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zoe1d
August 18th, 2015 by rodcostner

Hi Folks,

The readership is currently pretty small and I need to grow this blog. For the next 9 months I am going to be finishing my Master’s Degree and be required to do a lot of writing. My plan is to take that time off from this blog and then relaunch after I am free of the school work.

 

Thanks for reading and God bless you!

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duck
August 10th, 2015 by rodcostner

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[c] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[d] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

Mathew 25:14-19

As you know, each servant was required to give an account for how he had invested the master’s resources.

This blog represents an investment of the resources with which God has blessed me. I have been writing this blog for nearly 7 months. I want to assess where I am and if it is a good investment or how it could bear more fruit. I value your feedback. Please go to the comments section down below and share your thoughts concerning the following:

1. In your life, are the tangible benefits from this blog? Explain.

2. What changes could improve the quality of this blog?

3. Would this blog be relevant to a broader audience?

Thanks for your honesty,

RC

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art4coleman-300_1
August 7th, 2015 by rodcostner

16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters),and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

Mark 15:16-20

The Roman soldiers lived in a cruel and cutthroat world. They were commanded by Officers without souls who answered to politicians who made a habit of viciously assassinating their immediate family members in order to gain or maintain power. The soldiers themselves became cold-blooded killers who did not have the luxury of a conscience or morality. Nevertheless, they are still accountable for their barbaric treatment of the Son of God.

These pagan soldiers worshiped a man (the Roman emperor) as a god, but now mocked and ultimately killed the one man who was also God. Their loyalties were perverted and misaligned.

Currently, a part of the world’s population is willing to accept Jesus as a holy man or wise philosopher; it is His Kingship they reject. Jesus’ offer of salvation is all or nothing. Jesus loves you and wants to be your Lord and Savior, but it is not a cafeteria plan. The modern version of “Christianity” is salvation without submission. Jesus is the King of Kings and we are not in a position to negotiate. He was mocked and tortured and crucified so that we could live. The only appropriate response to what Jesus did for us is unconditional worship and service.

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Jesus-Pilate
August 6th, 2015 by rodcostner

1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Mark 15:1-15

All the religious and community leaders, lawyers, and scholars bound Jesus and handed him over to be killed by a pagan. They said many false things about Jesus – mingled with a few true statements. Those who wish to undermine Christ and His cause usually mix a little truth in with a lot of lies. Currently, the fact that Jesus loves unconditionally is the truth mixed in with a plethora of lies concerning His commands and the consequences of rejecting His love.

There are so many today – religious and community leaders, lawyers , and scholars – who consciously or subconsciously are demanding that Jesus be crucified again. They want to kill His divinity. They want to erase His commands. They want to assassinate His demand for holiness. These wolves in sheep’s clothing want to eliminate the real Jesus and replace Him with one more accommodating to their agenda.

There is only one Jesus. He is the Lamb, but He is also the Lion. He is compassionate and loving, but He is also holy and will judge the world.

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crucifixion_of_st_peter
August 5th, 2015 by rodcostner

66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.”70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Mark 14:66-72

If someone was trying to prove that you had a relationship with Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict you? The servant girl recognized Peter as someone who had been with Jesus. Would you be recognized as someone who had spent time with Jesus? Again, the servant girl accused Peter of being “one of them.” Are you readily identifiable as “one of them”? Then the crowd recognized that Peter was one of the common men that had been traveling with Jesus. This time, Peter even used bad language and vehemently denied that he knew Jesus.

Suddenly it dawned on Peter that he had fulfilled the words Jesus spoke about him. Underneath the guilt and remorse of his betrayal, Peter broke down and cried.

Peter learned the painful lesson that no consequences imposed on him by the crowd were as painful as the guilt of abandoning Jesus. Later, Peter found forgiveness and redemption. This fisherman went on to be a great witness for Christ. Never again would Peter deny Christ; even when it cost him his life.

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Christ-Before-the-High-Priest
August 4th, 2015 by rodcostner

53 And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. 60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

Mark 14:53-65

Today, much like the night before his crucifixion, Jesus is attacked from all sides and many lies are spoken about him. There is only one question that really matters: Is He the Son of God? The answer is, “Yes, and there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind when they see Him return in glory andph31011 power!” As followers of Christ, we should be honored by the opportunity to, if in some small way, share in His suffering. With vile hearts, his attackers spewed accusations at Him, but He refused to deny the truth.

Jesus will return. Until then, true believers must: (1) Keep believing (2) Keep declaring the truth and (3) Keep enduring Satan’s attacks against those who belong to the “assembly of called-out ones” (see Church).

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pouring-gold1
August 3rd, 2015 by rodcostner

43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him.47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant[e] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled. 51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Mark 14:43-52

Everyone wants to be a leader. The thing that becomes quickly apparent is the skewed perspective of what constitutes a leader. Many people who are not in leadership positions look at those who are and think to themselves, “I could do that just as well, if not better than him.” These covetous individuals have a very rudimentary understanding of leadership and for the most part are infatuated with the personal benefits of leadership. Great leaders see their role as a responsibility and not a position of special privilege. The other thing about exceptional leaders is their willingness to make excruciating decisions in the midst of the battle. Peter had made bold pronouncements regarding his commitment to stay by Jesus’ side – no matter what happened. Now when this mob seized the Lord and the swords came out, Peter and the rest of the disciples abandoned Jesus.

At this present time, most Christian leaders do not have to fear arrest, torture or death (though there are brave brothers and sisters in certain places around the globe who are faced with this possibility every day). The battlefield decisions that most Christian leaders face deal with commitment to beliefs and sound doctrine. These men and women are being tried in the crucible where Scripture meets public opinion. At the moment the mob seized Jesus, there was not an option to do nothing; each man had to decide to stay with Jesus and face the consequences or abandon Jesus. Nothing has changed.

I hear a lot of convoluted talk about why we should not do this and why we should do that. I am close to a situation in which the decision appears to be to suspend judgment and try to ride the fence. My question: Is this the chosen position because leaders have sought God and are confident this is His will, or is it merely an attempt to stay out of the crucible? Being a Godly leader means doing the right thing and accepting the consequences. Better to obey God and lead a smaller group than to acquiesce and lead a larger group into sin. Finally, I learned a long time ago that doing the right thing does not immediately produce warm feelings and a sense of peace. Doing the right thing often leads you into a period of dealing with those who are angry and bitter. You do the right thing because you are God’s man or woman and you are committed to doing His will. Ultimately, God will bless that type of leadership.

 

 

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Gethsemane(2)
July 31st, 2015 by rodcostner

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cupfrom me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter,“are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Mark 14:32-42

Gethsemane is a garden filled with twisting ancient trees located at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Anyone traveling from the temple to the top of the Mount of Olives would pass through or by the garden. Jesus was fully cognizant of what lie ahead for him and He sought a peaceful place to meet with His Father. The Lord’s heart and mind were stirring in agony. In his commentary, Matthew Henry describes what Jesus was experiencing in verse 33 as the “horror of great darkness.”

Jesus asked most of the Apostles to stop and sit while He prayed, then He, John, James and Peter went a short distance further. He then told the 3 members of the inner circle that he was overwhelmed with sorrow, and asked them to keep watch while he went a short distance further and prayed. Then the Bible gives us a glimpse into a conversation between the Heavenly Father and Jesus His Son. The Lord expressed His unwavering confidence in His Father’s power to do anything, but also proclaimed His willingness to do His Father’s will.

Three times Jesus returned to find the disciples sleeping. He basically told them they needed to make their bodies subject to their spirits. Jesus was on the brink of subjecting His body to untold brutality and humiliation, yet the Apostles were not spiritually mature or dedicated enough to stay awake and be with Him during this dark night.

Today, the prevailing idea is that no person can deny physical desires. It is ludicrous to expect young people to abstain from sex before marriage. It is unrealistic to expect a husband and wife to remain faithful for a lifetime. Society is so far off track that the loudest voice is the one declaring it is impossible to expect any person to refrain from any type of inclination or proclivity.

Do not accept the lies. God has not only provided for your salvation, but also for your regeneration and sanctification. So much that is written about the Holy Spirit focuses on gifts, but the primary work of the Holy Spirit is to make you holy. To be born again is to be regenerated and start living a new life. To be sanctified is to be set aside, cleansed and purified for God’s use. Do not ever sell God short – you can live a holy life.

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peter-denies-christ-bloch-carl_1167438_inl
July 30th, 2015 by rodcostner

27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Mark 14:27-31

It is strange that Jesus says, “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee,” and Peter is concerned that Jesus know the Big Fisherman will never give up. Peter’s brain should have been jolted by by Jesus rolling off, “Once I have risen from the dead…,” but Peter, like all of us, was fixated on himself. The original Rock boldly proclaimed, “These other lightweights may crumble, but I got your back, Lord.” Honesty and humility are critical to spiritual development. Peter could have said, “Lord, please pray that I will be able to stand the test,” but he was too dependent on the flesh. Things happened just as the Lord said they would.

I believe in evangelism and I believe in individuals making a personal commitment to Christ. Today, the weakness I see in evangelism is that we spoon-feed the Gospel with the subconscious thought that we just need to get them across that line and God will take care of the rest. Ultimately, God must be in the endeavor or it will certainly fail, but the problem is the “just get them across that line” element. This is salvation as fire insurance

The Book of Acts tells us that Paul preached the Gospel and that people were “persuaded” to join the believers (17:4). It is too lax for us to just share information and hope it sinks in to the person’s heart. We should be striving to convince people to devote their lives to Christ. But as we seek to win the lost, we must be clear about the cost of following Christ. We have not done this and we have a lot of churches that are a mile wide and about a quarter of an inch deep. Peter made a rash statement to Jesus. Peter’s mouth wrote a check his faith could not cash. The good news is that Peter learned and developed into the type of spiritual man who was willing to be martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ.

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Communion bread and wine
July 29th, 2015 by rodcostner

17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Mark 14:17-26

The one who would betray Jesus had spent a long time with Jesus. We find it almost incomprehensible that anyone would betray Jesus, for any price. Yet, we live in a world in which individuals and churches and even nations betray Jesus every day. Whether it is to avoid unpleasantness or to satisfy our appetites, betrayal is ugly business. Those who refuse to deny Jesus, face suffering and ridicule, but can trust in His promise that those who are not ashamed of Him will not suffer shame, but receive a heavenly reward.

For anyone tempted to disregard the Old Testament – in His crucial hour, Jesus reminded that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

Regarding Jesus’ words about the bread and wine -nowhere in Scripture do we find support for the Roman Catholic belief that the elements used in communion miraculously transform (transubstantiation) into the actual flesh and blood of Christ. It is simply not necessary. The Last Supper is the most powerful metaphor in history and it was designed to help us remember Him and His redeeming sacrifice. Yes, Jesus’ precious body and blood ransomed us from sin and death, but we do not access that gift of salvation through any substance, but only through faith by grace.

As we remember the sacrifice of Jesus, let us reconsider the casualness with which we sometimes serve Him. Jesus is not merely an idea or a philosophy; He is the resurrected King and He is alive. Paul described the relationship of Christ and the Church to that of a bride and groom. One of the greatest sins in marriage is to begin to take each other for granted. It seems too ugly to even consider, but are we guilty of taking Jesus for granted?

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