Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Work of God's Hand

by Michael C. Garrett

Have a question for you. How do we tell time!? – Or, even maybe better yet, a better question – how do we perceive the passage of time!? We have analog clocks that we follow the circular movement of their hands and, we look up and tell time. And, by the way, I have a buddy – chipper – who’s a volley ball official and he’s a junior high school teacher, he tells me that many of his students can not tell time on an analog clock – the good old fashioned circular clock! They don’t know how to do it!

Sometimes we observe the rhythmic display of a digital time-piece – as it goes through its numbers second by second. Sometimes we go outside, or look out a window and we notice that the sun has come up, and we talk about the beginning of a day. Sometimes we notice that the sun is setting, and we talk about the end of a day. And we know that after seven sunsets we can rightfully declare that a week has transpired. And after the moon has progressed through its cycles from full, to new, to full, we can realize that approximately a “moonth”  - or rather a month – has passed by. We also know that after 12-months or 52-weeks, about 365-days, we say that a year has come and gone.

And yet, I have a question. What if there was no Earth!? What if there was no Moon, no Sun, no planets, no solar system – would time actually exist!? Would time actually pass!? Would there even be a passage of time!? How would you tell time!? How would you be aware of the passage of time!? Well, you know, there was an occasion, I don’t know what proper word to use. An occasion, a moment, there was an era, when there simply was no universe, no creation, no star’s, no Sun, no planets, no Moon, no Earth, no matter – no nothing!

Nothing except the existence of two powerful Spirit Beings which possess - and still do – infinite intelligence, wisdom, power, and energy. And at some moment – somewhere back there – these two great Beings (which in the Greek language is called Theos – or God the Father and the Logos – or the Spokesman, the Word; the One we now call Jesus Christ) decided that They were going to create a physical universe which included the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, the planets, the oceans, and water, and atmosphere, plants, animals – and everything that we know. And they decided that They were going to create these beings in the very image of Themselves! In the image of GOD. And They also decided that these human beings were going to be offered a plan, a process, an opportunity to become – someday – eternal members of the Family of GOD! That’s quite remarkable! We read back in 1st Peter chapter 1, verse 19 – “…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20) He indeed was FOREORDAINED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE [COSMOS] …” – the very ordered universe! Before there was matter! Before there was planets and star’s, sun’s and comets – and everything that we know! They had already made that decision!

In addition to there being a moment, an era of non-time, when the universe – the actual creation; the solar system, the Earth – did not exist, in the same way there was a moment in time in which we did not exist. That’s sort-of hard for us to perceive. I know we can pick-up our history books, and we can go to a Civil War battle site, or a World War II battle site – and some of you were alive during World War II – but, maybe a Revolutionary War site, or Philadelphia, and the nations capital, the place where they signed the Declaration of Independence. We can go to these historic spots and realize – yes there were people there. There was a nation, and a world, and a civilization. But it’s really hard for us to imagine that. I mean, we really sort-of have to use our imagination! Because, we don’t see it, feel it, or taste it, or smell it, or hear it. We’re not fully full believers.

Well, I was born – I am told by my parents and family members – on February 16th, 1950. And, which means, I was conceived approximately in the middle of May in 1949. And I started thinking about it – Harry S. Truman was president. And I thought, “O’ a part of me was alive when Harry Truman was president.” Made me feel badly because I realize the numbers on the calendar’s are quickly adding up. And before the middle of May 1949, Michael Charles Garrett, simply did not exist in any form. Well, through an act of love between my Mother and my Father, and I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but this is just biology, just the truth – a single sperm cell who was competing against 40 million to even 1.2 billion of other little “tadpoles.” One single sperm cell reached the egg in my Mother’s womb before all others. And the human being who would eventually be named and known by Michael Charles Garrett, and by other names by other people – I might add – some of which are not always complimentary, I’m a sports official, so, I’ve been called a lot of things. Well that being which was to be me began to develop and grow. My journey had begun.

Well, the reality that if the sperm cell which came in 2nd place that day, that evening, back in May of 1949 – if that sperm cell had been just a little quicker, a little faster, in its journey, I simply would have never been. Somebody else would have lived my life. ¹ Instead of Michael – and this is a frightening thought; Don reminded me of this a day ago – there might have been a Michelle.

God had inspired the prophet Jeremiah to write back in Jeremiah chapter 1, verse 5 – “’Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; …’” – I wonder if God knew of us – each of us – or, had identified us when we were still in our mother’s womb!? Maybe it’s possibly so. I think that’s an interesting thought. When did God decide to call you!? Was it when you were in your mother’s womb, or were you three years old, or were you twelve and just outside playing and maybe a teenager, or maybe it was later in life in your early 20s!? When was the moment when God the Father looked down and said, “I want her!” or “I want him!” “I’m going to call them!” Well, we don’t know! That’s one of the things at the present time – we don’t know! But someday, hopefully, we can find our angelic being who was assigned to look over us – our guardian angel – maybe we can find them someday and say, “Hey… by the way… when was it They decided to pick me!?” And an even more important question – “Why!?” Because, quite frankly, if I was on the committee making the combinations, I would not have nominated me. Because, you see, I know me a lot better than anybody else, and I would have considered myself… “No, not him. Let’s go to the next applicant.” But they did! And for our sakes, thankfully they did, otherwise we simply would not be. And, we wouldn’t even know that we hadn’t been. Well, I think you get my meaning there. We wouldn’t have known.

Well, consider this: As human beings, and I’ve said this before – we are nothing more than living dirt - that’s all we are. I mean we are a collection of chemicals and vitamins and minerals, and different nutrients which came from potatoes, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, beef and chicken, and you know all the different things that we consume. We’re told in the Book of Psalm, chapter 103 – “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” That’s all we are – living dust. And I’m glad that He remembers that! Because I think that when He stops and realizes that – you know… just a few years ago this thing didn’t exist. And all they are is just molecules that came from food – that came from the ground. Just like Adam came from the ground – so do we. And I’m glad that They remember that we are but dust because I think it gives Them an opportunity to remember how weak we are and how vulnerable we are, and how needful we are for Their help, and Their care, and Their sustenance, and Their protection. Because, quite frankly, without Their help many of us simply would not be here. I include myself in that group.

Well, think about the population of the earth. You know, we live in America, we live in our little towns, and some people travel more and have a better concept of the world – I’ve seen pictures of China, in magazines, newspapers, television, and movies. I sort-of have a vague notion of what China is, or Japan, or Korea, or Russia – different countries. The Baltics, Finland, Norway, but, I’ve never been there. I don’t really know what’s there. And there are, right now, we’re told, on my computer, said that there are 7.68 billion people who inhabit the earth right now in the year 2019! Nearly 8 BILLION PEOPLE! And in our lifetime – if we’re a little older – you know it’s possible that we have shared existence upon this orb with maybe 8, 9, 10 billion different people who were once alive, then died, and now they have been replaced by new babes which come along. That there have been at one time maybe 10 BILLION people that God had to choose from. And for some reason those great Beings looked down from Their throne and have decided to call people like you and me to understand the truth of God! What love, and what kindness, what grace, has been applied to us.

Many Called, Few Chosen

We here today, along with others who are meeting on the Sabbath – other member’s of the Body of Christ – we’re just a relative few, just a very small little drop of the ocean of people who have had their mind’s open to understand the truth. You know, Jesus said in Matthew 20 and Matthew 22 – He said, ‘For many are called, but few chosen.’ And we know about the parable of the sower, where even after people are called, it’s really sort-of a process if people make it to the point where they bear fruit. Sometimes that calling goes out and the person gets momentarily interested, they get excited, they want to know more, and then they find out about the Sabbath, or the truth about Christmas and Easter, and all of these complicated issues – and they simply do not want to go against the flow of their family. And they just sort-of back away. It’s sort-of like the seed was there, and a bird came up and plucked it up and took it away before it ever had a chance to take root. Sometimes people are called and that root begins to take place, begins to sprout, but, it’s not in very good ground and they’re in an environment where they’re not supported and they simply don’t have the strength of character. I have a feeling that we may find out, when we finally talk to that guardian angel, or maybe Jesus Christ Himself, we may find out that the one thing that They saw in us was a certain stubbornness or tenacity, that we were just gonna grab hold of it and that we weren’t going to let go! Just like Jacob – simply would not let go of the One we now call Jesus Christ! And they wrestled all night long! They rolled around in the dirt – the One that created life! Wrestled with Jacob. And He was so impressed that He said, ‘I’m gonna change your name, and I’m going to bless you!’ Maybe we’ll find out that someday that was the one trait that He was looking for!? People that simply – they were gonna hold on! They were gonna hold on to the end! And you think about some of the people out there, and you think about all the things that we have gone through. All of the eruptions, the volcanoes, the distress, the heartache, the pain, that we have seen take place within the Church of God. And not just once, but, it seems, like a rollercoaster – comes and comes again. And some of us, you know, it would have been easy at one point to say, “I can’t take this! I’m just gonna walk away!”

“Just gonna go down to the local Protestant church and just hang my hat there! Or – just forget it all!” It would have been easy – and keep in mind there were people who we knew - there were people who were my instructors at Ambassador College who are now pastor’s of Protestant churches. That seems absolutely impossible! When I go back 1972 – “You’re kidding me!” “That’s what was going to happen to him – or her!?” And yet it did! And it has! And yet, we’re still here! Despite all the lumps and the bumps and the bruises, and the battering. We’re still here! We must somewhere in our little soul be a very tenacious lot. I think that’s a good trait in the eyes of God.

Well, ever so often I’ve talked to people and meet them, and they tend to present this concept – maybe they don’t actually say it, but they sort-of imply it – that somehow God picked them, because He saw something really good about ‘em! You ever met those folks!? And I cringe every time I meet one of them. I think, “Don’t you understand what Jesus said in John 6:44!?” I know every time at the Passover we read this back in Owensboro. “’No [man, no woman] can come to [Jesus Christ] unless the Father [and He says, ‘which has sent Me’] draws him [or her]; …’” And then to make it a little more clearer in John 15:16 – doesn’t get much more clearer than this! “’You did not choose Me, but I chose you and [ordained] you that you should go and bear fruit, …’” And so, no, you didn’t pick God. You didn’t set out on your quest for God! If you ever did sort-of, “I’m gonna look into the Bible!” It was God that put the motivation in you! Somewhere on that trip He put you into contact with human beings, or literature that had been produced by His people, by His Church, and that kept the process going and gave you the fuel to continue to learn.

Well, other moments in my life I have met people who imply or openly state that God is truly fortunate to have someone as wonderful as they are on His team! And again, I just shake my head and go, “Boy, you are just clueless!”

the Original Sin

I remember one time down in the Nashville area – many years ago; this would have been more than a decade ago – I was meeting in a house, and we were sort-of having a Bible study or church service, or whatever you want to call it. And there was a man who was vying to become the host of this newly forming Nashville congregation. And he just reeked with arrogance and self-righteousness. You could just see it all over him! It poured out of him, that he was a plum. He was a true peach. That God had picked him, and brought him here to lead these folks! And I was talking, and I sort-of was noticing him off to my left, and then I’d look back and notice him, and he was so filled with himself that I couldn’t help myself. I’m an umpire, I’ve got some mischievous in me, I’ll just tell ya! I’m not one of those that just quietly goes into the good night. I sort-of kick and scream! And I thought, I can’t let him get away with this – so I said, “Would you turn to 1 Corinthians 1?” Now, you all have read this before. But this is the truth of the matter! And we need to understand this principle! And if you’ve got a high ego this is gonna sort-of kick you. You’re not gonna like this! But this is what Paul was inspired to write, and that came from the very mouth and mind of God – Verse 26 – “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27) But God has chosen the foolish things of the world [the lowly things of the world] to [confound] the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to [confound] the things which are mighty; …” - or at least they think they’re mighty. They think they have positions of power and importance because of elected office or training or career, or monetary attributes. They think they are the mighty ones. Verse 28 – “and the base things which are despised God has chosen, and things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, …” – and why!? This is the reason, Verse 29 – “that no flesh should glory in His presence.” – you see, God the Father and the One we now call Jesus Christ, they had a being at one time in Their company of friends and associates who was filled with a sense of PRIDE and SELF-IMPORTANCE. And this being, which God relied upon so much - he was apparently the very caretaker of the earth; he was that being which was supposed to prepare the earth, or to help prepare the earth for these human beings which were going to be created – and that being, I believe, his number one flaw (and it’s like two sides of a coin) he was filled with self-importance, pride, vanity, self-righteousness. And, at the same time he was filled with jealousy. His job, his lot, wasn’t good enough. He wanted something more. I heard people theorize that he was going after God the Father when he attempted to overthrow the throne of God. My own theory – it’s just a theory; just a thought; not doctrine, just the ramblings of Michael C. – I believe that Satan was jealous of the One we now call Jesus Christ. I think he wanted His job! To sit right at the right-hand of God the Father! And if you think about throughout millennia, the battles that have taken place between Jesus Christ and the one we now call Satan the devil. And thankfully, thankfully, when Jesus Christ was a human being He defeated him! He did not give in to His temptations, and because of that Jesus Christ is now qualified to be the King of kings, the Lord of lords, for all eternity!! That happened way back then.


Well, I don’t think God the Father and Jesus Christ ever again are going to allow someone eternal life that is filled with self-righteousness, self-importance, and jealousy. I think these are the two traits that God simply cannot abide. And, think about the Pharisees. I’ve often thought – of all the people that Jesus Christ met in His society, and He met them all; He didn’t closure Himself in His little home and just sort-of make believe He was thinking about God. He went out among the streets, among the people. He met them, He talked to them. He walked their streets, He dealt with them. There was several times when Jesus Christ met Roman soldiers and centurions. And not once did He berate them – not once. He met a woman one time - which was sort-of thrust upon Him – a woman who was taken in adultery. And this was a whole set up, the whole thing! You remember the scene. The Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus, to turn Him upside down, and put Him in a knot where He can’t get out of. And they throw her down and say, “What are we gonna do to her!?” And the story is great! For the longest time, Jesus didn’t say a word. He just reached down unto the earth, probably smoothed out an area, and it says He started writing. I’ve heard Mr. Ted Armstrong say over and over, he theorized that He was probably writing their names. You know, “Yehoshua ben Nun with Sapphira. Two nights ago, behind the barn.” All of a sudden the thing they were accusing the woman, He was exposing that they too had the same flaw! They were no more pure than she supposedly was. And one by one those men looked over at the ground where He had wrote and thought, “O’ my! I think it’s time for me to go home and check on my lovely wife!” And they scattered! And eventually every last one of them left and Jesus hadn’t even said a word. And then He looked at the woman – He didn’t deny that she was up to some kind of hanky-panky – but He says, “Woman, where are your accusers?” Well, they’re gone, and Jesus said, “Neither do I judge you. Go, and sin no more.” All He said was, ‘change.’ That’s all God ever asks of us. REPENT and BE CONVERTED – change! Just be willing to change. And if you’re so stuck on yourself that you think you are the cats meow the way you are, then you have stopped changing. Which means you have stopped repenting. Which means you have hit a dead end, and you are in serious trouble – you, me, any of us. 

We need to realize, we have to change. And we need to realize that in the presence of God we are nothing but worms. We’re nothing but living dirt. He says, ‘I call the weak things of the world.’ And I’ve often been in a crowd and said, “Do we have a U.S. senator in the crowd!? – or, a person from congress, or governor, the mayor!?” And I’ve never once had a hand go up. We are just good old fashioned common folk. And we struggle day by day to make it through our lives, and put food on the table, and have a place to live, and love our family and friends and try and do what God asks us to do. But there’s no special aura about us. And why!? He says again in Verse 29 – “that no flesh should [ever] glory in His presence. 30) But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption …” – it is JESUS CHRIST that has put something good within us! Because within ourselves there dwells no good thing! I mean we’re just humans, we’re just living dirt. But because Jesus Christ did what He did, and He gave us His Spirit – the mind of God, the mind of Jesus Christ. He offered that to us! There dwells within us something eternal. There dwells in us a piece of the very mind and presence of God! And I’ve often talked about wanting to have a spiritometer. Sort-of like night vision goggles, and you could put ‘em on, and you turn the lights out, and you could see the glow of God’s Spirit within that person. Maybe it had a little gauge on it – maybe with some people the needle would go all the way over to the right, maybe some people be just sort-of in the middle, and with some people the needle wouldn’t even move on the gauge. Not a good sign I believe. But if we had a spiritometer we could, literally, look upon people and know how much of God’s Spirit. But we know from the Word of God that He dwells within us! And that dwelling within us makes us a part of His future Family! It is because of Him that we have ‘wisdom.’ It is because of Jesus Christ that we have ‘righteousness.’ It is because of Jesus Christ that we have ‘sanctification’ – which means to be made pure before God. Righteous before God. And because of that someday He will redeem us, He will buy us back, and He will place us into His Family as full fledge member’s of the Family of GOD! We, who were once nothing but carrots and potatoes! We’ll get to be on the same level as God! That is so remarkable! That is so unbelievable! You understand, our Protestant friends or Catholic friends they do not understand that! Their just hoping to be on a cloud playing a harp, and God maybe pets them on the head. And they get to wag their tail – like our family pets. But God has given something to us so great, so marvelous! Verse 31 – and this is something that we always need to understand. “…’He [or she] who glories, let [them] glory in the LORD.’” If something good has happened to you, give thanks to God! If something bad has happened to you, give thanks that God got you through it! And that He’s gonna make it right in the future! But everything goes back to God. Everything goes back to Jesus Christ.

“Your carnal!” 

Notice Isaiah 55 – Of and by ourselves – I know - Ambassador College - one of the favorite words – If you wanted to put somebody down, if you wanted to hurt them, there was two things you could say to really ‘put somebody in their place.’ If you were losing an argument you could say 1) “I’m offended!” And if you heard that you would think, “O’ no, I’m gonna have a millstone placed about my neck and thrown into the sea!” And I’ve heard people say that, when they were losing an argument – they get all flustered, “Well, you’re offending me!” No, at this point in my life, I’ve seen just about everything! I’ve heard just about everything! I’ve witnessed just about everything! Should anything offend us, because we’re just covered with rough callouses and tough hide. We’re tough, we aren’t little babes, that haven’t been around the block. We’ve been in this battle for a long, long time! And just because somebody says or does something there’s no excuse to go, “O’ I’m offended!” Well, that was one of the favorite ploys to be used back then. And, the other one – right before you got to “You offend me.” If you didn’t like somebody, you could swell up in self-righteousness – and I’m saying this because I witnessed this many times on the Ambassador College campus – 2) and say, “Mike,” and you gotta get the voice and those beady eyes going, and get your nose to grow out like a hawk, “YOUR CARNAL!” Oh that was just about the ultimate insult! And every time they said that to me, I looked them back and said, “YES I AM!” And then they didn’t know what to do. But, you know the word carnal it took on a real pajority of term. And the word carnal just means “meat.” It just means good old flesh and blood! It just means being a normal human being acting the way human beings normally act devoid of the truth of God. And unless God calls us and places His knowledge, His Spirit within us, we are indeed human. Carnal.

Isaiah 55:8 – God says, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. 9) ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.’” – and yet human beings swell up and they think they have all the answers! And to think of it – we have politicians, civic leaders, and so-called religious leaders that actually are offended that a leader of our society would actually dare say, “We need to have a day of prayer!” We need to ask God for His forgiveness and for His help! That’s offensive to them!? And yet I pick out a coin from my pocket, and it says on our coin, on our paper money – In God We Trust. That’s what our founding father’s and early leaders understood, and yet now, we have political leaders and societal leaders who are afraid to admit that! Folks without God we will die! Beit individually or collectively as a nation. And I think all of us know what direction our country is going! The sad thing is there’s not much you and I can do about it. Except pray for our fellow church members, pray for our family members, pray for ourselves – that we stay close to God in these turbulent periods of time. And more than anything we ask and pray that God gives us a sense of hope. Remember what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13!? He talked about these three great qualities. 1) Faith. 2) Hope, and 3) godly love. And for the longest period of my life, I thought, Hope – what does that mean!? I knew a few girls that were named Hope. Well, what does that mean!? But, I’ve come to really appreciate that hope is optimism! Bound up by God and the promises of His Word that we can have hope even in a sea of distress! And a great storm that comes upon our country we can have hope that the Truth of God, the Word of God, and the Plan of God, and the promises of God will indeed come true! That He will extend to us His protective and mighty hand! And He will show us grace and love, and kindness, and protection. And He will get us through this! But right now that’s all He’s dealing with – the people He has called. Just the few of us out of billions. Just the few of us.

We’re told in Isaiah 64 – every time that you start to think of yourself as doing something really well, you need to remember these words – Isaiah 64:6 – “But we are all like an unclean thing, [and at our best; I’m adding editorially] And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; …” – when compared to the might, the grandeur, the power, the righteousness of God the Father and Jesus Christ! I prefer the analogy – I am just a small, little, ugly, slimy, worm. That’s all we are. “We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. 7) And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us …” – and He has from our country – thankfully not from us who He has called. Verse 8 – very important principle. “But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.” – and if some good thing comes from our lives, realize we need to give the glory to God. Without the presence of God in our lives, and without the presence of God’s unending love and amazing grace, we would simply be like all other human beings – devoid of God. Devoid of His truth, and devoid of any positive future. You can turn back to multiple places – one, Romans 1 – if you just wanna know how God looks upon the goings on of this world. This is humans being human in their natural state. Romans 1:28 – “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, …” – we have public leaders who don’t even want to admit, or acknowledge that God is our great protector. “…God gave them over to a [reprobate] mind, …” – it means ‘worthless.’ If you go back up to Verse 21, you see the phrase, ‘and their foolish hearts were darkened.’ And so we live in a world – we who are children of the light – with people who are children of the darkness. Because they do not know God. They do not know His truth, His Plan, or His Ways. And here are a few things that humans are famous for – here’s the All Star Cast. You want to know what you are without God!? Verse 29 – “being filled with all unrighteousness, [fornication], wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, [debate], deceit, [malignity]; they are whisperers [gossipers], 30) backbiters, haters of God, [despiteful], proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31) [without understanding], [covenant breakers], [without natural affection], [implacable; or faithless], unmerciful; 32) who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, …” – but thanks be to God, He has a plan. Where we can be saved, and then in the end, everyone we’ve ever known – almost – will have an opportunity to be saved.

Living stones

Well, we are here today – and others like us around the world – members of the Body of Christ, we have been so richly blessed of God. Not only are we so unbelievably fortunate and blessed – and remember this… I’ve met people before who don’t think they’re a winner. I’ve met people who say, “Well, I’ve never won anything in my life.” “I’ve never won a lottery, I’ve never won a drawing. I wasn’t the captain of the team, I wasn’t the leading cheerleader.” “Nobody wanted me.” You hear that a lot from people. “I’ve never been a winner!” Well, folks, I want to assure you of something – and again, this is a bizarre comment, you may have never thought about it. But way back on the day that you were conceived, you became the WINNER of a lottery, and you beat out billions! You’re already a winner! In the greatest game of all – the very game of life! You exist because billions of your brothers and sisters never came into being. But here we are! For some reason – we were allowed to come into existence. And, secondly, we have been winners in God’s spiritual lottery, because out of all the billions of people on this earth, we have been called and chosen of God to understand His truth and to be given access to His plan of salvation in this era of time!

Notice 1st Peter if you wanna know who you are. And again, sometimes life gets hard. That song – sometimes life becomes O’ so weary! Troubles and hardship, heartache. I’ve been at moments in my life that it seems to take effort to get a breath of air. You ever had that happen to you!? Just like an effort to breathe. Because of everything that’s happening around – so discouraging. And yet from the eyes of God, from the writings of Peter – the very close friend and associate of Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 1:2 – “elect …” – yes, you who have been elected, selected – YOU’RE ALREADY WINNERS! All you have to do is hang on to Jesus Christ and let Him pull you across the goal line! You’re already there, if you’ll simply hang on! “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. 3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to A LIVING HOPE …” – not a dead hope. I have no hope of sitting on a cloud playing a harp with the Gaither’s. I plan to be on a stage singing with them! But we have a living hope – not a dead hope! “…through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, …” – because He walked out of that tomb, He set a pattern, and we too – someday – can walk out of our tombs, our graves. If we die before He returns. And if not, instantaneously changed from mortal to immortal. Verse 4 – “to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, [at this time] reserved in Heaven for you, 5) who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” – I’m sorry, my Grandmother – as much as I loved her – is not in Heaven. And my Mother -  a good Baptist girl from Texas – she’s not in Heaven. She sleeps. As with many of your relatives, they sleep. They know not the passage of time, they know no pain – no nothing. They are just unconscious. But, ‘in the last time’ that great gift will be revealed. Verse 6 – “In this you greatly rejoice, [and should rejoice], though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials …” - and problems, temptations, the vagaries of life, Jesus said, ‘the cares of this world.’ So often we become burdened with ‘the cares of this world’ and forget the great hope that lies in front of us! Verse 7 – “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the [appearing] of Jesus Christ, …” – that’s when the great salvation plan becomes evident! ‘At the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ Verse 8 – “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, …” – Jesus even said it would be more blessed for the people who had never seen Him or never heard Him, than the people right in His presence during that day – two-thousand years ago. And He was talking about people like you and me! I’ve never seen Jesus, neither have you. I’ve never seen God the Father, neither have you. And yet we hold tenaciously to the belief that They exist, and that the Bible is Their Word, and that Their plan is sure and true and will not be denied us! He said, you should “rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, …” – somewhere in there that hope, that optimism, that all of this is true, should somewhere glow in us – how many of you saw the movie E.T. the Extra – Terrestrial!? Like a boy and his dog movie – but the dog came from outer space. But remember at the end, the alien had its heart light!? That ought to be within us! Inside of us it should glow with light that we know the truth of God, and because of NOTHING we ever did God has had mercy upon us! And Jesus Christ has made a pathway that we can live all eternity – living dirt that now becomes God! It’s an indescribable story! Verse 9 – “receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls. 10) Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come …” – you know, many of the prophets did not know what we know! And I think about how much more we know than we did when I walked into the Ambassador College campus in 1969! Do you realize how much more we understand!? And we thought the people back then knew it all! And yet, right now, today, we understand more – and we understand the Bible to a further extent. We understand the future prophecies (Be sure to read the three part series Prophecy Series) much more clearly! We understand them better than anyone in two-thousand years! – or, maybe forever!? With exception of people like Jesus Christ, and Paul. That’s the level of understand we have!

And yet, we walk around in our lives and worry about insignificant things! And we worry about the price of gasoline, and we worry about… forgive me… the idiots who reside in Washington, D.C.! We worry about them! And, in one sense we should, because… they’re gonna sink us! But we have something greater to hang onto! We have something so much more marvelous to believe in! And it should be that glowing heart light within us that keeps us going!

1 Peter 2:1 – “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, …” – most of which come from jealousy I will add. Verse 2 – “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow …” – and desire the very meat of the Word, as Paul said. That you might be spiritually strong and flourish! Verse 3 – “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4) Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5) you also, …” – YOU! “…as living stones, …” – stones that will live for all eternity! On the very “spiritual house” of God, “a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” And he says in Verse 9 – “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; …” – don’t dwell in the darkness – dwell in the light! Be people of the light! Verse 10 – “who once were not a people …” – every one of us knows that in our past there were moments we were far detached from God! And yet in spite of all of that, God has shown us mercy. He has granted us a path of repentance. And now, “…are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” – that’s who you are. That’s what we represent.

I will just say to you, we all – and people like us – have been given the greatest gift! We have been WINNERS of the lottery of life! In that we became living beings – OUR LITTLE GUY WON! And Jesus Christ has made it possible that we are going to live for all eternity as members of the Family of GOD! There’s no greater gift, no greater prize, no greater lottery, there’s nothing on the face of the earth to which you should subscribe to more – WE HAVE BEEN DECLARED WINNERS! Not by our hands, but by the hand of God!

And thanks be to God, and thanks be to Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Master, our Savior, our Brother, our Friend – the Captain of our salvation. Praise and thanks be to Him! GO – TEAM – WIN!!

1)  Normal cells in the body divide by a process known as mitosis, essentially this is where one cell clones all its components and divides to form 2 identical cells.  Sperm and egg cells, however, are formed by a different process known as meiosis.  This results in the pair of chromosomes, in the stem cell/parent cell that forms the sperm, exchanging pieces of DNA with each other forming "new" recombinant chromosomes that look like "X" which then split into chromatids that like ">" and "<".  Each of these chromatids forms the genetic material of each sperm cell - so one parent cell forms 4 sperm cells each with a "<".  As this process is somewhat random in terms of the pieces of DNA exchanged, there are almost and infinite number of combinations that could occur in this process and hence each sperm is unique in its copy of the parental genetic material. (Callum Docherty – University of Melbourne).


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