Jesus Paid It All

Jesus Paid It All

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Yesterday many of us celebrated the Lord’s Table in our church services – a reminder of what Jesus did for us on the cross. He paid for our sins – PAST, PRESENT and Future. Not some sin – but all of our sin.Jesus Paid It All

My favorite modern day devotional writer, Dr. Paul David Tripp in his POWERFUL devotional, New Morning Mercies – A Daily Gospel Devotional (Crossway) reminds us:

Jesus paid it all! There are no bills due for your sin! You are now free to simply trust and obey. Stop trying to earn something from God. Stop trying to gain more of His acceptance. Stop trying to earn His favor. Stop trying to wins His allegiance. Stop trying to do something that would pay for His blessing. Stop trying to morally buy your way out of His anger. Stop trying to reach a level where you will know lasting peace with Him. Just stop trying. Just stop.

Christ did not make the first payment on your moral mortgage; He paid your entire moral mortgage in one single payment so that you could live in relationship to God forever.

So stop trying to measure up to get whatever from God. Stop hiding from Him when you mess up. Stop comparing yourself to other people, wondering if God loves you less because you’re not as “good” as them. Stop naming the good things you do as righteousness that not only gets you closer to God, but also proves to others that you are.

Just stop asking the law to do what only GRACE can achieve, and start resting in the fact that you don’t have any moral bills due because Jesus paid them all on the cross.

And when you sin, don’t pretend you didn’t, don’t panic, and don’t hide. Run to Jesus and receive mercy in your time of need, the kind of mercy He paid for you to have.

Wow! I needed that today. How about you? Think about it! – Dr. Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 28-29; Acts 7:1-21

Think About This: There are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done. —Hudson Taylor

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah – Psalm 62:8

Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, And all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

One of my favorite Disney movies is The Lion King, I can’t tell you how many times I watched it with my kids when they were small. Recently I overheard someone use the term “Hakuna Matata”, it was quoted by Simba’s two friends to help keep him from worrying. “Hakuna matata” is a Swahili phrase; translated, it roughly means “No problems” or “Don’t Worry, be Happy”.Hakuna Mattata

If your experiences are like mine, telling someone who is in distress “don’t worry” is not very productive. “Don’t worry”, should be one of the more comforting phrases found in the Bible, especially because when Jesus tells us not to worry it’s more of a command then a suggestion. In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus tells us “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” The KJV version uses the phrase “Take no thought for your life”.

If we notice, Jesus doesn’t start out by just saying “don’t worry”, that doesn’t come until verse 25, He first addresses some of the issues that cause worry, mainly putting away the premise of promoting ourselves and maintaining a prominent role among our peers and subordinates. He addresses things concerning our charitable deeds, praying in public, fasting and material possessions. None of these things are bad unless we do them with the wrong motive and therefore have received our reward from men.

Jesus begins to teach His disciples early on about the hindrances that come with focusing on themselves. There is a burden that comes with self-promotion that causes us to worry, an added distraction in our lives that prevents us from living in liberty. It’s the idea of traveling light, not carrying the added weight that can hinder our walk and serving others.

This is where the phrase “Hakuna Matata” loses its relevance, you see, we can only live in liberty and without worry by keeping ourselves in the love of God. It’s not this carefree life ignoring our responsibility.

The small but powerful epistle of Jude is a good reminder in the day and age we live in, he says in verse 3 “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”. However he warns us, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life”. When our lives are focused on kingdom building, we can have major concerns and still be free of worry. Jude ends his letter with one of the greatest benedictions in the Bible.

​​“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,

​​And to present you faultless

​​Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

​​To God our Savior,

​​Who alone is wise,

​​Be glory and majesty,

​​Dominion and power,

​​Both now and forever.

​​Amen.”  Rob Russomano is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and serves full time at America’s Keswick. You can email him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org

Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 19-21; Acts 5:1-21

Think About This: Do not heed the jar of man’s warring opinions. Let God be true and every man a liar. The Bible is the Bible still. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God. Horatius Bonar

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Be gracious to me, O God, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, until destruction passes by. Psalm 57:1

The Flow of Oil

The Flow Of Oil

“Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant, my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD; and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” 2 Kings 4:1 (NASB) Oil

As Colony Reunion weekend was coming to a close, Dr. Roger Willmore asked a question during his Sunday morning message, “What hinders the Holy Spirit from working in your life?” Now I’ll tell ya something; the list can get long if I want to head down Melancholy Lane with the whole matter. The woulda’s, shoulda’s and coulda’s that run through my mind with this question make meditation on it a crowded day. This question has left me truly wondering about my own vertical connection with The One who has saved me from the wide road I was once on, suggested to me that I surrender all and who has reminded me that with this choice there comes traveling a road that gets ever so tighter to be on.

One of the things that Dr. Willmore spoke on that Colony Reunion weekend was that obedience is the master key to unlocking God’s blessing in our lives. When we use this key The Holy Spirit begins a work in our life and that Sunday morning he used a story we find in 2Kings 4:1-7 (in some Bibles it is titled “The Widows Oil”) as an example. At first I thought it only a good story about how God used the prophet Elisha to show His glory to a widow who fell victim to the cliché that “bad things happen to good people”, but Brother Willmore changed my perspective on it.

So we start with off with the widow confronting Elisha and letting him know her dire circumstances, “Your servant, my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD; and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.”

Though the widow is bankrupt, under the legal system in Israel at this time she would not be allowed to declare bankruptcy. I am sure her faith is wavering at this moment as well. Like the widow we can get in these ugly ruts where the things of this world has placed an immense weight on our shoulders, we focus in on the circumstances, we feel just as desperate and desponded as the widow did, we lament over what has been lost and can’t (or won’t) look up. So she rightfully goes to the man of God with her concerns and with that Elisha asks her an unusual question, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?”

This was an important question to ask. You see, this would be no welfare handout! God would use what she had to start with. Her reply speaks volumes, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Now in other translations it can say flask BUT none the matter that may have just been the husbands “anointing oil”. Then Elisha tells her to, “Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few.” Although this would seem an awkward request to most the widow obeys what the man of God has told her and then goes back into the house and shuts the door and begins to pour that small jar of “anointing oil” into those borrowed vessels. And if you have already turned to this story in your Bibles you can see the rest of this story and its results.

Now I propose to you this morning, as I believe Brother Willmore did, that when we feel as if the weight of the world is upon our shoulders, we need to rightfully seek God’s will to the situation and “shut the door” to the world behind us so that The Holy Spirit can pour Himself into our lives. Jesus told His disciples during The Last Supper, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever he hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13) And we need to obediently take this promise from Jesus and be assured that when the world’s weight is bearing down we can shut the door to it, cry out to God and allow the flow of anointing oil (The Holy Spirit) to sustain us. Amen? – Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger

Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 16-18; Acts 4:23-37

Think About This: “A full Christ is for empty sinners, and for empty sinners only, and as long as there is a really empty soul in a congregation so long will a blessing go forth with the word, and no longer. It is not our emptiness, but our fullness which can hinder the outgoings of free grace.”—C.H. Spurgeon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Be gracious to me, O God, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, until destruction passes by. Psalm 57:1

Being Kind is One Thing … But Forgiveness …

Being Kind is One thing, But Forgiveness….

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

While attending my wife’s uncle funeral; repeatedly I kept hearing the same characteristics throughout each testimony about his life. Kind or caring! This was evident even when I met him in his later days. He was a testimony of God’s miraculous handy work.Forgive

I believe whole heartily that the Word of God has practical truth regarding all manner of life. To be kind is one of the by products from having an intimate relationship with our Savior.  Being kind can heal, mend relationships, make somebody’s day etc…

But how about the second part of this verse. Even with all the awesome testimonies, someone thought they were obligated to say something negative. There was one, yes one. At funerals, with all the emotions flying, most of us have that one person who will act out. This person’s testimony breathed an unforgiven heart.

If we are honest, the forgiveness process is a lot easier when it involves light afflictions or dealing with people who have sought out forgiveness. And it is tolerable when you actually like the person. However, there are some evil that have been done to us that we need the Holy Spirit in us, to intercede for us, to extend pass our natural limitation or our forgiveness threshold.

Forgiveness is the Christian’s reasonable service, which we have no freedom to neglect. Forgiveness brings true peace and joy that bonds us with gospel in us. Jesus paid it all, and He gave us the space and grace to live, we should extend the same to others. Ask yourself; is there someone that you need to ask for forgiveness or forgive a trespass against yourself? – Chaplain Juan Mendez serves at the Colony of Mercy as a Chaplain. You can email him at rmendez@americaskeswick.org

Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 13-15; Acts 4:1-22

Think About This: The gospel is not speculation but fact. It is truth, because it is the record of a person who is the Truth. Alexander MacLaren

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Be gracious to me, O God, for my soul takes

God is Still on the Throne

God is Still on the Throne and Still in Control

There has been much written over the past several days about the Supreme Court’s decision regarding marriage particularly on social media. I think one of the best commentaries written was by Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:God is Still on the Throne

As I write this, the Supreme Court has handed down what will be the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage, redefining marriage in all 50 states. This is a sober moment, and I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling. The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep. So how should the church respond?

First of all, the church should not panic. The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back in that tomb. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is still calling the universe toward his kingdom.

Moreover, while this decision will, I believe, ultimately hurt many people and families and civilization itself, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That was the case in Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which held to marriage views out of step with the Scriptures.

The church will need in the years ahead to articulate what we believe about marriage; we cannot assume that people agree with us, or even understand us. Let’s not simply talk about marriage in terms of values or culture or human flourishing. Let’s talk about marriage the way Jesus and the apostles taught us to — as bound up with the gospel itself, a picture of the union of Christ and his church (Eph. 5:32).

As we do so, we must not just articulate our views of marriage, we must embody a gospel marriage culture. We have done a poor job of that in the past. Too many of our marriages have been ravaged by divorce.

Too often we’ve neglected church discipline in the cases of those who have unrepentantly destroyed their marriages. We must repent of our failings and picture to the world what marriage is meant to be, and keep the light lit to the old paths.

This gives the church an opportunity to do what Jesus called us to do with our marriages in the first place: to serve as a light in a dark place. Permanent, stable marriages with families with both a mother and a father may well make us seem freakish in 21st-century culture.

We should not fear that. We believe stranger things than that. We believe a previously dead man is alive, and will show up in the Eastern skies on a horse. We believe that the gospel can forgive sinners like us and make us sons and daughters. Let’s embrace the sort of freakishness that saves.

Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want. Many of our neighbors believe that a redefined concept of marriage will simply expand the institution (and, let’s be honest, many will want it to keep on expanding). This will not do so, because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.

We must prepare for those, like the sexually wayward Woman at the Well of Samaria, who will be thirsting for water of which they don’t even know.

There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.

We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.

Some Christians will be tempted to anger, lashing out at the world around us with a narrative of decline. That temptation is wrong. God decided when we would be born, and when we would be born again. We have the Spirit and the gospel. To think that we deserve to live in different times is to tell God that we deserve a better mission field than the one he has given us. Let’s joyfully march to Zion.

This was a lengthy read, but I felt it was important to share with our Freedom Fighter family. – Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 10-12; Acts 3

Think About This: Dare to be a Daniel – dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm – dare to make it known! Philipp P. Bliss

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Be gracious to me, O God, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, until destruction passes by. Psalm 57:1

All (Part 2)

All (Part 2)

Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

Last week I shared some verses about this powerful three letter word ALL in Scripture.All

Here are a couple more verses to encourage your heart today:

  1. All victory is secured in Jesus: Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:21)
  2. All dominion belongs to Jesus: And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church. (Ephesians 1:22)
  3. All fullness is found in Jesus: Which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:23)
  4. All wisdom and knowledge are in Jesus: Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3)
  5. All and all is in Jesus: Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11)

Roy Lessin in his devotional, Meet Me in the Meadow, shares this poem:

Christ is all – all joy, all peace, all love;
all grace, all mercy, all goodness;
All might, all splendor, all majesty;
all truth, all light, all glory;
All hope, all redemption, all salvation;
all fulfillment, all value, all worth;
All completeness, all wholeness, all oneness;
all holiness, all beauty, all life.

Christ is all – in my mind, my will, my heart;
my praying, my doing, my planning;
My tears, my joys, my contentment;
my going my coming, my resting;
My tests, my trials, my difficulties;
my work, my service, my leisure;
My mountains, my valleys, my pathways.

Is Christ your all in all today? If He is, take a few minutes and journal about the ways He is today in your life. Then thank Him for being your all and all. – Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 7-9; Acts 2:22-47

Think About This: The service of Christ is the business of my life. The will of Christ is the law of my life. The presence of Christ is the joy of my life. The glory of Christ is the crown of my life. – Anonymous.

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Be gracious to me, O God, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, until destruction passes by. Psalm 57:1

In Good Times and Bad

In Good Times and Bad

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?”
Psalm 139:7

One of the truest statements ever made is that a person can be in a crowd of people and feel alone. The pain of loneliness Good Times Bad Timesis an avenue to dark places. I can retreat to the 139th Psalm for a reminder of the intimacy I can have with God when I feel alone. When I find myself leaning on being so doctrinally sound, with all my facts on the table and neglecting the fellowship that comes with my relationship with God is the same thing as surrounding myself with people but never sharing in healthy fellowship. Expecting my needs to be met by just changing my surroundings is an external fix that ignores an internal need.

David comes upon the realization that no matter where he goes, God is there. I can relate to this picture of God wanting to comfort us in our time of need and also celebrate with us when we are soaring. Whether we’re ascending or descending, supplying the wind under our wings or finding us at our loneliest times at the outer ends of the sea.

There are times in my life I’ll never forget as a child, times when I would be having a great time and looking over at my Mom or Dad and knowing that they supplied this happy moment. Then there are the times waking up from a horrible nightmare and having my Mom comfort and hold me till I was fast asleep (even if it was in her bed). Having them cheer me on as I would celebrate a milestone or special event or have them reassure me of their love when I was feeling left out. Looking back at those times makes it easier to realize that we have a God who wants to fill those needs and desires in our life. Even if you’ve never had that as a child but as a grown man feel a need to be comforted, the scriptures are able to connect us to the Comforter as we trust in His word. I’m able to read the testimonies of men like King David who found his satisfaction in his relationship with his Maker as a means of acceptance and identity.

In a day and age where we can get caught up defending our faith with the doctrine found in scripture let’s not lose sight of the solace that comes from the Savior of our souls, the One who is able to bless us and keep us, the One who will never leave us or forsake us.

Who else would you want?

To quote the great song by Fernando Ortega

In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus,

Give me Jesus, give me Jesus
You can have all this world
But give me Jesus”

So as you go about your day, remember no matter where you go, He is already there. Rob Russomano serves full-time at America’s Keswick. You can write to him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org

Daily Bible Reading: Joel 1-3; Philippians 4

Think About This: Plans – When ours are interrupted, His are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable) “toward the goal of true maturity” (Rom 12:2 JBP). Elisabeth Elliot

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7