Am I on the path? Are my children? Is my church?

We do well to routinely take time from our busy lives to reflect on God’s word and on how we are applying it in our lives. God Himself shows us in Genesis 1:1 by taking time as He created the heavens and the earth. As he reaches milestones in the creation He reflects on it and takes time to evaluate it … “and God saw that it was good.”

Many of us have accepted Jesus and want to serve Him, but it is not always clear if we are walking on the right path in the way we live our lives. Are we honoring Him? obeying Him? What about our church or others we trust and listen to? How do we know if they are giving good advice and direction?

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

[Matthew 7:13-23 NLT]

Always test what someone tells you about Jesus against scripture in the Bible. There are wolves who pretend to be among God’s sheep!To effectively serve Jesus and avoid traps from the enemy we must routinely read and study God’s word ourselves. Daily is best but start with as often as you can. Don’t try to speed read or take in big chunks all at once. Take in the Bible like you would a good meal… one bite at a time, savoring each for what flavor it brings you. You will never regret it!

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The greatest among you should be like a servant

As the disciples sat at dinner with Jesus celebrating Passover in what has now become known as the Last Supper they began to argue about who would become greatest among them.

Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people’. But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.

Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”

 

Jesus “walked the talk” throughout His time of ministry on earth. He spent His time among us teaching, healing, serving and then dying for us … not creating comfort and luxury for Himself. We should remember this aspect of leadership when we choose our local or national leaders and even when we act as leaders in our communities or families.

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Not enough faith to reject Jesus…

Scientists, detectives, juries in courts of law… and the rest of us with every day common sense follow where the evidence leads when we want to understand something. Whether we want to know about who committed a crime or who took cookies from the cookie jar the approach is the same. Look for clues and follow the evidence. Witnesses are very helpful in any investigation!

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has substantial evidence and eye witness testimony confirming the validity of the Biblical events. We do not have to “take it on faith”, but rather seek to understand the evidence and let it lead you to the most probable conclusion.

Jesus was a well known and recognizable person by the time He was crucified. People recognized Him. Crowds listened to Him. He was publically executed in broad daylight in a brutal way with many witnesses. There were well trained guards at the tomb to keep disciples from taking His body. Even amongst those who reject Jesus none can reasonably argue against the fact that Jesus’ tomb was empty on the third day.

“During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.”  [Acts 1:3 NLT]

 These same disciples would face brutal treatment and execution (except John who was exiled to Patmos) and to the end they never changed their mind or testimony that Jesus Christ was God. They were certainly convinced!

Scripture goes on to document that Jesus appeared to many more than just His closest disciples after He rose from the dead.

After evaluating the evidence I realize it takes more of a leap of faith to reject Jesus as our Lord and Savior than to accept Him.

The following books are good reads and add much more detail to empower us to really understand the evidence.

The Third Day by Hank Hanegraaff

Christianity on Trial  by Mark Lanier

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Don’t wait for a sign!

Many of us know someone who has embraced the idea that they will accept Jesus when He gives them a sign. Others who may have accepted Jesus are waiting for a sign before they tell others boldly about Him.

This can be a trap! The truth is that God has already given us many signs and miracles. They are well documented in the Bible. If we wait for Him to send another sign before we accept Him or before we choose to share the good news of the gospel with others… it may be too late for us and for those we love.

In Luke 16:19-31 [NLT] Jesus tells us about Lazarus and a rich man.  Lazarus is a poor man who despite much hardship in his life accepted God. The rich man despite much luxury and worldly gain  rejected God. They both die and the rich man finds himself in hell, but able to see Lazarus in heaven.  He realizes it is too late for him and immediately thinks of those he loves…

“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him [Lazarus] to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’

Jesus Himself died for us and has risen from the dead. He was a public, recognizable figure. He was publically brutalized with many witnesses and executed in broad daylight for all to see . After rising on the third day he was witnessed by hundreds of people over several weeks moving about in good health. All of this is well documented.

Sadly most of the world and even most of those that have heard about Jesus Christ do not accept Him as Lord and Savior, even though He died and rose again to come back and tell us.

Don’t miss the opportunity to accept Jesus as your savior, to share Him with those you know, and to share the Good News even with those you don’t know as you interact with them in your daily walk.

 

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We ask ourselves ‘Can God use me?’ Yes he can!

Many of us fall prey to a common lie that God can not use us if we have flaws or areas of weakness. Because we all have flaws and areas of weakness this means that many will choose not to serve God because they do not feel they are worthy.

There was only one perfect person, that in the person of Jesus Christ… God Himself when He became man.  All of God’s servants including the prophets, disciples, and many “superstars” of the faith had areas of weakness.

Starting in Exodus 3:1 and continuing through Exodus 4:18 Moses debates with God various reasons why he is not the right choice for God to send to free His people from Egypt. Yes, that’s right… Moses as He stood in front of the burning bush and spoke directly with God had lots of reasons why he was the wrong choice.

His excuses ranged from what appears to be a lack of self confidence (Exo 3:11), to just a flat out excuse of “I don’t know your name.” (Exo 3:13), “they won’t believe me…” (Exo 4:1), to “I am not a good public speaker…”  (Exo 4:10), and finally one last plea to pick someone else “please send anyone else” (Exo 4:13).

God used Moses in a mighty way to lead His people and demonstrate God’s power to many nations. God can use you too!

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There is only one way… one path…

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6 NLT]

As we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and begin to follow Him it is very important for us to recognize that He is not one of many equal choices. He is “the way”. The only way.

Culture today and even for thousands of years (as documented in Bible) seems prevalent with the idea that there are many gods and many different ways to serve Him. Many today are so afraid of offending someone that they hesitate to take this definitive position and instead want to leave open the possibility that other “good people” that do “good things” or “help people” still serve God, but through a different name.

Quite simply, this is not valid. Jesus was very clear. If we accept Him as Lord then we must reject all the other false paths and false beliefs as equivalent ways to honor God. Careful study of the remaining body of scripture also demonstrates the inconsistency between different faiths in ways that they can not all be right and equivalent.

If we as a Christian community feel as though non-Christians are demonstrating love to God’s people more effectively than we are through works then we should indeed take time to pause and consider… what can we do to make a difference and show God’s love to those who are lost and even to those who know Jesus but may need encouragement and support.

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How we pray matters!

In Matthew 6:9-13 [NASB] Jesus teaches us how to pray.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’”

Jesus laid out a very clear and detailed way to lead us in our prayer life with God. How we pray and why we pray matter to God!

First we start by focusing on God. Reflect on who He is and what He wants us to do. All to often we find ourselves launching directly into a list of our wants, needs, or troubles. Jesus tells us first to focus on God. This helps to put in perspective our issues and His ability to lead us through them.

Then Jesus calls us to ask for “our daily bread”. Jesus does not say ask for our next week or year… or do not ask at all for anything. He wants us to talk to Him daily. We should make sure to set this time aside and not let it get crowded out.

“Forgive us our debts…” as we forgive others. Jesus calls us not only to repent and ask for forgiveness but also to forgive others. Don’t hold a grudge. Bitterness hurts most the one who holds it, not the one to whom it is directed.

“Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil…” Yes, there really is a devil and there really are evil people and evil desires we must avoid and sometimes overcome. Jesus is warning us that we should lean on God for help in this area daily.

“For Yours is the kingdom…” We close where we started, with focus on God instead of us.

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The message of the cross is foolishness…

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

 

We are called to share the good news of the gospel with others but we can cannot accept it on someone else’s behalf.  Do not be hesitant to share the gospel out of fear of  personal rejection.

Some will hear it and generate a rich harvest for Jesus through their faith. Others will reject the message of Jesus and His death on the cross for our sins… for our offer of forgiveness.

Many rejected Jesus Christ himself, so we should not expect they will all accept us as His messengers.

Free Offer – with Eternal Benefits!

We all like “free” offers. It is exciting to get discounts on movies or restaurants or vacation packages! As a matter of fact, when we hear about a free offer we often race to tell our friends and family and even people we just meet so they can take advantage before the offer expires. We know the offer is not really free, but someone else has paid the price and it is free to us.

How many of us would turn down an offer of a $100 gift card? How many of us would tell all our friends, or even people we just meet at a store how to get the gift card?

God has made us the most compelling offer… and it is free to us, but to truly accept it will change you forever.

Read along in John 3:16-17 [NKJV].

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

It is easy as a Christian to start taking this offer for granted. Do we still get excited to share it with others as we do when we find a good deal? or do we allow ourselves to get comfortable and only share with those we know already believe?

This offer is the best one we will ever receive and it does have an expiration date. For each of us this offer expires when we do and the price has already been paid, whether or not we accept it.

 

As a Christian, should I expect storms in my life?

Many struggle to understand why they face adversity in life once they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They trust in a false doctrine that life will be easy once they follow Jesus. When they start with this belief they can quickly get disappointed and turn from Jesus when things get tough.

What does Jesus say?

Reading from NLT starting in Matthew 7:24.

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

We should expect storms in life whether or not we follow Jesus Christ. But if we build the foundation of our life on the solid rock of Jesus we will be able to  withstand them.

Jesus compares His teaching to a foundation. This is very different than just a pretty surface coat of paint! So it should be with our faith and our life. Following Jesus should be foundational to every part of our lives not just the fresh paint when we are at church or all is going well.  When the storm comes the surface coat peels away, but with a solid foundation we will weather the storms!

Sharing God's word through devotionals and other resources. Helping you study the Bible and apply it to your life. Helping young children to enjoy the Bible at our Kid Zone.