Glimpses of the Cross Day 21; Victory in Jesus

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The story goes of a pastor who was changing trains at a train station. While waiting on his train, a man approached him with some religious literature, trying to witness to him about God. The pastor could not help but smell the alcohol on his breath. He asked the man if he was drinking. The man confessed yes. The pastor asked him how he could be sharing Jesus while he was drinking. The man told the pastor, that Jesus overcame so that he did not have to overcome, and that Jesus also died for him so he does not have to die. The pastor responded, “So Jesus overcame do you don’t have to?” “That’s right” the man said. “He did it all for me so I don’t have to.” The pastor asked another question. “So Jesus died so you don’t have to die to self?” The man nodded yes. The pastor then replied, ” Well if Jesus overcame so you don’t have to overcome, and died so you don’t have to die, then He also rose again and went back to heaven so you don’t have to do that either!”

The Good news is Jesus overcame so we can experience victory in our lives too!

 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  2 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV

Jesus died so that our sinful ways can be crucified with Him.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NKJV

Jesus rose again and is in heaven so we can rise from the dead and be in heaven too!

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:5-6 NKJV

Jesus’ victory over sin is to be a reality in our lives. Jesus’ death to self is to be a reality in our lives, and Jesus’ victory over the death and the grave is to be a reality in our lives as well!

Because I live, you will live also. John 14:19 NKLJV

To the believer, death is but a small matter. Christ speaks of it as if it were of little moment. “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death,” “he shall never taste of death.” To the Christian, death is but a sleep, a moment of silence and darkness. The life is hid with Christ in God, and “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” John 8:51, 52; Colossians 3:4. –Desire of Ages, Page 787 

Jesus Wept; The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 12

The question is asked in this week’s SS lesson, “When was the last time you communed with the Lord in nature? If possible, make an effort to do just that. You might be surprised at what a positive spiritual effect it will have.” Why thank you for asking! Let me share with some pictures!

I take advantage of the beautiful Florida nature, when it comes to my devotional time with God. This is at Ballast Point Park by Bayshore Drive in Tampa. It’s a ten minute drive from my home by car and about 45 minutes by bike. This particular morning, I rode my bike to Bayshore to watch the sun rise and then have my personal devotional time.

I also take advantage of the beautiful Florida weather and secenery when giving personal and group Bible studies. This is Ballast Point Park again. Eli was baptized after our Bible studies last Summer.

I also love spending time with God at the Pier in St. Petersburg, just across the Howard Franklin Bridge from Tampa. They have kayaks and boat rentals, dolphin sightseeing cruises, rental bikes- you name it. Of course they also have some nice places to eat. I often come here alone on my days off and spend the day, and other times I bring a friend or two to hang out. When guests come to visit from out of town I enjoy taking them here and showing them my little sanctuary. Click here for a 12second video of the dolphins on our cruise.

I enjoy kayaking in the bay where I know the alligators won’t get me. A lot of my friends enjoy kayaking in the river and have never had any problems with alligators even thought they see them all the time. I am not taking any chances! Of course the bay is full of sharks but I have never seen one, though I have learned several kinds lurk in the waters. I have seen dolphins and manatees amongst other creatures.

Its always more fun with friends, though sometimes it can be enjoyable just me and my Bible.

The Tampa Bay area has plenty of bike trials where you can spend time with God in nature. I ride my bike all over the city too. It can be dangerous but if you obey the bike safety laws and ride defensively it is a lot more safe. The city is putting in more bike lanes and trying to make Tampa a more bike friendly city. St. Petersburg is already very bike friendly. I have actually ridden by bike from the west coast of Florida to the east coast! It only took me about 11 minutes too! It was in Key West Florida. Key West is a very bike friendly city. I could easily live there without a car. With gas prices the way they are, I think I will be riding my bike more. I could also use the excersise.

I saw this dolphin on a bike ride a while back.

Davis Island is a nice place to ride your bike and enjoy the natural beauty of Florida.

Florida’s many golf courses offer wonderful opportunities to spend time in God’s nature. You would not believe all the beautiful creatures I see while I am in the woods!

We all teed off and were on our way back to the cart when I spotted the alligator who had been watching us. We then went back and staged this photo.

Even though Tropicana Field is a domed stadium where the Tampa Bay Rays play, you can find nature. Behind the center field wall they have a tank with stingrays. Here, my friends Tim, Bryan and Lynn are checking them out. This was a little while before Tim and Bryan were both baptized after we studied the Bible together. Tim is currently helping me with my new growth group.

 

I love taking pictures of the gulf and ocean for my mother, who loves the ocean, and for anyone else who will look at them. This picture was taken in Naples.

Sunsets and sunrises are my favorites. Twice I have watched the sun rise on the east coast and then saw it set on the west coast in the same day. The first time was in Daytona beach and Clearwater beach. The last time was in the keys.

Just outside my  door I can enjoy the beautiful ducks and other birds on the pond asI take a walk around the neighborhood, meditating and talking with God.

There is so much in nature to bring us closer to God, and help us learn about His love. Here is a nature video made by a friend of mine, Mike Bradenbaugh, teaching the many lessons of nature. It is very good please give it a look. I hope this has inspired you to take the time to spend time with God in nature too.

Philemon; The Gospel

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Philemon is only one chapter but says a lot!

Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy [our] brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, Philemon 1:1

Paul calls himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Man had no power over him. He knew if he was in a prison it was to serve the purpose of Jesus Christ, otherwise Jesus would not allow him to be there.

And to [our] beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:  Philemon 1:2

Paul and the Scriptures commend house churches!

I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:  Philemon 1:10

Among those who gave their hearts to God through the labors of Paul in Rome was Onesimus, a pagan slave who had wronged his master, Philemon, a Christian believer in Colosse, and had escaped to Rome. In the kindness of his heart, Paul sought to relieve the poverty and distress of the wretched fugitive and then endeavored to shed the light of truth into his darkened mind. Onesimus listened to the words of life, confessed his sins, and was converted to the faith of Christ. 

Onesimus endeared himself to Paul by his piety and sincerity, no less than by his tender care for the apostle’s comfort, and his zeal in promoting the work of the gospel. Paul saw in him traits of character that would render him a useful helper in missionary labor, and he counseled him to return without delay to Philemon, beg his forgiveness, and plan for the future. The apostle promised to hold himself responsible for the sum of which Philemon had been robbed. Being about to dispatch Tychicus with letters to various churches in Asia Minor, he sent Onesimus with him. It was a severe test for this servant thus to deliver himself up to the master he had wronged; but he had been truly converted, and he did not turn aside from his duty.  {Acts of the Apostles 456} 

 Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:  But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.  For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth [thee] ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written [it] with mine own hand, I will repay [it]: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.  Philemon 1:11-19

The apostle well knew the severity which masters exercised toward their slaves, and he knew also that Philemon was greatly incensed because of the conduct of his servant. He tried to write to him in a way that would arouse his deepest and tenderest feelings as a Christian. The conversion of Onesimus had made him a brother in the faith, and any punishment inflicted on this new convert would be regarded by Paul as inflicted on himself. Paul voluntarily proposed to assume the debt of Onesimus in order that the guilty one might be spared the disgrace of punishment, and might again enjoy the privileges he had forfeited. “If thou count me therefore a partner,” he wrote to Philemon, “receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it.” 

     How fitting an illustration of the love of Christ for the repentant sinner! The servant who had defrauded his master had nothing with which to make restitution. The sinner who has robbed God of years of service has no means of canceling the debt. Jesus interposes between the sinner and God, saying, I will pay the debt. Let the sinner be spared; I will suffer in his stead. 

     After offering to assume the debt of Onesimus, Paul reminded Philemon how greatly he himself was indebted to the apostle. He owed him his own self, since God had made Paul the instrument of his conversion. Then, in a tender, earnest appeal, he besought Philemon that as he had by his liberalities refreshed the saints, so he would refresh the spirit of the apostle by granting him this cause of rejoicing. {Acts of the Apsotles, 457-458}

Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord. Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say. But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with your spirit. Amen.  Philemon 1:20-25