Black Friday

 

“…One- hundred two dollars and sixty four cents.” As you hear these numbers roll off of the cashiers tongue, you can’t help but be ecstatic. You’re tired, you’re wounded, beaten, and your feet are in distress, but you’re thrilled. You have just purchased a two hundred dollar T.V. for almost half the original sales price.

Strange things start to happen the Friday after Thanksgiving. Walmart’s become dojos, Parking lots turn into campsites, malls seem to be hosting the annual Olympic track and field games, and millions of people all across America simply lose their minds.

What is the cause for this madness? Two words: Black Friday.

Black Friday signifies the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, major retailers open their doors exceptionally early, welcoming throngs of people who are seeking these one-time promotional sales. On this day, we get a glimpse of the incredible lengths many will go to save a pretty penny.

On a Friday just a little over two thousand years ago, we got a glimpse of the incredible lengths God was willing to go to save this world from destruction.  Much like this past Friday, strange things happened. There was betrayal, suicide, injustices, riots, mocking’s, scourging’s, crucifixions, redemption, and death.

The earth witnessed supernatural phenomena. At high noon, there was an unusual three hour period of darkness. The curtain to the temple was spontaneously torn in two, the earth shook, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and dead men rose.

“When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’,” Matthew 27:54

This was a dark day indeed. The Son of Man was killed.

On this day, 1,500 years of prophecy was fulfilled; it was finished.

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished’, and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit”, John 19:30

The blood of bulls and goats could no longer atone for the sins of men. A sacrifice had to be made. (Hebrews 10:4).

Someone had to die. This someone had to be perfect, He had to be blameless, He had to be sinless, He had to be the Son of God. The pure, undefiled, innocent, and spotless Lamb of God was slain for the sins of the world.

On this very dark and black Friday, there was a ray of hope. Hope lied in the resurrection. Not only did Jesus die for man, but three days later He got up.

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen! Remember how He told you the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise”, Luke 24:6-7

Today, we can bask in even greater savings than any earthly Black Friday deal. On this Friday, over 2,000 years ago, despite our wretched and sinful nature, Jesus gave up His life, paying the ultimate price for our very lives, and saved the word.

By Timothy G. Ruffin

The Names of the Lord

Search your Bible carefully and you will discover that the Holy Spirit intentionally uses many different names to describe the Son of God. Each of these names tells us something special and unique about the Lord. In fact, several of these names can be found in Peter’s sermon preached in Acts 3:11-26. After healing a beggar (lame from birth) at the gate of the temple, Peter used the miracle to draw a large crowd of people and teach them some important lessons about the Savior. In fact, in the sermon he list six names for the Lord that solely are to be applied to Him. Most of these words may be already familiar to us, but perhaps their meanings are not.

  1. Jesus (Acts 3:13, 16, 21) – This is probably the most common name to us. It is used 970 times in the Bible. Unfortunately, some would say that this was just His fleshly names given by His earthly parents, but the Bible teaches otherwise. In Matthew 1:21 we learn that the name “Jesus” was not given to Him by Mary and Joseph. Instead it was a name specified by an angel of God the Father. It is, of course, a Hebrew word that means: “God is Salvation.” Jesus would indeed to live up to that name! (See Acts 3:19; 4:12)
  2. Christ (Acts 3:18, 20-21) – This is term is used to describe Jesus over 560 times in the Bible. The words “Christ” and “Messiah” are the same. In Matthew 1:1 some translations say “Christ” (KJV), while other says “Messiah” (NASB). The word simply means, “Anointed One.” It represents the idea that God specially chose Jesus to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world! We need to live in appreciation of God’s choice!
  3. Prophet (Acts 3:22-23) – A prophet is a messenger of divine revelation from God (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-22). Jesus certainly met that criteria. All He spoke was confirmed (including prophecy about His own death and resurrection from the dead). In fact, He is not just a prophet, but The Prophet all prophets preached about (Acts 3:24-25). Will you listen to the words of the ultimate prophet? Will you obey His every command (Luke 13:3; Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19)?
  4. His Servant (Acts 3:13, 26) – This phrase is used twice here and later in a prayer in Acts 4:27-28. It says something about, not who, but whose He is. Jesus belongs to His Father and serves His Father. He came to the earth to do the will of the Father (Matthew 26:39; John 6:38). He is not our genie in a bottle to perform for us whatever we ask. His mission from God was to lead people to turn away from sin and wickedness (Acts 3:26). He never let anyone deter Him from accomplishing the mission given by the Father. We need to follow in His footsteps (Matthew 6:33).
  5. Holy and Righteous One (Acts 3:14) – The word “holy” means to be set apart. The word “righteous” means to be good and upright. Without a doubt Jesus was both of those things to the highest degree! He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Even a demon said to Him, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” This phrase that Peter uses is meant to bring shame to the Jews for putting perfection to death and it is also meant to humble us before God. Like those Jews in Jesus’ time, will we also disown the Holy and Righteous One of God? How we respond to His teachings will determine the answer to that question (Luke 6:46; John 14:15).
  6. Prince of Life (Acts 3:15) – A prince has rule and authority. Jesus certainly has that (Matthew 28:18). He is the “author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He is also the giver of not just spiritual life, but ALL life. He is the Creator and Sustainer or ALL things (Colossians 1:13-18). Have we submitted ourselves completely to the Prince of Life?

These are six specific names that the Holy Spirit gives to our King in Peter’s second sermon in the book of Acts. The question is: what must this information cause one to do? Peter also provides the answer to that question in the sermon.

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

– By Shawn Jeffries

 

 

Cry Out All The More

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Its 7:59 AM and you’re in the midst of a pleasant dream. You hear your alarm clock and you’re suddenly awake, back to reality. You open your eyes and you see black. You rub them, still black. Maybe you’re dreaming? You lie back down, wait a few minutes, open your eyes again; pure blackness. You’re blind. What are you going to do?

If this happened to me, I would be in a panic, desperately trying to find help; desperately trying to get a hold of a physician to correct this issue.

I’m reminded of one in Scripture who was faced with a similar dilemma. This man was blind, he was a beggar, and he was desperate.

I’m thinking about Bartimaeus in Mark 10. In this chapter, we read of an account where Jesus is leaving Jericho. As He’s passing through, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus hears Him. This beggar soon begins to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” As he shouts, people begin telling him to be quiet. At this, Bartimaeus shouts all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stops in His tracks and says to His disciples, “Call him.”  His disciples call the blind man, saying, “Take heart. Get up; He is calling you.” The text says Bartimaeus immediately threw off his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.

Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus replies, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” Jesus says to him, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Bartimaeus immediately recieves his sight and follows Jesus.

Although we may not see many blind beggars on the side of Nashville Highway, I use this story to pose the question: Are you blind? I’m not asking are you physically blind, that’s obviously not the case or you wouldn’t be reading this article. I’m asking are you blind spiritually?

Maybe you’re like Bartimaeus. Maybe you’ve heard about this Jesus but you can’t see Him. You see all of these people proclaiming to be Christians, but they’re not acting like it. You see all of these churches, but they’re wearing different names. You’re reading all of these religious articles, but they’re all saying different things.

You feel lost. You don’t know where to begin. You don’t know where to go. You’re crying out for help, looking for answers, seeking encouragement, but you just can’t find the help you need.

Friends, I’m here to tell you, there are scores of people in this world, who feel the same way, much like Bartimaeus: blind and crying out for help. They are seeking a Savior; they are searching for answers, and looking for the Truth. I’m here to tell you, cry out all the more.

The search for Truth can be a daunting task. If this is how you feel, I can tell you one thing: You won’t find Truth from any source but from the One who is Truth, and that is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the right way to look.

“…Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,” John 14:6

Friends, Jesus is the Light of the world and He is able to illuminate this dark, desperate, and curious world into all paths of righteousness.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” John 8:12

When we have questions look to Jesus Christ for answers. Open up His word and study it diligently. When Satan tries to quench your spirit, be like Bartimaeus and cry out all the more; never quit.

When you do, the Truth will be exposed and you will be able to see Christ for who He truly is—The Great Physician, the Savior, and the Light of the World.

By Timothy G. Ruffin

10 Facts about Angels

324912564_1009fbbcfc_oHow much do you know about angels? How often do you even think about angels? It is interesting how the subject of angels is one that is found all throughout the Bible. It is topic that God wants us to have to some understanding of.

Consider 10 facts the Bible gives us about angels:

  1. Fact #1: angels are real. They are not mythical imaginary creatures like unicorns and fairies. Instead they are real created beings by God (Psalm 148:1, 5; Colossians 1:16). The fact that angels are created shows us that they are not deity. They are not self-existent like the persons who make up the Godhead (Psalm 90:2).
  1. Fact #2: angels are very powerful and mighty (Psalm 103:20; 2 Peter 2:11). There was a time when an angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night! This action saved the kingdom of Judah from going into captivity during Hezekiah’s reign (Isaiah 37:36-37). If one angel could do this much damage, what do you think 72,000 (12 legions) angels could have done when Jesus was being arrested in the garden? See Matthew 26:53.
  1. Fact #3: angels are limited in knowledge. Unlike God, angels are not all knowing. They do not know when the Lord will return and the world will end (Matthew 24:36). They also did not understand the plan of God for our salvation until it was fully revealed (1 Peter 1:12).
  1. Fact #4: angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:13-14). This means that they possess a nature that is perfectly suited for heaven. This explains why Luke refers to them as “heavenly” (Luke 2:13). Being heavenly means that angels have no earthly substance (unlike humans). And yet, there are many times in the Bible when they appeared as men (Genesis 19:1-5; Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4; John 20:11-12).
  1. Facts #5: angels carry out the will of God (Psalm 103:20). In the past God used angels to make announcements or give instructions (Luke 1:26-27; 2:8-13), deliver His people from troubles (Daniel 6:22; Acts 12:5-9), execute judgment on evil men (Psalm 78:43, 49), and reveal His will (Zechariah 1:9; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Acts 7:53).
  1. Facts #6: angels have the power of free will. Instead of being spiritual robots, angels possess the ability to make choices. Some have even chosen to rebel against God (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).
  1. Facts #7: angels serve us every day! They are constantly doing things for us that we are completely unaware of. While the precise elements and activities of their ministering are not revealed in the scriptures, we should nevertheless be thankful that God is using them to help us in our lives. We can’t see them, but they are constantly rendering service for us (Hebrews 1:14).
  1. Fact #8: angels have a special interest in our salvation. Just like the prophets in the Old Testament desired to know God’s complete plan for our redemption, the angels did too (1 Peter 1:10-12). They rejoice when sinners come to God (Luke 15:8-10). They will be present when we stand before Jesus on the Judgment Day (Luke 12:8-9). It is sad that many times angels seem to be more concerned about us being heaven than we are!
  1. Fact # 9: angels will liberate us from the earth. They will come with Jesus when He returns and the world is destroyed (Matthew 25:31-32). Jesus will then use them to separate the faithful from the unfaithful (Matthew 13:36-43). Several other verses in the New Testament emphasize these truths (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
  1. Fact #10: Even though they are higher than us (Hebrews 2:6-7), angels are not to be worshiped. God the Father is to be worshipped (Matthew 4:10). Jesus is to be worshipped (Matthew 14:33; 28:16-17). The Apostle John tried to worship an angel and was told not to (Revelation 22:8-9).

There are many things about angels that we need to be impressed with. But above being impressed with these spirit beings, we need to be more impressed with Jesus! Jesus is above angels (Hebrews 1:13). Angels worship Jesus and are in subjection to Him (Hebrews 1:3-6). Jesus is the Savior, King, Lord, and Redeemer! Unlike angels, Jesus is the source of our salvation (Revelation 1:5)!

Let us not to get so mesmerized with angels, that we take our focus off Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). There is nothing wrong with studying what the Bible says about angels and even being impressed with what they can do. But let us always remember that Jesus is who we must submit to and put our complete trust in (Matthew 28:18).

By Shawn Jeffries