Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Who needs magic when you got Jesus"

Acts 19:8-20

Paul went to Ephesus to proclaim the Message of Jesus Christ. God was doing some awesome things through Paul, so much that even the handkerchiefs that Paul touched where healing people (Acts 19:11-12). (Now it is important to note here that God can use whatever He wants and whoever He wants to carry out His Will. If He wants to use a handkerchief to heal someone He can but that is not to say that He always will. So be careful not buy into the gimmicks of people selling you holy water or anointed cloths. And notice Paul's cloths were free!) Now some Jewish Exorcist saw what Paul was doing and stood in awe. So much in fact they decided to do what Paul was doing and cast out demons in the name of Jesus. Now theses exorcist however routinely practiced magic and believed in the occult. They City of Ephesus was known for the dark arts and witchcraft. And some of the Jews who lived there compromised their beliefs and indulged in the dark arts as well.

So when these exorcist went to cast out demons in the name of Jesus they meet an unexpected outcome. The demon responded to them by saying, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you (Acts 19:15) ?" And then the demon possessed man began to beat the Jewish Exorcist to a bloody pulp (Acts 19:16). When all the people saw this, Jewish and Greek alike, they began to revere and extol Jesus (Acts 19:17).

This not only inspired people to come and know Jesus it also caused those who were Christians to admit their sins. It turns out that some Christians were practicing magic as well. The Christians of Ephesus brought all their books of the occult out to the city streets and burned them, they burned so much it had a value of 50,000 pieces of silver (Acts 19:18-19). And God's Word continued to prevail and increase mightily (Acts 19:20).

Why is this important to us? It is important because there are Christians who proclaim to know Jesus and actively practice magic. There are Christians who read the horoscopes and let it direct their lives. There are Christians who call psychic hotlines to get direction And there are Christians who consult mediums to try to talk with the deceased.

Listen all the above mentioned is sinful. Those who practice magic will burn in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8) so as Christians we do not practice it. We do not put our faith Horoscopes but we trust Jesus and please Him with our faith (Hebrews 11:6, 12:2). Our horoscopes do not decide our outcome but we put our trust in God because has a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). Next time somebody asks you what your sign is tell them "It's The Cross!" We do not call the psychic hot line to get direction, we instead our led by the Spirit and God's Word (Psalm 119:105, Romans 8:14). And we do not consult mediums to contact the dead (Leviticus 19:31, Isaiah 8:19).

So if you are doing this stuff or having materials in your house that promote these things I have simple advice for you BURN IT!!! No matter how much it cost BURN IT!!!! Because you don't need it and it does not honor God. Live your life to please Lord and watch as His Word will increase and prevail mightily in your life. Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

"The Crazy Sane Truth"

Acts 26:12-29

There was a guy named Paul who stood before a King to face charges of causing a public disturbance in the Jewish Nation. At that time the Jews who did not believe in Jesus wanted to have Paul stoned to death. But because Paul was a Roman Citizen he had the right to appeal his case before Cesar. Before he went to Cesar Paul's Case was heard by the King of the Province, King Agrippa (try saying that three times fast).

Paul explained to King Agrippa that there was a time where he did not believe in Jesus. As a matter of fact Paul sought out to kill any Jewish Person who claimed that Jesus was the Savior of the World (Acts 26:11). But one day while walking along a road, Jesus Himself appeared to Paul. And it was at that moment Paul's life was forever changed and instantly he accepted Jesus and became a Christian (Acts 26:12-18). At that point it become Paul's God-given mission to tell everyone about salvation through Jesus.

In the midst of this King Agrippa stopped Paul and said "You are crazy and all that religious stuff has driven you mad (Acts 26:24)" Paul's reply was "I'm not crazy on the contrary I am saying and speaking the truth". He continued by saying "I know you have heard of Jesus before and I even believe that you know what I am saying is true (Acts 26:26-27). King Agrippa looked back at Paul and said "Are you trying to persuade me to accept Jesus in such short time (Acts 26:28)?" Paul's reply "Whether it takes short or long time, my hope is that you and everyone who hears me today becomes like me and accept Jesus (Acts 26:29)"

I know that Christians can seem crazy and weird at times with all that Jesus talk. And I know their stories of how they came to know Jesus may seem like an emotional story gone array. But trust this. We are praying that when you read our post, hear our stories, and/or interact with us that one day it will persuade you to accept Jesus. Just like Paul we don't care if it happens quickly or takes years, all we want is for you to know Christ and be saved. I know we seem overly zealous Jesus and narrow-minded in our Christians Views and Morales. But when you have come to experience the goodness and love of God like we have, much like us, you will never be the same. Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

"Can't hear you if you don't speak up"

Acts 8:26-40

So this guy named Philip was going around preaching and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ when suddenly God directs to Gaza. When he gets there he notices that Eunuch from Ethiopian is sitting in his chariot reading. The Holy Spirit encourages Philip to go and talk with the man. As Philip approaches the Eunuch, he notices that the he is reading a passage from the book of Isaiah. Philip asks the man if he understands what he is reading (Acts 8:30)". The Eunuch reply "How can I unless someone teaches me (Acts 8:31)." The servant then invites Philip to sit with him and discuss the scriptures. Philip explains that scriptures he reading is about Jesus the Christ, Philip goes on to share the Good News of how Jesus died for the sins of the world. Now it is important to note that Eunuch was Jewish but He did not know Jesus. In other words he was not saved. But he had a hunger to understand what the scriptures where saying. Philip took the time to not only explain the passage but baptized the man as well (Acts 8:38).

It was not the boldness of Philip that lead him to talk with the Eunuch and eventually lead to him accepting Jesus. It was not Philip's great understanding of the scriptures or his smooth intellectual words. No, it was Philip's obedience to follow God's Direction and share the Gospel. The Spirit told Philip where to go (Acts 8:26), who to talk to (Acts 8:29), and the rest was history. We tend to over complicate sharing the Gospel with others. And this leads to us being timid and uncomfortable when it comes to sharing our faith. But we cannot assume that the lost will come to know Jesus through osmosis (it just want happen). Much like the Eunuch said in verse 31, how can we expect them to know the Good News of the Gospel unless they have someone there to show them, teach them , and guide them. It is our duty to share the Gospel as Christians with the lost and make them disciples (Romans 10:14-15, Matthew 28:19).

This is not a hard task but it came seem daunting and intimidating but trust that when you rely on God's Spirit and obediently follow His Direction, He will lead you where you need to go and whom to you need to share the Gospel with. All we have to do is follow, He will give us the words to say at the right time. Look around your life now, who is the "Eunuch" God has placed in your life? Is it a co-worker, supervisor, family, friend, or maybe a perfect stranger. Who is it that God has led you to? If you yield yourself and trust in the Lord all you have to do is share. It is as simple as opening your mouth. Don't let fear stand in your way but put your faith in the Lord that He will give you the words to say at the proper time. If they accept it or not is their choice and not yours. So I implore to share the Gospel today and bring someone else into the Kingdom of God.

Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I did not know I was in a fight until he punched me

Ephesians 6:10-18

We never stop until we have reached the goal that God has set before us. When we decide in our hearts we are going to do the Lord's Will we will always face opposition. This opposition will try to persuade us to stop doing the Lord's Will. It will cause us to question our faith. purpose, and if we actually heard from God. But despite this we press on and do not shrink back.

So we must truly develop a strong relationship with the Lord and surround ourselves we with Christians that will hold us accountable and encourage us to walk in obedience to God (Ephesians 6:10, Hebrews 10:22-25). We understand that the devil is going to attack in various ways but we stand ready to fight (Ephesians 6:11). No matter how the attack comes, whether it is through our enemies or friends we love them regardless (Luke 6:35, 1 John 4:11). Because the opposition is not coming from the but it is coming from the devil, whom does not want God's Will to accomplished on the Earth (Ephesians 6:12). Now that we know the attack is coming we take our prayer time, time in the Word, and time with other believers seriously. We are not playing church but we are preparing for battle that we can stand firm in our faith and not run in fear (Ephesians 6:13).

But we know that in our own righteousness we cannot defeat the enemy. There is no good deed or special sacrifice that we can do that will win this battle. Instead we rely on the Righteousness of Christ and truth of His Word (Ephesians 6:14). Although we are in the heat of battle we stay ready to share the Gospel with the lost and teach how them live for Jesus (Ephesians 6:15, 2 Timothy 4:2, Matthew 28:19-20). We hide these truths in our hearts so we do not get discouraged from walking forward in God's Will, even though these attacks seem overwhelming (Ephesians 6:16). We remind ourselves that Jesus saved us and it is by God's Grace we have been delivered/forgiven from our past because the enemy would have us to believe we are not (Ephesians 6:17, 2 Corinthians 5:17). And we no longer consider ourselves as the world considers us. We now view ourselves as God views, so we are not what the devil says we are, we are what God's Word says we are. His Word is our tool when we doubt, when we are weak, when face this opposition. His Word is our weapon that brings us light in the dark places of our life (Ephesians 6:17). Finally we survey the battle field and see our brothers and sisters in Christ. We see them winning, struggling, and even losing. For this reason we pray without ceasing and we don't stop praying until the battle is WON (Ephesians 6:18)!

So for all of us in this battle. I know this battle can be discouraging. But I implore to keep fighting. Keep climbing and don't stop until you get to the top (Philippians 3:14). Stay focused you can do this.

In His JOY!

Changing me softly with His Words

‎2 Corinthians 7:8-11

Paul wrote two letters to the Christians in Corinth (1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians). . His first letter was an accountability letter. Paul had concern about the division in the church, sexual immorality, love, etc. (1 Corinthians 1:10, 5:18, 13). It was no the most pleasant letter but Paul was doing his best and trying to hold the church accountable for their actions. 

By the time Paul wrote his second letter to the church of Corinth, the church had received his first letter and found no joy in it. And Paul addressed this temporary sadness. He told them it was not his intention to make his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ bothered by the letter but he did not regret sending it (2 Corinth 7:8). Instead he found joy in the letter he sent because momentary pain they felt lead them to repent and turn back to the Lord (2 Corinthians 7:9). Paul was joyful because when the Corinthians saw their sins they did not rebel against God and continue to sin. No instead they were sorrowful for their actions but inspired to turn back to the Lord and do God's Will (2 Corinthians 7:10-11).

This makes me think about the church today. When you your sin becomes visible or known to you, what do you do? If someone were to call you out for your sins how would respond now? Would repent and seek to do the Lord's Will or would you brush it off and continue to live your life the way you want? To be honest sometimes I have become prideful and rejected someone when they have held me accountable. And have even sought out the bible and people to agree with me so I can feel justified. But that was not a godly response.

We should always consider our ways when the Word of God becomes clear to us and we are being held accountable for our actions. Something in us should respond to the hearing of God's Word. His Word and accountability should never become just background noise to us. They should abide in the forefront of our lives and they should cause to change and live for Christ. Much like it did in the Church of Corinth.

So I implore you to read God's Word and be inspired to turn back to the Lord. I urge you find good Christian friends who do not seek to agree with you but are willing to challenge you to live a Godly lifestyle. Stay focused you can do this!

In His JOY!'s not a dirty word

Romans 1:8-16

Paul wrote to his Roman Christian Brothers and Sisters and told of how he longed to see them. He thanked God for them because they where sharing their testimony with others. Everyone who visited Rome began to hear of the great faith the Romans had in Jesus and this brought great JOY! to Paul (v8). Paul prayed for his Brothers and Sisters in Christ consistently but longed to see them again (v9-v10). Paul's wish was to visit the Roman Christians to inspire them in their faith and receive encouragement from them as well (v10-v11). Paul explained the reason he is having trouble coming out to Rome is because he is busy preaching to those who do not know Jesus but he was eager to share with them the Good News (v12-v15). Because Paul was not ashamed to tell others about Jesus. He knew that God's goodness clearly seen through death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it was through faith that he proclaimed this message (v16).

So how do we compare to this today. Do spend time praying for fellow believers or do we spend time gossiping and "bad mouthing" them? Are we eager to spend time with others Christians to grow in the faith? Or are we eager to meet so we can sin with people we go to church with? Are we busy sharing the Gospel with others or do we just keep it professional and won't even mention our faith? Are we unashamed of Jesus or do we shame Him before others with our words, lifestyle, and our fear of sharing the Gospel? How do we compare?

We should want Christian Fellowship because we need the encouragement to and prayer to continue a strong Christian Walk, you cannot do this alone (Hebrews 10:25). This more than just going to church on Sunday. This calling others and praying with them, this is spending time with someone reading the scriptures, and this holding each other accountable for their actions. We are to share the Gospel because we are all ambassadors of Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:11-21). So we express how God has changed our life since we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. We can do this by sharing our testimony and giving God glory for everything and in everything. When people see that we love the Lord and we live a life that shows our love for God, they come to know who Jesus is. But we do this by faith and cannot be ashamed (Matthew 10:33), we are not a fearful people because God's Spirit within us produces power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). So I urge you to seek fellowship with other Christians and share the Gospel no matter what the cost.

Stay focused you can do this!

In His JOY!

What you talking about?

Exodus 34:1-9, Isaiah 55:6-10 When Moses was in God's presence God revealed to Himself to Moses. Moses was able to hear what the Lord proclaims about Himself. In essence Moses was the first man to see the true character of God. The Lord our God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. And we are also aware that He keeps His steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. And in His Goodness He still will judge those who live in sin (Exodus 34:1-7). It is terrifyingly real that God rules all and is Lord of all, regardless if they believe are not (Philippians 2:9-11). God will ultimately judge and us all, whether we care to admit it our not. In the end we all will face a performance review of our life by our true boss. And this time there will be no second chances. But God makes it very clear He does not want anyone to die not knowing Him but they must repent (2 Peter 3:9). God longs for people to forsake their lifestyle of sin and to do away with their impure thoughts (Isaiah 55:7). Because He wants to pardon their sins and watch them spend eternity to Hell. But now I pose a difficult question for all of us. If we know these things are both true and self-evident, then what are we doing about sharing the Gospel? What part are we playing in leading someone to Christ? Another question I have, are we being internet hypocrites? Do we post a good scripture but live a life contrary to what we post? If you saw a Christian acting like yourself would you call them a hypocrite or make an excuses for their sinful behavior? Because what is the point of trying to share Jesus with others if our lives do not inmate His? What is the point of knowing the Good News of Salvation and Forgiveness if we act to timid to speak it or live it? What is the point? People will not know Jesus until they see and hear Him in our lives. Inviting them to church is good but showing them a true Christian is better. I am not claiming to perfect or have it all together. And this is not a critique but a an encouragement. And now the question is where do we go from here? First pray and ask God to show you what areas of you life need to change and repent. Second find a good Christian friend that you can talk to, pray with, and can hold you accountable to live a Christian life. And lastly don't be ashamed to live God'S WAY. Don't be afraid but rejoice in knowing that God love's you and is proud of you. He has you wrapped in His arms. He holds you through the storms, good times, and uncertain moments in life. And when you speak know that He is speaking through you. Stay focused, you can do this! Share the Gospel. In His JOY!

Good News Math

Isaiah 53:1-12
Savior + Lord + Christ = Jesus (God Saves)

Salvation is an unbelievable message seems to be something only a fool would believe. But that was all by God's design (1 Corinthians 1:27)

There was nothing about His physical appearance that screamed King, Priest, or God. But God does not care about the outward appearance only the heart ( 1 Samuel 16:7)

He was a no popular, in fact in His darkest hour His friends betrayed Him and denied Him (Matthew 26:47-50, 69-75)

He died for the us even though we mocked mocked Him, just like those at the cross ( Matthew 27:27-44)

He died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3) and brought us peace with God (Romans 5:1). And because of the sacrifice we in grace and forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7)

We all have sinned and are in need of Jesus (Romans 3:23). But that is why God sent Him to die for us (John 3:16). He was Chosen, He is the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20)

When He was walking towards the cross He was mocked, ridiculed, and flogged. But He did not care He only cared about doing the Lord's Will (Matthew 27:11-14, 27-44)

(v8 - v10)
It was the Lord's Will for Him to die for us. It was God's Will for Him to Suffer. It was and has always been God's Will (John 3:16)

The story does not end HERE, His death was just the beginning and not the end. He rose again, changed forever. He died a Savior but arose the Lord of all (Matthew 28:1-10, Acts 10:34-36). It is though our Lord that we are declared right with God (Romans 5:1-11)

And now to Him we all bow (Philippians 2:9-11). He is our LOVE, our JOY, He is our GOD!
Stay focused, you can do this!

"In His JOY!"

The Real Stuff

2 Peter 3:9

There is hope for this world ad-mist all the grief that surrounds it (Proverbs 10:28). There is a real JOY that cannot be derailed by emotions (John 16:22). There is a peace that surpasses intellect (Philippians 4:6-7). And there is a strength that never grows weak (Romans 16:25)

But all these are only for those who dare accept Jesus. Although we mourn and grieve, we are assured that our mourning will end and our comfort will begin (Psalm 126:5). If tragedy strikes our hearts ache but our JOY remains (Nehemiah 8:10). We have Christ Peace within us despite the chaos around us (John 14:27). And we know the Lord will always renew our strength when we are emotionally drained (Psalm 27:14).

So I plead with you to accept Jesus. Understand that you have done wrong and admit it. Know that He died for your wrongs but believe that death could not contain Him. Allow him to be the Lord of your life by following Him. Take a chance and experience something that is true, pure, and good.

Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

The Broken Tool

2 Corinthians 4:7

Christians are not perfect people. We are fragile people who constantly mess up and do wrong. Whether it is intentionally or by accident there is no such thing as a perfect Christian. But despite these imperfections God chooses to use Christians to tell the entire world that Jesus is Lord and desires for all to know and love Him just He knows and loves them (John 3:16, Jeremiah 1:5).

We are like jars of play-duh that have precious diamonds in them. Press them to hard and they crumble knock on them to hard and they fall apart. It is a very perplexing thing to think about. But oddly enough the Bible says we will feel the pressures of life and not be crushed (2 Corinthians 4:8) and if knocked down we will not meet our end (2 Corinthians 4:9).

A perfect God wants to use an imperfect being as His ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). But have you ever met the perfect person, someone who never messes up, someone who is always right and never wrong, etc. Because I know you are not perfect either. I know you mess up and make mistakes that you regret. I know that no matter how much you have tried you can never get over the hump.

But I am here to tell you that in my imperfections I have found my perfect God still loves me. I know that have disappointed so many people and even if they do not forgive me, My God does and He has. I know a love that will not die in time, a hope that will not fade due to circumstances, and a strength that increases daily.

So my question is what do you have? I admit I am not what you think I am but I know I am what God says I am? And to have what I have all you need to do is; Accept that Jesus died for your wrong, Believe that He is an alive and active Lord in your life, and Confess that you have sinned.

Stay focused you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

We are spokesmen and not salesmen

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

My words fall flat when I try to explain who Jesus and how much the Lord loves those who do not know Him (John 3:16). The extent of my education, training, or life experience does not give me the complete tools to persuade someone to follow Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:1). For this reason I do not rely on it instead I relay on the Lord to give me the words to say when I am asked about my beliefs ( Luke 12:12). I seek His wisdom and direction to correctly present His Message of Salvation accurately to others (James 1:5, 2 Timothy 2:15) So I do not care to try to use philosophic quotes, impressive jargon, or even cultural references. I all care to tell you is that Christ took the wrath of God upon Himself and choose to die for your sins (Isaiah 53:10-11). He died the Savior but rose as the Lord of us all (Romans 10:9-11). My changed heart and new way of life is the only proof I have to show you. So my prayer is as you read this you take a chance and believe. That you open your heart and believe. That you neglect to rely on your wisdom but allow the Power of God to change your life by accepting Jesus. Stay focused, you can do this.

In His JOY!

Saving my life meant exposing my sin

Ephesians 5:13-14

When I came to truly know Christ it was hard at first because being a Christian meant opening up my life to God. And that meant every thought, selfish ambition, evil desire, and hypocritical bone in me would be exposed to Jesus. It was enough to make me want to turn and run away from the Lord. Because when I read the Bible exposed the many sins in my life. It could have been easy to say that I just want to live life and embrace freedom. Or I could have said "this is me and this is who I am" but none of those excuses never held up or gave me peace.

I firmly believe God made us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27) and that we are to live a life that best models His (Ephesians 5:1-2). But we cannot be scarred to accept Jesus because we know He Will make clear our sinful ways ( Ephesians 5:13-14) instead we should embrace Him. Without Jesus we are not even living a shadow of the life He meant for us to live (John 10:10). A sinful lifestyle is nothing more than a dark crooked mirror that does truly show us who we are. But when we accept Christ, the crooked mirror lights up, becomes straight, and we start live the way God has always intended.

Once we accept Jesus we are saved that instant but it takes time for that inner change in our hearts to manifest itself in our actions (That is not an excuse to do what you want but it is just to let you know that there is grace). Somethings will be hard to let go and walk away from. But trust me accepting Jesus is a decision you will never regret. Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

Offer Jesus Not A Gimmick

Luke 14:25-33

I am not a fan of using emotional manipulation, prosperity, or fear to persuade people to follow Christ. It is easy for me to give you a relevant message tug on your heart and make feel something. But all I did was manipulate your emotions as opposed to sharing the Gospel. Or I could show you loads of money and convince you that if you get saved you will have the same. But all I did was appeal to your immediate physical need and not your eternal need for a Savior. Or I could scare you with Hell, fire, and brimstone. Even though it is true you will go to hell if you do not accept Jesus however belief in Jesus comes through faith and not through fear.

Instead I would rather tell you to consider that Salvation is free but it will cost you your life. When you accept Jesus in your life, He becomes the most important person in your life. He is more than your immediate and extended family (Luke 14:26). This does not mean you abandon your family and don't spend time with them. No it simply means that the love you have for Jesus overrides your love for anyone else. Accepting Jesus also means that you value Him more than you value your life (Luke 14:27). This does not mean we our life has no value. Instead it means we find value in Christ because He is our life. And we live our lives to please Him. So whatever He would have us to do, we are willing to do it because our JOY is to please He brings us great JOY!

To accept Jesus is costly but it is worth it. So I would tell you consider the cost of what it means to follow Jesus. And after you have consider the cost just follow Him. Make the leap of faith today and because He is waiting on the other side to catch you. Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mercy, mercy, you

Matthew 5:7
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy

We are all in need of mercy on a daily basis.  We are in need of God’s Mercy daily because of our sin, that is why they are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).  We also need to show mercy those who are downcast or those we have offended (Zechariah 7:9-10).  They only way too truly to do justice and explain the subject of mercy would be to use the Words of Jesus. 

Jesus often spoke in parables when He was teaching the crowds.  And the two parables that best illustrate mercy are The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and The Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35).  These parables show what it means to express true mercy, extend compassion, and why we should be merciful.
In Luke 10:25-37 a Scribe wanted to test Jesus and try to test and asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus I turn tested the Scribe by replying "What is written in the Law?"  The Scribe answered " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with your entire mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Jesus told the Scribe that he answered correctly but the Scribe was not done, he wanted to justify himself.  So inquired he of the Lord Jesus again by as asking The Lord, "And who is my neighbor?"  For the Jews did not view Samaritans or Gentiles as neighbors. This meant that not showing compassion or love was purely acceptable. Jesus understanding what the Scribe was trying to accomplish replied in a parable about The Good Samaritan. 

Jesus told of a Jewish Man who was going to the Temple of Judea, on his way he was attacked by robbers.  Now it was common to be mugged by rubbers because the road the Jewish Man was traveling on was road was well known for robberies due to its location and low visibility.  The robbers beat the man, took his clothes, and left him barely alive.  Now a Priest and Levite (who more than likely were returning from the temple duties) saw their fellow Jewish Brother instead of offering help they ignored him as if he was not even there.  But a Samaritan traveling the same road so him and had compassion on him.  He put ointment on his wounds and bandaged him up.  He got off his animal and placed the wounded man on top and took him to a place of rest.  He not only paid for wounded man’s stay he also paid for any debt that the Jewish Man might occur (We must understand that the Samaritans where considered to be less than the Jewish and often would be spit on by the Jews.  Samaritans where not highly respected our considered to know God). 

Jesus than looks at the Scribe and asked, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?"  Jesus was as Master a strong question, it was not about whom we consider to be our neighbor but it focused how we show compassion.  In other words Jesus destroyed the excuses of why Samaritans and Gentiles are not considered worthy of love because they are not our neighbor.  Jesus gave an example of the same mercy, love, and compassion God shows for us.  He saw us hurting and in need of a Savior and never the less He sent a Savior.  And in the same way we should go and do likewise (Luke 10:37).

But sometimes we do not offer true mercy.  Sometimes we would rather hold on to the hurt, debt, or wrong that has been transgressed against us.  Because we clearly expect people to treat us like the Good Samaritan and show us mercy and compassion when we are in need of it.  We want others to get over the hurt and pain we have caused them but at times we struggle to forgive the single sin someone has done against us. 
In Matthew 18:21-35 Peter ponders what it means to forgive.  He asks Jesus, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Peter uses the number seven because seven is a holy number in Jewish customs.  It signifies completeness or finished much like God completed the creating on the seventh day and rested.   But Jesus in His great wisdom responded, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” This was to signify that you are never done forgiving and you can never run out of mercy.  Forgiveness is something that you continually do and never cease.  But to further explain his point Jesus tells us a servant you owed his Master a tax debt that was so enormous it could not be paid off.  The Master was infuriated because his servant had created such an enormous debt so his servant was due to face an onslaught of wrath.  The Master ordered the servant and his entire family to be sold as well as the remainder of the debt to be paid.  But the servant threw himself on the mercy of the Master and vowed that with time and patience he would pay of the entire debt.  The Master had great compassion and mercy and relented, he sent him home debt free.  The servant however saw a fellow servant who was indebted to him. (Now it is important to note the servant owed the Master what is comparable to over 7.5 million dollars while this other servant owed the recently forgiven servant pennies).  The forgiven servant violently grabbed the indebted servant and demanded his money.  The indebted servant threw himself at the mercies of the forgiven servant.  But instead of showing mercy like the Master showed him the forgiven servant had the indebted servant put in jail to suffer for his debt.  Well the Master caught wind of this and was greatly displeased.  He called the forgiven servant to his home and said, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'” The Master threw the servant in jail and ordered him to pay a debt that he could not pay.  So the servant would suffer for the rest of his life because he refused to show mercy to his fellow servant.  Jesus concludes by saying, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."  

Plainly put if refuse to forgive and show mercy towards those who have wronged us we can expect the same from God. God views the sins others have done against us as minimal when compared the sins we have done against Him.  This is not to make light of what others have done but it is to say we “always forgive and expression compassion through mercy”.  And we do this through the strength of Christ (Philippians 4:13).  So it is not about how we feel about the sin that has been against us but more so we forgive because we have been forgiven much.  We do not act in a malice towards those who have wronged like the servant did (Matthew 18:28) and we do not impede judgment upon them suffer for their sin (Matthew 18:30).  Instead we let the Master take vengeance upon them if He sees fit (Romans 12:9).

Mercy will be shown to those who offer it.  So forgive those who have wronged you.  Write a letter, email, or talk to them and person and let them know that they are forgiven.  If you see someone in need of mercy, offer it and do what you can to help them.  We must learn that compassion and mercy go far beyond our feelings.  They are something that we can only do through the power and the strength of God.  It is His love that compels us to forgive and extend compassion.
Stay focused you can do this!

In His JOY!

Righteousness it's what's for dinner

Matthew 5:6
"How blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness! for they will be filled.

The bible makes it very clear that those who seek to be in right standing with God will be satisfied.  But this satisfaction will only come through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the only one who completely satisfies our need to be right with God (Isaiah 53:10-11).  Jesus is the only way to come to know The Father and embrace eternal life (John 14:6, John 3:16).   And we firmly believe the God we serve is the one and only true God (John 17:3).  And it is through Jesus Christ that we are made righteous with God (Romans 5:17)

This is important to know because many will try and fill their need to be right with God by seeking after false God’s (Allah, Buddha, Reason, Selfish Desires, etc.) or denying the existence of God Himself (Atheism and followers of Reason).  Those false religions or idols that people use in an attempt to satisfy the need to be right with God will only lead them to destruction.  God views these poor faiths and worthless idols as unrighteous and ungodly.  Because they choose not to follow Jesus the wrath of God is against them (Romans 1:18).  Those who deny God’s existence proclaim that there is no proof of His existence so they see no need to be at peace with God because He is not real.  God’s response is simple, creation is the very proof of His existence and there is no excuse for unbelief (Romans 1:19-20).  People such as the ones mentioned above deny God by worshiping a false idol/god and do not give Him the honor and thanks He is due, so their hearts are  vacant of the light of Christ (Romans 1:21, John 8:12).    These people are walking in darkness and cannot expect to receive eternal life.  They exchange the truth of God for a lie and worship something or someone that offers no true hope. Sadly they believe in their hearts that following worldly wisdom and ungodly truth will lead them to righteousness but this is a lie, this kind of thinking comes from the devil (Romans 1:22, John 8:44 ). 

To follow after Jesus choice we all must make.  The Lord will not pressure us to follow Him because He freely lets us choose between life and death.  He does however encourage us to choose life and follow Him but He also warns us if we deiced to reject Him we will meet a destructive end (Deuteronomy 30:11-20).  Those who chose to follow after false gods and idols will dive deeper into sin and it will be evident by the fruits of their lifestyle produces (Romans 1:26-31).  Those who choose to accept and follow Jesus bare the fruit of that choice as well (Galatians 5:16-26).

So we live our lives as an example of what it is to be a peace with God and believe in Jesus Christ.  We encourage others to know Jesus and let them know God loves them.  We do this by speaking the truth of the Gospel to a world bound by lies.  We love those who are lost and we let them know that God does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9).  But we let them know rejecting Jesus will lead them to Hell.  We are not trying to scare anyone into believing or create false emotion, instead we are feeding their need for truth with the Bread of Life and satisfying their thirst for peace with God by offering them Living Water (John 6:22-40, John 4:10-14)

 Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

Meekness is not Weakness

Matthew 5:5
"How blessed are the meek! For they will inherit the Land!

We know that Jesus came to show us what an authentic relationship with God looked like.  It is one that is not marred with works void of love, it is not one that relays on our righteousness but that dependent upon the Righteousness of Christ alone, and it is not one that is dependent with our understanding of the scripture but it is dependent upon God’s Word and His Spirit.

We also know that we are not filled with JOY! when we sin, instead we mourn over sin and the sin of this world.  But we find comfort in Jesus because we know that He is faithful and just to forgive us.  We know that we are not condemned and walk in His Grace and Mercy.  We also know though this world decay’s in sin, the Lord Will’s will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.  We know that one day we will dwell with Jesus for all eternity and worship Him forevermore.

The Lord makes us another promise that those who are meek will inherit the Land!  But what does it look like to be meek?  And who are the meek? And what does inherit the Land mean?  How do I live a life of meekness for the Lord? 

To be meek is to be like Noah, who obeyed the Lord and built an ark (Hebrews 11:7) despite those around him who lived and enjoyed a life of sin (Genesis 6:9-12). Instead of yielding to the sin around him, Noah decided to live a righteous life before God. To be meek is to be like Abraham and Sarah who trusted God at His Word and was willing to go wherever the Lord desired to send them.  Abraham desired to be with the Lord and looked forward to a city whose builder and architect was God (Hebrews 11:9-12).  To be meek is to be like Moses who desired to please God rather than enjoy the pleasures of this world (Hebrews 11:23-28).  These people did not hold onto this world and it’s pleasures.  They grabbed hold to something more and something greater.  They gladly let go of their life and ways in order to embrace the Father.  They lost their lives so that they may find it.  They viewed eternal life with God more precious than life here on Earth.  They would inherit a land or a prize for greater than what the world could offer (Hebrews 11:13-16).  These people gladly suffered for their beliefs, joyful accepted God’s Will, and unashamedly spoke the truth in love.  These great men and women of faith considered their present suffering to be far outweighed by a future glory.   

The Lord reserved the promise for them and for us (Hebrews 11:39-40).  The Lord made it clear that the meek are those who lived a faith based life.  To be meek is to humble yourself to Jesus and accept His Direction and Instruction for your life.  To be meek is to know that God’s will is greater than yours.  To be meek is to understand that you will endure suffering for Jesus but that this suffering is far outweighed by a future glory in Jesus (Romans 8:18).  To be meek is to do the Lord’s Will and bring glory to His name.

The meek are content with whatever circumstances they are currently in because they know through the Lord’s Strength, His Purpose will be accomplished (Philippians 4:11-13). So the meek are strong and weak.  The meek are righteous only because of they rely on the Righteousness of Jesus (Romans 3:23-24).  This is why they will inherit land because they seek to please the Lord and to know Him.  And we friends are the meek.

So I implore you to humble yourself by seeking the Lord’s Way over your way.  I encourage you to walk away from sin and live a life that pleases the Lord (Hebrews 12:1).  We can boldly share the gospel and speak truth to our friends, associates, and colleagues.   We can be an example of righteous living like Noah was to those around him.  We can be example of trusting God like Abraham.  And we can be an example of standing up for God instead of partaking in sin like Moses.  Because we are meek and will inherit the land!  Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

Sin is like an onion, it makes you cry

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted

Sin is a problem that all humanity faces. Sin does not care about color, race, or creed. It affects all of us and it some point in our life. Sin destroys relationships, has some very consequences, and has no conscience. We should mourn over our sins and never feel comfortable for what we have done. Our Godly sorrow we experience should lead us to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). We should never get comfortable sinning, if we sin and we feel no guilt or shame there is a problem.

A good example of this is when Paul wrote his first letter to the Church of Corinth to hold the church accountable for their actions. The letter showed the Corinthians content of their hearts and how they were not acting in a Christ like manner. After reading the letter the Corinthians became sad due toPaul's words. After hearing of their sadness Paul wrote another letter to the Corinthians. Paul tells them that he was not sorry to hear that they were sad due to his letter but he does have compassion for them (2 Corinthians 7:8). He was however happy –not because he made them sad, but because their sadness caused them to change their ways and turn back to God (2 Corinthians 7:9). Sadness over our sin propels us to turn back to God but unlike when we ignore the Godly sorrow it will lead us to a horrific end (2 Corinthians 7:10). So we
confess our sins to the Lord, repent, and turn towards. We have great comfort in knowing we are not condemned (Romans 8:1) but we are forgiven. Not only are we forgiven we are also comforted by God's Grace and Mercy (Colossians 1:14, Ephesians 1:7). Our God is faithful and just to forgive when we confess our sins. So we repent and pursue the Lord and His Way.

Now the Pharisees heard Jesus speak but did not stop their hypocrisy. The Scribes heard Him speak but remained prideful. The Sadducees heard Him speak but still loved the world more than God. They did not feel Godly sorrow instead they rebelled and accused Jesus of teaching heresy. So what will you do when confronted with the truth? Will you humble yourself and change or will call the truth a lie and a lie the truth?

When confronted the Word of Truth we change. We now turn towards God. Our relationship becomes deeper and more intimate with Jesus. So our heart begins to want what the Lord desires. We rejoice at what makes the Lord glad and find no pleasure in the Lord's Will not being done (1 Corinthians 13:6). So we are not glad win sin is promoted and righteousness is called evil and intolerant. Our wish is to see the Will of God be done on Earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10). We are eagerly waiting to receive our glorified bodies and live with Jesus for all eternity (Romans 8:18-24). So mourn and yearn until the day He wipes away ever tear (Revelation 21:4). But until such time we share the Gospel with others and helping them find Christ. Because we want to come and know the Lord like we know Him. We want them to find true comfort in Jesus and not the false sense of hope the devil offers.

 So, we are a people filled with joy and excitement for what is to come. We are kids who our filled with anticipation of unwrapping a gift that is eternal and pure. We live each day longing dwell with Jesus forever (Revelation 21:3). We are not a people down trodden and filled with despair. We are not a people who are forgotten and cast aside. We are a people who know sadness will end, crying will halt, pain will be no more, and death will end (Revelation 21:4). We are a people who will have our thirst satisfied and life will be eternal (Revelation 21:6). 

We are not people who openly reject Jesus but we are those who accepted Jesus not only as the Savior of our souls but as Lord of our life. We are not perfect but we are forgiven. We strive to live holy land godly lives and wait for the day of our Lord (2 Peter 3:9-13). We are different, and we embrace who we are in Jesus. We walk towards the light and press toward the mark, and forget what is behind us (Philippians 3:14). In this we continually rejoice. And this is our comfort, the assurance sin will not win in the end but Christ will reign forever.

Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

Worthless Relgion

Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus was a great divider among the Jewish People when He appeared.   He did not appear to be the coming king that was promised. 

The Scribes wrote out copies of Jewish Law and taught the people what the law said.  They were known for being lawyers because of their vast understanding of Jewish Law.  They had no authority or power but they did carry great status among the Jewish People because of the vast knowledge of the Jewish Law.  The Scribes also believed that Jesus was not the coming king that was prophesied in scripture and they did not believe in the Resurrection.  Jesus did not defer to others like the Scribes did, in regards to were His authority came from.  Jesus proclaimed His Authority came from God and not man.

The Pharisees strictly followed Jewish customs, traditions, and ceremonies.  The Pharisees believed that the Jewish people could only be considered righteous if they followed Jewish Customs and abstained from Roman practices.   So when Jesus healed on the Sabbath and claimed His Deity, the Pharisees openly opposed Him because they considered that the coming King would not be God and he would be a King that kept all the customs and practices.  Jesus had great conflict with Pharisees because although they had a good moral code they only practiced them for others to see.  Inwardly, The Pharisees were morally and spiritually corrupt in the eyes of God. 

The Sadducees were from the upper class in Jewish Society.   They sided with the Romans and appeased them to keep and maintain their positions.  They had great fear that Jesus would lead a revolt and overthrow Rome.  If Jesus were to overthrow the Roman Empire it meant a loss of rank and importance for the Sadducees.  Jesus however was not opposed to Roman rule; The Sadducees could not understand what His Kingdom truly was.

These three religious groups all opposed Jesus teachings. However the Jewish people faithfully considered the teachings, advice, and guidance of these three groups as coming from the very lips of God.  But when Jesus began teaching God’s Word it directly contradicted everything that the three religious groups were teaching. 

Everywhere Jesus went the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees followed.  They were not following Jesus because hunger for God, no they were following Jesus to oppose Him.  Jesus teachings jeopardized their status, position, and authority.  So when we read the Sermon on the Mount we must understand that Jesus is talking to the three opposing groups, His Disciples, and the crowds following Him.  It is also helpful to know that it was a common belief that only those with authority, power, or status were worthy of God’s coming Kingdom.  The Scribes were worthy because they knew the Law and taught the people.  The Pharisees were worthy because of their righteousness.  And the Sadducees were worthy because it appeared that God’s favored them due to their status in life. But in the eyes of the Lord these three groups were rejecting God by not accepting Christ (Matthew 22:1-14). 

In Matthew 5, Christ withdrew Himself from a large crowd and began to teach His Disciples. He began by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).    When Jesus uses the word “poor” He is not talking about the crowd’s class status.  Instead He is using the word poor as an adjective to describe their current spiritual condition.  He was using it to metaphorically describe the religion of the Jews.  (Much the same was Paul did in Galatians 4:9)   Jesus was telling them that what they thought was religion was utterly worthless and had no real value.  Despite this He calls the people blessed or “happy” and fortunate” because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.  Jesus is telling them that Heaven is for them (but it important to note here that wherever the Kingdom is, that is also where the King will be).  So essentially Jesus is telling them despite the worthless religion that they have, He has come for them.  He has come to give them something more than what they have.  He has come to give them something true, real, and everlasting.  He has come to give His life that they might spend eternity with Him (John 3:16, John 14:1-3).    So they are blessed as long as they receive Him.

Now Remember the Pharisees taught the people to live to a high moral code.  They instructed them to keep and adhere to all the Jewish customs, traditions, and religious practices.  But this high standard offered no grace and mercy for those who failed to keep it.  The Pharisees were only concerned with publicly living a moral life but they never internalized it.  They were like “Twinkies” without the cream filling, empty inside.  And Jesus spoke out against doing deeds so others may see and give you glory (Matthew 6:1-18).  The Lord is not saying hide your good works (Matthew 5:17) but rather do the works and let others give Him the Glory.  We perform the good works because we love our Lord, but if we are performing these works and void of love it is worthless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  And those living this form of righteousness will not inherit the kingdom (Matthew 5:20).  We rely on His righteousness to obtain eternal life and not our own (Romans 3:21-31). 
Jesus does not look at our social, economic, or political status, He looks at our hearts (1 Samuel 16:17).   The Sadducees loved their status and were bent on serving Rome and not God.  Though they spoke as if they loved God, He was not their Lord.  When we set our hearts on the things of men and not the things of God we become a stumbling block for Christians who want to do God’s Will (Matthew 16:21-23).  Unlike the Sadducees who wanted to gain all that Rome had to offer, God calls us to deny ourselves and seek Him (Matthew 16:24-28).  So The Sadducees could not break their devotion to their wealth and status and therefore could not accept Jesus.  If we act like the Sadducees, who befriended the world, than we are considered an enemy to God (James 4:4).  We cannot accept Jesus if we do not deny ourselves.  We cannot serve both God and our selfish desires (Matthew 6:24). So Jesus is for those who desire Him and not this world. 

Jesus belongs to those who can rely on His Word and His Wisdom.  The Scribes relayed on their own wisdom and understanding of God’s Word.  They became so entrenched in their interpretation of scripture that when the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17) arrived they could recognize Him for who He was.  But it is the Lord who gives us understanding of His Word (119:18) and not us.  And it is His Spirit that we depend on to lead and guide us that we may glorify Him (Galatians 5:16-26). So we must humble ourselves and put our pride aside (James 4:10).  But we are forewarned that pride will always come before our destruction (Proverbs 16:18-19).  People who rely on their own wisdom build their lives unstable ground and easily succumb to the pressures of life.  But those who live their lives based on God’s wisdom can withstand the test of time (Matthew 7:24-29).  So Jesus is for those who humbly depend on God and His Word (Isaiah 66:2). 

Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!