Do Not Be Afraid!
“But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain. (Interlude) I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O Lord. May you bless your people. (Interlude)”
Psalms 3:3-8 NLT
"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.”
Psalms 4:8 NLT
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love.”
Psalms 5:11-12 NLT
"I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.”
Psalms 16:7-9 NLT
“But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”
Psalms 56:3-4 NLT
“But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.”
Psalms 59:16 NLT
“We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds. God says, “At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked. When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps its foundations firm. (Interlude)”
Psalms 75:1-3 NLT
"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
Psalms 91:1-16 NLT
“I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”
Psalms 121:1-8 NLT
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
Isaiah 26:3 NLT
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 NLT
“But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...."
Isaiah 43:1-3a NLT
“Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here! ” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.”
Matthew 14:24-32 NLT
“They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here! ” Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!”
John 6:19-21 NLT
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
John 14:27 NLT
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:6-9 NLT
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
1 Peter 5:7 NLT
Jesus foretold the events that are transpiring in the world!
“Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.”
Luke 21:10-11 NLT
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
Luke 21:25-26 KJV
In the midst of all the concern and uncertainty of this plague called "the coronavirus" (COVID-19) that is afflicting the world, do not be afraid!! Pray these scriptures over you and your family! God is with us! He will not fail us! If Jesus is on the boat, we will arrive at our destination!! Guaranteed!!
“Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:12-14 NLT
Let's get together as the church and pray! God is merciful and full of lovingkindness! Let's look to Him for our hope and help!!!
In Jesus Name!!! Amen!!!
Curtis R. Norris
The Great Commission
“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 NLT
This is called "The Great Commission!" The task of the church is to carry the gospel of Jesus to all the world. The early church took this most seriously. In fact, they sent out missionaries to preach the gospel in every city they possibly could. The book of ACTS in the Bible is the historical documentary of these events. Their goal was to reach the entire world with the good news of Jesus Christ. No expense was spared in fulfilling this directive, including their lives. The early disciples knew Jesus and understood who He was. This motivated them to carry His message of salvation to anyone and everyone. NOTHING was more important to them! I love the way Paul says it in Acts 20:24:
“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”
We are recipients of this great call! We have been handed a torch to carry in this world. The darkness must be expelled by the light of Jesus Christ. He is the hope of the world! Without Him there is no future. The inhabitants of this world are rushing to destruction by the billions. We MUST understand our objective as the church. We are called to preach and teach the truth of the gospel to all who will listen. The world, as we know it, is perishing. The people in this world are dying! We must "rescue the perishing, care for the dying". Listen to the lyric of a well known hymn by Frances J. Crosby from the year 1869:
"Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.
Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died."
Does your heart pound with passion to share the gospel with those around you? Are you aware of the reality that you are a part of something much more grand than yourself? As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to share the gospel with others. If only we fully understood the critical nature of this very truth. Lives are on the line and eternity is at stake. We cannot afford to get caught up in the selfish and mundane living that is so alluring in the American culture. Souls are headed to destruction! If you knew someone that was going to die today, would you share the gospel with them and would you be able to lead them to salvation? Every believer must take this seriously. Our short lives will soon be over in this world and we must make them count for something greater than ourselves. We must live for the One who created us and we must fulfill His purpose in our lives. We have a mandate:
“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”
Matthew 24:14 NLT
Anyone with any common sense can see that the world is groaning and aching for hope. Jesus is that hope!!! There is no other alternative!!
This hope cost the early church everything! What about you? Are you truly saved and plugged into a Bible believing, preaching church? Are you actively pursuing the proclamation of the gospel to those around you? We must get our house in order and get busy with the Father's business.
We need not fear for Jesus is with us. All power is in His name! Let's run TO the darkness not FROM it.
“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
1 John 4:4 NLT
Until the whole world hears!!
Curtis R. Norris
“The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
John 6:63 NLT
3 things here:
1. The Holy Spirit is the One who breathes life back into our mortal bodies and gives us eternal life. We cannot save ourselves! In fact, we cannot be born again unless the Father draws us to Himself.
“For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.”
John 6:44 NLT
Without the Holy Spirit we are dead (spiritually separated from God).
“he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”
Titus 3:5 NLT
“But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)”
Romans 8:9 NLT
“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”
Galatians 5:25 NLT
2. Human effort is powerless to redeem. Sure, human effort can accomplish things in the natural - like doing chores, earning a wage, discovery and development, etc. Even then, we must recognize that we can't do anything without God's mercy and grace.
“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”
Acts of the Apostles 17:27-31 NLT
Spiritually speaking, we are powerless to accomplish salvation!
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 NLT
We are saved by grace through the portal of faith.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT
3. God's Word is the very substance we need to sustain life.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Genesis 1:1 NLT
In Genesis Chapter 1, 11 times the scriptures record that God "said" things in creation. God's Word created everything! Only through His Word can we love in creation as He intended. The breath of God and His Word are the very life we need. Without His Word we sink right back into the dust from whence we came, without hope. Only God's Word can sustain us!
“Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven.”
Psalms 119:89 NLT
“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.”
Luke 21:33 NLT
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
In Genesis 3:1-7, Adam made the single most disastrous decision in human history when he disobeyed the Word God had given him in Genesis 2:15-17.
We, too, make the most disastrous decision when we ignore the Word of God!
I pray this prayer for you today:
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
2 Corinthians 13:14 NLT
Curtis R. Norris
Profession and Practice
“So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”
1 Peter 2:1-3 NLT
A newborn baby needs the right kind of milk to give them the baby fat that they need to feed on as they develop. They don't need sweet tea or Mountain Dew. They need wholesome, grade A milk. The child of God needs the proper nourishment as well. We must not feed ourselves on the "junk" food of the world. We need to be nourished with the pure Word of God!
Too many "Christians" are eating from the wrong table and drinking from the wrong fountain. We, in the church in America, are being desensitized by the culture around us. We are becoming too worldly! We are trying to mix the ways of the world with our worship. We are becoming seeker sensitive rather than God conscious. Disciples of Jesus are to live their lives in reverent fear. This has been lost in many of the American churches. Yes, there are some that are striving to please God in their character and conduct but there are some who identify with Christ and think it's ok to live loose and loud. Nonsense! Jesus didn't save us to live like the devil. He saved us to live like Him!! We are His children! We are a part of heavens royal family and we are called to behave like we are. Our Father has begotten us and His character should flow through our veins. The American gospel has become perverted! We cannot claim to love the Lord Jesus Christ and live like the rest of the world. We are called to come out from the darkness and walk in the light. I'm not speaking of being ritualistic and religiously obnoxious. I'm talking about holiness!
“Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. ”
2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NLT
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
Ephesians 5:1-17 NLT
We MUST be conscientious of who we are and what we are supposed to be doing. We must match our profession with our practice.
“But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.””
2 Timothy 2:19 NLT
Curtis R. Norris
“Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”
Hebrews 1:14 NLT
Angels! One of the most misunderstood beings are angels. We cannot do a comprehensive study here but we can do a concise analysis. Let's look at just a few things:
1. Angels are not to be worshiped.
“And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus. ”
Revelation 19:9-10 NLT
Angels are not equal with God! Angels are created beings, not the Creator!!
2. When we die we do not become angels in heaven!
“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.””
Genesis 1:26-28 NLT
God made man in His image, not angels. We are the apex of God's creation. Angels are created beings as well, but with one exception: they are not made in God's image. As the crown jewel of God's creation, we are higher in position of than angels. Now this is not meant to degrade the purpose and power that God delegated to His angels nor does it mean that we are to be arrogant and prideful in our created rank. We are all under the Supremacy of The Lord Jesus Christ!!! My point here is that we must properly understand the created order of things.
“Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.”
1 Corinthians 6:3 NLT
We must stop saying things like: "God needed another angel in heaven" when a baby dies or anyone else. They are not angels!! The thought is meant in good intention but it isn't biblically sound.
3. There are various kinds of angels: Winged and without wings.
A. Cherubim - two wings
These are the angelic beings who were placed at the entrance of the garden of Eden to prohibit the re-entry by Adam and Eve after they were expelled. (see Genesis 3:22-24). These creatures were also depicted by craftsmen and placed atop the lid of the Ark of The Covenant to prepare a place where God's mercy would meet man in the Old Covenant (see Exodus Chapters 25-26, 36-37). They are mentioned in many other Old Testament passages as well.
B. Seraphim - Angelic creatures with six wings.
“Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.”
Isaiah 6:2 NLT
C. Angels in human form -
“That evening the two angels came to the entrance of the city of Sodom. Lot was sitting there, and when he saw them, he stood up to meet them. Then he welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground.
....But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”
Genesis 19:1, 4-5 NLT
These two men angels were apparently in human form. Lot interacted with them and invited them into his home. The men of Sodom were perverse in their sexual conduct (much like we are seeing in our own society) and wanted these "men" to be given over to them for their deviant acts. Lot did not grant their request but the men of Sodom were going to assault him. Before they could do that, the angels pulled Lot back inside the house and smote the men of Sodom with blindness.
Angles come to us in human form and we must be discerning to realize it.
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”
Hebrews 13:2 NLT
4. Angles are only mentioned in masculine reference in scripture, not feminine.
Just a the men of Sodom wanted the "men" who had come to Lots house, so are angels mentioned in the masculine in scripture.
A. Michael -
“But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.”
Daniel 10:13 NLT
B. Lucifer -
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”
Isaiah 14:12 KJV
This scripture is believed by many to be a reference to Satan because of his fall from heaven. In this way of thought Satan was once a high ranking angel that was expelled from heaven. Some reference Revelation Chapter 12 with this.
“Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.
....Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.”
Revelation 12:3-4, 7-9 NLT
C. Gabriel -
“And I heard a human voice calling out from the Ulai River, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of his vision.” As Gabriel approached the place where I was standing, I became so terrified that I fell with my face to the ground. “Son of man,” he said, “you must understand that the events you have seen in your vision relate to the time of the end.” While he was speaking, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground. But Gabriel roused me with a touch and helped me to my feet.”
Daniel 8:16-18 NLT
“Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news!”
Luke 1:19 NLT
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! ”
Luke 1:26-28 NLT
These three are the only named angels in the canon of scripture. Some argue that Lucifer in Isaiah 14 was not a reference to Satan but, rather, to a Babylonian king. One consideration, however, about the text can give the interpretation that the spirit behind the Babylonian king was satanic. Thus, the reason for the possible interpretation for Lucifer as Satan!
5. Angels are servants of God that minister to God's chosen -
“For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”
Psalms 34:7 NLT
At the end of Jesus temptation by Satan, angels came and ministered to Him.
“Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.”
Matthew 4:11 NLT
“The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered. So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.”
Acts of the Apostles 12:6-10 NLT
“Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”
Hebrews 1:14 NLT
If you are a born again child of God, angels are with you and watching over you to help you fulfill Gods will in your life. Take heart child of God! You are in God's care!
Curtis R. Norris
Love Like Jesus
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Matthew 5:43-48 NLT
This is one of the most difficult things in the world to do: Loving your enemies! This kind of love must be rooted in Jesus Christ. This kind of love goes beyond the human level to the Divine. Only when we understand and embrace the love of God can we reciprocate that love to others in its deepest form.
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”
Luke 6:27-36 NLT
“For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.””
Galatians 5:14 NLT
The greatest demonstration of love is when we love those who oppose us. Anyone can love those who love them. Only God can love those who hate Him. Only through Him can we do the same. Jesus epitomized this on the cross:
“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.”
Luke 23:34 NLT
Even after being beaten to the point of death with a whip that was laced with chips of bone/metal, carrying a 100 pound cross beam (called the patibulum) 600 yards through the Via Dolorosa (the processional route through Jerusalem to Golgotha/Calvary - the path of suffering), and being nailed to the cross with rusty spikes, Jesus uttered these words.
What AMAZING LOVE!!!
We are called to love like that! Let's pray that God will help us do just that!!
Curtis R. Norris
“If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”
1 John 4:20-21 NLT
Saying we love God is a simple statement to make and a much more difficult thing to put into action toward others. Truly loving God will translate into loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:34-35 NLT
“If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.”
1 John 3:14-19 NLT
The greatest evidence of a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is the love we display to one another as Christians. The world should be able to look to the body of Christ for true community and commmonism. I didn't say communism. I am, most definitely, not an advocate for communism and socialism!! Communism is a tyrannical seizing of ones personal things for the benefit of others. COMMONISM is the willful desire, and discerning thoughtfulness, that the Holy Spirit gives us toward one another. This kind of love is portrayed in Acts 2 and 4.
“And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
Acts of the Apostles 2:44-47 NLT
“All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.”
Acts of the Apostles 4:32-37 NLT
This practice was not demanded or enforced by the early church. This practice was a willful outflow of the love of God toward those who were fellow believers in legitimate need. There are people who have legitimate needs and those who, by lifestyle choices, create a cycle of self destructive behavior. We must discern between the two. The early church loved one another because they loved God!
The texts above are about loving our fellow believers. This isn't meant to give the impression that we can hate non-believers. The context is in regard to the testimony we give the world when we love one another as the family of God. We must love other people as well! Jesus instructed us to love even our enemies. We will talk about that tomorrow, Lord willing!
We can talk until we are blue in the face, we can attend church, shout the loudest, act the most spiritual, and even be fluent in spiritual gifts, but the real evidence of being full of the Holy Spirit is the love of God!
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
....Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13 NLT
I encourage you to read the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. Take a look at the attributes of godly love.
Are you obnoxious and repulsive to people with your hard nosed, pious ways or are you attractive in your demonstration of God's love?
Religion without love is lethal. I am certainly not excusing sin or endorsing immoral conduct of any kind. I believe in holiness! I am simply saying that love must be at the foundation of all that we do in faith.
"For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.”
Galatians 5:6 NLT
Biblical, Christian love is life giving!
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
John 3:16-17 NLT
Are you loving like Jesus?
Curtis R. Norris
Where are You?
“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
....But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
Genesis 2:7-9, 16-17 NLT
God made man from the dust of the earth. The essential chemical elements found in soil are also found in humans and animals. Not until recently was this fact known to scientists but God told us this from the beginning!!! God is always right! His Word is TRUE!!! Animals were made on the same day as man (6th day - see Genesis 1:24-31).
The transliteration of the Hebrew word for "living person" in Genesis 2:7 is "nephesh" (pronounced neh'-fesh"). The definition is very specific, depending on the reference usage in various verses in the Bible. Here is a list of definitions depending on the usage:
1. soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
A. that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man
B. living being
C. living being (with life in the blood)
D. the man himself, self, person or individual
E. seat of the appetites
F. seat of emotions and passions
G. activity of mind
H. activity of the will
I. activity of the character
We can see that this word is related to the life God gave man. Here, we understand that man is more than a body, he is someone that God made with a soul and spirit as well. Man was created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26-28). God had deposited His Spirit in man. This is what made him very distinct from animals and everything else in Creation. All other forms of life had animation and created purpose but only man had God's Spirit inside him. Man was able to think, will, and emotionally react. He was made creational, relational - with characteristics like his Creator. Man was given three components:
1. A spirit - the life inside us
2. A soul - our mind, will, and
3. A body - our physical
This is verified in
1 Thessalonians 5:23:
“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23 NLT
In this passage the Holy Spirit lists the spirit first, the soul second, and the body third. The reason for this is simple: everything about our lives stems from our spiritual condition. These three components make up the one person we are. God is One - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are one - spirit, soul, and body. The most important part of us is spiritual. The condition of our spirit determines how we live. Life without God is existence, not living!! Survival not thriving! Life without God is death!
Our original created purpose was to care for God's creation as God's designated overseers. Man was, originally, appointed by God to rule over this earth under His command (see Genesis 1:28). Man was to subdue - KJV (rule and reign over) the world God had created. The Apex of God's creation was man himself. All of the world was made with man in mind. God gave man the responsibility to care for (tend) this earth. His primary form of that care was spiritual. God had commanded man not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This command was the most important thing that Adam (his name means "man") could do - obey God! Man was free to eat of every tree except this one. Out of all the trees in the garden, only one was off limits. The real issue was obedience! Notice that the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil were both in the middle of the garden. The decision of which tree Adam would eat from was "central" to everything. As a prominent Christian speaker, Ravi Zacharias, has quoted: "The problem wasn't the fruit in the tree. The problem was the pair on the ground." The tree of knowledge of good and evil was attractive and desirable, but God said no! The challenge to man was obedience vs. disobedience. Well, we know the rest of that story (see Genesis 3:1-7). Immediately, spiritual death occurred. God withdrew His Spirit from man, shame was the result, and man's view of the world was now perverted.
“At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.”
Genesis 3:7 NLT
Man tried to cover his sin but his efforts were futile.
God cried out to lost humanity because separation had occurred. No longer could God's Spirit abide with man!
“When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?””
Genesis 3:8-9 NLT
This is a rhetorical question. God didn't need to find Adam! God knew where Adam was! The question was for Adam to contemplate. He needed to think about where he was now and where he once was. This would serve to torment man throughout history. Man has an innate longing for so much more. This came from our created beginnings. Death was now upon man. The second form of death would now take place as a consequence of sin - physical death. The world was plunged into darkness and a curse was now placed upon the world that was under their command.
Here we are! We are still in this world. The atmosphere and the environment is a constant war! Satan, sin, death, sickness, sorrow, and suffering are the norm. The life we once had is but a longing in our hearts. We now tend the earth with toil and sweat.
“And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”
Genesis 3:17-19 NLT
We eat our meals in sorrow until we sink back into the dust from whence we came. All down through the ages we can hear our Maker calling out our name.
As Don Francisco, a Christian lyricist, musician, and singer once said: "The curse has long been broken by Jesus Christ but Adams sons are still prisoners of their fears. We rush to destruction with our fingers in our ears. All the while, God is calling out our name. Adam, where are you?"
What a question!! Put your name in the place of Adam. _______, where are you?
Answer the question!
God must be at the center of our garden and we must eat from His tree of life to live. If we choose to reject the tree of life - the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. If we want life, as God intended, we must accept God's Son - The Lord Jesus Christ as the payment for our sinful rebellion. We have the opportunity to eat from the fruit of the Tree of Life and let Him deposit His Spirit inside us once more. He will rebirth us into His image and we will live forever!!
Adam, where are you??
Curtis R. Norris
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT
We are in a raging battle against the forces of darkness! The only way for us to win is to identify our enemy and suit up in the right battle attire.
Our enemy is Satan, not other human beings. The evil that is being manifest through other people is the result of them being under satanic control. The only way to defeat Satan is through the power of Jesus Christ! We cannot fight this battle in the power of the carnal man (human, fleshly man).
“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT
We MUST fight this battle in the Spirit. Our feeble attempts to win this in our strength will only render us expended and exhausted. There is only ONE human who ever ran this human race and won it - Jesus. We must look to Him for victory. He has already won the War!!! In Him we can overcome Satan's strategic attempts to take casualties and captives from the battlefield. Jesus is our sure defense and our absolute triumph!!! Death itself cannot overcome the child of God!
“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NLT.
We are overcomers and more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:35-39 NLT
We are victors, not victims!!
We have been rescued from Satan's concentration camp and adopted into God's family.
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.””
Romans 8:15 NLT
“For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,”
Colossians 1:13 NLT
We are now soldiers in the army of the Lord of Hosts! We are not fighting for victory, we are fighting with victory! Now that we are rescued, adopted, and placed among the ranks of God's people we must suit up for the battle in this age. Until we get home to be with our Commander in Chief - Jesus, we must submit to His training and suit up in the armor He has issued us. We are under orders and we must be found at our post of duty.
The enemy wants to exploit our human weakness. Satan is a cunning foe and he waits for us to lay our armor down so we are exposed. He knows that he cannot defeat us when we are battle dressed and ready. Only when we get complacent and comfortable do we become vulnerable. We must be ready at all times in this daily battle with the dark forces of evil. We must walk as children of the light!
“For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”
1 Thessalonians 5:5-8 NLT
Serving Jesus is not a walk in the park but at least it's not a walk in the dark!
Let's review the main text of scripture for today (Ephesians 6:10-18). Here is a list of our orders and our issued supplies:
1. We must be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power! We cannot win in our strength!
2. We must put on God's armor.
3. We are not fighting other human beings, although their behavior is manifest evidence of their dark associations. We are fighting evil forces in the heavenly realm. Command central for evil people is Satan himself. He is the one we are really fighting (and his demons).
4. We must stand firm in the righteousness of God's armor and resist evil.
We do this by putting on these things:
1. Belt of truth. This is the first and main thing. Without truth everything else is irrelevant and powerless. God's Word is Truth!
2. Body armor of righteousness
(Breastplate). We are given righteousness through Jesus Christ our Savior. We live in righteousness as a result of His Lordship! This protects the vital organs of our living.
3. We must wear shoes of peace and walk in peace. We are not trouble makers. We are peace makers (see Matthew 5:9). God's children do not riot or cause civil unrest. We are the ones who bring stability and civility to the world! The gospel is a message of peace with God and how that peace translates into peace in life itself. Only Jesus can bring true peace to an evil world. One day He will banish evil and establish His eternal peace on earth! He is the Prince of Peace!Hallelujah!
4. We must hold up the shield of faith! Satan will fire arrows at us that are meant to be lethal but we can quench those flaming arrows with faith in God!
5. We must put on the protection of our head - the helmet of salvation. We can have the knowledge of Christ and His wisdom. We are being bombarded by satanic things all around us and we must not allow our minds to come under the influence of evil. We must know in WHOM we have believed!!
6. We must become proficient in wielding the Sword of the Spirit! God's Word is that Sword! We must learn to use it well and appropriately. We must hold it in it's sheath (our hearts) and be ready to use it when needed!
7. We must pray in the Spirit! We must get beyond the human level and pray in unison with the Holy Spirit! (see Romans 8:26; I Corinthians 14:14-15; Ephesians 6:18). There we enter the realm of the spiritual warfare in which we must fight. There we find, in Him, power for the battle!
Curtis R. Norris
Jesus, Our High Priest
“He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.”
Hebrews 7:26 NLT
I love this verse! Jesus is certainly all of thee above!
1. High Priest
4. Unstained by sin
5. Set apart from sinners
6. Given the highest place of
honor in heaven
Only Jesus can have this list applied to His character. No other human being can ever claim that status! To the contrary, we are the following:
1. Lowly sinners
4. Stained by sin
5. Counted among the wicked
6. Destined for hell
The only hope any of us have is in Him!!! None of us can save ourselves! There is only One who has ever lived this human life perfectly - Jesus Christ!!!
In Him we have redemption when we repent of our sins and accept His sacrifice as the atonement of our transgressions. Doing good deeds won't save us. Simply attending a church won't save us. Being born into a family or culture that has traditionally been identified as "Christian" won't save us. We are saved by the grace of God that is imparted to us in His Only Son Jesus! (see Ephesians 2:8-9). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!!! (see John 14:6). There is NO other way! (see Acts 4:12). The Pope can't save anyone! Confessing to a priest can't save anyone. A preacher can't save anyone! Reciting bible verses won't save us. Salvation can only come through the High Priest Jesus! I am so glad I know Him as my Savior and Lord! I love Him with all my heart! I go to church, do good deeds, strive to live a life of holiness, and when I falter I confess my sin to the the High Priest Jesus! I do all of this because I'm saved, not to somehow earn my salvation! My works are done as an outflow of my relationship with my Master! I want the world to see the character of Christ living through me.
Do you know the High Priest of all time? He awaits your call.
Curtis R. Norris
Rev. Curtis Norris