Category Archives: Purposeful / Intentional

We Must Deal With Our Sin Before We Will Experience Victory In The Lord

Joshua and the Israelites faced defeat against Ai, as recorded in Joshua 7, due to sin and rebellion in the camp against YHWH. The sin of a single man led to defeat for Israel. Joshua dealt with the sin according to YHWH’s instructions and was once again directed by the Lord to continue taking the promised land. He then did as the Lord instructed, and those around him did as well, and the Lord granted them victory.

In a way, this serves as a blueprint for us in our everyday lives. We can not expect YHWH to give us victory while living in rebellion against his word or the Spirit. We must deal with our sin, the sins of our family, and even the sins of our nation if we are to experience full victory on the Lord’s path. That does not mean that we as individuals can not have strong relationships with the Lord even in a sinful nation… we can. However, do not expect him to grant great and lasting victory to a nation that rebels openly against him.

Joshua 8

The Conquest of Ai

     1Now the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. 2“You shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Jericho and its king; you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city behind it.”

      3So Joshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night. 4He commanded them, saying, “See, you are going to ambush the city from behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. 5“Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out to meet us as at the first, we will flee before them. 6“They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing before us as at the first.’ So we will flee before them. 7“And you shall rise from your ambush and take possession of the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. 8“Then it will be when you have seized the city, that you shall set the city on fire. You shall do it according to the word of the LORD. See, I have commanded you.” 9So Joshua sent them away, and they went to the place of ambush and remained between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua spent that night among the people.

      10Now Joshua rose early in the morning and mustered the people, and he went up with the elders of Israel before the people to Ai. 11Then all the people of war who were with him went up and drew near and arrived in front of the city, and camped on the north side of Ai. Now there was a valley between him and Ai. 12And he took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. 13So they stationed the people, all the army that was on the north side of the city, and its rear guard on the west side of the city, and Joshua spent that night in the midst of the valley. 14It came about when the king of Ai saw it, that the men of the city hurried and rose up early and went out to meet Israel in battle, he and all his people at the appointed place before the desert plain. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. 15Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. 16And all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city. 17So not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who had not gone out after Israel, and they left the city unguarded and pursued Israel.

      18Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” So Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. 19The men in ambush rose quickly from their place, and when he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it, and they quickly set the city on fire. 20When the men of Ai turned back and looked, behold, the smoke of the city ascended to the sky, and they had no place to flee this way or that, for the people who had been fleeing to the wilderness turned against the pursuers. 21When Joshua and all Israel saw that the men in ambush had captured the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and slew the men of Ai. 22The others came out from the city to encounter them, so that they were trapped in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side; and they slew them until no one was left of those who survived or escaped. 23But they took alive the king of Ai and brought him to Joshua.

      24Now when Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the field in the wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them were fallen by the edge of the sword until they were destroyed, then all Israel returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25All who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000—all the people of Ai. 26For Joshua did not withdraw his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27Israel took only the cattle and the spoil of that city as plunder for themselves, according to the word of the LORD which He had commanded Joshua. 28So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation until this day. 29He hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening; and at sunset Joshua gave command and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the city gate, and raised over it a great heap of stones that stands to this day.

      30Then Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal, 31just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32He wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written, in the presence of the sons of Israel. 33All Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as the native. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had given command at first to bless the people of Israel. 34Then afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.

I also find it interesting that at the end of a great victory, Joshua reads the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, to not just Israel, but to the strangers living among them. It is another indication that the law of YHWH was not meant only for Israel, but for all who came to join Israel and dwell among them. One law for all, not separate law for Jews vs. Gentiles.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Yeshua Died For You. Really Reflect On That.

It is too easy to simply think of Yeshua as being killed for our sin and then we thank him and move on. Let us truly reflect. He went willingly. He was mocked and beaten. He was forced to carry his own cross. The soldiers gambled for his clothes even as he hung on the cross and his disciples and mother looked on. Picture this as the fate that each of us deserved. Imagine you were sentenced to that death, and he stepped in to take your place. Let that sink in.

John 17:16-30

The Crucifixion

     16So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

      17They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. 19Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 20Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. 21So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

      23Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. 24So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; this was to fulfill the Scripture: “THEY DIVIDED MY OUTER GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS.” 25Therefore the soldiers did these things.
But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

      28After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Let us be thankful to our Lord for making a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled with him. Let us rejoice in him. Do not cast aside easily such a gift in pursuit of worldly concerns and priorities. The world is as lost today as the Roman soldiers were then who were casting lots for Yeshua’s garments, unaware of who he really was.  Let this motivate us also to tell others about him and to live in a way that gives testimony to him.

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Resources To Help You Focus On God Rather Than The World

Resources

We all need help sometimes. Turn to God and those who serve Him rather than the world. Whether we are trying to find help for someone facing a crisis like abortion, searching for ways to strengthen our marriage, or just to find quality Christian entertainment… there are a lot of resources out there that call out for our attention, but many do not honor God. At Hearing From Jesus we try to help by sorting through some of that for you and providing recommendations that honor Jesus.

We invite and encourage you to click through some of these links and review some resources we have found helpful. This is not intended to be a complete list, but a rather a seed list to help you get started.  This list is a standard page on our website and you can get to it anytime, not just through this post. To save the webpage link, just click “Resources” at the top of this article.

If you have identified Christian resources you recommend for inclusion on our website, please submit via our Contact Us page.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

You Will Not Find Lasting Fulfillment In Work Alone

Ecclesiastes is written with a theme throughout the book of seeking lasting fulfillment. Solomon seeks it in many different areas. Ultimately he concludes that nothing provides this lasting fulfillment except seeking and obeying YHWH.

We may work hard, and accomplish things and accumulate wealth and enjoy it for a time, but it will not last. We will ultimately leave it to another and go to face our Father. Labor may bring happiness and satisfaction for a time, but can not replace the purpose of the Father in our life. This does not mean that hard work is bad in itself. It is not. But do not seek your total fulfillment in it, but rather in YHWH.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

The Futility of Labor

     18Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. 20Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun. 21When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil. 22For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? 23Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.

      24There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. 25For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him? 26For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Seeking Fulfillment In Possessions Comes Up Empty

We can easily get caught up in coveting what others have or focusing on certain things that we want, that we think will bring us happiness and fulfillment. The bigger house, the fancier car, the better job, a greater accomplishment, some even fall by pursuing the “better” spouse…

This is not to say that we should not be willing to work to provide for our family or seek to accomplish good things for the Lord. Indeed no! However we should take care not to seek fulfillment in these things and put their pursuit in the place of seeking fulfillment in our pursuit of relationship with our Creator and Father.

None of this can ultimately fulfill and satisfy in a lasting way. This is not to say there will not be periodic thrills and excitement, a rush from achievement, and so on. However, those who can not be content with what they have, will always want more. And those who seek genuine and fulfilling purpose by acquiring more possessions will come up empty.  Only YHWH satisfies and fulfills. Everything else is like chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes:2:1-11

The Futility of Pleasure and Possessions

     1I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. 2I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” 3I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives. 4I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; 5I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; 6I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. 7I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. 8Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men—many concubines.

      9Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. 10All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. 11Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Yeshua Focused On The Father and Others

Even as Yeshua faced His impending arrest, He remain focused on the Father, His own mission on earth from the Father, and those that were close to Him that would still need the Father’s help after Yeshua was gone. What a loving and selfless example that we should follow in our own lives!

John 17:1-12

The High Priestly Prayer

     1Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. 3“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4“I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. 5“Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

      6“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7“Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; 8for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. 9“I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; 10and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12“While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.

The Father’s purpose should remain paramount as a focus in our lives, even when it leads us down a path of difficulty and suffering. We must trust in Him to fully please Him. Let us follow the example of Yeshua in our own lives and not focus only on our own comforts and desires, but the plans of our Father for us and also those around us who also need the Father’s help.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

What Is Mardi Gras and Should Christians Celebrate It?

What is Mardi Gras and why do so many Christians celebrate it? I grew up in a Catholic church and never could quite figure out how people could say that Mardi Gras was a “Christian holiday”. People broadly seemed to have accepted the concept that Christ wants us to embrace wild parties, drunkenness, public nudity, gluttony and other sinful behavior as a precursor to a period of repentance which follows. If it is not obvious enough that celebrating Mardi Gras is not a way to edify, honor, or lift up Christ then try a more academic exercise. Where in scripture did Jesus demonstrate or teach that we should sin greatly before a period of repentance? It’s not there. In fact, the opposite.

The call to repentance is real, but not the call to sin before it.

This does not even begin to touch on the focus that Mardi Gras puts on pagan gods associated with parades and other events.

Matthew 4:17

      17From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Romans 6

      1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.

      8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

      12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

      15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

      20For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are called to righteousness and not to sin. How then can those in the church widely accept and embrace sin as a “Christian holiday”? The answer is that we have not followed the Lord’s instructions. He commands us not to learn the ways of the pagans and not to celebrate as they do. But all too often our common cultural holidays have been greatly influenced by pagan celebrations. The church has chosen to accept and blend pagan practices alongside or in place of how the Lord wants us to worship Him.

Mardi Gras is a tradition that dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia.

When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mardi-gras

Deuteronomy 12:1-5

   1“These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth. 2“You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3“You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. 4“You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God. 5“But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.

In order to choose to follow the Lord His way, which is the only true way to follow Him, then we must turn away from and reject pagan celebrations which have been blended with or replaced God’s instructions for how we are to worship Him and how we are to live. Let us not make excuses, accepting the lifestyle of the pagans as our own, no matter how long the family traditions have been established. When we start making exceptions, we often end up with things like Mardi Gras… many who claim to be Christian accept it and would defend it… but none can justify it based on scripture or God’s word. It has become part of the culture based on a historical choices and family traditions. Let us seek the Lord and the Lord’s way alone to live submitted to Him. Let us not blend with the ways of the pagans but rather turn back to our Lord wholeheartedly and without hesitation.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Seeking Wisdom From The One Who Is Truly Wise

Truly if you want wisdom, do not look to universities and degrees in higher learning, though those may have some value, but instead look to the Lord and ask Him humbly for the wisdom you seek. Pursue it in study of the scriptures and prayer and God will give it to you in the measure and time He deems appropriate.

Do not seek it though to accomplish your own plans and desires for you own glory, but the Lord’s plans for His glory through you. Do not ask for it expecting Him not to give it either, but rather expect and trust that He will grant what you ask.

2 Chronicles 1

Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom

     8Solomon said to God, “You have dealt with my father David with great lovingkindness, and have made me king in his place. 9“Now, O LORD God, Your promise to my father David is fulfilled, for You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10“Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?” 11God said to Solomon, “Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth or honor, or the life of those who hate you, nor have you even asked for long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule My people over whom I have made you king, 12wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed nor those who will come after you.” 13So Solomon went from the high place which was at Gibeon, from the tent of meeting, to Jerusalem, and he reigned over Israel.

James 1:5-8

    5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do We Compete To Win For Christ?

As the Super Bowl draws near and the national championship for college football has recently completed, it is an interesting time to reflect on what effort and dedication it takes to compete in such a way as to win. Beyond this, it is also a good time to reflect on what we choose to prepare and compete for.

Throughout the world, people enter competitions of all kinds.. sports, crafts, baking, writing… even hot-dog-eating contests. Yes, really. People enthusiastically compete to eat the most hot dogs in a few minutes. No matter what the contest is, those who win had to work hard and dedicate themselves to the competition in order to compete well and win.

Much glory is given to those who win and win consistently. Athletes in particular are raised up by society as having accomplished something meaningful when they compete at a high level of ability. Inevitably, those who reach the highest levels have devoted much of their time and effort to preparation and training. For example, NFL Super Bowl champions did not sit around watching TV on the couch all year, eating whatever junk food they feel like and practicing once in awhile maybe an hour a week. They were working hard to prepare their minds and bodies all year long. Their pursuit of greatness in a particular field becomes a huge part of their personal identity.

It is much the same way for us to succeed in a life spent truly serving God. I do not mean one in which we just go to church once a week, or occasionally open the Bible or help someone. We must train as the athletes do… train to win! Study consistently the word of God in the Bible, pray daily, apply the word of God to our own lives by changing our wrong behaviors and attitudes… even when others might say we are “good enough”. Those who accept man’s definition of “good enough” will never achieve greatness. We must use the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ and the scriptures in the Bible as the standard for what is good enough. We must work hard and dedicate ourselves to keep moving toward that holy example. Do not settle for being “better than most” because “most” fall far short of the standard God calls us to work toward.

Ask how many champions in this world, at any event, attribute their success to a dedication to “sort of work at something when they have time” and a satisfaction with being “better than most”. I tell you none with this attitude have achieved greatness.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

  24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Perhaps you should also consider that if you spent more time, energy, and focus pursuing a great Super Bowl party than you have in seeking God over the same period of time… you may want to reconsider your priorities.

Do not get complacent.  Continue to know, love and serve God forever. Obey His commands. Fear Him instead of man. It is a journey where we never reach the final destination in this life, but it transforms us along the way to become more like Jesus Christ and less like our own selfish nature.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Covenant Requires Both Sides To Abide To Remain Valid

Joshua 2 documents how Rahab, a harlot, rescues the Israelite spies from capture by the forces of Jericho. As they part, they strike an agreement to save her family. It is not surprising to most of us, but there are conditions for both sides to obey in order for the agreement to be valid. If either side breaks the agreement, then the whole agreement is null and void. This is very common in our culture and has been common throughout human history. Very seldom is there a one-sided promise. There are almost always conditions on both sides.

Joshua 2:15-24

The Promise to Rahab

     15Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. 16She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” 17The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, 18unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. 19“It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20“But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.” 21She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

      22They departed and came to the hill country, and remained there for three days until the pursuers returned. Now the pursuers had sought them all along the road, but had not found them. 23Then the two men returned and came down from the hill country and crossed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they related to him all that had happened to them. 24They said to Joshua, “Surely the LORD has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.”

The agreement of Rahab and the spies is not surprising to most readers. The fact that both parties had responsibilities is normal. Why, then, do people who claim to follow Yeshua seem to assume so plainly that His offer of forgiveness is unconditional? It is not. It is a covenant whereby both sides agree to terms. If one side breaks the terms, than the whole covenant is broken.

Let’s look at one of the most quoted scriptures by Christians.

John 3:16-21

     16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

There is a clear distinction between those that believe and those that do not believe in Christ as Messiah. Not all are saved. But let us take care, that “believe” is not taken out of context. If I believe in Christ as an historical figure, sort of like believing in Greenland as a land mass, but it has no effect on my life, then we have missed the point. Rather, we see reference to those that do not believe doing evil deeds and loving darkness to remain hidden in their sin. Thus we can clearly see the reverse is implied. Those that believe in Him seek the Light. Their love is reflected in their actions and deeds. This is believe more along the lines of “I believe in gravity”. It affects how I go about my daily life. I know that if I step off a building, I will fall. I hold handrails going up and down stairs so as not to fall. I watch my steps so as not to trip, believing that if I do I will fall rather than fly.

We are called to believe in Christ in more than an historical context, but in a very personal way that influences our daily lives. We are to believe in Him as Messiah. If we do, then our whole lives change. We should desperately seek out what He taught and how He lived. We should not just limit ourselves to church once a week or prayer 5 minutes a day at a meal. We should be in awe of the opportunity to walk through this life (and beyond) with our Messiah…our God.

Let us not fail to embrace Christ fully in our belief, lest we miss out on the offer He graciously has extended.

It is not enough to acknowledge Him in name only, or even do miracles in His name. Let that sink in. Let’s make sure we are truly walking with Him fully in our belief in Him as Messiah. There are consequences if we do not.

Matthew 7: 13-23

The Narrow and Wide Gates

     13“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

A Tree and Its Fruit

     15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits.

      21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Let us consider carefully the words of Christ as He turns many away… “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ If we claim Him in name, but do not live according to His ways and in relationship with Him, than we have not truly believed and He will not receive us.

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