Thursday, April 30, 2015

Gifted to Serve

Matt. 25:15  “He gave five  bags of gold to one, two bags of gold to another, and one bag of gold to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities—and then left on his trip.”

The key point here for me is that we are given gifts and responsibilities based on our abilities to handle them and use them wisely.  God does not give us more than we can handle well.  Each of us is uniquely gifted and is able to do unique things with our gifts.  No one else can be you or do what you can do.  Regardless of whether you are largely gifted or gifted just a little bit, you are able to do what it is God has given you to do.

The more gifted a person is the more responsibility he has and the more expectations there are of him.  We are to use what we have been given for the honor of Christ.  We are to seek to bless Him through our usage of our gifts.  We are to not hoard what we have been given or use it for ourselves. 

The Lord entrusts us with our gifts and tasks and then leaves it up to us to be good stewards of them.  He is always there to help us if we need it, but for the most part it’s up to us to put into use our talents and gifts.

Whatever you can do well, do it all for the glory and honor of the Lord and you will be blest.  Serve the Lord well and when He calls you home you will hear Him say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter now into the Kingdom of thy Lord.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Are you ready?

Matt. 25:10  “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked.”

If you know the story, you know that there were 10 bridesmaids who were invited to the wedding feast.  Half of them came prepared and had enough oil for their lamps and five didn’t.  When the groom showed up those who did not have enough oil had to go and buy some while the others went to the wedding feast.  When those who had to go buy oil arrived, it was too late.  They were locked out of the feast and could not enter. 

The Lord invites everyone to come to His wedding feast.  His arrival is guaranteed and set in heaven.   He commands us to be ready at all times, since we don’t know when the time of His arrival is.  Some think they have it all figured out, but they don’t.  We are told it’s not for us to know; we are just to be ready because it will happen when we least expect it.

Most people who profess to know the Lord do not appear to be ready at all.  They go about their business with little concern that the Lord may come for them at any moment.  Their faith plays a small role in their lives.  They spend their time and energy on pursuing the things in this life.  They do not consider church involvement that big of a deal.  They generally are pretty soft on sin.

We may or may not be alive when the Lord returns.  No one knows when their life on earth will come to an end.  We assume that we will live a long time, but so many don’t.  Death is no respecter of persons or age.  Death is but one breath away for any of us.  If death were to come knocking on your door today, can you honestly say that you are ready to meet up with God?  Are you dreading having to stand before Him and give an account for your life? 

Don’t be foolish and wait to get ready to meet the Lord.  The door of opportunity may soon pass you by and then it will be too late.  Today is the day of salvation; seize it while you can. 


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Greatness is servanthood.

Matt. 23:11  “The greatest among you must be a servant.”

We normally measure greatness all wrong.  We consider great those who are the achievers, those who set themselves apart from others by what they accomplish in life.  We look up to them and give them our attention and adoration as long as they continue to be great in our eyes.  Normally these people are hard workers and disciplined.  We recognize their dedication to their craft and put them on pedestals.  Some of them have their names embedded in record books so they will not be soon forgotten.

The Lord looks at greatness totally differently.  He considers greatness to be measured by servant hood.  He is saying it’s not so much what is accomplished that is important as it is what we do with our abilities.  Most achievers draw attention to themselves; servants do what they do without concern for personal attention.  Servants humbly go about their business without the need for attention.  They know what needs to be done and just do it.

Servants are generally people who are motivated by humility and sometimes love.  They do not consider what they do to be of any significance.  They do not care about what others may think of them; they just live out their lives to honor their master.  As believers, we serve the Lord with humility

Jesus said that the truly great people among you are those who serve others.  As we consider our own lives, we must look inward and discern our motives for what we do.  If we seek recognition for what we do, then we need to change our attitude.  Everyone needs to be appreciated for what they do, but great are those who continue to do what they do whether they are appreciated or not.  If we do all that we do to honor and please the Lord, it doesn’t matter whether or not anyone else notices what we do.  It is God’s opinion of us that really matters and He says that great are those who have servant hearts.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Are you ready to die?

Matt. 24:42  “So be prepared, because you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.”

Are you ready for the Lord to come back?  If He were to come today, do you know that you would be among those who would go to heaven with Him?  Is there any doubt whatsoever in your mind about your readiness?  If there is, you need to get things settled with God right now.  You know whether or not there is unconfessed sin in your heart or mind.  You know whether or not you have given the Lord the best of your heart or the leftovers.  You know whether or not you have obeyed His Word to the best of your ability or not.  You know whether or not Jesus is your first love and what you have done to show your love for Him.  You know what you are doing to stay prepared for His coming.  Are you ready?

Part of being ready is serving.  The Lord commands us to live to serve.  We are to invest our lives into others to help whomever we can to be ready, too.  Are you doing that?

Are you growing in Christ by spending daily time in His Word and fellowship?  Would you welcome His coming with great joy if it were to be today?  It could be today.  No one has a guarantee of another day on earth.  Jesus may come for you today.  If you are ready, the mere thought that it could be today should excite you.  It should be what you are living and hoping for.  If you hope He doesn’t come today because you know that you might not go with Him to heaven, then today is the day you must get things right with Him.  Tomorrow might not ever come for you.  Do it now while you can.

Don’t let the Lord’s coming catch you off guard.  Stay alert and stay ready at all times


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Totally Loving God

Matt. 22:37-40  Jesus replied, "You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important.  'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  All the other commandments of the Lord are based on these two commandments."

Have you ever loved the Lord with all of you?  Can you honestly say that He is so powerfully wonderful to you that you desire nothing else in life but to love and be loved by Him?  Let's face it.  We rarely love the Lord in that way.  We may have momentary flashes of such intense love for Him, but it soon fades away amid the many happenings of our lives.  We try to love Him as we should, but we find ourselves acting in an unloving way.  So, are we excused?  Should we resign ourselves to being failures at love?  I don't believe so.  I believe we should continue to strive to love Him; we should continue to do those things that would feed the flame of love: daily devotions, faithful worship, faithful involvement in the life of the church, and faithfully serving the Lord in all we do.

We struggle with loving the Lord as we should and fail to love others (and ourselves) as we should.  We fail mainly on an earthly plane because we first fail on the heavenly plane.  We can't love others as we should unless we first love God and then ourselves as we should.  Love requires respect.  Until we respect the object(s) of our love, we will never really love.  There are many infatuations that we think are love, but they aren't the real deal. 

Love is best defined by God because He is love.  Check out what He says love is in I Corinthians 13:4-8.  Love is not an emotion we feel at the moment, it is a life we live every moment.  It is connection with God that never comes unplugged.  It is letting the Lord be the source of all we are.  It is striving to be more and more like Him as we journey through life. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Many are called, but few are chosen.

Matt. 22:14  "For many were called, but few were chosen."

This is the story of the great wedding feast.  Jesus used this story to teach us what it will be like when He comes back to establish His kingdom.  This was a wedding feast and all the guests who were initially invited were too preoccupied with their own agendas to bother coming when it was time for the wedding to take place.  The host of the wedding was furious with those who spurned him and turned to those who did come, those who considered the invitation something special and dropped everything else to hurriedly come.

The point Jesus made is that we should never squander our opportunity to be ready for His coming.  We will never know when He will show up and if we are not ready for Him, it will be too late.  We should consider it an honor to be invited to be a part of His wedding party.  It should be the number one priority of our lives.  We must be ready so that at any given moment we can join Him.

Don't assume anything about the Lord's coming.  He may come for His church, or He may come for you, at any moment.  Live each moment as if it were going to be your last one on earth.  If Jesus were to come for you today, would you wish that you had more time to get ready?  Would you be spurned by Him because you passed up His invitation to be ready while you had it?  If Jesus would call you home today, what would He find you doing with your life?

Many are invited into His kingdom, but few are chosen because most people do not value the treasure of a life lived in Christ.

Many are called, but few are chosen.

Matt. 22:14  "For many were called, but few were chosen."

This is the story of the great wedding feast.  Jesus used this story to teach us what it will be like when He comes back to establish His kingdom.  This was a wedding feast and all the guests who were initially invited were too preoccupied with their own agendas to bother coming when it was time for the wedding to take place.  The host of the wedding was furious with those who spurned him and turned to those who did come, those who considered the invitation something special and dropped everything else to hurriedly come.

The point Jesus made is that we should never squander our opportunity to be ready for His coming.  We will never know when He will show up and if we are not ready for Him, it will be too late.  We should consider it an honor to be invited to be a part of His wedding party.  It should be the number one priority of our lives.  We must be ready so that at any given moment we can join Him.

Don't assume anything about the Lord's coming.  He may come for His church, or He may come for you, at any moment.  Live each moment as if it were going to be your last one on earth.  If Jesus were to come for you today, would you wish that you had more time to get ready?  Would you be spurned by Him because you passed up His invitation to be ready while you had it?  If Jesus would call you home today, what would He find you doing with your life?

Many are invited into His kingdom, but few are chosen because most people do not value the treasure of a life lived in Christ.

Friday, April 24, 2015

How much faith do you have?

Matt. 21:21-22  Then Jesus told them, "I assure you, if you have faith and don't doubt, you can do things like this and much more.  You can even say to this mountain, 'May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,' and it will happen.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

The more faith we have, the greater our authority to move the mountains in our lives will be.  There is nothing that can hinder us if we have the faith to move forward.  Faith can be either our greatest friend or our worst foe.

Faith is our friend when it is a real presence in our lives, when it is actively working to draw us closer to God.  It helps us to grow up and become more effective lights of grace in the world.  It helps us to be able to handle whatever life throws at us with a calm confidence and unshakeable peace.  It provides for us a purpose for living and dying.

Faith is our enemy when we don't exercise it and give it opportunity to take root and grow in our lives.  When we don't nurture it, we live in misery.  To believe in God without living in God saddles us with a life without peace, joy, and no real hope.  We try to justify ourselves with our knowledge of God, but we can't.  We base our relationship with God on what we think we know, instead of with whom we know.  We try to live without God influencing our lives and yet thinking it's okay since we believe in God.  One of the biggest problems that plagues a Christian today is the thinking that we are saved and alright with God since we mouthed some words at some point in our lives.  Faith that is a saving faith is a faith that changes the way we think and live.

Faith can be your friend or your foe.  It's up to you.  Make a commitment to nurture your faith so that it can grow in you and you will be able to command the mountains of your life to go away and they will.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The House of Prayer

Matt. 21:12-14  Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers.  He knocked over the tables of the money changers and stalls of those selling doves.  He said, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

I have often thought about these verses and wondered whether or not the things we do in church really please the Lord.  We may not set up shop and do business in church, but do we make it a house of prayer?  Often prayer together is more of a formality in a program than the heart of the program.

We have done away with our altars and rarely call people together around one to pray.  We focus our attention on performances and preaching and call it church. We tolerate prayer and grumble when we have to stand for too long while others pray for us.  We rarely have anyone encourage us to get on our knees and would not think of doing it ourselves because of what others may think.

I am convinced that part of the reason why so many churches have problems and struggles is because they have forgotten how to pray and have neglected to make it the heart of what they do.  If we are too busy to pray, we are way too busy!  We won’t pray much at home if we don’t learn how to pray at church and we won’t pray at church if we don’t pray at home.

Isn’t it about time that we change our ways and once again return to our knees?  Nothing is going to change in the church, our homes, or the world until we do.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Being a Servant-leader

Matt. 20:26-28 "But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many."

How many servant-leaders do you know? Servant-leaders are people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty doing the things that need to be done with cheerfulness of heart. We live in a culture where it seems far too many of our spiritual leaders are content to sit in their pastoral roles and let others do all the manual labors and the serving of others. We pay our pastors and staff a lot of money and tell them not to worry about the busyness of church life. But, is this something we should be doing?

Having been a pastor for over 40 years of my life, I know how important it is for pastors to have time to study and meditate on the Word. I know the demands on his time to prepare and minister to those in need. However, I believe we do the people of the church a disservice when we deny pastors the opportunity to get dirty hands; we deny the people of the church and community the opportunity to see them serve. Leaders who don’t know how to serve can’t adequately teach his people how to serve.

If you are a leader in the church, lead by example. It is easy to delegate responsibility and retreat into our ivory towers. It is easy to hide behind the veil of meditative study. It is much harder to balance the time in the study with time in the trenches.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to walk in on your pastor sometime and catch him on his kneescleaning the toilet? I, for one, want to follow such a leader.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ir is not impossible for God to save anyone.

Matt. 19:25-26  The disciples were astounded.  “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.  Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible.  But with God everything is possible.”

Jesus had just dealt with a very rich man who had come to Him wanting to know how to be saved.  He was a good and devout man.  He thought he had all his bases covered, but he wanted Jesus’ affirmation.  Jesus told him the only thing he lacked was to sell his possessions and then to follow Him.  The price was just too steep.  He left Jesus dejected.  His riches just meant too much to him. The disciples were caught off guard.  Jesus made a statement that they did not understand.  He told them how hard, impossible, it was for rich people to be saved.  Mystified, they then asked the Lord who in the world could then be saved.  Jesus’ response put things in their proper perspective; only God can save a soul.  There is nothing man can do to save himself. 

Jesus did not come to help us help ourselves to be saved.  He came to be our Savior.  Without Christ in their heart, no one will make it to heaven.  All the money, fame, friendships, or good works will not save the soul.  Anyone who thinks he can make it to heaven without repentance is believing a lie straight from hell. 

It is not impossible for God to save anyone.  Whoever humbles himself before God, confesses their sins, asks for forgiveness, and accepts Jesus as their Savior and Lord will be saved.  God does not exclude anyone from the reach of His saving grace.  He longs for all to be saved and will not turn anyone away who sincerely seeks Him. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Is the Lord your first love today?

Matt. 19:23-24  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth; it is very hard for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  I say it again---it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.”

What was the point Jesus was making?  I believe that He was saying that whoever is not willing to let go of everything and follow Him is not able to be His disciple.  If we withhold anything from the Lord and let it hinder us from serving Him, we are not true disciples of Him.  If we become attached to anything more than Him, we are in danger of not making it to heaven.  Attachments become adorations.  We tend to direct our affections toward those things we become attached to.

The Lord can’t have our full attention when we become attached to anything or anyone more than Him.  He must be our first priority, our first love in life, if we are going to make it to heaven.

Is the Lord your first love today?  If He is, you will not withhold from Him your life.  You will allow Him to take you wherever He wants you to go and do whatever He wants you to do.  If He is your first love, then you will value His role in your life more than anyone else’s.  You will be willing to let Him change anything He wants to change in your life, no matter how difficult or demanding that change may seem to be to you.  Again I ask you today, “Is the Lord your first love?”  If He isn’t, you are not in the center of His will for your life and you will never be happy or satisfied until He is.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Forgiveness, how are you doing?

Matt. 18:21-22  Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?  Seven times?”  “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!”

We think we do so well at practicing our faith.  We listen to what our Lord says and strive to obey Him.  We know that we don’t always get it right, but we do alright.  We do better than many people we know.  We must be a sweet aroma to God, right?  Not necessarily.  Jesus told Peter that what he thought was enough was not nearly good enough in God’s eyes.  The problem wasn’t in Peter’s efforts, it was in his heart.  What Jesus wanted Peter to understand is that the motives of the heart are the key to pleasing God.

Peter thought he was really being noble by suggesting that maybe they should forgive someone seven times, for the law only required one time.  The law was more about justice and not forgiveness.  Therefore, when Jesus suggested seven times as much as Peter did, He was pointing to a much deeper and better way to live.  Jesus’ way is a way of grace instead of meting out justice.  God will take care of the justice part; we are to act graciously towards one another. 

If we are trying to keep score and noting how well we are doing, we are missing the point.  If the heart is right we will always do what is right before God with no regard for how many times we have done it, even if it is thousands of times.  There is no such thing as resting on our laurels or stopping our obedience to God.  His life is our way of life.  It is who we are and to not live like Christ wants us to live is out character for us and should be unnatural.  If we want to please God we will always strive to do what is right before God.  Period.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Agreement in Prayer

Matt. 18:19-20  “I also tell you this:  If two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.  For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I am there among them.”

One of the things these verses tell me is that it is good and even necessary for us to pray with others.  It is good to be in our prayer closets alone, but if we never invite others into our space, we are hindering God from working on our behalf.  There is great power in two or more people being united together in one heart before the throne of God.

It is important that when we invite others to pray with us that we agree together on what we are praying for.  If our hearts are joined together as one, Jesus said that we will have what we ask for.  Perhaps one of the reasons why we don’t see as many answers to our public prayers is that we often aren’t united together in what we are praying for.  When was the last time you were led in prayer by someone who prayed for things that didn’t concern you at the moment?  When was the last time you sat down with someone before you prayed and carefully discussed what you were going to pray for?  I have to admit that I have often failed to join my heart with another before I prayed and while I was praying.

When we are praying differently, it does not mean that the Lord is not with us and will not answer our prayers.  It just means that we deprive ourselves of the strength in prayer that united hearts have in prayer.  It only makes sense to think that there is strength in numbers.  Don’t give up on praying with others.

Jesus said that when we are praying together with others, He is right there with them.  Isn’t that an awesome thought?  We know with our heads that God is with us when we pray, but have you really grasped it with your heart?  The next time you pray with someone, think about it.  Jesus is right there with you as you pray!  Every time you pray over a prayer someone has prayed on your behalf, Jesus is right there with you as you pray! 

Maybe we should be looking for more opportunities to pray with and over others!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Church Discipline

Matt. 18:15-17  “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault.  If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.  But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.  If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church.  If the church decides you are right, but the other person won’t accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”

These verses have been used and abused so often in the church.  Because of our sinful nature and often spiritual immaturity, we have used them for our own advantage.  Jesus gives us clear instructions on the right way to deal with sin in the church, but most churches either don’t understand them or ignore them altogether.  The purpose of Jesus is reconciliation, not alienation.

Notice first of all that this passage deals with private matters of sin between believers.  It is about issues that affect personal relationships, not community relationships.  We are to deal with personal issues as they come up so that they do not become issues that affect the whole body.

It is so easy to sit in judgment of another.  It’s another thing to work with another with the intent of reconciliation.  When someone sins against you, you are to go to that person in love and humility and seek peace.  If that doesn’t happen, take one or two others with you who are spiritually mature and do so that they may be able to offer wisdom on how to restore peace between you and to God.  If that doesn’t work, then the matter needs to be brought before the church so that the church can decide what must be done for the good of the body and individuals involved.

Also, before a person is judged to be in the wrong, the accuser must first be sure that his own sins are dealt with before God.  Only the pure in heart should ever try to hold another believer accountable for sin.

Needless to say, everyone involved seeking peace should first of all be much in prayer so that the discernment given will be from God and not man.  It is only when all efforts fail that a person is then alienated from the church’s fellowship.  As long as a person is stubborn and too proud to listen to wise and godly counsel he cannot be a part of the fellowship of the church.  When the will is broken and the offending party humbles himself before God and man, peace can then be restored.

I believe that applying these verses in the life of the church is needed, but it should be done sparingly.  It is necessary to hold one another accountable for sinful behavior, but it is a very serious matter to remove someone from the fellowship of the church.  We better be right before God before we exercise this step in the peacemaking process of the church.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Causing Someone to Sin


Matt. 18:6-7  “How terrible it will be for anyone who causes others to sin.  Temptation to do wrong is inevitable, but how terrible it will be for the person who does the temptation.”

The world is full of people who make it their life to tempt others to sin.  We cannot escape them.  They infiltrate every area of our lives.  They have become such a part of living that we scarcely recognize them anymore and don’t seem to care.  We accept their presence and allow them to influence our thinking and living.

Think about it.  Take note of everyone today who offers you some way to sin.  Listen to the lyrics of the songs you hear.  Pay attention to what you read.  Look around you at work and take note of how things are being done.  Pay attention to the ads on TV and the content of the shows you watch.  Listen to what others are saying to you.  If you take note of these things, you will discover just how much temptation to sin you encounter each day of your life.

It takes great determination to resist the temptations to sin.  It takes a lot of prayer and exposure to God and His Word to have the willpower to say no.  It takes staying close to the Lord to even recognize much of the temptations we encounter to lure us away from God.

It is a terrible thing to fall into sin.  But it is even worse to be the one who leads others into sin.  Stay alert and don’t let sin have a foothold in your life.  And, make sure that you don’t cause others to sin along the way.  There are people watching you.  They notice how you live and talk.  If they respect you, they will conclude that if it’s okay for you then they can do it, too.  If you are a believer, then it is obvious how you can influence others to sin. 

Guard your soul and strive to live a godly life always.  Sin is a big deal to God as is being the cause of another person falling into sin.  Terrible is the fate of those who lead others into sin.  Terrible is the fate of those who fall into sin and do not repent.  How we live does matter to God.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Childlike Faith

Matt. 18:1-6  About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”  Jesus called a small child over to him and put the child among them.  Then he said, “I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  And, anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.  But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trust in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck.”

Faith is being simple-minded before God.  It is simply trusting in God.  It is that absolute confidence that God always stays true to His character and His Word.  Faith is not letting the things we don’t know or understand throw us for a loop.  It is enough to know that God knows.  Faith is letting God worry about details and how to take care of us when we get into messes.  In other words, faith is simply living in the comfort and security of God’s love.

Little children are reactionary.  They sometimes react in negative ways that are not acceptable behavior in the world.  They must be taught and disciplined so that they will change their behavior and attitude into a more acceptable way of life.  If a child never learns and adapts, he will never mature to the point of fitting into life in the world.  It will affect relationships and his ability to enjoy life. 

Like little children, faith grows up.  But, like all of us, there always remains a little bit of a child in us.  He who forgets how to act like a child ceases to live.  All joy goes away and all that remains is a miserable life waiting for it all to end.  And, so it is with faith.  We must never lose our childlike qualities of faith that enable us to trust and enjoy the life we have in Christ.  We must get rid of the bad, but retain the good.

There is a grave danger for anyone who causes a child of faith to wander away from God.  Anyone who leads a child of God away from God will be responsible for it.  His fate will be such that it would have been better if he had never been born.  Be sure that what you teach and preach leads a person to Christ and not away from Him.





Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Do you have enough faith?

Matt. 17: 19-20  Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”  “You didn’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them.  “I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move.  Nothing would be impossible.”

How much faith do you have?  Does your faith enable you to move the mountains in your life?  Is your faith enough to help you overcome whatever life brings you?  There is nothing in life that is beyond our ability to handle if we have faith in God.  If we have absolute trust in Him, we will not lose heart, or hope.  Faith shapes the way we think about life’s circumstances.  If we lack faith we will be overpowered by life and live in defeat instead of victory.  Faith draws us closer to God.  When the tough times of life overwhelm us, faith makes the Lord more real and precious to us.  The journey is often very difficult, but faith makes any journey possible.

Faith is rooted in relationship.  A faith that is rooted solely in the brain is no real faith at all.  Faith that will move the mountains is rooted in the heart where Jesus is.  The more Jesus influences our lives, the more we trust Him in life.  Jesus changes us from the inside out and that change enables faith to take root and govern our lives.

How much faith do you have?  Is it enough to move the mountains out of the way in your life?  Jesus said that just a little faith can make the impossible possible.  There is no limit to the victories you can have over the obstacles in your life if you but believe in God’s ability and willingness to help you.  Buckling underneath the heavy loads of life is simply a lack of faith in Him who can carry them for us.  He is able to do immeasurably more than anything we ask for Him to do or for us to imagine Him capable of doing.  Ask anything in the will of God and don’t doubt and He will do it for you. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

What if you were to lose your soul?

Matt. 16:26  “And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul in the process?  Is anything worth more than your soul?”

There are so many whose only goal in life is to gain as much of the world as they possibly can.  They buy into the lie that the more you get out of the world, the happier you will be.  They become convinced that this life is all the life there is and so it only makes sense to go for it.  Fame and fortune become their necessities in life.  Live for today and don’t worry about tomorrow becomes how they live.  Death is not a concept that is taken seriously as far as how it affects how they live.

Then, when their dreams are not realized, they have nothing else to live for.  Life becomes a pain instead of a joy.  Negativity rules the soul.  Anger is not unusual.  Defiance is common.  For those whose only life is wrapped up in the world, they are disappointed and disillusioned.  It may come early or late in life, but it does come. 

Yet, everyone must somehow come to grip with their soul.  No matter how much one may try to bury it, no one can go through life without dealing with it.  What happens after death?  Can it be true that there is eternal life?  If so, where do I fit into it?  Will I go to heaven when I die?  Is there any criteria I have to meet in order to get there?  If I don’t make it to heaven, then what?  Is there really a hell that awaits me?  Really, is gaining all I can from this life worth the risk of losing my soul?  What if there is a heaven and hell? 

Whether we want to or not, we must think about these things.  Waiting until you die to find out if it is all true or not is not a good idea.  If it is all true, which I know it is, then if you have not lived so that you are ready to die, you will go to hell.  Life is not about gaining what the world has to offer; it’s about living in Christ so that when you die you will go to heaven and not hell.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jesus did not mess around.

Matt. 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.”

Jesus did not mess around.  He told it like it is.  If anyone wants to be known by Christ and live for Him, there must be some real decisions made.  First, we must put aside selfish ambition.  One of the ways to determine the genuineness of faith is to look at what one lives for.  A true follower of Christ lives for Christ and not himself.  He is not driven to please himself and make himself known amongst his part of the world. 

A true follower of Christ also takes up his cross and follows Christ.  A cross is where self is sacrificed and love is displayed.  It is where total commitment to Christ is proven.  A cross is very painful.  It is a lonely place to be.  It is misunderstood by most and mocked by many.  The cross is where faith and trust in God is proven.  It is immoveable and requires all that we have to give.  The cross is not easy to endure and never is to be taken lightly.

A true follower of Christ understands the dynamic of giving over to Christ his life, all of his life.  He understands that only Christ can save the soul and nothing on earth is worth holding onto compared to Christ.  Jesus is the focal point of his living.  He is willing to give up all of what this life has to offer in order to remain faithful to Christ.

Only those who surrender to Christ all of life will have eternal life.  Failure to surrender to Christ costs one eternal life in Christ.  Are you sold out to Jesus?  Have you given Him all of you, or you still trying to hang on to parts of you?  Are you living for Him alone, or are you still living for what the world has to offer?  God will not ignore our divided loyalties.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Does being good really matter to God?

Matt. 15:10-11  Then Jesus called to the crowds and said, “Listen to what I say and try to understand.  You are not defiled by what you eat, you are defiled by what you say and do.”

Practice trumps procedure.  It is not the rules and regulations that we try to keep that make us right with God; it’s what comes out of our hearts.  The heart determines what we say and do.  If the heart is not right with God, it doesn’t matter how strict a person may be in his behavior.  We are not holy because we act or talk a certain way. 

This can be a very difficult thing to balance out in our lives because we know that our works are essential to our faith.  We tend to do the right things because we know that is what pleases God.  The danger comes in when we get the idea that we are saved because we do those things.  Rather, we are to do what we do because we are saved.  We are made righteous in Christ alone.  Our relationship with Christ is what motivates us to do what pleases God.

If you are relying on how you are living for your salvation, you need to humble yourself before Christ and let Him be your salvation.  You cannot make it to heaven based on how “good” of a person you are.  Jesus alone can make us righteous before God.  If it were any other way, Jesus died in vain.  There would have been no reason at all for Jesus to come to earth.  Everything we know and understand about God, life, and salvation would be a lie.  If works could save us then there would be no such thing as forgiveness or true peace with God. 

Jesus is THE way, truth, and life and no one will ever be made righteous and holy before God except by Him.

Friday, April 10, 2015

How can we really know we are right with God?


Matt. 15:8-9  “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away.  Their worship is a farce, for they replace God’s commands with their own man-made teachings.”

I wonder how many people fall into this category.  I often have wondered how many people who go to church and are involved in it really are honoring the Lord in their lives.  It’s easy to talk the talk of salvation.  It’s easy to give the Lord praise and thanks.  It’s easy to tell of what the Lord has done and even what He means to us.  But, what we say is not always what is really in our hearts.  We can go through the motions and be very deceptive to both others and ourselves.

How can we really know that we are right with God?  I believe this is probably the most crucial question we can ask of ourselves.  God clearly tells us that if we really do love Him we will obey Him.  So therefore, we must determine whether or not we are really obeying Him.  The only way we can know is for us to know what He commands us to be and do.  We must evaluate ourselves in light to God’s Word.  There is no room for debate on this.  What God says we must do.

We often make up our own rules for Christian living.  We determine what we can live with and what we can’t.  We adjust what God says to fit our comfort levels.  We try to legislate faith instead of living by it.  We tend to impose our standards on God’s standards and if there is a conflict, our ways generally win out. 

All of God’s commands are doable when we live fully surrendered lives to Christ.  He gives us the power and will to do them.  He changes us so that we humbly strive to conform to His ways and not our own.  We learn to live in Christ’s righteousness and trust Him to work out His holiness in us.  Honoring God in our lives is simply letting Jesus be our Lord and living to please Him.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Jesus prays for us.

Matt. 14:24-27  Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had arisen, and they were fighting heavy waves.  About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water.  When the disciples saw him, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost.  But Jesus spoke to them at once.  “It’s all right,” he said.  “I am here!  Don’t be afraid.”

In verse 23 we find Jesus praying.  Have you ever wondered what He was praying about?  Was He praying for the crowd He had just sent home after feeding them physically and spiritually?  Was He praying for himself because by now He surely must have been exhausted?  Or, was He praying for the disciples?  Perhaps He asked our Father to send them a storm to help them believe and trust in Him.  Perhaps He prayed for them because He knew they would be in trouble and needed His help.  Perhaps they would need the strength to endure until He got there.

I believe Jesus does pray for us ahead of our difficulties in life.  He knows what we need even before we need it.  He knows what lies ahead of us and works to prepare us for it.  He never lets us face life’s struggles defenseless or lacking the resources to deal with them. 

We find the disciples in trouble.  Perhaps you have been there as well.  It is no fun to be in a situation that you can’t control and threatens your very existence.  I am sure by now the disciples were at the end of their ropes.  They simply did not know what to do.  They were helpless and by now hopeless.  And then, Jesus came.  I can understand how they became scared.  His appearance was totally unexpected and very unusual.  After all, wouldn’t you be scared to be at the end of your rope and then all of a sudden see Jesus appear walking on water to come and help  you?  And, don’t overlook the fact that it was 3:00 in the morning.

Jesus did not leave His disciples helpless or hopeless.  He came to their rescue.  He waited until they were ready for His help, and then He showed up.  He came to them in their hour of need and spoke words of comfort and peace.  He reached out to them to help them out of their trouble.  There is no time in which He is not available to help those who call on Him.

Don’t wait until you exhaust all of your strength and resources before you let the Lord help you.  When you find yourself heading for trouble, call on Him right away.  Save yourself a lot of grief and pain.  Let the Lord lead you out of your trouble and give you the comfort and peace you need.  He will do it if you let Him.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

Matt. 14:29b-30a  So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink.  “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.  Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him.

When you are looking around you, you are not looking ahead of you.  It sounds simple enough, but it’s hard for us to do.  We are prone to notice most all that is crashing in around us.  We see the magnitude of our storms.  We become overwhelmed by all that is going wrong and that is all we can think about.  Instead, we should be keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.

When we keep our focus on Jesus, the storms lose their strength.  They may not go away, but their impact on us is minimized.  As long as we are focused on the Lord, we understand the bigger picture of life.  We understand that our storms will pass away, that there is always something better in store for us if we persevere through them.

Peter did not give a thought to the possibility that what he was doing was impossible.  All he thought about was Jesus and His invitation to come.  He did not consider the fact that he might not make it to Jesus.  All that matter was getting out of his comfort zone and going.  We need to be just as willing to go to Jesus when He calls us.

Peter had the faith, but he made a very bad mistake.  He took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the storm and the impossibility of what he was trying to do.  Peter was shaken by what he was trying to do and believed the lie that he could not do it.  He began to sink and fail the test of his faith.  Yet, to his credit, Peter understood where his help came from.  He called out to Jesus and was not turned away.

When we call out to Jesus He hears us and answers our call.  He is able to help us, no matter how big the storm is we are in.  All we need to do is take a hold of His hand, hold on tight, and let Him take us out of our storm.