, I sometimes find the thought of doing so to be very appealing). We should, however, learn to be content in the life that we have right now – even if our present state of affairs are sometimes less than desirable. One of the Newer Testament writers, Paul, put it like this,

11b-13I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either poverty or plenty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me. (Philippians 4:10-13 – PHILLIPS)

Did he say contentment no matter what the circumstance? Yes, he did. Good days or bad days. Highs or lows. Happy or sad. Contentment is the key to a life well lived. Our friend Paul learned this lesson well. In another Newer Testament letter he told his friend Timothy,

6-8There is a real profit, of course, but it comes only to those who live contentedly as God would have them live. We brought absolutely nothing with us when we entered the world and we can be sure we shall take absolutely nothing with us when we leave it. Surely then, as far as physical things are concerned, it is sufficient for us to keep our bodies fed and clothed.

9-10For men who set their hearts on being wealthy expose themselves to temptation. They fall into one of the world’s traps, and lay themselves open to all sorts of silly and wicked desires, which are quite capable of utterly ruining and destroying their souls. For loving money leads to all kinds of evil, and some men in the struggle to be rich have lost their faith and caused themselves untold agonies of mind.

11-12But you, the man of God, keep clear of such things. Set your heart not on riches, but on goodness, Christ-likeness, faith, love, patience and humility. Fight the worthwhile battle of the faith, keep your grip on that life eternal to which you have been called, and to which you boldly professed your loyalty before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:6-12 – PHILLIPS)

Paul understood that a wealth driven success model does not lead to contentment. It is not wrong to be rich. A desire to succeed in our endeavors and better our material position in the world is not inherently evil. But extreme caution is advised as material success often leads to greed. It is always a mistake to place our trust in the uncertainty of riches (1 Timothy 6:17).

You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”   ― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

So my friends, what do say we all chill out? Slow down. Smell those proverbial flowers. I don’t care how you say it – JUST DO IT!  Learn to be content with the knowledge that God knows exactly what is best for each of us and He has promised to provide whatever we need from His vast resources (Philippians 4:19).

Got it?  Excellent.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a small fishing boat to clean and later a few friends will be waiting for me in Tarpon Springs… and…

Okay, maybe not.

But, I am content!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” – Tecumseh

I was listening to some old Jackson Brown songs the other day. Not sure why. Just felt like it I suppose. A trip down memory lane chasing days long ago forgotten. This one song titled “For a Dancer” caught my attention. More about that later.

I recently read an interview with this singer, songwriter, and liberal social activist. Jackson (his first name is actually Clyde) was asked about his religious beliefs and part of his response included these remarks:

“I’m not a member of an organized religion or faith. My grandmother was Lutheran. My mother belonged to the Unitarian Church… (Unitarianism) it’s a way of applying progressive ideas, social ideas, ideas about society, to the form of worship. But the truth is, I am religious. I think I practice a kind of religion, though I don’t have to say that I do at all.”

I tried to wrap my brain around Mr. Brown’s logic. His Grandmother was a denominational Christian, his mother a quasi-Christian (Unitarian) and Jackson, well, he seems unsure about how to define his spiritual position, He claims to be “religious” and “thinks” he practices “a kind of religion.” But really, what does that mean?

During the interview, Jackson Brown spoke of his Baptist friend (a youth choir director) named Fred. He recalled how he had once told him,

“Fred, I believe in the teachings of Christ …but these same beliefs are held by others.” (He then mentioned Hindus and Islamists). “One of the things that Christianity believes that I can’t really adhere to is the idea that unless you are a Christian (a follower of Jesus), you won’t go to heaven. That’s leaving an awful lot of people out.”

Apparently, Jackson Brown follows a creed that is a conglomeration of everything that he is comfortable believing. Hundreds of millions of people around the world sit in that pew. Their “religion” is whatever they deem as spiritually acceptable to them. In simple terms, they create a god-concept in their own tolerable image. This god will only be what they think he should be and never what they find objectionable. Does that sound like a holy, all powerful, and self-determining God to you? Not really.

Try calling this group to spiritual accountability and they often bristle with anger as they attempt to defend their position with some nebulous response like, “I don’t believe in a god who would do, or say, or require something like that.” Really? On what do you base this perception of God? Frequently, their doctrines are pulled from thin air. Eventually many of them end up atheists or “happy agnostics” at the very least. Listen to me, any god that answers to YOU and must pass YOUR test of acceptability is no god at all. An omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God could care less what you think about how he runs the universe. He is in control and you are NOT. Period. Even if you chose to deny His existence, nothing changes. People who deny gravity still fall out of trees.

You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” ― Anne Lamott

In all honestly, I actually like some of Jackson Browns music. We may have very little in common socially or politically, but he is an exceptionally gifted, and thoughtful singer songwriter and a caring human being. That brings me back to his 1973 composition “For a Dancer”. Here is some of what Mr. Brown had to say about this song in the interview,

“I wrote the song… for a friend of mine who died in a fire. He was in the sauna in a house that burned down, so he had no idea anything was going on. It was very sad. He was a really interesting guy… He had this great-spirit, and when he died, it was a tragedy to everyone that knew him… He was a Renaissance man.”

Clearly, Jackson Brown thought very highly of his friend, and to lose him in such a tragic way touched Brown’s heart. His friend suffered an untimely demise, and Jackson Brown suffered a painful loss. Grief often causes us to pause and ask questions, like, “what is death all about anyway?” Here is a brief excerpt from that tribute song, For a Dancer,

“I don’t know what happens when people die
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can’t sing
I can’t help listening.”

Interesting. Jackson Brown can’t grasp what happens when we die. He can hear deaths song clearly; He is drawn to listen to it, but he cannot comprehend the meaning nor sing along. If I am correct in my interpretation, Brown doesn’t understand the profound implications of every human death. This is what happens when your house is built on shifting sand and you have no anchor for your soul. As a Christian, my source of wisdom, knowledge and understanding is found in the amazing words of Scripture. Passages like this:

18“So in this matter, God, wishing to show beyond doubt that his plan was unchangeable, confirmed it with an oath. So that by two utterly immutable things, the word of God and the oath of God, who cannot lie, we who are refugees from this dying world might have a source of strength, and might grasp the hope that he holds out to us. 19This hope we hold as the utterly reliable anchor for our souls, fixed in the very certainty of God himself in Heaven, 20awhere Jesus has already entered on our behalf…” (Hebrews 6:18-20a – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

We who are refugees from this dying world can find strength in times of adversity by looking to the one who created human kind, and holding on to the hope we find in every promise he has made to us. Wow.

Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that’s all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines and we shall meet.” ― C.S. Lewis

Today is a good day for me. It’s February in Florida. I’m sitting outside writing, and enjoying the sunshine of a 70 degree afternoon . But I am also thinking about my youngest sister. Two years ago this month she died a miserable death riddled with and ravaged by cancer. She suffered greatly near the end. She was only 46. It broke my heart. I cried. But I never questioned why. Because I knew the answer. Thankfully, I can grasp what happens when people die.

That knowledge did not come to me from a “god-concept” based upon what I pick and choose to accept as true and thus use to create for myself a comfortable “religion”. I am an ordinary Bible believing Christian. I have faith in what the Judaeo-Christian scriptures teach about death and that gives me both peace and comfort in a world short on both. Here are just two theological statements on this difficult subject taken from the Bible’s Newer Testament:

27“It is appointed for all men to one day die and after that they will pass to their judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27)

1-4 “We know, for instance, that if our earthly dwelling (our body) were taken down, like a tent, we have a permanent house in Heaven, made, not by man, but by God. In this present frame we sigh with deep longing for the heavenly house, for we do not want to face utter nakedness when death destroys our present dwelling—these bodies of ours. So long as we are clothed in this temporary dwelling (our body) we have a painful longing, not because we want just to get rid of these “clothes” but because we want to know the full cover of the permanent house that will be ours. We want our transitory life (on earth) to be absorbed into the life that is eternal (when we die).” (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)

Death, my dear friends, is not the end. Death is only the beginning. Nevertheless, people fight to stay alive and many will even spend all that they have to keep death at bay. No matter, we’ll still succumb to the hand of this grim foe. Death is inevitable. It is our destiny. There is nothing we can do to stop it.

Christianity teaches the positive side of death. Those who have placed their trust in the Liberator Jesus know that death is simply the doorway into a new dimension of freedom from this earthly life in exile from the God who made us. According to the ancient texts, we are all estranged from our creator and stranded here on spaceship earth. Death will one day free us from the burden of earthly suffering and absorb us back into the eternal realm where we belong. Until then, we are subject to the ever changing state of affairs produced by the progressive decline and fall of planetary societies due largely to human depravity.

Christianity, while acknowledging the presence of suffering, declares that life can be infinitely worth living and opens the way to eternal life in fellowship with God Who so loved the world that He gave Himself in Christ.” – Kenneth Scott Latourette

I know what some of you are thinking, “But why all the innocent suffering?” and “Where is this loving and caring God you talk about. Why doesn’t he intervene? It just does not seem fair. Even if God is not the cause, why doesn’t he just put an end to this madness once and for all?” He will. If you have ever studied Biblical texts you should already be familiar with how he plans to do it. As to when, only He knows. And that is what can make this journey seem so hard. Here is an interesting verse of scripture for you to ponder:

6-8 “And we can see that it was while we were powerless to help ourselves that (Jesus, the) Christ died for sinful men. In human experience it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that (Jesus, the) Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Jesus lived, suffered and died by the same rules of life that we all must follow. As the Liberator of mankind, He suffered and breathed His last breath to open a pathway into an eternal dimension. The execution of Jesus was a necessary part of His redemption strategy. Within its mystery lies the proof of how much God cares about us and a promise of a future life clothed in an immortal body that is suffering-free. The tormented souls, the cancer stricken, the accident victims, the unloved, lost and lonely — everyone who has suffered — will suffer no more. As described in the book of Revelation – In that new world order – God will dwell with his people.

4“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”. (Revelation 21:4)

Let us pray for that day to come swiftly.

Almighty God, some will hear your voice today. Perhaps they will choose to look more carefully at what they believe. Over thousands of years you have caused the scriptures to be compiled, preserved and protected so that we might acquire an accurate understanding of who you are and what you have done for the rescue of mankind. Many are called. Few are chosen. Work in the hearts of your chosen today I pray. In the name of my Liberator Jesus, AMEN.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
The secret of making dreams come true can be summarized in four C’s.  They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy; and the greatest of these is Confidence.” Walt Disney —

How important is Confidence?

The year was 1987. I was in the Florida Keys aboard a dive boat leaving the canal on Old Highway, MM 90.5 in Tavernier. My stomach was churning.  Seated to my right was a 747 commercial airline pilot. To my left (oddly enough) was his girlfriend, an attractive stewardess. Having just completed scuba training school, we were heading out to the reef for our final check out dives. It was January and the water was quite choppy. The tiny ship was tossed. So were my cookies – thankfully over the side. There I was; grasping the starboard rail (like the horns of the ancient alter) and watching the “professional” airline pilot joining me in the mal de mar (seasickness). I prayed, “Oh God, have mercy on me and please never let me be aboard one of this pilots flights when the plane hits heavy turbulence.”

So, (aside from the nausea) how did I really feel that day? I was definitely enthusiastic about the dive. But, I was also full of doubt, fear, hesitation and uncertainty. After all, I had never done this before.

Did I have the basic skill-set necessary to function as a scuba diver? Yes. Was I ready to move from the theoretical to the practical? Again, yes. So, why the agita? (Italian-American slang derived from the Italian “agitare” meaning “to agitate.”) Because, I was suffering from a lack of confidence.

Have you ever felt that a lack of confidence was holding you back from living up to your true potential? Are you afraid to take a “step of faith” because you don’t believe that you have “what it takes”?

Welcome aboard wayfarer. You are not alone.

Okay, in the scuba example, my lack of confidence could be blamed on a want of experience. But it seems to me that from the cradle to the grave, we are taught to embrace external sources for validation. As a result, we often hang our self-worth on the approval of other people. The resulting “confidence crisis” can stifle our true potential.

There once was a child who did not speak until he was four years old and he did not read until he was seven. His teachers were convinced that he was mentally handicapped, and anti-social (he had extraordinary temper tantrums.) In the end, he was expelled from school. When he took the entrance examination for a polytechnic school in Zurich, Switzerland, he flunked everything but the math. He did eventually win admittance to the University only to graduate and not get a teaching position because no professor would recommend him. In fact, the only job he was able to get after graduation was an entry-level position with the government. (Uh, no comment.)

Who was this poor child and whatever become of him? His name was Albert Einstein. Need I say more? It seems that no one recognized all the potential within him. Einstein could have given up, but thankfully he had the confidence necessary to persevere.

People who live without confidence will always fall short of their potential. When you do not believe that something is possible, you will seldom take the steps required to attain it. For example, you may dream of being a great musician one day.  But, if you don’t believe it is possible, you will never be willing to pay the price (lessons and endless hours of practice) to master an instrument.  Or, you may desire to succeed in your own business.  If you don’t believe in that possibility, you will never take the steps (and suffer the many sacrifices) required to build a prosperous enterprise.

People who go thru life without a healthy dose of confidence are often discouraged, perhaps a bit cynical and definitely unmotivated. Confidence affects our outlook on life and the way that we approach our work.  When we suffer from an acute lack of confidence, we often need someone else to encourage us.  The “encourager” may even need to prod, push and, ultimately show us the way past our fears into success.

Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.”  Martin Luther —

How does this apply to my Christian life?

Spiritual growth and fruitful Christianity develops as we gain confidence in the wisdom of the Liberator Jesus for our strength.  In the process, his indwelling Spirit shows us the way to overcome our fears and doubts as we grow toward spiritual boldness.

You may desire to live a life that is acceptable to our creator, but if you have no confidence in his ability to help you “live holy as He is holy” (1 Peter 1:16), you won’t press on toward that goal. Remember this: Your (spiritual) state of affairs is always limited by what you truly believe.  Put another way, you will only do what you believe (are confident) you can do.

God wants us to place absolute trust in Him for a reason.  Trust builds our confidence in Him.  When we have a strong faith in God, we have an assurance that enables us to move outside of our comfort zones.  Our faith relationship with God helps to clarify what He wants from us (also known as being led by the Spirit).

We are learning to walk with God.  Think about that.  If we are walking with God, that means He also walks with us – every day of our lives.  He is our “ever present help in time of need.” (Psalm 46:1)  And, by the power of His Holy Spirit, God also wants to work through us as we walk together – especially when we are quick to respond to His instructions.

Oh, how great peace and quietness would he possess who should cut off all vain anxiety and place all his confidence in God….” — Thomas Kempis —

Confidence Rightly Placed

Secular culture credits a life of success to an abundance of self-confidence. The gurus of secularism say, You can do it if you believe you can”. There is some limited truth to this, but it is not gospel truth, and sometimes that view point fails. Granted, humanity can and does achieve many amazing things here on spaceship earth aided by self-confidence and a positive self-image.  The Bible however, does not tell us to simply believe in ourselves. It teaches us to believe in Almighty God and the Liberator Jesus – the one he sent to the earth. His Divine Spirit is our source of life itself. Look at this statement that Jesus made to his pupils,

“You must go on growing in me and I will grow in you. For just as the branch cannot bear any fruit unless it shares the life of the vine, so you can produce nothing unless you go on growing in me. I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all.” (John 15:4-5 – J.B. Phillips New Testament).

Christians believe this to be the absolute truth.  According to the sacred texts of scripture, the incarnate one (Jesus) was, is, and ever shall be the sustainer of all things by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Remember: Apart from an intimate relationship with the Liberator Jesus, where you draw on His life force, you can do nothing of TRUE (eternal) value with your allotted life time.

What good is it if, armed with a positive self-image and great self-confidence, you achieve some measure of worldly success but MISS the purpose for which you were born into this temporary existence? Neither achieving great riches nor living in deep poverty has any bearing upon your eternal destiny. What will matter is how obedient you were to the otherworldly calling on your life. No one is going to come to the end of time as we know it, stand before the Almighty Creator and regret that he is calling them “a good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21) – No one.

When it comes to following Jesus, self-confidence alone will ultimately fail us. Peter was so self-assured of his loyalty to Jesus that he said on the night our Redeemer was betrayed:

“Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not!” and “If I have to die with You, I will not deny you!” (Mark 14:29, 31).

Peter spoke with great confidence – in himself that is – perhaps even boasting just a bit.   When push came to shove, and Jesus was put on trial, Peter denied (with profanity) THREE TIMES that he even knew him at all. When the cock crowed, Peter went out and wept bitterly, utterly ashamed of his failure.  His self-confident boasting vanished in the mists of fear and self-preservation.

Self-confidence alone will always fail us where it counts most – in the integrity of our walk with God. Verily, God will allow things to come up in your life which will shatter your self-confidence so that you will learn to put your absolute trust (confidence) in HIM first and never in yourself alone.

(TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK)

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  For more information write to:
InsightToday, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

Whatever happened to HOPE? Surveying the populous landscape, I see so many people living in a tormenting spiral of futility. When someone feels hopeless, it is difficult and often impossible for them to find the way out of challenging circumstances. This leads to a great sense of emptiness and even helplessness. I confess, there are days when I too have felt the talons of hopelessness griping me, trying to become a stronghold in my life.

12 “Hopes deferred make the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy” (alt: “it is a tree of life.”) Proverbs 13:12 (The Living Bible)

Unrelenting disappointment can make us feel sick inside. You could interpret Proverbs 13:12 as “Hope deferred is spiritual heart disease.” On the other hand, when our hopes become a reality we are full of joy. A dream come true fuels the life force within us.

Hope is like a circus high-wire. Faith walks the tightrope of hope, bridging the gap between the unseen world and the world which our conciseness can perceive. Without hope, our faith is insufficient and unproductive. Hopeless people often become faithless people. On the other hand, hopeful people are more likely to be faith-filled people.

1”Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. 3By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:1, 3 (Amplified Bible)

Faith can only reassure us of “the things we Hope for.” It serves as proof of what we cannot see. By our faith we recognize as real fact what is not yet revealed to the senses. For example, faith enables our minds to accept as an absolute fact that the whole construct of time and space (the world which we perceive as reality) was set in motion by God through principles which are invisible to us right now. Wow!

When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.” – Charles A Allen

There is no shortage of hurts, sicknesses, troubles, and financial woes in our world today. Family problems, challenging marriages, catastrophic issues and geopolitical concerns abound. As a result, people everywhere are losing their hope and ability to trust. It is my opinion that our society suffers greatly as a result of silent desperation.

So what exactly is hope?  According to the dictionary, HOPE is to desire something with an expectation of obtainment. Hopeful people live with anticipation not disenchantment.  When we have hope, we have an expectancy that the things we hope for (and dream of) will one day be a reality.  Hope enables us to find purpose and meaning in life. And when we add faith to our expectations (by putting our trust in God) our hopes gain substance (Hebrews 11:1).

Trusting in the Almighty unseen Spirit is more than just a blind leap.  Because we have hope, we intentionally place our faith (absolute trust) in God expecting an answer from Him.  Look at what happened to a miserable crippled man as recorded in the New Testament Book of Acts,

1-4”One afternoon Peter and John were on their way to the Temple for the three o’clock hour of prayer. A man who had been lame from birth was being carried along in the crowd, for it was the daily practice to put him down at what was known as the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, so that he could beg from the people as they went in. As this man saw Peter and John just about to enter he asked them to give him something. Peter looked intently at the man and so did John. Then Peter said, “Look straight at us!” The man looked at them expectantly, hoping that they would give him something. “If you are expecting silver or gold,” Peter said to him, “I have neither, but what I have I will certainly give you; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” 7-11 Then he took him by the right hand and helped him up. At once his feet and ankle bones were strengthened, and he positively jumped to his feet, stood, and then walked. Then he went with them into the Temple, where he walked about, leaping and thanking God.” (Acts 3:1-11 Phillips)

Peter and John had a supernatural ability working through them. Because of the Liberator Jesus, they believed in Almighty God without question. They also knew that His authority was with them and his power would flow through them.  Peter made sure that the lame man was paying attention. He said, “Look straight at us!” For his part, the lame man did two things. First, “he asked them to give him something.” Second, he looked at them “expectantly.”

It’s amazing what can happen when we focus our attention in the right place and ask with expectancy! Clearly the lame man was imagining he’d get a few coins for his troubles. But God doesn’t offer just momentary relief from our distresses. He delivers remedies for them as well – not always as quickly as we would like and sometimes the “fix” may not be what we want. Have you had a rise up and walk moment lately?

What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” – Rick Warren

The bible also records details about the extraordinary life of a man named David. Through many difficulties and adversities, David would often remind himself not to lose hope.

Here are a few of David’s prayers to God:

  • “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39: 7 NIV)
  • “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42: 11 NIV)
  • “Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” (Psalm 25: 4, 5 NLT)
  • “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,” Psalm 33: 18 NIV
  • “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,” (Psalm 25: 3 NIV)
  • “Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope.” (Psalm 119: 49 NLT)

Israel’s legendary King David expected God to keep His promises. That hope is what empowered him to trust God completely. Today, our hope is built upon the trust we place in the Divine Spirit (God) as a result of the teachings of the Liberator Jesus. His mission was to reveal the truth about God and to implement the plan of redemption for mankind. Getting to know who Jesus really was (and is) and why he visited this little water world, brings hope into your life and it keeps that hope alive.

And PLEASE, don’t go by your feelings. Your emotional state changes like the weather. People who live by their emotions are much more prone to instability. No matter how miserable your existence may seem, there is ALWAYS hope. You may not be able to see or feel anything that causes you to believe this right now, but hope is there for you notwithstanding. “Hope is the anchor of your soul” (Hebrews 6:19)

Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself… ‘How did I get through all of that?” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

God really wants you to be acquainted with the Liberator Jesus – not as a religious figure – as a person. Jesus not only knew the only way to the one true God – He IS the way. He alone can show you the truth and give you an amazing hope filled life! When you die, he is the road that will lead you home!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29: 11 NLT)

What do you really need right now? Whatever it is, talk to God about it. Close your eyes and pour your heart out to the Divine Spirit – the creator of all things. No matter how fanciful, foolish or bizarre this may seem to you, just do it! The Liberator Jesus said,

22-23“If you only have faith in God—this is the absolute truth—you can say to this Mount of Olives, ‘Rise up and fall into the Mediterranean,’ and your command will be obeyed. All that’s required is that you really believe and have no doubt! 24 Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you have it; it’s yours!” (Mark 11:22-24 – Living Bible)

Are you a Christian? If so, this promise fell from the lips of your Liberator. Do you doubt his word? Is he a liar? A fraud? A lunatic? Maybe it’s time you stopped second guessing the God who made you and simply do what he asks – look to him with expectant trust. Or else, just walk away.

Here is my prayer for you,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) And with a heart full of hope, may you put your absolute faith (trust) in the God who is able to do whatever he wills whenever he wills it! AMEN!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
and the founder of Living faith Christian Fellowship, Inc. and the Coastal JunkieTM, LLC.
The intellectual property published above is © 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal Junkie, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute of your life with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley –

I recently traveled to New England for a long overdue visit with family and friends. Driving through Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire afforded me a trip down memory lane. I let my mind wander to what were the nurturing and more genteel times of my youth. While in Connecticut, I spent a few days with my Mother, whom for me is a living testimony of life before social tinkering and political correctness.

You see, mom raised us in a time when they still displayed Old Glory and The Ten Commandments proudly at the courthouse. Department stores were not afraid to have separate sections for “boys” and “girls”. We had a mailman, paperboy, milkman and various repairmen. It was okay to say a prayer in school, carry a bible in the building and pledge our allegiance to the good old US of A.   Heck, we even sang God Bless America at public assemblies and sporting events.

In those good old days a man was a man and a woman was a woman. There was no widespread sexual confusion. The gender neutralization of society had yet to begin in earnest. Dumb people were… well… dumb, but most decent people loved them just the way they were. Really smart people were celebrated not shunned and they only gave out one trophy for first place at school because the education establishment actually recognized that in the real world everybody doesn’t win a prize for participation. People didn’t sue one another if they fell down in their neighbor’s back yard at a barbecue. We actually said “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” – not “Seasons Greetings” or Happy Holidays”. And, let’s not forget the nativity scenes that adorned so many front yards and public places back then. Today, in some people’s minds, placing Jesus, Mary and Joseph on your front lawn poses more of a treat to the nation than radical Islamic terrorists.

Some say that everyone was narrow-minded and ignorant in those days.  I say bovine poop.  For sure there were social injustices that needed correcting. Some people couldn’t grasp the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal”. Many still can’t. We will always have fools and bigots to deal with in society. But the greater ignorance seems to rest with those who today think that 95 percent of the population should be inconvenienced because of 5% that might be offended. I have no desire to engage in a prolonged discussion on the mistakes and shortcomings of previous generations of Americans. We all make mistakes. Love covers a multitude of sins. My nostalgic drive simply reminded me that in spite of our own unique set of problems all those years ago, we were much less confused than this generation.  Mom says that in many ways, we were a whole lot better off.  I have learned not to argue with my mother.

At 88 years young, mom is still a reminder to me of God’s amazing grace. She has always tried to love the unlovely. She believed that all lives matter long before it was a T-shirt slogan. Mom just seemed to know how to love people even when they didn’t deserve it. Don’t get me wrong, she isn’t perfect, but she is full of grace.

The concept of God’s grace ranks among the most important truths taught in the scriptures. Biblical grace is the love, peace and unmerited favor of God given to the unholy and undeserving. Mankind can never be worthy of God’s grace. But, He is merciful and therefore he pours out his grace freely upon us. The bible describes humanity as a lost race, desperately wicked, spiritually dead and banished on the earth. As such, we do not deserve to be blessed at all – we deserve damnation. Thankfully, as we live out our days on this orbiting penal colony called earth, God has chosen to continually offer his redeeming grace to us in abundance – along with blessings too!

To even begin to grasp the concept of the grace of God, we all must learn the truth about the mission and message of the man called Jesus. The Holy Spirit of God becomes our inner guide, teaching us everything we need to know. He will show you how the good news that Christians commonly refer to as The Gospel is really all about God’s grace extended to exiled mankind through the Liberator Jesus. God is the source of all grace – Jesus IS that grace!  Listen to this quote from the New Testament book of Acts: 11“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:11 – New Living Translation)

My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.” – Brennan Manning

If you are a sincere and devout Christian, one of the great threats to living a life filled with God’s grace is the tendency to be extremely hard on yourself. I mean really, how do I love myself when I do so many bad things (or even when I think about doing bad things)?  It is one thing to acknowledge God’s grace and forgiveness, quite another to forgive ourselves.

The problem is that we can’t extend God’s grace and love toward others if we do not first love ourselves. While it is prudent to shun too much self-admiration; there is a big difference between an ego trip and loving who you are. Jesus taught that we were to love one another the same way that we love ourselves. Here is what he said,

28“Then one of the scribes approached him. He had been listening to the discussion, and noticing how well Jesus had answered them, he put this question to him, “What are we to consider the greatest commandment of all?”   29-31 “The first and most important one is this,” Jesus replied—‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with your entire mind, and with all your strength’. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. No other commandment is greater than these.” – Mark 12:31 – J.B. Phillips New Testament –

The more insecure and uptight we are, the more difficult it is to keep from spiraling into guilt and condemnation. Even when we feel pretty good about our progress in living the Christian life, daily shortfalls will always present us with opportunities to marinate in blame and shame.  We can then become our own worst critic and consequently we fall into a trap of our own making. Just remember what the scriptures teach – God always forgives our mistakes even as we are always to forgive those who trespass against us. (Mark 11:25)

So why is it so hard for me to forgive my own failures? Good question. I think it’s because we all have an inner consciousness of an ideal self in our minds. But try as we might to live up to that picture-perfect image, we still miss the mark.

And let’s not forget all of the helpful voices reminding us that we are not so good.

Voices you say?

Yes, many voices.   Like an overly critical parent, an angry spouse, an insensitive boss, an infuriating colleague, a selfish neighbor, and even the innocent observations of impertinent children can hurt.  Teenage children are experts in making parents feel totally inadequate and completely inept.

The meaning of life, the wasted years of life and the poor choices of life – God answers the mess of life with one word: Grace.” – Max Lucado

What about our society?

How many ways do we fail to measure up in this man-centered age of humanism? Let me count but a few:

  • We don’t look the way we should
  • We don’t dress the way we should
  • We don’t make the money we should
  • We don’t have all the material possessions we should
  • We don’t have the popularity or the prestige we should
  • We don’t have the independence, power, or control we should

Need I continue? The sad thing is, we should know better.  But, we often buy into this garbage, and when we do, we stumble over our guilt.  Self-condemnation leads to a life of discouragement.  When we are discouraged, it is hard to do much of anything. All we feel is the pain of defeat and disappointment.

The good news is that God does not condemn us like we condemn ourselves.  God knows everything. That means He sees the positive in us. God recognizes our objectives, even if our actions don’t always bring about the results we intended. Again, we have only a limited picture of ourselves. It is easy to measure our lives by one mistake, one failure, and one defeat at a time. God sees the big picture – all that we are and even more importantly, all that we can become. (1 John 3:20)

Here is a truth of which our hearts need to be absolutely reassured: We are loved so much by God that through Jesus, He was willing to lay down his life – to give everything – to get us back.

A Divine rescue was required and God refused to let anything – even our depravity – stand in the way of our redemption. Jesus was sent to the earth by the Creator of all things (God). He endured humiliation rejection and death in order to provide the means by which we can be liberated from the burden of our wickedness. If God loves us that much than we too, out of genuine love for others, ought to be willing to share whatever we can with a brother or sister in need. Real love always leads to action. (1 John 3:16-19)

But here’s the irony; we cannot be free to love selflessly, as Jesus has loved us, if we continue to spend our time wallowing in a loser mentality. Do you believe the scriptures? They teach us that God has not condemned us. We are therefore fools to condemn ourselves.

Once we have given up self-condemnation, we discover a new sense of boldness before God. As our confidence grows, we begin to ask God for anything and everything we need in order to serve him better. When our spirit is in a right relationship (righteousness) with the Creator of all things (God), we receive from him whatever we ask of him. And then as we obey God, we discover that he is pleased to abide in us and we abide in Him. (1 John 3:21-24) Never forget these two incredible verses from the New Testament book of Romans:

1-2 No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2 – J.B. Phillips New Testament –

No matter what happens from now until the day that your body dies, never give up on yourself. If God chose not to condemn those who turn to him for life; we have no business condemning ourselves.

God, there are many who are struggling to find meaning and purpose in this slowly decaying world. Please help those who have heard these words to find their way in the grace you offer them today. I ask this in the name of our Liberator Jesus. Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C. S. Lewis –

Florida is known around the world for its balmy weather. Floridians enjoy 11,000 miles of rivers, streams & waterways. We have 1800 miles of coastline with over 1200 miles of sandy beaches. There are roughly 4500 islands measuring 10 acres or more scattered around the peninsula.  Florida boasts 760 species of wildlife that exist nowhere else in the world (if you ask me, most are creepy bugs). The Florida Panther is our state animal. We have countless Amphibians, Alligators, Crocodiles, Turtles, Sting Rays, Dolphins, Black Bears, Snakes, Manatees, Deer, scores of fresh and salt water fish, and a myriad of unusual bird species – including the largest population of Bald Eagles in the Continental United States. Our state bird is the mosquito. Okay, that’s not true. Ironically, with all of the exotic wildlife in Florida, our official State bird is actually – wait for it – the Mockingbird. I kid you not, the Mockingbird. Yes friends, Florida selected the common Northern Mockingbird as a state symbol. (Incidentally the mocker is the bird of choice for five different states: Texas, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee).

Northern Mockingbirds have extraordinary vocal abilities. They can learn as many as 200 distinct songs over their lifetime, including those of any other bird as well as the sounds of many insects and amphibians. A mocker’s song is an echo of the sounds that surround them. These talented little virtuosos can sing for hours and never repeat the same thing twice. In fact, they are such skilled mimics; they have been known to imitate washing machines, car alarms and sirens. They do this so well, that you would not know you were listening to a bird.

I wonder how many people live a mockingbird life; echoing the cultural noise that surrounds them by repeating beliefs, attitudes and ideas that they know little to nothing about.   Mockingbird people often lack originality, vision and revelation. They become just another someone saying something about something that someone said something about.

I suppose we’ve all played the mockingbird role at one time or another. I have. But I’m in rehab now. It’s sort of like AA – Hi, my name is Joe and I am a recovering mockingbird. But this is where our comparison to the innocent little songbird will have to end, because human mockers can be far more treacherous than a perfunctory little bird. Let’s talk about mockery.

By definition a mocker:

  • Treats people with ridicule or contempt
  • Is scornful or arrogant
  • Causes others to appear irrelevant,ineffectual, or intolerable

As a Christian, my worldview is rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic. When I encounter anything that opposes the teachings of the scriptures, then I reject it. Christians who scrutinize the beliefs and teachings of any individual, organization or social structures (including governments) are not necessarily narrow-minded bigots. We are simply being true to our heartfelt convictions and thus obedient to the will of our creator (GOD).

Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone – except God. – Billy Graham

Today people of deep religious faith, who believe in traditional family values and once generally accepted normative social behaviors, are regularly treated with ridicule and contempt (mocked). It seems like our social order has devolved into a quasi-free-for-all. It reminds me of a passage in the biblical Book of Judges,

25“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 21:25 – Amplified Bible

This verse refers to a period in the history of the nation of Israel that began sometime after the death of Joshua and ended around the beginning of the reign of King Saul. When Joshua and his governance team were in power, the nation enjoyed relative decency and order. But after his death, times changed and there gradually came chaos. No distinct leadership existed in Israel during the era of the multiple Judges. And, there was no God in the land.

“Is he saying that nobody believed in God anymore?” No, I am not saying that all the people had renounced their faith and become impious boasters, agnostics and atheists. It was actually worse than that. The people simply paid lip service to the creator (GOD). They were mock believers. Their worship was meaningless as they followed the ridged formalities of empty religion. The scriptures describe their condition perfectly,

13 “The Lord said, “These people show respect to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Their worship of me is worth nothing. They teach rules that men have made.” – Isaiah 29:13 – New Life Version

Does any of this sound familiar? Right now, in our lifetime, many people are also paying lip service to the creator (GOD). This is an age where the darkened hearts of the spiritually blind habitually recite hollow prayers and follow the ridged formalities of empty organized religion. And paganism is everywhere.

I’ve only paid lip service to a spiritual life.” – Sting

What about those who are in positions of power? It seems to me that much of the world is suffering from an acute shortage of genuine leadership because there is no God in the land. When our heads of state are wise in their own arrogance (and not full of the reverential fear of the Almighty), you have the potential for wicked leadership. With the blind leading the blind, the likelihood for a disaster is increasing rapidly. The scriptures put it concisely,

1-5 “… in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God (mocking), disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. They will be hardheaded and never give in to others; they will be constant liars and troublemakers and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough and cruel, and sneer at (mock) those who try to be good. They will betray their friends; they will be hotheaded, puffed up with pride, and prefer good times to worshiping God. They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that.” – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 – Living Bible

That’s quite an indictment. The bible is less than enthusiastic in describing the character of humans as the end of the age draws near. Just remember, if you want to discern spiritual pretense, look behind the facades of religion and you’ll most likely find patterns of behavior that negate its validity. The warning is clear; do not be deceived by the songs of the mockingbirds.

To mock God is to pretend to love and serve him when we do not; to act in a false manner, to be insincere and hypocritical in our professions, pretending to obey him, love, serve, and worship him, when we do not. Anything that amounts to insincerity is mockery”  – Charles G. Finney

Mockers and scoffers are often the outspoken freethinkers. When it comes to the Christian faith, they ridicule, discredit, misrepresent and oppose believers and the teachings of the scriptures. This brand of skeptic and scoffer has been around since the foundation of Christianity and they will be here until the final trumpet sounds. Not merely content to disagree, they look for ways to make the beliefs of millions appear irrelevant, incompetent, or intolerable. The Newer Testament writer Peter warned about them,

“First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will come scoffers (mockers) who will do every wrong they can think of and laugh at the truth. This will be their line of argument: “So Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? He’ll never come! Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly as it was since the first day of creation.” – 2 Peter 3:3-4

Maybe it’s just me, but I think every family has at least one of these mockers. You can do and say just about any crazy thing you like in their presence – except tell the truth from a scriptural perspective.

To be fair, not all who fit the biblical description of a mocker are loud and obnoxious. Some quietly scoff or laugh under their breath, while others politely dismiss faith in God with self-deceiving defenses like “that’s not my thing” or “God is not for everyone”. But since the Almighty himself has set the rules for the redemption of mankind, to dismiss Him is to mock him. It really doesn’t matter how polite, nice or kindhearted you are. God makes the rules, not us. If you want His help, His blessings and all of His many benefits, then you will have to learn to come to God on His terms.

Noah walked with God; he didn’t only preach righteousness, he acted it. He went through water and didn’t melt. He breasted the current of the popular opinion of his day, scorning alike the hatred and ridicule of the scoffers who mocked at the thought of there being but one way of salvation.” – Charles Studd

As the man called Jesus, God took on the form of a human being and lived among us. No one has ever seen God. Yet when Jesus visited our world, He made him known to all who have eyes to see. Jesus left no room for debate. He said unequivocally,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 – New Living Translation

Mockers will continue to heap contempt upon those who maintain that there is but one revealed way of salvation. Christians are to pay them no mind. Remain faithful and obedient to the Word of Truth. Continue to declare His certainty to all who will listen and “All things will work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Just one more thing, to all who would be mockers, consider this verse from the scriptures,

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those that live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. – Gal 6:7-8 – New Living Translation

Part of God’s nature is perfect justice. Plant a seed and you will reap a crop. Your actions have consequences. What you do will come back to you. It can hurt deeply to be ridiculed, mocked and scorned – out loud or in secret. But as children of the creator of all things (GOD) we will get over it. We will also continue to love and pray for the scornful. Because this one thing we know for certain, God cannot be mocked. He sees it all.  And one day He will have the final say – whether you believe it or not.

God, please let the blinders fall away so that some may find revelation at this moment and turn from their darkness to your marvelous light. Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
You give loyalty, you’ll get it back. You give love, you’ll get it back.” – Tommy Lasorda –

I can remember back to a time when the word loyalty really meant something.  People seemed more “connected” in those days.  That’s ironic because we had no cell phones, social media, or email.  In fact, all we had were land line telephones.  Most people did not even have an answering machine to take a message.  When we were not at home, oh well, they would call back later.  So how can I say that people were more connected at a time when there were less ways to connect? That’s simple, we actually related to each other.  Life was full of human interaction.  The term face time didn’t exist.  Why?  We didn’t need it.  That’s how we lived – up close and personal.  Connecting to the individuals in our various social circles was an intimate experience.  Today, more and more people prefer indirect forms of personal interaction through various proxy devices (smart phones, PC’s, etc.). Now don’t get your knickers in a swivet, I am not anti-technology – quite the opposite.  You name the device and I most likely own it.  My concerns lie in the relationship disconnect that many social media addicts manifest.  You doubt me?  Next time you are in a restaurant or other public place, make note of all the people texting instead of interacting.  (Does anyone have plans to stare at their phone some place exciting this weekend?)

I remind myself that I’m always more satisfied by human interaction than by a digital connection.” – Maulik Pancholy

Back in the Jurassic period of my youth, we had an honest sense of community.  People really looked out for one another and spent more time with each other.  We cared about the well-being of our neighbors.  Loyalty was the glue that held us all together.  Sure, we had the treacherous, the selfish and the miserable too.  And, there were those who simply did not deserve our loyalty at all.  But they were more the expectation – not the rule.  For the most part, loyalty was as common as a head cold when I was growing up. I can remember my mom shopping at Vinney’s corner market even when the big grocery store opened just two blocks away.  Ol’ Vinney charged higher prices and he didn’t have the wide assortment of merchandise like the new supermarket, but we shopped at Vinney’s out of loyalty.  After all, he was our friend and neighbor.  We went to school with his children and saw his family in church on Sunday.  Vinney was part of the fabric of our community – part of the give and take. So was old Mr. Frank.  He owned the big printing company in town.  Employed over 35 people.  Generally his business did very well, but of course, there were lean times.  Occasionally, new work orders would dry up for a season.  That’s just how the business cycle works.  One year, close to the Christmas holiday, Frank ran into a serious cash flow problem.  After considering all of his options, he sold some extra equipment to a smaller competitor and got a bridge loan from the local bank.  He put the money into the payroll first.  You see, Frank figured that his loyal employees were the reason that he and his family enjoyed a pretty good life.  Now it was his turn to demonstrate loyalty to all of them.  Every one of his employees had a good Christmas that year and from my perspective, God blessed old Mr. Frank with an abundance of work in the years to come.

Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs – loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love – can be elusive to humans.” – John Grogan

So what happened to loyalty?  How did we end up in a world riddled with cold indifference?  I’ll start with the short answer – covetousness, lust and greed.  Loyalty and unselfishness gradually gave way to unfaithfulness and self-interest. Just look around.  Friendships are fleeting.  Okay, some relationships do last a lifetime, but many do not.  Have you ever been hurt by the disloyalty of someone you thought was your friend?  What about modern marriage?  These are the days of the prenuptial agreement.  Let’s sit down and spell out exactly how the marriage will be dissolved before we tie the knot.  What a joke.  Whatever happened to the notion of unconditional love?  And what about employer/employee loyalty? You may be the company hotshot today, but two weeks from now you’re just number 3 of the next 5 people being shown the door.  So much for company allegiance and job security.

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is silent understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” – Ann Landers

Loyalty is sometimes defined as a feeling of strong support for someone or something.  It is what compels us to remain faithful to our commitments and obligations.  My favorite description of loyalty is found in the Bible,

17 A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. (Proverbs 17:17 – Living Bible)

Loyalty is resilient.  In good times and bad, in sickness and in health, you can count on the faithfulness of a true friend.  God weighs the integrity of our hearts by the loyalty (love) we give to one another. In the words of the liberator Jesus as recorded in the Bible’s Newer Testament,

12 “This is my commandment: that you love each other as I have loved you. 13There is no greater love than this—that a man should lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I tell you to do.”  (John 15:12-14 Living Bible)

Jesus also said this to his followers,

35 Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  (John 13:35 – Living Bible)

That kind of friendship (love) takes dedication.  Unconditional love is measured by how we act – not just the way we feel.  Loyalty is love in action – like the captain who goes down with his ship, the solider who takes a bullet for someone else or the Redeemer who died to free mankind. One more thing.  Loyalty is not limited to our earthly relationships.  God desires our loyalty as well.  Do you believe in God?  Have you asked for His help?  The New Testament writer James made this interesting observation,

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”  (James 1:5-7 – New Living Translation)

 No, God is not mean or controlling.  But He is precise.  If you want His help, His blessings and all of His benefits, then you will have to learn to come to God on His terms.  God does not respond to doubt, unbelief or divided loyalty.  James continued,

“Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and so, they are unstable in everything they do.”  (James 1:8 – New Living Translation)

Life is all about choices.  You can’t have it both ways.  It’s one thing to say, “I believe in God”, but that means very little if you live like you don’t.  You will never know the inner peace and joy that He can give if you continue to follow the ways of this doomed world system. His terms are simple enough.

28 “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28 – New Living Translation)

In the fullness of time the Creator stepped out from eternity into the fabric of our reality to rescue a lost people stranded on a doomed planet. He came as the man called Jesus and told of how the Almighty one offers us freedom, peace and joy. His politically incorrect and intolerant message declaring that there was only one way to God (and that He was the way) made some people mad. So they killed him. But that was all part of His plan and he walked out of the grave alive 3 days later. Hundreds saw him in the weeks that followed. And then one day, he said goodbye to his closest friends, promised He would return again, and before their eyes, He left the planet. His followers remain fiercely loyal; spreading a simple message of hope, love and redemption.  Jesus offers true liberty to all that hear his voice. He just might be calling your name again today.  He is forever loyal – even when we are not.  Why don’t you answer this time? You’ve got nothing to lose and you’ll gain freedom and life – now and forever.

Jesus, please help my friends today.  Show them your power to liberate and redeem their wandering souls. Great is your faithfulness (loyalty) to us.  May we be as faithful now (loyal) to you.  Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

ISIS… Global Warming… Terrorism… Economic Collapse… Racism… Airport Security… Riots… Murder… Retirement… College…

So how is your ANXIETY level? That’s what I thought. Let’s talk.

Anxiety is sometimes defined as uneasiness associated with vague or unknown threats, both real and imagined. Fear is often defined as an emotional response to a clear and present danger – usually real, and immediate. There are subtle differences between anxiety and fear. Ironically, fear can cause anxiety, and anxiety can cause fear. But, both produce physical stress responses.

Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength. ― Charles Spurgeon

I want to focus on the anxiety that results from the undercurrent of future uncertainties. In other words, worry over things that might or might not happen:

  • Will I ever find my true love?
  • Will the economy collapse?
  • What if an asteroid strikes the planet?
  • What if I go to the bank and get killed in a robbery?
  • What if I am on an airplane and it crashes?
  • What if I am hit by a car trying to cross the street?
  • What if I lose my job and become homeless?

Yes, the anxiety list is filled with endless scenarios. Every morning we awaken to a myriad of new opportunities to make us feel uneasy about the future (let alone all the stuff we keep overanalyzing and replaying from our past, but that is an entirely different subject).

Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. ― Henry Ward Beecher

I have referenced the work of Thomas S. Kepler (1897-1963) in a previous commentary. He was a respected biblical scholar, prodigious author and Professor of New Testament studies at Oberlin College. Kepler also wrote a weekly syndicated newspaper column on religious issues. He published a story about a woman who came to the realization that anxiety was ruining her life. According to Kepler, she began to keep track of what was worrying her.   This is what she found:

  • 40% of the things she was anxious about never happened.
  • 30% of the things she was anxious about already happened (i.e. – it’s the past, get over it).
  • 12% of the things she was anxious about were the opinions and criticisms of others.
  • 10% of the things she was anxious about were unnecessary health concerns, which actually made her health worse through nervousness.
  • 8% of the things she worried about were “reasonable concerns,” since life does have some real challenges to overcome.

So, if just 8% of her anxieties were actually reasonable concerns, how legitimate is your relentless undercurrent of dread? No wonder you’re so worn-out. Anxiety is zapping your energy. And for what benefit? Worrying does not solve problems (especially the ones that are only in your mind). And even your reasonable concerns are never an excuse for unnecessary apprehension. There are occasions when brief anxiety can be appropriate (uneasiness about that math test later today or an impending job interview, etc.), but when anxiety becomes a steady companion, that’s not so good. How many hours of your invaluable time have you invested in worry? What a waste. You’ll never get a single moment back.

In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety. ― Aiden Wilson Tozer

In the New Testament book of 1st Peter you will find this good word,

7 Let him (GOD) have all your worries and cares (anxieties), for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

To me that is so awesome. The creator of all things (GOD) knows who I am. He actually thinks about me. Every detail of my life here on this planet is of personal concern to Him. And since I actually believe this is true, how can I justify worry?

“Well now brother, I just cannot comprehend how GOD can know every detail of every human life and all at the same time.”

Neither can I. That’s why He is GOD and we’re NOT!

Look, I’m no fool. I’ll readily concede this; there are plenty of opportunities to worry. But that does not excuse living with persistent anxiety (and fear). Please consider these words that came from the lips of the Jesus,

25”Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?”   (Luke 12:25-26 NLT)

The point is; anxiety is useless. It accomplishes nothing of value. And modern science tells us that it can contribute too many ailments – physical and mental. The bottom line: anxiety is a killer. So, how do you stop anxieties grip on your life?

Happiness is not a brilliant climax to years of grim struggle and anxiety. It is a long succession of little decisions simply to be happy in the moment. ― J. Donald Walters

First, change your focus. Clearly you are spending way too much time dwelling on potential problems (real or imagined) instead of concentrating on the one who by His power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Listen again to the words of the Jesus as recorded in the Bible’s New Testament,

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with the getting, so that you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:30-33 – The Message)

That is incredible! Jesus wants me to chill. Relax, He said. Get to know God. Learn His ways. He will handle the details that you have no control over and make provision for everything that concerns you. All we have to do is trust Him. We have His word on that.

Second, talk with God. When you hear the word PRAY, think of a conversation. Prayer is talking with the creator of all things (GOD). Can you imagine that – an honest conversation with the source of life itself? Consider your closest friend. It is easy to talk with them. They know you and they love you. That level of intimacy can only spring from the depths of your human heart. Prayer is talking to your closest friend (GOD) about your most pressing concerns. The New Testament writer Paul said,

6“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 -NLT)

Let’s break that down.

  • Don’t worry about anything.
  • Talk to God about everything.
  • Let God know your concerns (what you need).
  • Thank God for His solutions.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s not. Like any relationship, your comfort level grows over time. Imagine waking up at home in the middle of the night. The power is out and the interior of your bedroom is very dark. You must navigate your way to another room. Can you do it? Sure you can. You are familiar enough with your surroundings to walk that walk. But what if you were sleeping in a strange hotel room? That walk in the dark might prove challenging because the surrounds are unfamiliar. Every word we just read is the absolute Truth. But it takes faith and patience to live it. The more you do it, the more comfortable it will become.

Let us never forget to pray. God lives. He is near. He is real. He is not only aware of us but cares for us. He is our Father. He is accessible to all who will seek Him. ― Gordon B. Hinckley

You may be going through a tough time right now. Life has swamped your little boat. Sometimes you struggle just to find meaning in your day to day existence. Talk to the creator of all things (GOD) and let Him have all your worries and cares. Decide right now, I will not be defeated and I will not quit.

Here are a few parting words of encouragement penned long ago by the New Testament writer Paul as he refreshed a group of struggling Christians who lived in the ancient city called Ephesus,

10-18 In conclusion be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God’s complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you. Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray…” (Ephesians 6:10-18 – PHILLIPS)

Be strong in the Lord and remember; He is keeping His eye on everything that concerns you. He alone holds the future. Stop fretting about tomorrow and experience the joy that comes when you seize the day and learn to live in His all sufficient grace.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

Have you ever felt forsaken?

I sure have. I’ve doubted God and even wondered if He really exists. I’ve become angry and cursed His name when my prayers were not answered (or more truthfully, when I didn’t like the answer). I’ve walked through many a valley and spent seasons in the spiritual desert. As far as I was concerned, God had let me down.

Wait, I hear the Christian RAP club… Hit it guys,

Yo dear brother, God can never let you down. 

Just keep on waiting and He’ll surly come around

I see miracles ahead, around the next bend

Keep believing till’ the very end

Seek the lord while he can be found

And all of your problems will soon leave town

Bravo!, Well played.

But, I’ve heard all that before.

For the record, I agree, no matter how impossible my problems seem to me, “…Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27b) The power of the almighty can still heal the woes of mankind today. But knowing the truth does not mean that we will never feel abandoned.

Tell me, what happens when you are sitting at lunch with someone who looks you straight in the eye, struggling to hold back tears, and they say,

“I love God. I go to church and I even tithe. I talk to the Lord regularly about the things that weigh heavy on me. In my prayers, I ask… I seek… I knock. Then I wait and wait and wait some more. In the end, God remains silent. He takes no action that I can see. Instead, the awful often happens. I am hurt and angry. I don’t understand why he chooses not do things that seem so clearly right to me. Why doesn’t God keep His word like the preacher said He would? What happened to all those exceeding great and precious promises that I read about in His book?” I’m confused and empty inside. God has forsaken me.

Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. – Bono

Clearly this is a sincere human being who is very disillusioned. From where he sits, it feels like God has left the building. And he is not alone.

  • “Why did I pray so intently for my husband’s healing… and he died?”
  • “Why did I ask God for a child for twenty years… but I never conceived?”
  • “Why didn’t the Lord help me raise the money to save my home?
  • “If God is so good, why is His world so miserable and unhappy?”

There are no easy answers to any of these questions or countless others like them. And please, spare us all those well-ordered one liners from your promise box. They may be true, but rarely helpful at moments like these.

The raw concerns of real life are painful to confront. It’s easier to suffer in silence. So, we live under the pretense that everything is going to be just fine. We keep telling ourselves, “God is going to make all this crummy stuff disappear one day soon and everything will be much better”.

What happens when “someday soon” never seems to come?

Hiding your hurt, anger, and disappointment behind facades of God-speak and perfunctory piety is poison to the soul. Your spirit slowly fills with a contagion that destroys your genuine faith in God.

If perception is your reality, then I might as well just say it; from where some of you sit right now, it sure appears that God has let you down.

But here is what I believe; it’s your expectations that have been dashed upon the rocks of disappointment. And now, it’s hard to navigate the waves of this life with a faith that has run aground.

Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations. – Earl Nightingale

Unconsciously, we absorb many erroneous and unconfirmed “facts” about God in the course of a lifetime. We read books about what He (supposedly) has promised to do for us when we pray. All of the sermons, seminars and a million casual conversations have molded our interpretation of what we can expect from Him. Some of these expectations are spot-on. Some are not. The trouble begins when things don’t go the way we believe they should. We can feel deceived. And over time, our faith grows weaker.

Unfulfilled expectations are worse than low expectations.  It is okay if you sometimes feel like God has grown silent and even turned away. In reality, He has not. I know this because He so plainly promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).

But that is not how you feel right now.

Listen, take a deep breath. Cry if it helps. Curse out loud if it will make you feel better. But please, do me this favor, listen carefully as I reiterate some important spiritual realities.

  • Prayer isn’t a mystical process for getting things to go your way.
  • Prayer isn’t a guarantee of satisfaction.
  • Pain and struggle cannot be removed with simple requests.
  • As a rule, God doesn’t wave supernatural wands and instantly change things.
  • God exists outside of our time dimension and, because we are chained to the ticking of the clock, He will often seem to move agonizingly slow.
  • Life isn’t fair and you cannot change that.
My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am. – Brennan Manning

It brings me great comfort to know that the Liberator of mankind had human feelings too. The creator of all things (GOD) took human form and appeared on earth as the Nazarene. Jesus became one with the damned so that we could be free from the damnation. Human hatred toward the message Jesus came to deliver turned to false accusation and indefensible murder. As Jesus hung on the executioners cross, our brokenness reached deep within His spirit. Creation was now within the dying heart of her creator. Gasping out his final human breaths the Savior cries,

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)

The creator of all things (GOD) forsook Jesus as he died a criminal’s death. Elohim – the Creator and Judge of the universe – turned away as Jesus experienced our hell, and felt the wrath of the Almighty toward this lost and doomed world. For a few horrific moments, He experienced a total disconnect from the source of true life so that we would no longer have to live in that state of separation.

And then, placing His spirit into the hands of the Father, the physical Jesus died. In that solemn, sacred, blessed moment, every struggle, every valley, every circumstance of human existence was corrected and justified.

Welcome to the ragamuffins. We are the waifs and strays who follow that marvelous incarnate man from heaven who once visited this planet by way of the Galilee. Daily we struggle to “work out the salvation that God has given us with a proper sense of awe and responsibility” (Philippians 2:12). As one among us, it will always be safe for you to share your individual fears, disappointments and pressing concerns. We will laugh and cry with you as we patiently await His return. And I promise you, one day all will be understood.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)

The story of Adam and Eve is meant to help people grasp the dilemma of humanity. In Adam, the whole future of the human race is personified. He was placed upon the earth by God, provided with a soul-mate to complete him and instructed as to what they could and could not do. Eventually, Adam listened to the wrong voice, overlooked the rules and violated the will of God. In the parlance of Christianity, this singular act of disobedience is often referred to as “Original Sin”.

13”Yes, people sinned even before the law was given (to Moses). But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. 14Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did…” (Romans 5:13-14)

From the incident at Eden with Adam & Eve to the rise of the prophet Moses was about 2500 years. But, from the moment Adam knowingly transgressed, there were consequences. The whole dynamic of the earth and the human relationship with God – the architect of humanity – was now in disorder. It was not until the time of Moses that God communicated the magnitude of the disruption.

19”Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.” (Galatians 3:19)

The disobedience of Adam brought “Death” to the human race. It is helpful to think of this death as separation from God rather than cessation of life. Physical death is just one byproduct of this disconnect from the giver of life.  Every human being born on this earth inherits the consequence of Adam’s breaking the rules. We are all born in “sin” (death).   Eternity is where we belong, but time is where we are marooned. The human dilemma (death) is a huge abyss separating us from God. The only remedy is a rescue mission.

But who can do this for us?

“The reality of loving God is loving him like he’s a Superhero who actually saved you from stuff rather than a Santa Claus who merely gave you some stuff.”  ― Criss Jami, Killosophy
The Real Superhero

14”…Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. 15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. (Romans 5:14-16)

Ironically, Adam, the one who got us into this mess, also points ahead to the One who will set the captives free. When Adam transgressed, God declared that the Seed of the woman (a child) would one day come to the earth as the Liberator of humanity. The long awaited and greatly anticipated “rescue mission” commenced with the birth of the God/man fusion called Jesus. He arrived on the earth without pomp or circumstance about 4000 years after the blunder of Adam.

“And she (Mary) will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Jesus is a visitation by the creator to this planet embodied in human form. The purpose of His visit: to seek and to salvage a lost civilization (mankind).   He came here to save us from the human dilemma (death). Jesus is also called Emanuel which means God is with us.

  • He is fully God and fully human thus he is a relative to us all
  • He is our Redeemer, and our Liberator
  • He is the Entry Door and the Pathway to eternity
  • He came from infinite time to live briefly in finite time
  • He is the Light being that stepped into the darkness of the earth

Our congenital Sin nature is what keeps us at odds with the great designer. That breach needed a link. Jesus became that connection. He is the doorway through which we find the road. He is also the road upon which we bridge the great abyss. Follow Jesus and you’re on the path that will lead you to a genuine life here on earth and an eternity with the Almighty.

“The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.” ― Francis Chan

If this information is not new to you, I offer a word of caution; knowing that as a true Christian you are no longer estranged from God is not a free pass to live recklessly. In a broken and dysfunctional world system we still can (and do) behave in ways that are displeasing to God. We sometimes refer to these inappropriate behaviors collectively as “sins”. We need to apologize to our Maker and ask His forgiveness for our indiscretions as we become aware of them. Especially our secret sins like…

  • worry
  • unrighteous anger
  • gossip
  • addictions
  • lust
  • impurity
  • envy
  • etc., etc., etc.
Remember:
  • Sin is born through our thoughts and intentions (James 1:14–15)
  • Sin is intrinsic – wickedness is in our nature (Romans 7:14–25)
  • The Sin Nature was inherited from our ancestor Adam who was the first of our kind to go against our maker. (Genesis 3)
  • Sin brought separation from God—both physical and spiritual—to humanity (Genesis 2:17)
  • Sin merits an (eternal) death penalty before a holy and righteous God
  • Sin cannot be overcome on our own no matter how desperately we try to do what is right.

Jesus is our Superhero because He alone can give us freedom from our depravity and a pardon from our well-deserved condemnation. As Divinity in the form of man, the Liberator Jesus came into this world to both buy us back (redeem) and to set us free (save). Like an attorney in a court of law, Jesus is our advocate. He has obtained for us an eternal acquittal.

“Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do.  He is himself the way.”Karl Barth

Still wondering why you need a Liberator? Because, we are all reprobates and we cannot meet the standards of a holy and righteous God without His involvement. Resistance is ill-advised. Behold Jesus – the chosen one. He is our Liberator; a genuine Superhero. Death could not handle Him. The Grave could not hold him. We cannot know genuine life without Him.

The good news – He’s waiting to walk you home.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.