Sunday, April 28, 2013

"go to the nations or better yet go next door"

Matthew 28:16-20

In the Bible the life of Jesus is covered in the book of Matthew. Matthew took 28 chapters to cover the birth, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. Contained within those 28 chapters are solid wisdom, life changing information, commandments and love. What I like to read though is the last chapter of Matthew because authors tend to save the most important information or restate the main point in their conclusions.

The final bit of Matthew is often called "The Great Commission" essentially Jesus tells the remaining disciples to go and teach others as He has taught them. They can accomplish these goals by making other disciples of Jesus, baptizing them, and teaching them the truth about Jesus, and to follow His Commandments. Jesus reminded them that He would be with them through it all.

Most people read this passage of scripture get excited and want to go to third world countries and tell others about Jesus. Or they want to go to low income areas and do community service while sharing the Gospel. And some even want to start a church and hope it will develop into gigantic ministry. All these are good goals and I see nothing wrong with them except sometimes I think we miss the point of "The Great Commission"

By this I mean, we are willing to spend thousands of dollars and month away from our families to travel to a foreign land and tell others about Jesus but yet we won't spend five minutes to tell our next door neighbor that Jesus loves them. We will go to a neighborhood that is twenty minutes from our house and share the Gospel yet we won't even share the Good News about Jesus with our sister or brother who do not know the Lord. We will try to build a church yet we don't take the time to build the people in that community. We will invest in s church building fund but yet we will not invest the Word of God in our own children.

The point I am making is this when Jesus said "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations" He was talking about your neighbor, brother, sister, cousin, friend, co-workers, etc. These people are the nations as well. This does not mean we should stop sending out missionaries, building churches, or the community service but it does mean that we need to look at our immediate surroundings as the mission field in our lives. Start with where you live, work, or stay. Tell those around about Jesus, make them disciples, baptize them, and teach them to live their lives for Jesus; fulfill the commission. Stay focused, you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

Monday, April 22, 2013

"What a waste of time!"

Ephesians 5:11-17

Life is so short.  We are here today and gone tomorrow.  We are snowflakes that hit the ground and later become dissolved by salt.  Recently I was going to the grocery store to buy some silly item, my thoughts were to drive to the store, park the truck, go in the store, by the item, and come back home.  But that day it all changed for me.  When I pulled up the store ambulances and police cars were surrounding the parking lot.  The fire department even came out with their fire truck. I did not see any fire, see anyone being dragged to jail but I did see in the back of the ambulance.  The paramedics were performing CPR on someone.  The first thought that came to mind was that someone's grandfather who passed out or suffered a heart attack and the paramedics were trying to save him because I could see a family in the distance being comforted by the police.  I figured he was at least 60 to 70 years old.  But I wanted to make sure so I asked the gentleman, who was near where I parked, what happened.  He told me "A two-year old kid got run over by a truck.  The guy who hit him was 15 years old.  But there was nothing the teenager could do because he was not going fast but the little kid just ran out in front of the truck and before we could shout and try to stop him it was too late."  My heart dropped and I begin to pray, you see I was okay with a 60 to 70-year-old man dying but I was not okay with a two-year old dying.  I felt an older person has at least lived there life but a two-year old child doesn't know the meaning of life is, let alone lived it.  Before I could finish a breath I heard the ambulance doors close, a mother scream, and I knew the child was gone.  A that point I had forgotten my purpose from coming to the store or even cared about the silly item anymore.  All I could focus on was the family in need and the heartache they were feeling.

As I sit here now I think to myself how often people waste their lives.  I think about how many married couples spend more time in arguments than speaking words of love and affirmation to each other.  I think of how many parents spend more time focused on giving their child what they did not have growing up as opposed to spending time with their child.  I think of how much time Christians spend gossiping about other Christians instead of sharing the Gospel.  I think of how much time we spend chasing a lie and not submitting to the truth.  I think of how much time we spend investing in stock as opposed to investing in each other.  I think of how much time we spend hating someone as opposed to loving them.  I think of ho much time we spend trying to make sure we and our children will have a good education but we only spend an hour and thirty minutes every Sunday ensuring that someone else teaches them about Jesus.  I realize I will spend more time dead than I will alive.  So I understand my time is precious and my moment is only for a second in the eyes of God.  So how does this affect how I live my life?

Our life purpose is not please ourselves or others.  We put so much value on what we have, what we do, are how others perceive us that we lose sight of God.  When we understand that we are valuable in God's sight we don't waste time.  And we understand that we are valuable and are a great worth to Him we find an awesome JOY!  What I do, what you think of me, what I have does not, and the mistakes I have made does not define me.  But whose I am and where He has promised to take me when my life comes to an end defines me.  I am God's and He says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), I am not condemned and set free (Romans 8:1), I am God's Child, He loves me, and nothing can separate me from His Love (Romans 8:35-39, 1 John 3:1), I have security in knowing He will always be there (Hebrews 13:5), and I am fearless because God is with me (Hebrews 13:6).  So my contentment comes from Christ and not from anyone or anything in this life.

So now I live my life to please God and God alone.  My life now has become a living sacrifice to God because all I want to do is please Him by walking in His Will (Romans 12:1-3).  Now I want to spend time loving others despite how they treat me because loving others pleases God (1 John 3:21-24).  I want to spend time loving my wife and not spend time belittling her or mocking her because loving her pleases God and my wife desires to spend time respecting me as a man instead of treating me as a worthless boy because this pleases God ( Ephesians 5:22-33).  I want to spend time speaking words of affirmation to others instead of tearing the down because this pleases God (Ephesians 4:29, 5:19).  I want to spend my time bring others to know Jesus and teach them how live like a Christian instead of gossiping about their clear or private flaws because it will bring My God great delight (Matthew 28:16-20).  I want to spend time share the truth as opposed to partaking or promoting lies because I know that sharing the truth pleases God (Ephesians 5:11).  I want to spend time teaching my family God's Word because this pleases Him (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).  I want to spend time in prayer, praise, and studying God's Word because it pleases Him  (Psalm 119:9-15, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  Essentially I want to spend whatever time I have left pleasing the Lord as opposed to pleasing myself or others around me (Ephesians 5:15-17).

You only have a two certainties in life, you know you were born and you know you will die.  10 out of 10 people who are born will die. When know the day we are born but are uncertain of the day we will die.  I tis a scary thing to think about but when you know you spend your time pleasing the one who created you and serving the one who died for you death is no longer a fear but a JOY!  Because all the time you spent on this Earth was not wasted and not in vain and your result is far better than your present condition (Romans 8:18-23).  So I ask are you spending your time?

Stay focused you can do this!

"In His JOY!"

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Little Pigs"

Luke 6:47-49

We all know the story of the three little pigs, it's a timeless tale. But if you don't know it, here it is. Three pigs all decide to build three separate houses. So the first pig makes a house out of straw, the second pig makes a house out of sticks, and the third makes a house out of bricks. Along comes the big bad wolf and tells the pig with the house of straw "Little Pig, little pig, let me in!" and the pig responds "Not by the hair of chinny chin chin!" So the wolf takes a deep breath and blows the house down with ease.  The first pig runs to the second pig's house made of sticks but the wolf was in hot pursuit. Again the big bad wolf shots "Little Pigs, little pigs, let me in!" and the pigs respond "Not by the hair of our chinny chin chins!" So the wolf takes a deep breath and blows the house built of sticks down. The pigs scatter like roaches when there is light! They race to the third pig's house made of bricks, he graciously lets them in. The wolf arrives and demands "Little Pigs, little pigs, let me in!" and the pigs respond "Not by the hair of our chinny chin chins!" So the wolf takes a mighty breath and with everything he has tries to blow the house down, but this time it is to no avail because the house is stronger than his mightiest effort. The pigs are finally safe and secure.

I look at this story and I see parallels with the Gospel. The Word tells us in Luke 6:47-49 that when we are disobedient to the Words of Christ we risk losing our firm foundation when trouble comes because trouble will come. The Gospel makes it very clear that we will face trouble but if we stand in obedience to God's Word we will survive no matter the storm that comes. Just like the wolf, Satan prowls at our door and desires not only to blow our house down but destroy us in any way that he can (1 Peter 5:8). If we are continually disobedient and intentionally ignore God's instruction for our life, our houses built of our plans, our thoughts, and our ways (sticks and straws) will always fall (Proverbs 19:20-21). But if we are trusting and relying on Jesus, seeking his direction for our life, actively being obedient to His Word and Will for our life we will have a firm foundation (Psalm 119:9, 89, 105). Trouble will come but through His Word, Prayer, and His Spirit we will withstand the storm and defy the wolf (Satan).

I am asking for you to commit not forsake being an ordinary person but become an extraordinary Christian. I am petitioning you to step up your faith by studying the Bible and make an eternal promise to yourself to follow Christ. I am requesting that you let Jesus guide you and direct you in every aspect of your life. Become the pig with the house made of bricks and not the house of sticks and straw.

Stay focused, you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"The Need for Sound Doctrine"

2 Peter 2:1-3, 10-13, 2 Timothy 4:1-3

It is essential that we surround ourselves with sound doctrine.  The Church has become a melting pot for delusions of grandeur, heresy, and poor biblical teaching.   We can become easily mislead by the latest and greatest idea.  We can become complacent with watered down Christianity that does not urge us to live a righteous life but compels us to sin as often we want.

2 Peter 2 tells us that false teachers will come and use the Word of God for their advantage.  Those that follow them will give in to sin and malign God's Word (2 Peter 2:1-3).  These people will meet their end and have to answer for their actions ( 2 Peter 2:10:-13).  These teachers look to cause others to stumble and sin,  they are inspired by wickedness and evil.  But we as Christians have to learn how to rightly handle and teach God's Word so we may distinguish God's Truth from the devil's lie.

We can only know what heresy is and what it is not by studying the Word ourselves.    We must stop being "spoon feed" in church and start to open the Bible for ourselves.  The Word does not tell us to rely on someone else to rightly handle God's Word, it clearly says that responsibility is totally dependant upon us (2 Timothy 2:15).  We are to study His Word and be ready to explain it at any given minute ( 2 Timothy 4:1-2).  Because we live in a time when Christians do not want sound doctrine instead they want someone to confirm their feelings, approve of their sin, and tell them that Hell is a myth (2 Timothy 4:3). This cannot and should not be.

I urge you all to grab a ESV Study Bible and read it.  I do not normally endorse things but the ESV Study Bible is biblically sound and offers great insight to God's Word.  But I wholeheartedly urge you to pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes as you read His Word and that He will you give understanding  (Psalm 119:18, Proverbs 4:5).  But this takes commitment, I encourage you to read God's Word to read God's Word everyday and not just on the big screen at your church on Sunday.  Read it for yourself and grow in the Lord.  Be the voice that speaks up when heresy is running rapid.  Be the one who shows others truth when they presented with lies.   Be a student of God's Word and watch the impact it has on you and those around you.

Stay focused, you can do this!

"In His JOY!"

Sunday, April 7, 2013

"The Biggest Loser"

Romans 7:7-8:11

I have lost count of how often I have failed in life. I can't tell you how many times I have succumb to sin instead of of submitting to God. I have truly lost track of all my failures, defeat, and mistakes. The weight of it all at times seems daunting to me. Sometimes our sins are so prevalent from our past and present that we begin to doubt who we are in Christ and we feel condemned. 

The Apostle Paul went through this same inward conflict. The more he dived into God's Word the more he was made aware of the sin in his life ( Romans 7:7). God's Word clearly showed Paul his sinfulness, and despite Paul's best efforts and ability he was powerless against the fight with sin. He did not lack the desire to stop sinning, he lacked the ability to do it (Romans 7:18). Paul longed to please the Lord but every attempt was meet with defeat and failure ( Romans 7:19-20). Paul was stuck in a place he felt he could not get out of, he called himself a "wretched man" because he felt trapped by his own sinful ways (Romans 7:21-24). I can relate to what Paul was going through. Feeling like you cannot get over the hump of a sinful life. You feel like no matter what you do, you will always fail at being a righteous and Godly person. What is the solution, what is the answer?

Paul found The Answer in Jesus (Romans 7:25). Jesus is the answer to our struggle with sin, He alone is our victory! We do not have to feel condemned or carry guilt because through the death of Jesus we are set free (Romans 8:1). He rose our Lord and now we just must set our minds on Him and submit to His Word and not our sinful ways (Romans 8:5-8). So when the temptation to sin comes upon me I turn to God's Word instead of my desire to sin for relief and victory. To stop a fire you don't use gasoline, instead you get a fire extinguisher. In the same way, put out the fire of sin with God's Word and submit to it and watch the grave for sinful satisfaction be extinguished. 

Get an accountability partner who will restore you when you are caught up in sin (Galatians 6:1). Fill your heart with God's Word and let His Holy Spirit use it to guide you in the direction you need to go. If you hide God's Word in your heart and are lead by His Spirit it will strengthen you in your fight against sin (Psalm 199:11, Galatians 5:16).

But if you fall into sin, get back up! You are not condemned, you are forgiven. Never forget that. Don't stop fighting the good fight of faith. Don't let a momentary setback become permanent thing. Don't wallow in defeat but celebrate the victory that Christ has given us. Read the Bible daily, pray without ceasing, and accept correction. Stay focused, you can do this!

"In His JOY!"

"I don't like me when I'm angry"

Genesis 4:1-10, Proverbs 29:22

In Genesis 4 we read about Cain and his brother Abel. They are sons of Adam and Eve, Cain was the oldest and Abel was the youngest. One day they presented an offering to the Lord to present to Him. Cain presented crops of fruit while Able presented the first-born lamb of his flock along with all the fat portions. God accepted Abel's but rejected Cain's (Genesis 4:5). After having his offering rejected Cain became angry, we do not know if he was angry at God are with his brother Abel (Genesis 4:4). But we do know He was angry over the results of the offering. The Lord spoke with Cain and said, "If you do what is right I will accept the you bring but your intent to sin is clear, you must not give in to the urge to sin (paraphrased Genesis 4:5-7). But Cain allowed himself to fester in his anger which fueled him to kill his younger brother (Genesis 4:8).

I cannot shout to the world "I AM A CHRISTIAN" and be known as an anger man full of rage. Being Christ like means that I am slow to anger (James 4:19) because God is slow to anger (Nahum 1:3). If I am a quick-tempered person like Cain how can I expect to show the righteousness of God to others? Because God's Word tell us that our anger does not produce the righteousness of God (James 4:20). Instead when we sit in our anger it only provokes us to indulge in sin, look at Cain as an example his sin lead him to murder. I am not seeing your angry will lead you to murder but I am saying that anger unchecked will lead down a wicked path (Proverbs 29:22).

This does not mean we will not or cannot get anger, the Bible tells us not to sin in our anger but calm down (Psalm 4:4:). In other words stay leveled headed and ask God to help you respond to the situation that angers you in a way that will honor Jesus. Unchecked anger only brings about our shame and not God's Glory. Stay focused you can do this.

In His JOY!

Monday, April 1, 2013

"Want you be my neighbor"

Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"  In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"  The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Here is a faithful and true saying. “Ministry will always cost you something.” Whether it is your time, money, or your life, ministry will always cost. But than that raises the question, are you willing to by the price? For two weeks I have been reading this passage in the bible just trying wrap my head around what exactly took place in this story.  So I did some historical research to grasp a better understanding of what the road looked like and where it was . The road was on the way from Jericho to Jerusalem. But the road was notorious for theft and crime because the way that it was designed. The road curved in all kind of weird ways. So you literally could not see what was around the next corner. And thieves would hide in those dark corners and jump out and rob you all the time.

Now that brings us to the nice gentleman who for whatever reason decided to go down this path. And BAM, he gets attacked. They take him for all he is worth and leave him for dead. Later on that day a preacher walks by and sees him and chooses not aid him  and crosses to the other side of the road and walks away, so I know that he noticed the man in need of help. He saw someone in desperate need of “a blessing” but maybe he was scarred of what would happen to him. Maybe he crossed to the other side to see if someone was still waiting around the corner? I don’t know, but yet again someone who works in the church came by a saw the man clinging to life lying there and he just crossed the street and went on his way, he did not want any of that action. But along comes the nobody or a guy that everybody hates and sees that man and takes action. Not only does help, he gets him all cleaned up, puts him in a hotel, and tells the manager “All of his expenses are on me and oh I almost forgot tell him I will be back later to check on him when I get back.”

Now which one ministered to the wounded man? Which one showed the loved of God? Which one acted like a Christian? Before you answer think about how many times you have walked away from the opportunity to minister. I am not talking about “I’ll be praying for you” ministry I am talking about that hands on stuff that people won’t forget.  Because true ministry will always cost you something, whether it time, money, or in some parts of the world your life. It will always costs you something. The preacher (The Priest) and church worker (The Levite) saw the need of the man but perhaps saw their safety to be bigger need or maybe they were running late for service and did not have time.  But the outcast of the church (The Samaritan) made time to minister and help. He was willing to pay the price no matter the cost.  He considered the need of someone else to be greater than his own.

True ministry is when you are willing to give of yourself so that someone else can come closer to Christ.  It takes courage to do ministry. Now this does not mean that you neglect your family and those important to you. Nor does it mean that you spend 24 hours a day in the church house. But it does mean that when God presents you with the opportunity to minister you take hold of it and do it!  Will you pay the price or walk on the other side of the road?

"Do you eat Wheaties or Weedies?"

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

The parable of the weeds tells of a farmer whose field is sabotaged by his enemy.  His adversary plants weeds next to all the farmer's wheat.  The wheat and the weeds begins to grow together.  When the workers find out what happened they ask the farmer if they should uproot the weeds, he tells them no because they will uproot the wheat by accident if they take all the weeds out.  Instead he tells them to let the weeds grow because in the end they will separate them.  The weed will be thrown into the fire while the wheat will be placed in the barn (Matthew 13:24-30)

Jesus later on explain this parable by saying He is the farmer and the adversary is the devil.  Those who follow Jesus are the wheat but those who follow the devil are the weeds.  The angels are the farm hands that will be used by God to separate His people from those who are not.  Followers of Christ will go to Heaven will those who pursued the will of the enemy will burn in Hell (Matthew 13:36-43).

This parable teaches me that in the end God will decide who is a wheat and who is a weed, not us.  It is not our job to condemn other Christians to Hell or call them workers of the devil. True we hold each other accountable, point out sin when we see it, and speak out against heresy.  But when it comes to determining the heart and intent of someone as being righteous or wicked, that is not our place.  I have found out that no one answers to me but we all will answer to God.

As Christians we want to "pluck" the weed and distinguish the wheat.  But that is not our place, God will handle that in His time.  The wheat and weeds Jesus was using in this parable looked similar and only could be distinguished when they were fully grown.  Because the weeds could not produce the grain like the wheat.  So the farmers in Jesus time would wait until the crops had follow grown to separate them.  As Christians we spend so much time calling each other "evil weeds" as opposed to praying for a "young immature wheat" .

We need to silence our mouths and stop trying "sift" each other out.  Jesus could call the Pharisees evil because He knew their hearts because He is God.  My friend, you are not.  We cannot expect to lead to people Christ if we are acting like a dysfunctional and abusive family.  No one wants to be apart of that.  Let the Lord distinguish the weeds from the wheat in His time.  This does not give us a license to sin and act any kind of way, instead it should make us consider our ways and ask ourselves "Are acting like a wheat or a weed?

Stay focused, you can do this!

"In His JOY!"