Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Their is POWER in His Name and in His Spirit.

Only God can change a person's heart! Jesus did not come to this world and suffer such a brutal death simply to allow us to be saved. A simple statement and a walk down an aisle does not get one into heaven! When one repents and accepts God the Holy Spirit into their lives, they are changed from the inside out! God does the transformation, not our efforts! They enter into a relationship with the Lord, not simply a space in a place!
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.(Ephesians 2:8-9)
So as we share our lives and experiences with others, it is God acting in and through us to lead them to Himself as well. It is God, not us! These are spiritual issues, not quick fixes. Issues run deep and sometimes are a result of a lifetime of experiences.  Their is POWER in His Name and in His Spirit. Trust God with the hearts. We just do what He says to do! Even when we get weary, especially then, is when He is STRONG!
  It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)

Monday, April 29, 2019

make disciples.

As we read through the New Testament, it’s not unusial to discover Jesus’s followers focused on making disciples.  That makes sense in light of Jesus’s ministry and the Great Commission. However, the surprise comes when we look at ourselves today in light of Jesus’s command to make disciples.
Why is it that we don't see  disciple making taking place in the church today? Do we really believe that Jesus told His early followers to make disciples but wants us to do something different? 

We have created a church culture where the paid ministers do the “ministry,” and the rest of us show up, put some money in the plate, and leave feeling inspired or “fed.” This is not the "church" nor "Body of Christ" for which Jesus suffered and died!

Read this again as we ask ourselves if we are being obedient followers or disciples of our Lord and Savior!

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Amen (Matthew 28:18-20)

Simple command....

Saturday, April 27, 2019

REPENT!

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.(Ezekiel 36:26-28)
God promised to restore Israel. Yet they had to do something; REPENT!
God then would do something:  give His Spirit to dwell with them.

So what about you and me?
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.( 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
 Paul writes to Timothy and us to study and apply His Word. As we are convicted, we repent and give His Spirit more control. We become more like Him in our actions!

Repentance and surrender....let God take control!

Friday, April 26, 2019

The X- factor of Xtreme Living

Peter was the best example of XTREME LIVING I can think of in the bible . . . well maybe Paul as well! However Peter was XTREME! He followed Jesus immediately. He acknowleged Him as Messiah first. He would not allow Jesus to say He would have to die. He would cut the ear off of the guard in the Garden to protect Jesus. Yet he was also so XTREME that he would deny Jesus three times when asked by a young girl if he even knew Jesus! As was with Peter, he was then XTREMELY sorry that he did that! Once Jesus restored Peter, he lived an XTREME life of witnessing for the Messiah, leading thousands to Christ, absorbing beatings, jail, threats and eventual crucifixion . . . upside down! In today's world of XTREME  games and XTREME lifestyles, Peter would indeed qualify! He had the X-factor!!!!
But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!” A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept. (Mark 14:68-72)
Do you have the X-factor? Do live and XTREME life for Christ?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

many gifted CHRISTians . . .

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:  for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12: 6-11)

There are many gifted CHRISTians!  The issue is do we know the gift and are we using it properly. A Paul states above, God gives certain gifts to every believer. Some get a few, but every believer receives at least one spiritual gift with which to serve the Body of Christ. However, very few people take the effort to discover their gifts(s).

Many of is wander through life serving here and there and feel as though we are not being effective. We serve as ushers, SONday school workers, nursery uppers, or as administrative staff. Some are pastors, deacons or other leaders within the church. Just because we have been chosen by man to serve does not mean that God has equipped us to serve in that capacity however. It can be frustrating and detrimental to the Church when we are serving in the wrong roles!

I encourage you to take a spiritual gift inventory. There are numerous on line. Take a few to be sure of your area of bitterness. There are surveys for adults and teens. It was one of the first ministries I was involved in when first becoming a believer. I found out how God equipped me and was able to then prepare to serve in those roles. While I was unable to do some things because of consequences of sin (another topic for later), I am still able to be used by God and am excited to do so! I would not want it any other way!

As with any talent, gift or ability, it is given to use . . . so use it! As my coach would often say, "use it or lose it". God can and will set us aside and use others if we do not exercise our gifts to serve!


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Spirit Makes the Difference!

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When He had said this, He showed them Hishands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”(John 20:19-23) 

 The Spirit Makes the Difference! Before receiving the Holy Spirit, the disciples were hiding in fear! Fear for their lives, fear for the future, fear of humiliation. Yet once Jesus gave them the gift of the Spirit within them, they were unstoppable!

They would preach to individuals. They would preach to crowds in the thousands. They would preach in jails, in town centers, and in synagogues. Eventually they would die for their faith in the Savior Who died and rose for them!

James, Zebedee's son was beheaded. Phillip was scoured and crucified in Phrygia. IMatthew killed in Ethiopia. James (brother of Jesus) was stoned and clubbed. Matthias stoned and beheaded in Jerusalem, Andrew, Peter and Bartholomew beaten and crucified! Need more . . . .?

Now we, who have this same Spirit, remain quiet? We have the head knowledge. Let's show it and live a relational experience with this Living Savior!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

What do we do with the Resurrection?

Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.  But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:2-8)
We cannot miss this message.....especially this time of year. We have just participated, or at least I pray we have, a special time of year form the CHRIST-follower . . . HOLY Week. But now what?

What do we do with the Resurrection . . . . the empty tomb . . . the Risen Savior?

I am sure Mary, Peter, and others had the same questions after such trying days. Many ran. Some hid away. One (or more) denied knowing Jesus. Many doubted along with Thomas. One was so overcome that he killed himself!

Yet today, what are we to do? Is Easter over until next year?

Those who saw the angel were told to "come and see" and then to "go and tell". These are very precise and clear commands from God's messenger. See the empty tomb and tell the others! HE IS RISEN!!!! As the disciples would see and witness Jesus alive in the coming days, they would gain hope and confidence. Jesus gave them a similar command (Matthew 28:18-20). They eventually would receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4) and then boldly preach the Words of Christ to their death.

Would to God that we believers, we disciples of Christ today who are endwelled with that same Spirit, would be so bold!!!!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Don't let life hold you down!

Now what... that the cross and tomb are empty?
 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Don't let life hold you down!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

So what is our response to the POWER within us?

On basic issues—the nature of God, salvation and the afterlife—Christianity is uniquely true. On the flip side, as Paul observes, if the resurrection is not true, then Christianity is utterly false (1 Cor 15:14, 17).
Jesus encouraged people to believe in him because of both his teachings and his miracles ( John 5:36-40; Luke 10:13-15). He seemed to view miracles as providing a divine seal on his own ministry. Jesus reportedly told the Jewish leaders that his miracles were proof that he was the Son of God (John 10:36-38). Jesus pointed to his resurrection as the greatest sign that would confirm his identity (Matthew 16:1-4).
In Acts, Peter reportedly declared that Jesus’s miracles, and especially the resurrection, were the chief indication that God had approved Jesus’s teachings (Acts 2:23-32)
So what is our response? Yes, we say we believe! Yes, we say we follow Christ! Yet the early believers did more! There response was to BOLDLY proclaim and live out their beliefs...even unto death!(Acts 2:1-47)
So what is our response to the POWER within us?
(Acts 1:8)

Friday, April 19, 2019

Only what I do for Him will last!

Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” 36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.”
37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. (Mark 15:33-37)
 All He did for me, the least I can do is live for Him. I cannot forsake Him. He never leaves me. His work however is not yet finished in me! Only what I do for Him will last!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

We may NEVER receive the applause of men!

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift ofprophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long andis kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
 Love never fails.  
(1Corinthians 13:1-8)
Whether we preach, teach, or any way we serve God, if our motivation is not to LOVE God, His people or His Church, we do it all in vain. We care a lot of noise, hot air, like a "clanging symbol"!

We may NEVER receive the applause of men. Yet our work for the Lord is NEVER in vain! Jesus was ridiculed, mocked, beaten and killed. No applause...yet now we praise Him!

May others praise God and glorify Him when they see and hear you and me!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

We cannot live in a bubble

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? UAnd how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”(Romans 10:14-15)
Made to make disciples....
We cannot live in a bubble, protected by other CHRISTians or the walls of the church. We must "go" and support those who "go"!

Monday, April 15, 2019

THE NARROW ROAD

“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.”(Luke 21:17)


THE NARROW ROAD IS OFTEN A SOLITARY ONE.


ARE YOU WALKING IN CHRIST OR WALKING IN THE WORLD?

Friday, April 12, 2019

Truly this was the Son of God!

But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not oneof His bones shall be broken.”  And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”(John 19:33-37)
 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54)
This soldier, according to Church Tradition, was Longinus, the Centurion.  In fact, some historians are not sure if Longinus was the actual birth name of the Centurion, or rather a name now given to him since he was the one who held the spear, which is “longhi” in Greek.
Longinus had a disease in his eyes and was healed of his affliction when the blood and water poured forth from the side of Christ and touched his eyes.  Looking upon all that had happened shook Longinus to the depths of his soul, and he confessed his faith that “Truly this was the Son of God.”  Longinus and his band of soldiers also stood guard at the tomb and were present at the Resurrection. The Jewish authorities attempted to bribe the soldiers but Longinus and two others refused to be paid for their silence.  They declared their belief in Christ and in the Resurrection.  They left the military service, were baptized and they went out to preach the good news of Christ in Cappadocia.Upon hearing of mass conversions in Cappadocia, the Jewish authorities persuaded Pontius Pilate to send soldiers to Cappadocia to kill Longinus and his companions.  They beheaded the three of them, taking the head of Longinus back to Pontius Pilate. (Orthodox Christian Network;4/19/2016)
Who do YOU say Jesus is?

Thursday, April 11, 2019

I Take This Personally!

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.(Isaiah 53:4-6)
 I Take This Personally! Want about you?
Read the scriptures above written hundreds of years before Roman crucifixions and way before Christ walked the earth. Christ would bear our sorrows, our hurts, our embarrassments, our shame, our SINS, yet we as a people abandoned Him. We refused His love. We spit upon Him and literally tore the flesh from His body and then in ultimate embarrassment, we stripped Him and put Him high above on the cross for all to see and mock! Yes, we did it! Our sins did it. Yet Jesus allowed it out of love!
 💔💔

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.(John 12:32)

As Jesus was lifted up, our sins were taken down. But only if we too embrace this cross and all it means. Are we still drawn to Jesus or has the world turned us away? 
We must take this personally!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Take heart, not excuses!

This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.           (2 Timothy 2:11-12)
This is for believers: If we in fact repented, or put to death our former selves, than why do we enjoy the sin we so depise? Yes, it feels horrible! Yes, we feel ashamed! So did Paul, the self- admitted chief of sinners! Yet, he could do all things through Christ Who strengthened him!(Philippians 4:13)
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. (Romans 7:15)
Take heart, not excuses!  The sin we choose haunts us. It tears us up inside. The guilt eats away at our very soul. Yet if we truly repented, truly admitted our need for Christ's blood, than we are truly redeemed and made alive in Christ! His Spirit has sealed us for His glory! (Ephesians 1:13)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Praise God for His sacrificial gift. There is no other way to God!
 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Reality of Jesus' Love for us

Real whips . . . Real spit from another man's mouth . . . Real chains  . . . Real nails . . . A very heavy cross . . . A real struggle to simply breathe . . . . and a very real, lonely and painful death!

The reality of Jesus' love for us go beyond amazing! In fact, it was heart-breaking for Him and should be for us today. He literally died of a ripped and broken heart for us as blood and water flowed from His side! (John 19:34)
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Gory details, yet full of love. . . . for us!  Think on this today! 

Monday, April 8, 2019

HIS-tory is our story!

You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread :you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty  . . . .(Exodus 23:14-15)
Why mention the Jewish Feasts? Simple . . . We serve a Jewish Lord and Savior! What we learn from the past will enhance our respect and worship! HIS-tory  is our story! It is not good to prepare for a Holy Week without knowing HIS-tory about it!

Jesus would celebrate the Passover meal, remembering what Moses outlined in the Exodus passages above, throughout His life. He would celebrate for the last time with His disciples that fateful night a little less than two-thousand years ago. (Matthew 26:17-30)

Only this time Jesus established a new reason to celebrate . . . . a New Testament if your would. Now His blood would be shed and His blood would be the covering to protect us from not physical death, but an eternal separation from God! He would now become our Lamb . . . our sacrifice unto God for our sin! He is our Lord, our Savior, and our Sacrifice!

So as we prepare, we do so in such a way to place ourselves there with Him. We celebrate, yet we mourn. We are thankful, yet sorrowful. Glad that He did such a thing for us, yet regretful that He had to do such a thing because of our sin.

HIS-tory is real! Is HIS-tory your story as well? I am so thankful He wrote my name in the Story!

Friday, April 5, 2019

A NEW COVENANT . . . . LOVE!

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:34-35)
Jesus came to change things for sure! No more eye for an eye; no more life for a life! It will be different from here on . . . A NEW COVENANT!

As Jesus was about to go to the cross, He was letting His followers know that things would be different. His followers would be known by love, sacrifice, grace and service to one another. LOVE will be the distinguishing characteristic of Christ-followers!

He not only showed it by washing the disciples' feet, but more importantly taking the punishment for our sin through the beatings and eventual crucifixion upon the cross! Christ showed us what LOVE really is! It is laying aside my desires and comforts for the desires and comforts of others . . . yes, even our enemies! (Romans 5:8)

What a difference then . . . What a difference it could be today! Are we who claim Christ as Lord and Savior living it out?

May the Risen Savior live in us loudly this day!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The ONLY Way!

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”  Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? (John 14:5-9)
These parting words to His disciples also ring loud and clear today: Jesus is THE ONLY WAY to eternal life with God! Not Buddah . . . Not Mohammed . . . Not Confucius . . . Not the latest diet or exercise fad . . . and definitely not riches! There is only One Who claimed to be the Savior Who is still alive . . . and He will return to claim His own for Himself one day!

You didn't know?

With all this world tries to offer with politics, social media, sports, memberships, positions, and the like, there is only ONE WAY to true happiness and eternal joy; JESUS CHRIST!

Do you know Him?

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

True Worship!

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)
We all know this familiar story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. We end to focus on Jesus calling out the woman because of her lifestyle and then her opening up and accepting Him as Lord and Savior.

The wandering Samaritan woman becomes the great Samaritan evangelist! Great story, right?

But wait, Jesus is also calling us out as well! How are we worshipping today? Whom are we worshipping? Why? Many who name the name of Jesus feel as though there is no need for church! Some others believe that my church is better than your church. Is there not only one true Church, One Body, One Faith, One Lord and Father of us all? Were we not called to gather?(Hebrews 10:25)

What is Jesus saying here?  . . ." true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him."(John 4:23) 

It's not about the building, or the people, or even you or me! It is about HIM! Do we realize that everything we do as Christ-followers is about worshipping Him? 

Our thoughts, conversations, social media, music, shows, our words, our dress. . . everything reflects our love and adoration for the Savior . . . . or not!

As a teacher/mentor, I am realizing that the students' day can turn on any word or action from me.  Do they see Christ in me? Can they feel it? Do they know that I worship Him and want them to do so as well?

We are coming close to the celebration of Jesus' Passion . . . His incomparable sacrifice and love for us. Can we focus more than ever on our worship and witness for Him?

Paul said it this way to those believers whom were challenged in Rome:
 beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.(Romans 12:1-2)
Reasonable . . . Minimal . . . the LEAST we can do for Christ is offer our every moment to Him as a sacrifice . . . as TRUE WORSHIP!

How else will those in need of Him ever see Him?

We Can't Quit!

Then He said to them,  “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”   He went a little farther and fell...