Wednesday, April 15, 2020

“Listening to God”

John 3:11-13

“Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”

A profound conversation:

I want to invite you to listen in on an actual conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. We don’t have an audible recording of what was said but we have a written record of the conversation. Now we are privileged to hear this exchange that begin in John 3:1 till verse 21. These 21 verses are a gold mine of divine information. Nicodemus was privileged to hear some of the most beloved and sacred scriptures in our bibles. Did Nicodemus listen? I believe he did because we see Nicodemus next in John 7:50-51. Nicodemus courageously counters his peers by urging them to hear what Christ has to say before they judge Him. There is a big dispute over Jesus in chapter seven. The Chief priests and Pharisees were frustrated with the officers because they had not arrested Jesus and brought Him before them see 7:45-47. But the answer the officers gave them was not what they wanted to hear. They said “no man ever spoke like this Man!” I’ve got a feeling some of these officers will be in heaven. They were listening to Jesus. I want you to notice something, Nicodemus hears this and feels this too, he is there. These officers failed to perform the arrest of Jesus because Jesus arrested them. His words and wisdom were of God. These officers found themselves listening to God. Nicodemus had previously come to Jesus by night. He had heard the voice of God in Christ. All Nicodemus wanted was his pharisee friends to do the same. But Nicodemus doesn’t divulge his meeting with Jesus but he does urge them to hear Him out. Do we ever open our bibles judging the content, judging the meaning, judging Christ before we even have a chance to hear Him?

A personal testimony:

I want to share my own experience right here. About 14 years ago, I was in a place where I needed God more than at any other time of my life. Tressa and I had clearly heard God calling us back to East Texas, we were not sure why He called us back but we knew it was His desire. We began to preach revivals and share Christ at any door the Lord would open. During this time Tressa and I went through some major life changes and challenges. We were thankful that mom and dad let us move temporarily into their one room cabin out in the country. Our challenges were real, we had it from health, career, home, transportation, school, income and on and on. But we knew despite all the trials we were in Gods Will. I felt a peace and strength that never left me. It was during those crazy times that I began to grow deeper in listening to God. God oftentimes uses our trials to do a greater work. God knew I needed to learn what it means to truly listen to Him. Little did I know at the time how valuable this lesson from the Lord would be, even to this day. God began teaching me how to listen to Him in His Word. Gods Word is

always accompanied by God. In other words, there is never a time that we look into the scriptures that God is not there. Gods Word is living because He is living. The conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus unpacks this beautiful dynamic as we will see in a moment. During those trying years I started reading to hear. We do this by meditating prayerfully on every line, especially the words of Jesus. Not rushing through the scriptures just to meet a reading goal but chewing slowly looking for God to speak to my heart. Looking for Christ and His work in the chapters. We look for original context then we look for how God dealt with things, then applying those principles to things today. My personal fellowship with God really went to a new level. When we approach Gods Word with intent on meeting with Him, then our spiritual ears will be ready to listen. Our minds will not rush the digesting of His word but slowly and methodically receive it. Comparing scripture with scripture. That’s how we listen to God, we let the Spirit of God speak by His Word. It was during these years I saw God do so many incredible things as we patiently trusted Him simply at His Word. Listen, that is what faith is, if we can’t trust God at His Word, then we are denying His very revelation to man as trustworthy and true.

Back to Nicodemus:

This is what Jesus was saying when He said to Nicodemus early on “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” In other words, Nicodemus, you need to slow down and listen. Quit worrying about what everybody around you thinks but simply slow down and listen to My words. You are a teacher of Israel and that means you have had to study the scriptures. Why didn’t you listen as you studied? Had you learned to meet with Me in God’s Word you would understand what I’m telling you today. I think this question Jesus asked right here in 3:10 was meant to humble Nicodemus so he would listen.

Nicodemus’ life began to change:

I truly believe Nicodemus was a different man after meeting with Christ in John 3. I mean we saw his reaction in John 7 and lastly, we see his action in John 19. Its recorded in John 19:39-40. Here we see Nicodemus with Joseph of Arimathea asking Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a secret disciple for fear of the Jews. And right there with him is Nicodemus. Joseph is rich, he has a tomb to loan. I say loan because Jesus only needed it 3 days. There with him is Nicodemus with 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes and strips of newly bought linen. Why was Joseph and Nicodemus there? They were there because Jesus had spoke to their hearts. They had listened to Him. That’s all we see about Nicodemus but its enough evidence for me to believe he believed in Christ. Nicodemus and Joseph both did a courageous thing right here. They would be harassed by their unbelieving peers for what they did. But they are blessed of God for all eternity, they are listed in the biblical record in a positive light. And I believe we will meet them in heaven someday. Now I want to show you a few things Jesus taught Nicodemus. I will use three “t” words to help you remember.

A lesson on listening to God:

Let’s apply what Jesus said just in John 3:11-13 to ourselves also.

First, in verse 11 Jesus refers to the truth of our listening. When we listen to God, we are hearing truth. God’s Word is a truth infallible, inerrant and incorruptible because it is from God. He tells Nicodemus that there is a “We” and an “Our” about the truths He shares. Now this is a powerful verse. That “We” and “Our” is capitalized because Jesus is referring to the triune

God, the trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. When we read those red letters, when we read our bibles, we are hearing from God in all His triune bodily. Jesus said “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”. Jesus is God, He is in the Father and the Father in Him. When we hear Gods Word, we are hearing truth as revealed to us from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We must approach His Word with that premise. Therefore, this speaks to the truth of our listening. We are hearing truth when Jesus speaks.

Secondly, in verse 12 Jesus refers to the type of our listening. Jesus brings divine truths to affect conversion, transformation and sanctification. When we listen to Jesus, we need to open our hearts and minds to heavenly things. If our type of listening is only as deep as what we can see with our physical eyes (earthly) than we are hardening our hearts to His voice speaking the (heavenly) things. When Jesus speaks, its God speaking. So, the type of listening we give God, is in the spiritual realm. Its in the realm of our heart and soul where our faith and belief are quickened. When we read the words of Jesus in the bible, Jesus is there. The bible says His Word will prosper in that which He sent it to accomplish, See Isaiah 55:11 and Isaiah 40:8. When we read Gods Word or listen to a biblical message from scripture God is there witnessing our attentiveness. Jesus is there, He goes anywhere His Word goes. I remember sharing John 3:16 in the marketplace in Columbia through a translator to random folks on the street. I watched people fall under conviction with just John 3:16. I mean people listening to that verse as from God, not mere men. They were listening and the Holy Spirit was convicting and working.

Thirdly, in verse 13 we see the testimony of our listening. The testimony is that Jesus came from heaven, that He would be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent on the pole. Those that looked in faith and belief were healed. The testimony of Jesus is what we too must believe. He came, He died and He came out of that tomb that when we look and believe we can be saved. Its this testimony of Christ that gives us the ability to listen to God. Our relationship to Jesus is a saving relationship. As believers, its His desire to speak to us, but we also need to have ears of faith willing to listen. What a blessing!

Conclusion

Learning to listen to God is one of the most thrilling adventures of your life. God wants to fellowship with you in His word. He wants to speak to you and draw you into His conversational presence. Through the years I have also benefited by books written by Dr. Charles Stanley and Dr, Tony Evans. These two men speak often on the importance of listening to God. Sometime, dive into those first 21 verses in John 3 and listen in on that conversation with Nicodemus but put yourself in the place of Nicodemus and let Him speak directly to you too. It’s refreshing and profound.

Bro. Bruce Rudd

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April 8, 2020

“Why “Good Friday” is good for America”

Psalms 85:10, II Chronicles 7:14

 #1.  In God We Trust:

            Good Friday brings our minds to the crucifixion. The crucifixion and resurrection comprise the saving plan of God for mankind. We absolutely need Jesus. Without this saving work of God, you and me would have nowhere to turn for help, hope and assurance. We would be forever condemned in our sin. Good Friday, was pay day for our sins and Christ’s resurrection on Sunday was the receipt that the transaction at Calvary was accepted. Dr. R.G Lee preached his famous sermon “Pay Day Someday” for the first time in a prayer meeting in Edgefield SC. Dr. Lee preached that sermon 1,275 times. Dr, Adrian Rogers was fond of this quote he got from Robert G. Lee: Sin will take you farther than you want to go, Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, Sin will cost you more than you want to pay. Lee’s “Pay Day Someday” sermon had a theme of “repent or perish.” There is a pay day for sin. When Jesus died for our sins, it was “Pay Day.” As the great hymn says “Jesus Paid it all, all to Him I owe.”  He paid a debt He did not owe and we owed a debt we could not pay. Jesus is the answer to the world today. Jesus is inviting people to accept Him and follow Him. Good Friday is good for America because the gospel message believed and received produces a virtuous and moral people. And a virtuous and moral people make for a godly nation. A love for God as a nation evokes blessing on the nation. Psalms 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” In Ephesians we read about our inheritance in Christ, but we ask ourselves “what did God inherit at the cross?” God inherited us, His inheritance is those that believe and repent, receiving Gods only Begotten Son. You ask yourselves, “will God keep His promise, will He honor His Word?”  The resurrection is your receipt. The resurrection is proof that what happened on Friday was paid, accepted. The transaction was made final at the resurrection. What a blessing all this is to us personally. I’ve been born twice, once in natural birth and again in spiritual birth. A birth means life has been created, life has come to be. In my spiritual birth, Jesus gave me spiritual birth and life. Just as our natural birth comes with a nature that reveals itself, so our spiritual birth in Christ also comes with a nature that reveals itself. I’m praying for a baby boom.  America needs a baby boom, a boom of newly born Christians. Imagine if there was a spiritual baby boom in America with tens of thousands of people giving their hearts to Jesus. Imagine the impact it would have in our nation. We need the Lord; we need His blessing. We need His forgiveness. We need a spiritual baby boom. May God bless America.

 

#2. Mercy and truth meet at the Cross:

 Psalms 85:10 “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.”

  • Jesus was crucified on Friday, we call this “Good Friday” because there would be no gospel good news apart from the cross. Jesus suffered unrelenting pain and agony for six long hours that you and I could be set free.
  • “Mercy and truth met together on the cross. Let’s personify “Truth” and personify “Mercy” then this verse will come alive. Truth said “they are sinners, deserving of judgment”. Truth said “they are fallen, sinful and desperately wicked”. Truth said “The soul who sins shall die….” But one particular Friday planned from eternities past, Mercy met with Truth on the tree. Mercy said, “truth I will take their place.” Truth, I will be born of a virgin so that My blood will not have Adams sin, but My blood will be divine.” “Truth, I will identify with men and live for 33 years that perfect life of righteousness before the Father.” I will take their sin and their punishment upon Myself on a particular Friday.” Truth “I will rise again three days later with pardons for sinners in My hand” At this plan, Mercy and Truth joyfully and excitedly agreed. Then on the cross while Mercy and Truth were executing their plan, suddenly Jesus (Mercy & Truth) with a thunderous voice cried out “It is finished.” At this, “Righteousness and peace have kissed.” This kiss meant that the righteous requirement we needed and the hostility between God and man could end in Jesus, thus creating peace between God and man. So, as believers how should we respond to such love? The bible says in I Peter 1:16. because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” As believers we are called to be salt and light in our world just as Jesus was salt and Light when He was in the world. We have choices as believers, we can drift from Him or draw to Him. If we drift, we are asking for the chastening hand of God. If we draw, He will draw near to us. Let’s choose to “draw near Him”. I can’t think of a better time than now.

 

#3. Keep your witness strong:

If you are knowingly living in sin then you are in rebellion against God. It’s a fight you cannot win.  Scripture says in Numbers 32:23 “…behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.”  ask yourself; how do I know if what I am doing is sin? First, the world will praise you. The world will not have a problem with your sin. But the world can’t save you. The world has no interest in your eternal destiny. So, if the world gives your sin a free pass, that doesn’t mean God does! James 4:4 says “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Secondly the Holy Spirit will convict you of the sin, reminding you of His Word. Let’s pray for America to “remember and turn to the Lord.”

 

#4. Lords Supper and Sunrise video:

Thirdly, some of our church members are wanting to take the Lords Supper in some way during this Easter season. We have produced a brief video that will be posted to our Church website Friday afternoon April 10th. We cleaned up the hill where we typically have our annual church sunrise services and made a video with a very short message from Exodus and Luke 24. In the video we will take you through the steps of the Lords supper, as we took it on the hill at sunrise. Our church members can use this video as a scriptural method to take communion in your home. You can follow my lead with the video at a time that works for you in your home on your schedule. Or if you want to use this video at sunrise Easter Sunday morning for a special sunrise service in your home, you can. We tried to get some of the property and church in the video too. We are not putting this video on Facebook, due to the sacred aspect of the Lords Supper but our church website only. Now the Lords supper is instituted for believers. Let me just give a disclaimer here. Should you decide to take the Lords Supper using the sunrise video as a guide, it’s your responsibility before God to take it in a worthy manner. We sure do miss seeing everyone, but my guess we will be as Buck Owens song says “together again” soon.0

Bro. Bruce Rudd

 

 
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SUNDAY, APRIL 5, 2020
 

“Live Deliberately!”

 

Luke 9:51

 And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,”

 

Consider these three things as you seek the Lord and live deliberately.

#1. Maintain your focus:

Jesus lived deliberately with intentional purpose. He overcame His daily difficulties by staying focused on His calling. He was guided by an overpowering calling that shaped His direction daily. A great example of Jesus never losing focus on His calling is depicted in Luke 9:51. Now you’ve heard me say many times in church that Luke 9:51 marks a turning point in Luke. Jesus begins a very slow Journey to Jerusalem, ministering and teaching like crazy along the way. He knows His mission and His purpose. He understands the timing of which He will die in Jerusalem for our sins. Right now, we are in difficult times but we can’t let the chaos keep us from living deliberately. Living deliberately and with purpose is a great antidote in helping prevent depression and dealing with anxiety. 

 

#2. Don’t let the stress steal your joy:

Right now, many of you are experiencing very difficult times. The anxiety of catching or spreading a dangerous virus is real. The job stress of evolving protocols, unpredictable wages can create a lot of stress. Try to find the humor in the stress. Sometimes a little laughter can do a lot of good. Laughter is a God given emotion that produces those good endorphins. Sometimes we just have to stop and find the humor in our humanity. The bible says in Proverbs 17:22 “ A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones” Add the home stress of suddenly finding yourself homeschooling, (lol, I don’t think I could pass the 6th grade these days) and all the other new challenges can be trying. Finding some personal humor may not solve our problems but it can certainly help us cope in the process. The bible says “a merry heart does good like a medicine”, and it doesn’t cost a penny.

 

#3. Find time to reflect and laugh:

Who would have dreamed that in 2020 we would buy gas for a 1.40 gallon, get excited over toilet paper and need to wear a mask to the grocery store?  Just three months ago nobody ever heard the terms “social distancing” or “shelter in place”. Had somebody told us three months ago our taxes wouldn’t be due on April 15th, and that the governments going to mail everybody a check, we would never believe it. Had somebody told us three months ago that our President was going to cut into the regularly scheduled program with “Breaking News” that we “can’t shake hands or touch our face” we would have thought they were nuts. Had somebody told us in January that by April there would hardly be anything on TV concerning the 2020 election we would have thought they were crazy. Had you made a wild guess that a pandemic was coming back in December, Christmas could have been much different, the prized present under your tree would have been toilet paper and the stockings filled with hand sanitizer. The upset family members would not say “thank-you” till March but it would be sincere. I never would have believed that in my lifetime I would be telling our church members not to come to church. Who does that?  Had somebody told us three months ago we would be preaching to a green ladder and Julie (videographer) operating an I-Pad on the paint tray and sending live on Facebook in an almost completely empty church; we would’ve never had believed it.

 

 In other words, we could never have predicted this. But God isn’t caught off guard. We can be creative in continuing to serve the Lord. Ask the Lord for wisdom in how you can “live deliberately with purpose” during this time. Don’t lose your sense of humor and find the good in things and watch what God will do. I end with this, remember this verse:

 Nehemiah 8:10

“Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Bro. Bruce Rudd

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FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2020

“Revive Us Again”

A revived heart is a refreshed heart. A revived heart renews our hope in Jesus, our surrender to His Person and a hunger for His Word. While we were In Israel, our group went to the World Holocaust museum. It was filled with displays of suffering. It was hard to digest mentally the level of suffering the Jews experienced. As we went through the museum from display to display it became painful to observe all the suffering. It was very intense to take in those images. My heart ached and empathized as I saw those pictures. By the time we made it through the museum, I was kind of looking forward to the exit door. Outside the exit door was a fresh perspective, a new reality. Now I use this to illustrate our hearts. Our hearts and minds are like museums that retain and record the things we experience. We see things and experience things that record images of anxiety on the walls of our memory. We hear things on the news or think things and forecast things, then they become framed and placed on the walls of our hearts and minds. Before you know it, we daily walk the halls observing the displays of fear, the displays of our predictions.

We are all experiencing a variety of challenges. I am on the phone everyday praying with folks that are experiencing hardships or headed into it. I can’t count the conversations I’ve had in the last two weeks with church members and some in our community. But one thing I have noticed, especially with our church members is an incredible faith. I could not be prouder of Mt. Sylvan Baptist church. It’s in a crisis that the best or worse comes out in us.  Faith is tested by trials. Trials do not govern our faith; our faith governs our trials. How we respond determines how we will react. And how we react will determine how we relate to others, the Lord and our spouses and children. In the epistle of James, he wrote about trials.

James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Listen to these introductory words to the book of James in the Thomas Nelson New King James Bible.

“Faith without works cannot be called faith. Faith without works is dead and a dead faith is worse than no faith at all. Faith must work, it must produce, it must be visible. Verbal faith is not enough; mental faith is insufficient. Faith must be there, but it must be more. It must inspire action. Throughout his epistle to Jewish believers, James integrates true faith and everyday practical experience by stressing that true faith must manifest itself in works of faith.”

Revival in our hearts produces a faith in action. A faith in action is a faith surrendered. Paul expressed the dynamics of a revived heart in Galatians 2:20 “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.”

When we experience a personal revival its incredibly refreshing. In a test we are looking for the exit door. We want relief. However, it’s in the test that God wants to produce revival in our lives. In my lifetime I have never seen us so close to a great awakening as we are right now. The church is temporarily out of the buildings but not out of service. We are ministering in new ways.  I miss our weekly gatherings immensely and can’t wait till we are all together again. But I also recognize that God is using this time to do an outreach that’s beyond anything we have ever seen. Messages are being streamed by Facebook, U-Tube and Internet like no time in Americas history. We long for our church to gather again and in time we will. We take so much for granted until we don’t have it. But God has placed us in a position to minister in unique ways. God loves people, He came to this earth to die for people. He arose on day three to save souls. An awakening to sin, to God and things that matter most is already revealing itself. Easter messages are penetrating darkness. Believers are stepping up to the plate to help others. I pray your using this time of testing to draw you closer to the Lord. I truly believe that Christians all over America are experiencing personal renewal and revival. As they do, God will burden His people to pray as II Chronicles 7:14 proclaims. And as revived believers begin bowing a knee in their kitchen, office, bedroom, or wherever God will hear from heaven. Read 7:14-16, its powerful. Now God always makes lemonade out of lemons. God can take tragedy and make it a triumph. God can heal our land. God can restore our economy like never before. Nothing is impossible with God.

This is a time to draw close to the Lord, and pray for revival in America and help our neighbors however we can. For now, the buildings are empty, yet the gospel is spreading unlike anything we have ever seen.  We don’t have any clue what tomorrow holds but we know who holds tomorrow.

I conclude with the Hymn “Revive us again”.

Revive Us Again by William Mackay 1867

  We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love,
For Jesus who died and is now gone above.

Refrain:
Hallelujah, thine the glory!
Hallelujah, Amen!
Hallelujah, thine the glory!
Revive us again.

 We praise thee, O God, for thy Spirit of light,
Who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night. [Refrain]

All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain,
Who has borne all our sins and has cleansed ev’ry stain. [Refrain]

Revive us again – fill each heart with thy love;
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above. [Refrain]

William Paton MacKay (or Mackay) was a native of Scotland. Born at Montrose in 1839, he graduated from the University of Edinburgh as a doctor, but later ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He wrote or co-wrote a number of hymns.

The title comes from Psalm 85.6:
“Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?”

(The above is from the New International Version at Biblegateway).

Bro. Bruce Rudd

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MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020

Acknowledging Him as Guide”

              In early February of this year, Tressa and I were in Galveston attending the Gideon’s Texas State Convention. While there a gentleman handed me a new book as a gift. It’s basically thirteen short chapters by which we acknowledge thirteen different aspects Christ’s Person. The last chapter is about His name, by which the title apparently was derived. The book is by SanDee Stone and entitled “Don’t Say That Name.” Chapter 10 is titled “Acknowledging Him as Guide” and speaks of God’s guidance.

               She writes in chapter 10, p.159 “As I gradually learned to eliminate some of the noisy distractions from my life, many times I could hear that still, small voice of the Lord when He spoke. He doesn’t shout to be heard, I found. He just waits for me to get quiet and listen. Getting quiet meant focusing on His Word more than on my human intellect or reasoning. It meant filling my mind with the things I was told to think about in Philippians 4:8; things that are true, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy. In Proverbs 4:23, I read, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” To truly “be in the world, but not of it” became the deepest longing of my heart. I wanted to hear His voice and be led by His Spirit. The more I obeyed Him, the clearer His voice has become over the years.”

            We are in need of God’s guidance. I believe God has called His children to the front lines of prayer in this pandemic. As believers, we have a unique access to the throne of God. I believe this pandemic has put us in a unique ministerial spirit of prayer and outreach. We are praying God heals and helps those that are sick. Prayers for medical field, governmental leaders, those not able to work and scientist that are using their God given talent to find cures. But we also must pray for revival, that we would as a nation recognize our need for God. I believe the Lord is awakening millions of hearts right now to think on Him. The fields are white for harvest. The list is endless. We need to pray for parents that they will prioritize God in their families. There is no greater time than now to bring back a spirit of worship and prayer in the home. Pray with and for your kids and spouse within the hearing of your kids. They need your faith and joy in Christ to help them adjust to these crazy times.

     Also, pray for the great work of Samaritans Purse. Franklin Graham is building a makeshift field hospital in Central Park. I copied from the news the article below:

“The evangelical Christian charitable organization announced Sunday that the hospital located in the East Meadow in the park would have 68-bed respiratory care units for patients who fall severely ill after catching the virus.

Samaritan’s Purse said that medical staff, including doctors and nurses, “will soon be on the ground,” and the facility is expected to start functioning Tuesday.

The makeshift hospital has been launched in partnership with Mount Sinai Health System and will be taking patients from its hospitals, with priority being given to Brooklyn and Queens branches.”

 

             God gives us His Spirit and the bible to guide us through rough waters. I want to share with you some bible verses that have helped me. You might already be using some of these as you pray, too. Praying scripture and meditating on scripture is powerful. Especially at night when our minds tend to wonder and worry. Scripture shows us that King David meditated on God’s word oftentimes in the night.  For me personally, when praying at night, I usually use my Gideon App of the bible on my cell phone. It has a nighttime mode so it doesn’t put out much light, which won’t wake up Tressa. It’s super easy to navigate to anywhere in the bible. Scripture properly guides our thinking. This virus and every crisis the world will ever know was already in the mind of God when He inspired the sacred scriptures. It is not a surprise to God. God can and will heal our land if we do what II Chronicles 7:14. I love what Christ told James and John in Luke 9:56,For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

Some verses to help:

Psalms 91:9-11

 “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,

No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.”

 

Job 1:8-10

 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.”

 

Philippians 2:27

“For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”

 

Psalms 56:3

“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

 

II Chronicles 7:14

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

 

John 8:29

And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”

 

Acts 17:26-27

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

 

Hope these verses help.

Bro. Bruce Rudd

 
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SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2020

“Am I accepted by God?”

Ephesians 1:6-7

Ephesians 1:6 “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved”. In Him we have redemption, through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”

 

The doctrine of salvation provides acceptance. We all long for acceptance because we long for identity. God doesn’t accept us based on our merit but based on the merit of His Son. Your salvation is an act of grace and love on Gods part. God has provided in Jesus Christ forgiveness, acceptance and identity that will last forever. In John 5:40 Jesus said “but you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Sadly, many people refuse Jesus because they don’t want to lose their current identity. They have found acceptance and identity in something fleeting and futile. For years I refused Christ because I found acceptance with and identified with my heavy drinking. Deep down I truly desired Him, I knew I needed Him but was afraid that I couldn’t live the Christian life. I didn’t understand the doctrine of salvation. I saw Christianity as a religion not a relationship. So, for years I settled for acceptance in the only life I knew. Sadly, I had no idea how close to an eternity without Christ I was. Our church has heard my testimony many times so I will leave out all the details. But one night in a hotel in Corsicana, Texas, and by the grace of God, the Lord Jesus came into my heart. I accepted Him that night as my Savior. He changed me, saved me and gave me a love and acceptance beyond anything this world can offer. I felt accepted, forgiven, loved and thankful.

 

               Consider this: Christ offers us eternal life instead of judgment and hell. He offers us Christ instead of condemnation. He offers us a new nature and a new heart. He offers us Himself. God is worthy of worship and in Christ we get to worship Him. To be able to sing praises from the heart and magnify the Lord is one of the most amazing things in the world. Worshipping the Lord is a God thing, never take it for granted. The bible says in I Corinthians 12:3 “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit  If you have been born again and surrendered your all to Jesus, then you are accepted. You are identified in all the goodness of the Son. Your sin was buried and your soul redeemed. Paul said in Galatians 2:20 “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.”  In our flesh we are inadequate and undeserving, Gods acceptance of you is by His acceptance of His Son on your behalf. I will unpack this a little bit to make it easy to see.

 

 Why can God accept us? (Eph.1:6)

              Its by grace. Somebody came up with this acronym for grace. Gods Riches At Christ’s Expense.

Grace is that attribute of God that found a way to satisfy the justice of God and at the same time pardon the unjust. I will never deserve my pardon but I will forever worship Him and thank Him for it.

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

How God can accept us? (Eph.1:7)

              It’s by blood. God paid for your redemption by blood. Jesus gave His life for you. He spilled His own sinless, divine blood on Calvary’s cross, the saving Lamb of God. Atonement is made by blood and that’s how the repentant sinner is saved. The blood washes away our sin. You may feel less than, or guilty or unworthy, in Christ you are loved, you are a recipient of Gods abounding grace and according to verse 6 “accepted in the Beloved”. The “Beloved” is Jesus. When your heart begins to condemn you, remind yourself that God is greater than your heart. I John 4:4 says “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” Remind yourself of His amazing grace and the blood that never loses its power. Remind yourself that God says by the promise of His Word, you are “accepted in the beloved”.

 

I John 3:20

“ For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”

 

Amazing Grace by John Newton

 Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.

‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.

He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

 

Bro. Bruce Rudd

 
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FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2020

“How to Deal with Anxiety”

Matthew 11:28

              We are experiencing very stressful and anxious things right now. We are concerned for our family, friends, and ourselves. We understand the unpredictability of the virus and its contagious dynamic. We have the financial and family stress that goes along with it. We cannot predict tomorrow but we can anchor ourselves to the One who holds tomorrow. But how do we do that? How do we calm our fears, settle our anxiety’s? First, let me just say that you are not alone. Everyone is experiencing the same pandemic and crisis. Naturally it varies for every family.  God has not left you in this by yourself. He is there and wants to calm your fears by giving you His peace and a real sense of His presence.

 

Consider these scriptures:

First, accept Christ’s Matthew 11:28 invitation.

Matthew 11:28  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

How do we accept this invitation of rest?

We must respond exactly the way Jesus told us too.

Decide now that you will accept His invitation of rest.

 

 Secondly, “Come to Me”. That’s the first step. We must come to Him.

Stop and pray, get in a quiet place and pour out your heart to Jesus. Begin thanking Him for being God, being exalted, being creator and able to do the impossible. I mean get on your knees in adoration of all that He is. Remember He is the Alpha and Omega. Remind yourself that He is your Savior and Lord.

Put your name in verse 28 where He said “all you who labor and are heavy laden.” There is a peace available just for you. 

 

Thirdly, be thankful when you pray. Let me explain why this is important. Your heart and mind needs divine rest at times. As a believer you have the resources in Christ to experience His peace. If you do not know Jesus, then I encourage you to give Him your heart and life right now. Come to Him just as you are. Quit putting Him off, He is God and loves you with an unconditional love. His love is the kind that came to earth from heaven to buy your pardon. Your pardon is paid for by His blood at the cross, but you must receive Him by faith. He arose bodily on the third day, to give you eternal life. He has His hands out and He is saying to you “just come to Me.” In Christ alone is eternal life, hope, peace and rest. I pray you will receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Nothing is more important.

 

            Now back to being thankful in prayer, your heart and mind will react to the emotions and fears and thoughts you allow into it. The bible says in Prov.23:7, “as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” Look at the verse in Luke 6:45, “of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Our hearts are the supply chain of the mouth. If the heart is out of whack our thoughts will be out of whack thus showing up in our speech. Being thankful is like a glass of ice tea on a hot day. It refreshes the mind. When we begin to find things to thank God about, our heart is affected. God works through a thankful spirit. Our hearts get heavy with worry. Our hearts get heavy with racing and pessimistic thoughts. But as we thank God, good things come to mind. Our hearts began to adjust and our faith is energized. The bible says, in II Timothy 1:6, “stir up the gift of God which is in you.” Then we have verse 7,  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

That gift in you is none other than the Holy Spirit. This is the “indescribable gift” Paul mentions in II Corinthians 9:15. Now, II Timothy 1:7 is a verse we all know, but that verse goes hand in glove with verse six before it. We will succeed in verse 7 if we fan the flame of verse 6.

 

            As we pray in adoration and thanksgiving, we are stirring up the gift in us. God begins allowing a peace to flow into your heart that surpasses all understanding. That peace is like a guard standing at the door of your heart. When worry steps up to the door, the guard says not here, not today. Peace lives here, Christ is in charge today. When fear steps up to the door of your heart. The guard says not here, not today, the peace of God resides here, fear you’re not welcome. Now, this peace will guard your heart and mind. Once we get our heart right then our thinking will follow. This is exactly what Paul says in Philippians.

Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

 

I’m going to leave it there. I pray if your worried, anxious and fearful that you would simply pause, get in a quiet place and accept God’s Matthew 11:28 invitation.

 

Bro. Bruce Rudd
 
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THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2020

“Journey to Jerusalem, Easter Is On The Horizon!”

Luke 9:51-56

When we see Luke 9:51, we are at a pivot point in Luke’s gospel. Easter is on the horizon within the mind of Christ. Luke 9:51-56 51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, [a]just as Elijah did?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, [b]and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 [c]For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.”

Interestingly, here we are several months from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jesus knew the cross was nearing. He was on a divine time clock. Everything that happened was on His heavenly calendar. Scriptures were and would continue to be fulfilled. There are a lot of events between Luke chapter 9 when Jesus set His face for the journey to Jerusalem till chapter 19 when He rides into Jerusalem on the foal of a colt. R. Kent Hughes in his Luke commentary says that once you get to Luke 9:51, you must keep reminding yourself that Jesus is on the road headed to Jerusalem. He goes on to say and I quote “If we do this, we will get the proper feel for what is going on—Jerusalem now looms large in the Saviors thoughts. He will soon walk through everything involved in His being “taken up to heaven” (v51)—that is His betrayal, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension. The walls of Jerusalem, the city of destiny, rise ominously over all that follows, standing taller with each event from here to the middle of chapter 19.”

Consider the patience, fortitude and wisdom of Jesus. He had sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for their arrival. Keep in mind a large group of folks are following Jesus at this point, so it makes sense to send messengers ahead. However, Samaritans and Jews did not get along and when they found out Jesus was headed to Jerusalem the Samaritans said no, you all are not welcome here. Samaria was the most direct route south to Jerusalem. The animosity between Jews and Samaritans went centuries back to when the Samaritans begin marrying the Assyrian conquers. So, when these messengers are turned down and return to tell about it, James and John have a solution. They ask Jesus “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did? Jesus turned and rebuked them and said “you do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

There are three lessons to be learned about Jesus journey to Jerusalem here:

First, don’t let fear of rejection keep you from trying. Just be truthful.

I mean, the messengers surely had a quick meeting of the minds and said amongst themselves, “Doesn’t Jesus know we will be rejected there?” Jesus used everything to teach a life lesson. Now my guess, these messengers may have recoiled when Jesus told them to head into Samaria to prepare things. It can be easily assumed that they must have strategized in the presence of Jesus what to say to the Samaritans. And I can just hear Jesus say, “just tell them the truth, tell them we are just slowly passing through on our way to Jerusalem. So that’s exactly what they do. It didn’t work out, but these messengers tried and we know from verse 53 they told the truth. Telling the truth is not always easy but its always right. Some people experience rejection or they fear rejection, so they do nothing. They become paralyzed with fear, they get critical and upset, yet they haven’t even tried. Don’t let fear of rejection keep you from trying, and be truthful in your dealings. My guess these messengers were proud of themselves for trying and for being honest. Then they see how Jesus responds with love and self-control.

Secondly, don’t overreact when things fail to go as planned.

These messengers came back with the news and James and John must have anticipated what they hear. Instantly they want to kill these Samaritans with fire from heaven simply because they were rejected. You can almost see Satan behind the scenes getting James and John all worked up. I can just hear that demonic spirit whisper in their ear, “if they don’t let us into Samaria, if those messengers come back with bad news…. we should ask Jesus to let us destroy them with fire like Elijah”. So, that’s how James and John reacted. They were hot under the collar and wasted no time letting Jesus know what they thought about the matter. When we overreact, we oftentimes make irrational and impulsive decisions. Instead we should pray about it and if possible, sleep on it, so that our emotions have time to cool down.

Thirdly, look at the big picture.

Jesus responds with loving rebuke by saying “you do not know what manner of spirit you are of”. Jesus knew the devil had tempted James and John and got them all worked up. What Jesus did to correct their wrong thinking was to elevate their vision to a bigger picture. Jesus said “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them”. Jesus elevated their eyes to a much, much bigger problem than a simple detour. He showed them that man has a sin problem. He showed them that He came from heaven to solve that problem. Jesus says in essence “look James, look John, I am headed to Jerusalem to die for those Samaritans. I’m about to give my life so they can gain life and your talking about destroying life”. Jesus always had His eye on the big picture. When our eyes are on the big picture, we won’t let the smaller aggravations of life get us down or overly upset.

Conclusion

Now here is Jesus’ solution, two disciples are asking for fire judgment, the messengers are sharing the rejection they encountered, and do you know what they end up doing about it? Well, the answer is in six words, “And they went to another village”. That’s it, they just go another way. But the greatest blessing is to see how Jesus lovingly steers James and John and

helps them to see the spiritual beyond the physical. Souls were at stake and now they get the picture. Easter is on the horizon!

Bro. Bruce Rudd

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020

“Making the Most Of Your Bible!”

Joshua 1:7-9

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you[b] shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Your bible is absolutely vital in your life. The bible is your manual for how-to live-in Christ. The scriptures are infallible, which means totally trustworthy. The scriptures are also inerrant, meaning without error. But I want to add one more thing here. The scriptures are living. Hebrews 4:12 tells us the word of God is “living and active.” Living means the God who gave it is alive to administer it. That’s what “active” means. God is actively blessing and administering His Word. The bible is not a good luck charm or to be used in a pagan way. We need to get the most out of our bibles. Here are two thoughts extrapolated from Joshua 1:7-9.

First, I want to begin with a warning:

“this book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth”

In other words, don’t try to follow the Lord in the way we think would be better or by the teachings you learned in Egypt, but by the Word from the God that delivered you. Follow God the way He told you too, then you will have success. Joshua implies warning when he says don’t depart from it.

Today there are many who misuse the bible. They grab verses like candy and audibly speak them over their finances or health claiming that if they say the word out loud that somehow a miracle will occur. God doesn’t operate on the agenda of what we say but from the inward heart of what we believe. The Pharisees had a lot to say and quoted the bible more than anybody, yet they were far from God. God warns us in Isaiah 29:13 and Matthew 15:8. These two verses are crystal clear that speech not being true to the heart is offensive to God. Let me tell you, God will not honor His Word on your behalf if all you want is the blessing without care for the blesser. He seeks those who will worship Him in Spirit and truth, that’s what the bible helps us do. Let’s read these two verses.

Isaiah 29:13

“Therefore, the Lord said:

“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,”

Matt.15:8 “These people [a]draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

The bible was never intended to be a remote control by which we demand God meet our demands by our self-imposed terms. May I say to you that God’s word is not a toy, it’s not a magic wand for you to wave over your every wish. God is not obligated to meet our demands when we operate outside of His will. The bible is Gods idea not our idea. God gave us His Word to reveal our sin and His holiness. Romans 10:17 says that “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Paul said this within the context of saving faith. However, there have been many times in my life that I have sensed Gods leading me in this or that and He provided in miraculous ways as I prayerfully and fearfully clung to Him via His promises. God has used verses in my life many times to lead me to a crisis of trust. In other words, I have been where all I’ve had is His Word. I’m a living witness to His faithfulness. Our faith cannot override the will or nature of God. God’s Word is meat indeed, it is powerful yes, but it is holy and should be treated as such. Therefore, lets draw near to God in true worship, through His Son Jesus with our hearts and our faith. The doctrines we teach must steer clear of the “prosperity gospel” or the “name it and claim it movement”. The gospel we teach finds its victory over sin, the world. The gospel we teach is centered in the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God didn’t send His Son to make us wealthy or immune from suffering, even though He can and does at times. God sent His Son to save the lost and gain our worship and willing obedience. God loves you, He loves you enough to author a book that spans over a 1500 year time period. He loves you enough to get a bible to you that has words that declare eternities past and point to eternities future. He loves you enough to write a bible that tells you about hell, judgment and condemnation in hopes you want go there by refusing His Son. He loves you, and tells about heaven and eternity and how to get there. The bible is a book that does not sugar coat life at all. It tells things as they truly are. How precious our bibles are and how wonderful it is to meditate upon its precepts.

Secondly, we need wisdom to navigate life’s obstacles:

“that you may prosper wherever you go”

Gods Word is a treasure trove of wisdom. Years ago, the bible was used in our schools to teach our children the fear of God and the beginning of wisdom. There was a time when kids were encouraged to bring their bibles and to read from them. Right now, America is being tested. This is a good time to wipe the dust off the bible and dive into its truths. You say but I don’t understand it. Just start reading it and let God help you understand it. That’s His job. God loves to help folks grasp His Word. If you could live to be 500 years old you could never grasp all the wisdom of this book. God’s Word is inexhaustible, some say its like an onion. About the time you grasp a layer there comes another and another and another. As we learn the stories and verses in the bible, we make better decisions. God will use His Word and at key moments the Holy Spirit will bring up a verse or example of scripture to lead you to make the right decision. Moses had to trust the wisdom of Gods Word to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Joshua had to warn Israel of the importance of Gods Word and not to depart from it to the left or right. Elijah and Elisha refused to be conformed to the wisdom of this world and sought Gods direction obeying His Word. King David shares the secret of his success in the Psalms. Psalms chapter 119 is filled with encouragements to study, memorize and meditate on scripture. Peter confessed that Jesus had the Words of eternal life.

Conclusion

Let’s make the most of our bibles and listen to what it says. There are many ways to get God’s Word daily. You can read it, listen to sermons as you work or rest on 90.3 FM. The creative things we can do to grow in Christ are there. As we grow our faith is strengthened and our light shines bright. God bless you as you look for ways to minister to others the love of Jesus.

Bro. Bruce Rudd

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TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2020

“Working Where God is at Work!”

John 4:34,  5:17,  8:29

The primary way Jesus knew how to do the Father’s will, was to watch to see what the Father was doing. When Jesus saw what the Father was doing, He joined that work.

Notice in John 4:34 how Jesus replies to His disciples. This is the story of the Samaritan woman. Now we are all familiar with the story, it’s where Jesus wins the woman at the well. John says in 4:4 that “He needed to go through Samaria. So, He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.”

Now this piece of ground is incredibly significant. Back in Genesis 33:18-20 the bible tells us that Jacob bought this piece of land from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father for one hundred pieces of money. Then Jacob erected an altar there and called it El E-lohe Israel. Meaning the God of Israel. So historically, this is a place of great significance.

Isn’t it wonderful how Jesus sets us an example of listening to God? Somebody might say, well, if Jesus is God then why did He have to pray and find God’s desires? The answer is simple, He was God and Man all at the same time. He allowed His glory to be veiled in flesh for you and me. Jesus is God, but He was also Man. He obeyed the Father perfectly. Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law and He obeyed His Father perfectly without fail in our behalf. By watching His obedient life, we learn how to listen, how to pray and how to obey from His example. I mean we see in Jesus a love and care to go and win this Samaritan woman to the Lord. We see her go back to her city and bring others to Christ. This is a wonderful story of how God works in the normalcies of life. I mean, a water well, a drink of water, a woman and a conversation that went from the physical to the spiritual because Jesus was in obedience to His Father.

Now I want to point out a few things that help you and I to determine how to hear from God and to accept His invitation of involvement where He is at work.

First, Jesus was sensitive to the Spirit of God and we should be too. In John 8:28-29 scripture says “Then Jesus said to them, When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” Now there is a lot of wisdom and insight revealed in those verses. We see Jesus sensitive to the Father and His purpose to send His Son into the world to die for our sins. Jesus knew that His mission was to redeem lost souls. We are comforted by this truth. Jesus is 100% God and 100% Man. He was there before the world was created knowing His mission to come to the earth He created to love us, to be lifted at Calvary and to loose us from our sin.

Secondly, Jesus was aware of the presence of God. He said “The Father has not left Me alone”. Jesus knew the will of God and the work that He was sent to do. He was sensitive to that work and everything He did in life was in perfect obedience to the will of God. The writer of Hebrews speaking of Christ says in Heb. 10:7 “Then I said, Behold, I have come-In the volume of the book it is written of Me-To do your will, O God.” Jesus was always working in Gods will with a realization of His presence.

Thirdly, Jesus was always doing the things that pleased God. The text says “for I always do those things that please Him.” Now this is the key in finding fulfillment and meaning in life. As believers we need to find where God is at work and join Him there. We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. As we read the bible and pray our ears will be sensitive to the things God. It’s a joy to sense Gods leading and find where He is working and join that work. As we do, we find ourselves walking by faith. As we walk by faith, we become more aware of His presence because we are listening to Him. Jesus also said in this text, “but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things”. Do you see that active correlation between His hearing from God and speaking the words of God. This reminds me of His words in Matthew 10:20. It was this dynamic that Jesus lived at all times that caused Him at least from His humanity side to “do those things that always please Him” of John 8:29.

Now today, we look to see where God is working. I mean the nation is in quarantine, there is a virus and everyone is affected in some way. We see God working as churches Live stream their services. God has caused His church to be in the media world almost overnight. Millions are now exposed to the gospel. Today is Tuesday, and did you know that we have already had about 1,600 views of our service Sunday. That’s incredible. That doesn’t count where two are watching one device. We need to pray for our live stream services. God is working. We don’t have the equipment to do this, so its been trial and error. We are using a 6’ ladder placed over some center pews. We put Juli’s IPad on the paint tray of the ladder. We crank up the sound system really loud in the church and wal-lah we are streaming live. It is working and we are glad because God is using our makeshift video to carry our singing and preaching into homes.

Another area God is at work right now is through encouragement. This is a time we need to be encouraging one another and finding ways to help. A simple phone call or thought out text can go a long way. We can pray for one another and for souls to come to Christ. We can pray for our governmental leaders, for a vaccine, and as always for revival in our nation. The opportunities and places to serve God have changed some for now, but that’s okay. Your spiritual gifts that you typically use will need new and creative ways to blossom other than in the church building, at least temporarily. While temporarily out of our building let’s find other ways to use our gifts for His glory. Let’s see where God is at work and join Him in that work.

Bro. Bruce Rudd

 
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Monday, March 23, 2020

“This is the day!”

Psalms 118:24

 In these daily blogs, I am focusing on Jesus. Every blog will have something unique about our Lord. You may already be wondering what Psalms 118:24 has to do with Christ personally. Did you know that Psalms 118:24 is one of the most misunderstood verses in the bible? Yet its meaning when read in context will leap off the page. Its meaning is marvelous and worth our rejoicing every day.

Here is our familiar verse Ps.118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalms 118 is the center chapter of our bible. Psalms 118:8 is the center verse in our bible. Psalms 117 is the shortest chapter in the bible and it reminds the gentiles that there is kindness and mercy coming from God to them. Then chapter 118 reminds Israel that kindness and mercy is coming to them too. Between chapters 117 & 118 is encompassed the whole world. John 3:16 says “for God so loved the world” and it’s in this chapter 118 we see the preview of Jesus coming into the world. Do you know what is the central doctrine of all the bible? It’s the cross, it’s the Savior come into the world to live a perfect life, die as the innocent Lamb on behalf of guilty sinners and be raised to life to pardon and redeem.

What a beautiful “day.” A day when the shepherds receive an amazing angelic announcement as they are watching their sheep in the night. A day that caused wise men after seeing His star, to travel hundreds of miles to worship. A day that the prophets of old longed for. A day that the Roman Centurion and those with him at Calvary’s cross witnessed the power of God. They suddenly attested to this day, when in great fear of the supernatural events said “truly this was the Son of God.” It is a day that split the temple veil, split the rocks and darkened the earth for three hours. It is the day that the whole of the bible is written about. And that “day” encompasses the time period from the birth to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is what Psalms 118:24 is all about. What a wonderful day this verse describes.

 This is one of those verses we all quote very often. And yes, its true and its wonderful that every day is a day the Lord created and we should rejoice in it and be glad. But this verse has a better and deeper meaning than that. This verse is not speaking of each and every day on our calendar. Not at all, it has nothing to do with that. Let’s look at it again in its context. To do so I will show you the verses around it. Now keep in mind we are in the central chapter of the bible.

Psalms 118: 20-27

 20 This is the gate of the Lord,
Through which the righteous shall enter(ponder John 10:9)

 21 I will praise You,
For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.     (ponder Is.59:1)

22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
23 [c]This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.                          (ponder Matt.21:42-44) Jesus applies Ps.118:22 to Himself

24 This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.                 (ponder John 3:16-17)

25 Save now, I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! (ponder the triumphal entry John 12: 12-25)

We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
27 God is the Lord,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. (ponder Lk.1:69)

In conclusion:

What a blessing this centerpiece chapter 118 brings, as its focus is on the central message of the bible, the cross. Now we can truly say with the Psalmist “This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it”.

Bro. Bruce Rudd

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

 “The Seven Sabbath Day Miracles”

 Today is Sunday, the Lord’s day, as some say.  Now, I think it’s interesting that the bible records seven Sabbath day miracles. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath and for us we celebrate His resurrection on Sundays. So, today is our Sabbath day, if you will. This is a day we can express in a special way our love for God and each other. Completeness or divine perfection is represented by seven in the bible. The book of Revelation deals in a significant way the number seven. There are 7 days in our week. In the book of John, for example, there are the 7 “I Am” statements of Jesus, the 7 sign miracles that He is the Messiah; all in John.  Our rainbow consists of 7 colors. There are 7 notes on a music scale. Jews understood the principle of seven. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked the Lord how many times he could forgive a brother. Then Peter, thinking he already knew the answer anyway, quickly blurted out his own perceived answer by saying, “Up to seven times?” Peter automatically assumes seven times was the correct answer. Jesus replies, “I do not say up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”  So, we can see that seven means something in the bible about completion. There is great comfort in the name Jesus Christ, He is our Jesus Messiah.

There were rules against working and doing certain things on the Sabbath Day. However, many of these rules restricting folks were added by tradition, not God. Therefore, when Jesus performed a miracle on the Sabbath it greatly bothered the religious leaders. I think these seven miracles were done to teach them that Jesus is God, the long-awaited Messiah, making Him Lord of the Sabbath.

Let’s review these seven miracles.

#1. Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31)

#2. Jesus heals a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-6)

#3. Jesus heals a man born blind (John 9:1-16)   

#4. Jesus heals a crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17)

#5. Jesus heals a man with dropsy (Luke 14:1-6)

#6. Jesus drives out an evil spirit (Mark 1:21-28)

#7. Jesus heals a lame man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-18)

The character of God is that of love. Jesus didn’t come to destroy lives; but to save lives. When we see these healings, be they physical or spiritual, we see God. In the Old Testament there was something special and holy about the Sabbath Day. Jesus is God, and as Lord of the Sabbath He shows us what it looks like to enter into fellowship with Him. It looks wonderful and it is wonderful. Now these physical healings were done that they would recognize His Deity. Today not everyone experiences a physical healing while on this earth. But one day in glory, every single child of God gets a perfect body in heaven. I mean there won’t be any need for make-up or gyms. No heartache or headaches. There will not be any nursing homes or hospitals in glory. These miracles point to fellowship with God. Isn’t that the purpose of the Sabbath? God loves our fellowship with Him and each other.

The first miracle, Peter’s mother-in-law gets healed, then immediately begins serving Jesus. There is a fellowship in serving the Lord from gratitude and love.

The second miracle, there is a man there with a “withered hand.” This man was there because of his faith and need. It was a sacrifice because the Pharisees would consider him lame due to some sin. Their hearts were so hard in this story, and Jesus is angered by it. Jesus heals the humble man’s hand. What a joy this individual must have felt as he found God in that synagogue.

The third miracle, I love this miracle because we can all relate. Here is a man blind from birth. That’s a picture of our sin. In this story, this man couldn’t have fellowship with God without His making the first move of grace. With any salvation God always makes the first move, wooing and drawing us to Himself. The bible says, “as Jesus passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.” That’s how fellowship with God begins, Jesus came and died for sinners born blind spiritually. He sees us in our darkness and intervenes in our lives offering the gospel of salvation that we might see. 

The fourth miracle, we have a woman in attendance in the synagogue listening to Jesus. Scripture doesn’t indicate that she sought His healing, but simply His presence and teachings. Yet Jesus sees she is there; He knows her heart and faith. She is bent over from possible scoliosis or some other infirmity. But Jesus sees her and chooses to heal her knowing she will use the healing for His glory. At His Word, she raises up for the first time in 18 years. After he heals her the bible says she “glorified God.” There is a sweet fellowship as we glorify Jesus for all of His saving grace, that raised us up into the heavenly places.

The fifth miracle, we have a man with dropsy, fluid build up somewhere in his body. Possibly his legs or around his heart. This man was in the house of one of the rulers of the pharisees. Perhaps he was a friend or relative of this ruler who hung out there for the help. I think his dropsy was to the point he could barely get around, even if at all. Let me explain why. After Jesus heals him, He “let him go.” That’s what Jesus does when we come into fellowship with Him. He takes whatever fear, anxiety or hinderance we have that chains us down in worry. He then breaks those chains by grace and lets us go in the power of His might.

The sixth miracle, we have a dramatic scene, Jesus is teaching in the synagogue and the scribes are blown away by the authority by which He teaches. In the synagogue is a man who is possessed by demons, those demons go nuts in God’s presence and Jesus with one command casts them out of the man. I believe Jesus saved that man right there. Satan cannot possess a believer, but he can attack the believer. There is a great lesson in this miracle. Here we see the power of God’s presence. The sweetest and most powerful fellowship with God we can have is to be “filled with His Spirit” (Eph.5:18) in His presence to the point that evil has no place. Ephesians 5:18 is rightly positioned just prior to chapter six where Paul deals with spiritual warfare. There is nothing like the presence of God and if your going to walk in victory with your feet shod with the gospel and the helmet of salvation then you better learn to practice His presence. Do you pray and meditate in His presence? The scripture says in James 4:8, “draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” To do that requires action on our part.

The seventh miracle, I love this miracle and enjoy preaching it. Here is a man that for 38 years had some kind of infirmity. Here he is surrounded by others who need healing, too. They wait for the angel to touch the waters as God sent him to do at certain times. But this man could never get to the water to be healed. Jesus asked him a question, it’s a legitimate and very important question. Jesus said, Do you want to be made well? Now, Jesus healed him right then. The reason so many people remain lost is not because they haven’t heard the gospel but because they don’t want to be made well. They don’t want to get right with God because they don’t want to get rid of sin. Fellowship with God, means we must first agree with Him that we are spiritually sick and in need of spiritual life. We need to want it, seek it and receive it. My guess, this man healed at that pool, walked away and told everyone he saw about his past with a 38 year infirmity and now his new found Savior.

Hope you have a wonderful Sunday, we may not be together in physical form at the church, but we are together in our hearts and Savior.

Bro. Bruce Rudd

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Saturday, March 21, 2020
 
Saturday, March 21, 2020
 

“And You Shall Call His Name Jesus!”

Matthew 1:19-21

                        19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

 

Have you ever found yourself in an uninvited crisis? Well, I think Joseph must have initially considered his circumstance as an uninvited crisis. But he will soon realize it’s not a crisis, it’s Christ. Joseph loved Mary, and the one thing he knew was that this baby in Mary’s womb was definitely not his. The real crisis was this world needed a Savior. I love that song Bro. Kevin occasionally leads the choir with that has in its lyrics “Jesus is the answer for the world today.”

 

Ever since man fell in the garden of Eden there have been uninvited crisis that surprise us when we least expect. Every generation of people and individuals will unfortunately endure unexpected crisis to some degree. It’s inevitable because of the Fall in Genesis chapter three. Disease, death, and suffering all find their source in Adam’s disobedience. Adam’s sin hasn’t done us any favors that’s for sure. Now when we think of Adam, we think of that “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” that God told Adam not to eat from. Yet Adam did, well it was Eve’s fault for wanting to eat-out instead of cooking at home (just kidding).

 

Well, with that said there are two names in human history we need to know about. The first name I want to talk about is Adam. Because of Adam, a lot of uninvited crisis of suffering, death and disease has come into this world because he fell for Satan’s lies and disobeyed God. The bible tells us in First Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” Adam is an important name to get familiar with. But there is just one more interesting thing you’ve got to see about Adam. If he had no earthly parents, then who named him? Well, God did. The name “Adam” means Mankind (Gen.5:2). God created Adam; he was the very first man on earth. Adam doesn’t need a belly button because there was no momma to button it to. Did you know Adam didn’t have a mother; he was the only man in history without a birth mom? Eve didn’t have a mother in law, but she did have a pretty awesome Father in law.

 

Adam & Eve are our grandparents. I don’t care who you are or where you live on this planet, Adam & Eve makes us all related, because we all started right there. So here we have Adam, named by God, created by God. Adam was a miracle of creation and you and I are miracles of pro-creation. Jesus was not born by pro-creation but by Supernatural and sinless conception of the Holy Spirit. He is our Immanuel, God with us. He had to take upon Himself our humanity like us but not by procreation. Mary was a virgin, yet pregnant with Jesus. Could you imagine if they could have done a DNA test on the blood of Jesus while He was on this earth? It would have been the biggest news story in history. They might would say, “we can’t trace His blood back to Adam, it’s impossible.” Or they might say, “We’ve never seen anything like this, it’s as if His Father is God.” Jesus did not have one speck of Adams blood in His veins. He came as 100% God and yet 100% Man. He came that those born once under Adam could be born again under Christ. Jesus came to remove us from a family tree of death to place us in a family tree of life. In Jesus we have a new family head. We have a new birth in Christ that comes with a holy nature instead of a sinful nature, which our first birth gave us.

 

Don’t miss a hidden lesson here in our last two verses. What Joseph initially viewed as an uninvited crisis turned out to be the greatest news imaginable. The angel gives the best sonogram mankind has ever heard. I mean, in Mary’s womb was the most important birth (conceived of the Holy Spirit). The most important Person (Son). The most important name (you shall call His name Jesus). And lastly, the most important purpose in human history (He will save His people from their sins). No wonder, “There’s just something about that name!”

 

Two names, Adam and Jesus! Which of these two names do you identify with? You and I are born naturally under Adam in sin. But there is hope, Jesus said in John 3:3, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Praise God we get another chance to be born, not naturally but spiritually. In the natural birth, we connect to Adam. But in the spiritual we connect to Jesus. Can you say today, “I am identified with the Lord Jesus. I have His name in my heart. I have His name in my songs. I’m not afraid, I belong to Jesus and He belongs to me.”

 

The overarching goal at Mt. Sylvan is that you will open your heart to the good news Jesus brings. When you do, it brings Him glory like nothing else can. There is uncertainty in this world. But there is certainty in Christ.

 

Consider:

Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe and we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

Jesus was born once that we might be born twice.

Whose name do you identify with, Adam or Jesus?

 

Hymn/ Jesus Paid It All.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

 

Bro. Bruce Rudd