My desire is to proclaim the truth of God's Word, encourage growth in Jesus and His Word, and inspire you to tell others about Him through Authentic Christian Living. It is my hope and prayer that this page will be a blessing to you and others. If you are growing from what you read on here please tell others and encourage them in the Lord! All we want to do is spread the gospel that others may go and grow! Stay focused, you can do this.
"In His JOY!".
Sunday, January 25, 2015
When we follow Christ we find rest and peace even though we are surrounded by worry, when we follow ourselves we work in vain to bring an end of our fears and worries. Follow God's Way not your own. John 16:33, Matthew 11:28-30
This has been a year of transition for me and my family. On this day we began to look forward taking a position as Lead Pastor in a wonderful church in Iowa but we also reflect on how much God has shown us this past year. Last year around this time my wife and I heard God's calling to come to the Denver, Colorado Area and help a friend in ministry. It was our joy to answer God's Call and declare the goodness of truth of His Word with others. It is something we looked forward to, so there was no hesitation in answering the call to full-time ministry. We packed our bags with the full expectations of working alongside others in expanding God's Kingdom.
We arrived with hearts ready to serve but we soon found ourselves battling to the pain of proclaiming God's Truth and doing His Will while being called the devil and a liar at the same time by those who were working with in the ministry. It easy to stand when others are supporting you but it hard to fight when you feel as if you are an outcast and to avoid division in the church you remain silent. At the end we had a choice, we could please men and stay or we could resign and stand for God's Truth. If we left there would be no source of income, our reputation in ministry would be tarnished, and we would be outcasts. Or we could stay and have a steady flow of income, we would have to compromise the truth of God's Word, and who knows what else we would be subjecting ourselves too.
As a father and a husband I looked at my children and wife who depend on me to provide a source of income. I knew they needed to eat, have shelter, clothing, and health insurance. As a preacher, minister, and pastor I worried about my reputation, would I ever find a job in ministry after I being labeled "a devil". But as a Christians I knew I could not compromise God's Truth for the sake of having my family needs met. I could stand for Christ and provide an example of what it looks like to follow Jesus or I could take the money and provide for my family. We choose to resign and shed light on the truth but in the end we carried the false stigma of being sinners, liars, and people who were controlled demonic spirit. I walked away proud of how we stood for Christ but fearful of how I was going to provide.
But if God's Word is true why did I worry about provision? His Word tells us as Christians we are not to worry about food, clothing, shelter, or even our life because those who do not know Christ worry over these things (Matthew 6:25-31). Unbelievers fear the unknown and uncertainty because they do not know who holds tomorrow in His Hand. They do not have the hope of glory living on the inside of them. All they have is fear and the pursuit of things helps distract them from the fear that encompasses them. But I am not an unbeliever, I believe in God, Jesus, and His Spirit! I do not merely believe, I faithfully follow Him, and my faith Has corresponding action. It is not a pseudo faith that only believes and acts when I see the direct benefit to me, my faith is willing to go where God sends me, do what He Wills, and submits to Him as Lord. So what was the deal with the worry, I gave up my worry in exchange for His Faith and readjusted my focus to look towards Christ and sought after His Kingdom of Righteousness (Matthew 6:33-35).
Truly God saw the needs of my family and I tell you this in all honesty, we did not grow hunger, our bills were paid, God provided. My family faithful prayed, trusted in the truth's of God's Word, and continued to share the truth of His Word. We received checks in the mail, friends blessed us with food, others gave us money faithfully. We understood how Elijah felt when he ravens were used to feed him (1 Kings 17:4-6). But I had unresolved issues, please understand I was not bitter but I was hurt. Because I wondered "God, how could you let this happen?"
How could God let this happen to my family, why would He allow such a thing as this? Why didn't He come and defend us, where was Jesus, where was our hero? Those are real questions we all have wondered about whether publicly or privately. Some of us are still walking around pondering the "why". For some of us we ask "why" because we have seen the lives of those we loved snatched from them prematurely, others have experienced horrible acts of abuse against them, some are struggling to find work and grow weary of borrowing or depending on the kindness of others, some watch as their children battle addictions, and some are mending from hurt whether in the church or outside of it.
The point is we all have asked "why" at some point in life. We all are looking for victory and waiting for the breakthrough in a particular situation. And this "why" sometimes leads us to be angry at God, we find ourselves saying "I quit" and we give up. We take the approach that compromise will end the pain because the fight has made us feel like delusional warriors who are fighting a losing battle. And we question if we missed it or maybe God hates us. We can even began to contemplate walking away from Christ because of angry that the "why" question brings.
But look at John the Baptist who was sitting in jail about waiting for his beheading. The governor's wife because she had grown tired of John exposing her sin and was about to minister her own brand of sick justice (Matthew 14:1-10). Before John's death he sent word to Jesus and asked if Jesus if He truly was the Christ (Luke 7:18-20). Remember when Jesus came to be baptized by John what John said "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel. (John 1:29-31)" John had already confessed who Jesus was and believed in the truth of God's Word but when john focused on the situation instead of God, doubt began to rise. John even saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Christ (John 1:32:34), yet John still doubted. But this is what we do and how we get angry at God. We look at the situation that has not changed and how much turmoil that it has caused us, we no longer care to see what God has done, is doing, or will do we are seeking immediately relief. When that relief does not appear we can easily lose our focus.
Jesus helped John to refocus because His answer to John's question of "are you the one?" His answer was simple and to the point. He told John's Messengers "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them (Luke 7:22)" Jesus reply was simply, despite John's current condition God's Will is still being done. We do not look at what is happening to us we look at what God is doing through and around us. Our situation may look grim but it does not stop God's Will from being done. So ask yourself can see how God is using the situation for His Glory? It's a hard question and a tough way to look at our lives. But if those before us had not endured torture, pain, tribulations, etc we would not have the Scriptures to encourage us. if those in the Hall of Faith had not endured or even lost their lives for the sake of Christ we would have no source to gleam from, no hope of encouragement, or example to follow (Hebrews 11). That cloud of witness that was left for us to follow leaves us without excuse to lay aside the weights of sin that so easily prevent us from pursuing after God, so we can endure whatever may come our way, all for the glory of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).
When we consider these things we understand that our angry at God is misdirected. We are not angry at God for what has happened we are angry at the discomfort that comes with trusting God. I am NOT saying that God Wills for horrific tragedy in our lives but I am saying that God can use any plan of evil the devil has for our lives and turn it around for His Glory and for the good of His Children (Romans 8:28) I am saying that even though horrible things may happen to us if we keep our focus on God He will take the tragedy of the few and turn it around to save the many (Genesis 50:20). Though we feel as if God has slayed us, yet we must trust Him (John 13:15). God can use any situation. If we are willing to allow God to use our very death for His Glory, if we are willing to give full autonomy to God to do as He sees fit in our lives and not be angry at His Choice we will understand Jesus finally words to John the Baptist "Blessed is anyone not offended by me! (Luke 7:23)"
We must stop looking and hoping for merely a comfortable ending on the Earth that is temporary, this is not our treasure. Our hope is that God can use our lives, situations, and circumstances to work out an eternal glory, this is our treasure, this is our hope, this is our JOY it is all wrapped up in Jesus because He is our incorruptible treasure (Matthew 6:19-21)! Our earthly discomfort is temporary and light when compared to the eternal glory that awaits us (2 Corinthians 4:14-16) So we do not lose heart but we take this truth that Jesus is the end goal and not our breakthrough. We press towards Him and not the end of the situation (Philippians 3:14). I am not preaching something I have read but something that I live. Stay focused you can do this.
The devil is real and he is constantly trying to steal, kill, and destroy everything in the life of Christians (John 10:10). When do not give in to his attacks out right he uses deception to creep in and attack us. He tells us lies that are close enough to the truth that we believe it and start to stray away from the truth. He destroys our fellowship with other believers by reminding of us their past, present, and possible future offenses which causes arguments and stirs up strife. He is the root cause of every source of evil there is. He condemns when we fall and tells us that we are horrible people, we lose all hope, and think God can't love or use someone like me. He tries to scar us away when we are close to doing, accomplishing or getting what Has for us through thoughts of doubt, reminders of past failures, and throwing obstacles in our way. BUT if we spend time in the Word and remain faithful in prayer we will be sensitive to God's Spirit and have enough discernment to see through his schemes and recognize when it is spiritual warfare. We will be able to spot heresy when we hear it as opposed to believing it. We will walk with grace toward one another, forgiving one another, and reconciling with one another after an offense has accrued. Instead of falling into condemnations when we sin we will be convicted of our sin and turn away from as opposed to wallowing in it. Instead of being scared of the obstacles that stands in our way, we will see the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) but we will not fear because we know that the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5) protects us and we can boldly go forward and do what God has called us to do.
Recognize the enemy for who he is and who he is not, but also recognize God for who He truly is. Because of Christ we are not defeated, destroyed, or in despair (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) . Because of Christ we have true life (John 10:10), we have peace (John 14:27), and we have JOY (Jon 17:13)! but you will not know these things if you do not spend time reading and applying God's Word to your life (Psalm 119:15) as well as spending more time listening to God through prayer as opposed to dominating the conversation, be still and let him search your heart so you can grow (Psalms 139:23) Spending time with the Lord brings about a great results but neglecting to do so bring about unwanted consequences.
When we refuse to wait on God we become desperate for relief (desperate people do desperate things and always get poor results) But when we put our trust in God and wait on Him, He orders our steps and gives us the strength to endure while we wait. And the Lord never disappoints those who wait on Him. Isaiah 40:28-31, Habakkuk 2:3, Psalms 27:14, 37:7-9,34
The Word tells us in Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." As parents we are responsible o teach our children the ways of the Lord and to live a life the pleases Him (Deuteronomy 6:7). Essentially we are making disciples for Christ in our families(Matthew 28:18-20). The hope is our children will grow in the ways of the Lord. After reading this scripture and understanding that if I train my child correctly they will learn the ways of Christ and bring honor to His Name. But as of late this scripture has made think of how I am living my life, if I train my child to follow Christ when they come of age and understand His Word better will my life match God's Word or will I look like a hypocrite to them?
If I teach and train my child to act in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control am I living that life. Or am I opposed to live a life to please Jesus because the word like sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies are a better description of who I am. I am an example of what it means to follow God's Spirit or am I an example of what it means to follow the devil (Galatians 5:16-26).
These are real life questions that as parents we will have to answer when the time comes. I am not preaching perfection but I am preaching transforming our ways under the Grace of God and by the Strength of His Spirit (Romans 12:2). We can easily dismiss this or pawn it off or we can act as responsible parents and live a life the pleases Jesus in every circumstance and every situation.
When your son asks you "Daddy how did you deal with lust? Did you fight against it or did you give in and say "I am just a man?" Or when your daughter ask, "Mommy how did you submit to you Daddy as the Word tells wives to, did you let him be the spiritual leader, did you encourage him, respect him, or did you stifle his leadership?" When kids asks, "How come you and Uncle Mike don't talk any more, why do you always mock people at church, why Daddy...Why Mommy?" Listen the list can go on and on but if we are truly training our children to follow Jesus we will have answer these tough questions and we can either try to justify our actions or we can humbly admit we wanted to gratify our selfishness as opposed to living for Jesus.
I am not saying we all go back to our parents to question them but I am saying if we call ourselves Christians and we are teaching our children the ways of the Lord, we must look at our own lives in every situation and ask "Our my actions/reactions pleasing to Jesus." Instead of trying to prove our actions as acceptable let's live like people who are dead to sin and alive to Christ (Romans 6:11).
I challenge you as a parent to live a life that reflects Christ and not a life the reflects your opinions because your kids are watching. Stay focused, you can do this!