Friday, May 29, 2015

Are You A Follower of Jesus or Just a Facebook Friend?



Face it most of us know what it means to be a Facebook friend. Most of the people who "friend" you aren't really your friends. They might be connecting with you because you have something in common or simply as a way of upping their "friend" count on their own page. Pretty much just like Twitter, you can have followers, but most are simply business connections or people with similar interests or merely just another way to see how high you can get your Twitter follower count. I've even seen celebrities do this in an effort to be the first one to get to a Million Followers or a Million Friends on Social Media.

Makes you wonder what would happen if Jesus had a Facebook account. A real one, by the way, not one someone created. Would you simply be a "friend" of Jesus or a true follower? We can ask that today, because so many people who wear the "Christian" label are a far cry from being a true follower of Jesus. But you know what I always say, "Don't follow me, follow Jesus."

He is the only one who is perfect in every single way. Me, I will fall short on so many occasions and I don't want people to base their expectations of what a "Christian" should look like based on my short comings.

I'm not Jesus. Just someone trying to do their best to live up to Jesus' expectations of what He wants in my life.

Thank God when I became a Christian, He didn't go to work on all my flaws right away. I am a work in progress and will be until the day I die. I don't think I could handle it if He put up a construction sign on my life, because you know what, I'd be that way until He called me home. That is why I am still here in fact.

So how can you tell if you are a true Follower of Jesus or simply just a Follower like on Twitter or a Facebook friend to Jesus?

1. A Follower of Jesus will walk the same road every day. Meaning simply this. Each and every day, habitually, not just on Sunday! Every day is the Lord's Day. He wants to be a part of every part of our day.

Romans 13:14 ~ "Rather, clothes yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. "

We need to be putting on Jesus like we do our clothes every morning. We would NEVER leave our homes without them. Every morning, we should take time out for Jesus, and the Word of God. Invite Him prayerfully into your day.

Proverbs 8:17 ~ "I love those who love me, and those who seek me will find me."

Jesus wants to be your friend and your companion. Truly there is NO greater presence I would want in my life, than Jesus. He is just waiting to reveal His heart and plans to us. You can prove your a follower of Jesus, but doing what He commands. It is words accompanied by actions, every single day.

Many will say they follow Jesus but their actions will betray their words.

1 Peter 2:9 ~ "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light."

In Matthew 9:9 ~ "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Matthew left a position of authority with Rome, he was in a very prestigious position. He was perhaps one of the disciples who gave up quite literally the most to follow Jesus. He made the greatest sacrifice.

Philippians 3:8 ~ "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ."

Luke 9:23 ~ "Then he said to them all: :If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

To do that you need to deny yourself and glorify God. There is life in turning down things that tear you down spiritually.

Stop thinking about yourself and think about Jesus. Present it all to Him and seek His will instead of your own.

Think about Matthew:

He lost his career, but gained a destiny.

He lost his material possessions, but gained a spiritual fortune.

He lost his temporary security, but gained eternal life.

He lost his emptiness and loneliness, but found fulfillment and companionship.

He gave up all the world had to offer, and he found Jesus.

What did Matthew do after he left to follow Jesus?

He threw a party with all his old friends and right in the middle of it was Jesus.

Matthew 9:10 ~ "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples."

Matthew is showing the classic sign of a new believers and is hanging out with all his old friends. Those who know the most, usually do the least; while those who know the least, usually do the most. People who are new in Christ are usually the first to volunteer when their is a need in the church. In face 80% of those who come to Christ, do so by those who have only known Jesus for 2 years or less. They have that fire and zeal that most of us are lacking who have been in our faith longer.

2. A Follower of Jesus can't say "Goodbye" to their old life fast enough.

3. A Follower of Jesus loves people. To love people as much as Jesus did, not just those like you! Some people have no problem loving God, but not the church. If you're not walking with God, you will feel uncomfortable around Godly people.

1 John 4:20-21 ~ "If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, who he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."

This means we need to love everyone, especially other Christians!

4. A Follower of Jesus cares about non believers and wants to reach them. Will have a deep desire for them to know Jesus.

5. A Follower of Jesus should be able to say, "Follow me, as I follow Christ."

1 Corinthians 11:1 ~ "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."

Can you say that right now?

YOU are the only representative3 of Jesus some people will ever see! People are forming opinions of God, based on what they see in You! That's why you want to make sure to be a good example. It doesn't mean we have to be perfect or flawless, simply an authentic, honest, humble, follower of Jesus.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Keeping God as Part of Your Summer Plans



We know Summer is slowly on its way here even though in some parts of this nation, based on the weather it hardly feels like it. For some, it's a time that they look forward to, family vacations might be part of the plans, or having family come to visit, school is out and there is less items on our to do list for many parents.

Yet the words we often hate to hear from our kids, is "I'm bored!" So many of us try to keep our summers busy and can find ourselves wondering just when did summer mean a vacation from all the hectic planning again?

I thought I would share some great ideas to keep your kids not only from becoming bored, but to also incorporate Jesus along in our summer plans.

1. Pick A Scripture. As a family, pick a scripture to start your summer. Find two or three suggested passages based on whatever theme, virtue or discipline yo consider important for your family's situation. Let each person share which verse they think is best for the family, and why, before voting.

2. Write the verse. Find unique ways to write your selected verse. You might want to do some sort of painting, make your own stepping stone for the garden, or make flash cards to help your family focus on that verse. Hopefully by the end of the summer, you will all have it memorized. You might even want to incorporate it into a song.

3. Make a journal for each child. Pick up some stickers to help decorate it or cut out pictures from magazines. Pose questions for them to answer in their journal about themselves, their age or even their favorite things. Help them find scriptures from the Bible that affirm God's love for them. Drawing on God's promises in the Bible, have them make their own Bible Promises that can stand on in times of difficulty. Encourage them to add keepsakes of activities you do to their journal, like a ticket stub from a special place you visit or a leaf from a trip to the park. Don't forget pictures to add to their summer journal and perhaps capture a few words of what that photo means to them. At the end of the summer, celebrate with everyone sharing in what they journaled all through the summer. This is a great way to keep those writing skills fresh throughout the summer.

4. Traveling this Summer? Include your kids in preparations for the trip. Get a road map at your local Automobile Club and check out places on the internet or the library for where you are going to look for places you will see. Pack a special activity bag for each child. You can include games, notepads, their favorite snacks, a fun craft or activity book, and an age appropriate fun Bible for them to enjoy. If you are taking along an iPod or MP3 player, be sure to include worship and Bible based songs that your kids love to sin.

5. Car Ride Games: You can also make up your own games, but you might want to consider some of the following.

Alphabet Thankfulness: Starting with the letter A, each person names something starting with the letter that they can be thankful to God for. This can be a person, place or anything! Examples: A- Aunt Peggy, B-brothers, C-chocolate! At the end of the game, say a prayer thanking God for all the things He has blessed you with.

Car Bingo: This is a favorite of our kids! Make your own bingo cards before you leave by drawing pictures, using clip art from the Internet or using stickers of things you are likely to see on your trip.

Talk Time: Travel time is a great opportunity to connect and communicate with each other. Have a list of questions to talk through and take turns letting one another ask questions. We love creating a story by having each person start a line. For example: One day a family began their morning by leaving on a summer vacation by car....then someone else would add to it...they wanted to take all their baby goats with them but there simply wasn't room to pack them all...You keep going until you run out of ideas or you laugh too much to continue. Our family remembers one about a man with a sombrero sitting on a bench with his donkey waiting for the tacos to be finished at the gas station. The more creative and sillier the more fun and memories you will create.

Drive Time Audio: Consider picking up some audio books or CDs of some of your favorite stories that incorporate Christian values and faith to listen to along the way. You can even rent some of these from your local library or borrow some from friends.

6. Summer Family Nights: Take advantage of the warm evenings to plan a few outdoor Family Night activities such as:

Following the Map: Create a map with "Turn Left" or "Turn Right" directions to a favorite destination such as an ice cream shop or park. Load the kids in the car and tell them you are heading off for a really fun surprise. Give one of the children your map, and ask them to guide you step-by-step as you drive. When they give you each direction, however, turn the wrong way - insisting you know best. Try to end up at some dead-end or remote location, and admit that you got lost. Ask the kids what you should do. (Answer: Go back to the beginning and follow the directions properly!) When you arrive at the destination after properly following the directions, read Psalm 119:104-105 together and ask the following questions...

What went wrong the first time we drove? (I ignored the map_.

What is "the map" for us to make right choices in life? (The Bible).

How much fun would we be having know if I kept insisting I knew best? (None.).

We have also made a fun variation of this activity by not having a set destination in mind, and instead asked the kids to choose a path each time we came to a red light or stop sign and asked which way. We have discovered some amazing places that way we might have never discovered that were literally not too far from our home.

7. Consider serving this summer. Most churches offer Vacation Bible School for grades 1-6 that are always looking for volunteers. Consider working together or even saving allowance to help support a trustworthy cause. Consider baking a neighbor some cookies, helping with the cleaning of our local parks or beaches, or even take a mission trip as a family.

These are just some amazing suggestions you might want to consider as summer nears and would love to get some of your suggestions as well!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is Your Name in the Book of Life?



I remember growing up, whenever I got a book whether for a birthday or Christmas gift, the first thing I did was put my name in it. It was to show that it belonged to me. Now I cringe whenever I think about writing in any of my books, but now that is simply a personal preference.

There may be confusion as I was for so long about the difference between the Book of Life and the Lamb's Book of Life as well as the books, plural, that will be opened on the day of judgment which non believers in Jesus Christ will have to face, otherwise known as the Great White Throne Judgment.

Let's get started with the first one. The Book of Life, not the movie, but the one mentioned in the Bible.

Revelation 20:15 ~ "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 3:5 ~ "I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father, and his angels."

Exodus 32:31-33 ~ " So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin - but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written." The LORD replied to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book." (NIV).

Psalm 69:27-28 ~ "Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous." (NIV).

Revelation 17:8 ~ :The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when the see the beast, because he once as, now is not, and yet will come." (NIV).

Psalm 139:16 ~ "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (NIV).

So we can be assured, that there is a Book of Life that the Bible mentions and your name can be removed from it, or blotted out. This is the book that every single person who has every lived from their creation in the Garden of Eden until the very end of the world is written when they come into being is written in the Book of Life. Yet it can be blotted out or removed when you make the choice to forgo following Jesus and instead make your own choice to follow in whatever path you make. Only by following Jesus will your name remain in the Book of Life.

The consequence for not having your name in the Book of Life is quite clear, in Revelation 20:15, "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (NIV). 

What this means is that God doesn't send anyone to Hell but we go by our own choice. Remember that. There are no second chances once you die and get to the Great White Throne Judgement.

So now let's look at what the Lamb's Book of Life is. When you have made a choice to follow Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior, your name is also written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Once it is written there, by your own choice again, it can NEVER be blotted out, despite what you may have been told. Once you are savED, notice past tense, you can't go back to being unsaved, if your salvation was genuine. You can fall away, back slide, whatever spin you put on it, but your salvation is assured. You just have to deal with Jesus at the Judgement Seat of Christ if you die in your backslidden state, but your salvation is assured. You don't want to try and get saved and then go back to your sinful ways, remember God knows your heart and knows what your true intentions are, so don't think you're going to trick Him.

But it does give the believer and follower of Jesus Christ, assurance and security that our name can NEVER be blotted out. You truly want your name in the Lamb's Book of Life. It's like Jesus personally keeping track of all His true followers so when we face our judgement, Jesus simply opens the book in front of His Father and says, Nope this one is mine. We belong to Him and we enter into Heaven.

Revelation 21:27 ~ "Nothing impure will ever enter it, not will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."

Revelation 13:8 ~ "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast - all whose names have NOT been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." (NIV).

Luke 10:20 ~ "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (NIV).

Malachi 3:16 ~ "Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name." (NIV).

Just like in Ancient Rome, if you were a citizen of the Roman Empire, regardless of where you lived, your name was written on a scroll. This gave you all the benefits that were entitled to a citizen of Rome. However if you committed a crime against Rome, your name was removed or blotted out. You lost all your rights as a citizen of Rome. 

But this is not the case with Jesus. Once He has captured your name in His Lamb's Book of Life, your name can never be blotted out or removed, no matter what you do. You belong to Him.

Matthew 10:32-33 ~ "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown before my Father in heaven." (NIV).

Jesus makes it pretty clear, that unless you follow Him and make a public declaration, You are not going to heaven. There is no greater advocate to have on your side when you die and stand before God, than Jesus. Once He opens the Book of Life and the Lamb's Book of Life, you want to make sure YOUR name is in there. There is NO other way. You can't earn your way to Heaven, You can't get there through any other god, but Jesus.

Jesus himself makes that 100% perfectly clear.

John 14:6 ~ "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (NIV).

In the book of Revelation there are also other books mentioned.

Revelation 20:11-15 ~ "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dad, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.: (NIV).

What these "books" are might be the records of everything you did in your life. All the times you were told about Jesus, and refused to accept him. Every thought you had, every word you ever said. It states it pretty clear that nothing we have done in our life on earth will be kept from God and we will face judgment for it. Remember that this judgment is not for the believer and follower of Christ. The following scripture is the end result of the believer and follower of Christ from 2 Corinthians 5 where Paul was sharing what awaits us when we get to heaven. This doesn't apply to non believers of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:10 ~ "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."(NIV).

We will face our own judgment with Jesus the very moment we die and enter into heaven as we stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Think of it like a court room with God as the judge and Jesus as our defender. No matter what the charges are against us, Jesus defends us, covered with His blood and God no longer sees that sin in our life. Pretty fantastic isn't it.

Time to make some decisions in your life. You won't have a second chance if you die today and don't know Jesus. You have been told, just reading this. So what will you do? Your eternal destination is really up to you. Choose Jesus and Know Life or Reject Jesus and No Life.




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Have We Forgotten How to Forgive?



Very rarely do I take up the cause of what is going on in the world of reality television, but it seems lately whenever people are found to live less than worthy lifestyles by our own standards and their sins are put on public display, we, as believers in Jesus Christ, condemn them far worse that non believers do. In fact, it would be acceptable for the media to have that sort of field day with people who haven't disclosed things from their past and now they shine the proverbial light on it for all the world to see.

Thank God, in all honesty, that our lives are like that. For the media to have a field day with all our sins from our past, or even for the ones we may have fallen short of yesterday or even today and committed.

As believers in Jesus, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to understanding what forgiveness looks like. It's like we feel there are some sins, that are obsolete from forgiveness. Now, I'm not for condoning any such sinful actions in any person's life, but if they have asked for forgiveness and are trying to live a life that shows they have turned from that lifestyle, who are we, to continue to roast them over the fires of righteousness. It would be a far different matter, if that person was living a lie and hadn't made any type of repentance and was continuing to live out their sinful life despite claiming that have changed.

What really grieves my soul, are those "Christians" who feel compelled to launch another stone at the sinner! Since when have our actions lead us down this dark path? Oh Lord, that the church would stand before you in true repentance for doing this and remember all your valued words of wisdom when facing any sinner. He has always forgiven them, and never condemned them.

In fact, I would be so bold to say, in light of Josh Duggar's story coming to light that he had sexually abused children in his past, that Jesus would forgive him instantly, and tell him to go and sin no more. He wouldn't stand there and say, "Oh but this sin is so much worse than say lying, or committing adultery, people are hurt by this and need some sort of response from the Christian community. So this is one I'm not going to be able to forgive."

No, I think Jesus even now is so broken by how the world is condemning Josh Duggar, the pain the victims will have to work out in time, and that the Christian community isn't standing by and supporting the very ethics of the faith we swear to live by.

Christians in fact, are the only ones, who shot their wounded. Jesus reminds us that when a church or members of a church do this, we are spiritually dead and we'd better wake up.

Revelation 3:3 ~ "Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know what time I will come for you." (NIV). 

We, as believers in Christ, are the ones the world is watching to see how we display our ability to forgive when faced with public persecution. I am NOT condoning what he did, but to sit back and watch "Christians" stand with non believers and say how wrong this is, and that he needs to be punished by whatever means possible, is completely and 100% wrong. I've even seen Christians stand up in support of Josh Duggar and the power of forgiveness again to be blasted by Christians and Non Christians alike. What a dark and troubled world we truly live in. No wonder why the world judges Christians so harshly. Where is the love of the church in times like this?

I feel sorry for people who have been crucified by the public for making mistakes because of where they are in the public eyes. From Tiger Woods, and his extra marital affairs to all the reality show celebrities, John and Kate makes 8, Duck Dynasty and now 19 Kids and Counting. When will it all end?

Galatians 6:1 ~ "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." (NIV)

Even Peter struggled with how many times do we have to keep on forgiving people who mess up and Jesus clearly instructed in Matthew 18:21, ~ "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (NIV). 

We have heard time and time again about countless examples of people who have forgive those who have committed horrible crimes against themselves. Corrie Ten Bloom when faced with the very man who tortured her and her sister asked her for forgiveness, she willingly gave it to him. (Corrie Ten Bloom - Story on Forgiveness). She even highlights that those who were able to forgive their former enemies, despite their physical scars move in their lives, while those who couldn't, remained invalids.

There was the West Nickel Mines Amish School Shooting in October 2006 which killed 10 students. Instead of condemning the killer and his family, the Amish community and some of the parents opted instead to forgive.  Something most of us, could simply never do if we were faced in similar circumstances. 

Jesus is pretty clear on what as believers we are instructed to do.

Matthew 6:14-15 ~ "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. " (NIV)

Luke 14:4 ~ "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, "I repent, forgive him."(NIV).

Colossians 3:13 ~ " Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV).

Ephesians 4:32 ~ "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

The parable of the Unmerciful Servant is one that I use whenever I am facing the emotions when I don't want to forgive someone who has hurt me, and it applies here as well. The story is of how one servant owed his master quite a bit of money, about 10 million dollars, and was going to face imprisonment for failing to pay it back, when he begs for mercy, the master gave it to him. However that same servant also had someone who had borrowed a small amount from him, about $19.00 and when faced with the same situation, instead had no mercy and had him thrown in prison since he couldn't pay. When the master heard about it, he called the servant on it and asked why he could forgive him as he had been forgiven. In his anger, the master had him thrown in prison as well. The moral Jesus gave is this, "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." - Matthew 18:23-35 (NIV).

A strong reminder of just how we will face our own forgiveness in the eyes of Jesus, if we insist on condemning people who have asked for forgiveness. Josh Duggar may not be asking the public for his forgiveness, and he certainly didn't need to disclose his "sins" to the world, but we, as a body of believers in Jesus, should be the first, to stand by and support our beliefs in what true forgiveness should look like, and jump off of our stoning and persecution of this man. Sin is sin. There are no varying degrees of sin, except for those who know better, who know it is a sin, and sin anyway thinking they can just ask for forgiveness later on.

I am aware that there are victims of what Josh Duggar has done in his past, and we can certainly lift them up in prayer and ask for the Holy Spirits to work on healing their hearts and minds, Trust me, it is possible for God to remove and fade those memories away. Remember the Bible instructs us to forgive, the forgetting will come in time and only through the power of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness for a Christian is NOT optional, is it commanded.

Psalm 103:12 ~ "As far as the east is to the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." (NIV).


Friday, May 22, 2015

Understanding Bible Prophecy



Some people refrain from ever learning about Bible Prophecy. Why is that?

Did you know that Bible Prophecy accounts for 27% of the Bible?

If you don't want to read that, you're missing almost a third of the Bible! I believe the reason most people refrain from learning about Bible Prophecy is because they don't understand it.

Yet Bible Prophecy is the very reason why we can stand here in complete confidence because everything spoken of in regards to Jesus Christ the Messiah happened years before He was ever born. No one can say that about any other religious figure in history with such amazing detail and accuracy.

The first thing in regards to the fufillment of Bible Prophecy is Christ's First Coming.

Isaiah 46:9-10 ~ "Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." (NIV).

God is absolutely exclusive. God knows the future in advance. The reason that this is important is so we can rely on the truth when faced with false prophets. False prophets can't do what God can. They can't predict the future.

Romans 15:4 ~ "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (NIV).

Whatever is in the Old Testament is there for our learning.

So what does the Bible say about Christ's first coming.

Genesis 12:1-2 ~ "The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people,, and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing." (NIV).

Israel is one of the most controversial places in the world today. God tells Abram that He would establish a nation in a particular place. Jesus would be born in Israel. In order for Jesus to come, a place would need to be established.

Genesis 17:6-7 ~ "I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you." (NIV). 

Jeremiah 32:36b-38 ~ " this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people and I will be their God." (NIV).

The nation of Israel had to be intact for the coming of the Messiah.

Micah 5:2 ~ "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, who origins are from of old, from ancient times." (NIV).

This prophecy was written 523 years before Jesus was born.

Isaiah 7:14 ~ "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and will call him Immanuel." (NIV).

What did happen?

Matthew 2:1-4 ~ "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with Him. When he called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born."

Herod was inquiring to know when Jesus would be born. Herod was getting his information in reference to Bible prophecy, was had been written beforehand concerning this very specific event for the answers.

Matthew 2:5-6 ~ "In Bethlehem in Judea, they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel." (NIV).

1 Timothy 3:16 ~ "Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by the angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory." (NIV).

God was manifested in the flesh!

Proverbs 30:4 ~ "Who has gone up to the heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!" (NIV).

God has a Son!!!

What was the fulfillment?

Matthew 1:20-21 ~ "But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins."

The virgin shall conceive a son! 743 years before it happened Bible prophecy was fulfilled by an angel.

Psalm 22:16 ~ "Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet." (NIV). 

1000 years before Jesus was born this prophecy was created. When Jesus cried out from the cross, it was as if he was pointing to the fulfillment of Psalm 22 in perfect detail. He was telling them to go to Psalm 22 while He was on the cross.

Matthew 27:33-34 ~ "They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with fall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots." (NIV).

The timeline of the church is from the Day of Pentacost where it was established until the Rapture. We are 2000 years from the Time of Church and now are waiting for the Rapture of the Church which can happen at any time.

Isaiah 11:10 ~ "In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. IN that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea." (NIV)

Jesse was the father of David, Israel's greatest king; God chose his family here that even thought the day would come when it might seem as if David's line was dried up, God would raise up a new shoot from the stump of Jesse to assume the throne of David. This was fulfilled in Jesus Christ who was given the throne of his father David; God placed his Spirit on Jesus at his baptism. Paul quotes verse 10 of this chapter as being fulfilled in Christ, for people all over the world now accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Gentile nations, which is where you and I fit in!

Matthew 16:18 ~ "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."(NIV). 

The next fulfillment of Bible prophecy is duel. It is both the persecution of the church and the Rapture.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ~ "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet with the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." (NIV).

1 Corinthians 15: 51-52 ~ "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." (NIV).

What all this means is that we serve a God who can be proven, that the things written years before Jesus ever came to the Earth, God had a plan. Every single prophecy spoken of regarding Jesus has been fulfilled or will be fulfilled. The Bible is the only book that fulfills prophecy with 100% detail and accuracy and thus the reason for us trusting that what it says is absolute truth.

Some people might argue that the Bible was written by man and can't be true, but with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the entire Old Testament Bible with the exception of the Book of Esther was validated with 100 % accuracy as the words found in the King James Version of the Bible!

What a great reason to rejoice that what we believe is absolutely the divinely inspired Word of God!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Proof That God Exists!



We've all heard those scoffers who try to riddle Christians with one of two arguments against the existence of God. "If God can do anything, can He make a rock He can't lift?" and "If God is real, who created Him?"

Psalm 14:1 ~ "The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."(NIV).

Wouldn't you love to know just how to answer these skeptics, atheists or scoffers who claim that there is No God? I am going to share with you 5 reasons that prove that God exists. If you don't believe me, I encourage you to research them for yourself.

Is it Reasonable to believe in God? I would say that without a doubt it is. Here are those 5 evidences for the existence of God.

Roman 1:20 ~ "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (NIV)

This is the perfect scripture from the Bible to provide to people who wonder what happens to the people who have never seen a Bile or the Word of God. God's evidence of who He is, is everywhere we look.



1. The Cosmos itself testifies to a Creator. 

Psalm 19:1-4 ~ "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heaven's he has pitched a tent for the sun." (NIV).

The cosmos demands a Creator. Do you believe that the cosmos exists? Meaning the stars in the night sky?

There are 3 possibilities to explain the existence of the universe or cosmos. If you agree it does in fact exist, which I am 100% certain, people can agree with.

1. It has always existed (It's eternal).
2. It created itself.
3. It was created by something or someone.

So let's break down these arguments.

1. It has always existed. 

The scientific evidence has demolished this theory with such proof as Background Radiation Echos, the Second Law of Thermodynamics and others which prove that the Universe began to exist. Even reputable Stephen Hawking believes the universe had a beginning. Even 3000 years after Moses penned the words found in Genesis 1:1

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

Even famed astrophysicist Dr. Arno Penzias quote in an article in the New York Times in March of 1978,

"The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole."

So based on these two notables among many others, we can throw that theory out that the Universe has always existed. Science has verified that is not true.

2. It created itself. 

That anything could create itself, it would have to exist and not exist. It is irrational to believe this. In fact if you ask most of those who believe in the Big Bang theory, what existed before that, they will tell you nothing. So what does nothing look like:



Exactly that. Even the dictionary defined nothing as No Thing. Nothing, therefore, can not do something. It can not see, smell, hear or create anything. Nothing can't create something. It doesn't make sense to anyone rational person, so that throws out that argument.

That only leaves,

3. It was created by someone or something. It was created by God based on reason and evidence. 

So to answer that first challenging question, "Who made God?" the answer is nobody. God has always existed. He is eternal and therefore, does not need to be created.

Psalm 90:2 ~ "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." (NIV).

Something or someone must have always existed. The universe does require a creator as we have already proven.

If you look at any painting, such as the one pictured below:




What evidence needs to exist to prove that a painter painted this picture?

2. The Conditions for Life.

In order for any life to exist on this planet, things have to have been fine tuned to such precise details to support life.

Stephen Hawking argues this perfectly, "“ You cannot understand the glories of the universe without believing there is some Supreme Power behind it.”

There are 40 physical features that define for the perfect balance to happen on this planet to support life, from the speed of light, force of gravity, mass of an electron, or energy in a carbon atom. If just one of those things were just slightly out of balance the planet could not sustain life. Dr. Donald Page of Princeton calculated the odds of the universe randomly being created are

1 in 10,000,000,000 to the 124th power.

Atheists would argue that not only is there life on this planet but on multiple planets known quite simply as the multiverse theory. But there is no scientific evidence to support the multi-verse theory that humans just happened upon the world we live on when it was created. If they can't explain this one, how can they possibly try to explain multiple universes?

3. The Complexity of Life

Intelligent design is not hard to recognize. Therefore, an intelligent designer must exist. To consider all the things that are in and on this planet, screams evidence of a designer. But we will just look at the human body, whom atheists argue just happened from nothing or even evolved into what we are today.

The human body is comprised of so many different systems from the circulatory system, skeletal system, digestive system, respiratory system, nervous system and more along with the uncanny ability to heal itself and fight off disease.



That is like saying if you take a solid sheet of bedrock in the middle of the woods, and allow wind, rain, erosion and the formation of atoms over time, you would create Mount Rushmore, right ?



The human brain alone holds enough information to fill twenty million books. The human heart pumps 50,000 gallons of blood every month and it's only the size of your fist. The human eye contains over 2 million parts. The human cell is the smallest matter in the universe and just 1 cell is more complex than the entire city of New York, and more advanced than any super computer ever created. There are over 100 trillion cells in your human body.



DNA alone is enough to argue that things just didn't randomly occur from nothing. The 6 feet of DNA code coiled up in one cell tells your body specifically what to do. It is essentially the software for your body. Even people understand that computer software doesn't create itself without a programmer, and the odds are against DNA coming into being randomly were calculated by Francis Click at 1:10 to the 2,000,000,000 power. DNA didn't just come to be.

Antony Flew once the largest atheist proponate who argued against their being a creator, who has spent the last 50 years defending the theory against the evidence for a God, changed his mind in December of 2004, where he concluded that God must exist, based on the overwhelming evidence on DNA alone. He even wrote a book called, There is A (NO) God. The word No is crossed out.



For more scientific experts who have made the same conclusion as Antony Flew, visit www.DissentFromDarwin.org

4. The Canon of Scripture

Which simply means the collections of Books found within the Bible. The enormous evidence that can be found in the Bible including over 100s of fulfilled prophecies and archaeological discoveries that confirm what is written in the Bible is true, including the Dead Sea Scrolls.

5. Christ, Himself. 

In order for God to exist, he must be sinless, holy, speak the greatest words every recorded, manifest the love of God, perform supernatural dealings, exert a profound power of human personalities. Hmm, did such a person exist? Yes, in Jesus Christ, the ONLY one to fulfill all the criteria people would expect a God to exhibit and the books of the New Testament substantiate the deity of Jesus.

So you can see, without using the Bible, we can conclude with rational and intelligent minds that God does in fact exist based on the evidence. I would challenge you to research these claims for yourself and see if God does exist. People have been trying forever to prove that He doesn't exist, but this clearly shows that He does. He is the perfect God who has always been, is the Creator and will always be. He exists outside the limits of time and is eternal. With that, you certainly can't argue that He doesn't exist. One will simply have to much faith to believe that too be true. 

 
 



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The World is Looking for the Real Deal, Is it You?



For as long as I can remember there has always been a competition between the companies of Coke and Pepsi. In fact, I can remember there being a blindfolded taste test to see which cola drink, consumers preferred as a way of deciding who was the better cola product. At one point, Coke ran an ad, that it was the real thing. Did that mean that Pepsi wasn't? The battle is still ongoing, but it seems the public really doesn't care as much as they did, back in the day.

Now I think the world is looking at Christians with that same microscope. When you hear the label "Christian" it opens up a can of proverbial worms on what it really means to be a Christian. I believe the world isn't looking so much as to cast doubt on our self worth, but it sincerely is looking for the real deal. Can that be found in you?

We need to make sure that were are representing Jesus well in our life and not just as a recreational user. If we live our lives, empowered by the strength of the Holy Spirit, we will attract a world, that is hurting and looking for the way out of the mess that is running rampant all over the globe. I'm sure you have seen the recent new articles that show that the number of people claiming to be Christian are down as compared to other religious groups. I believe that it is a whole lot less than what their survey shows, if you are looking for true believers and followers of Christ.

Some people just slap the label on because it looks good. It makes them feel good. Like that they are a morally righteous person, makes them a Christian. The person who does good things, lives a great life for others, but truly doesn't know the Jesus of the Bible. That doesn't make them a Christian, any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car. Just because you attend church doesn't make you a Christian either.

I'm sure you have been to a movie studio at some point in your life. You know that the sets are fake no matter how real they appear to be. Whether it is a western or a historical look back at a New York city based in the 50's. The outer shell is all there is. The facade is merely just the front of the building made up and propped up by pieces of wood.

Keep this in mind, the when people refer to church, it's not the building, it's the people in the building that make up a church. God isn't living in a building, but in the hearts of the people who are true followers of Christ. Are you a living church, a diseased church or are you a dead church?

Just how does a church die?

A church can look like it is doing well, but on the inside it has grown cold. What used to be a fire, is now just ashes. They can look like they are doing really well. In fact, most people flock to these kinds of churches. But all they are is smoke and mirrors, the true fire has gone out quite awhile ago.

In the Book of Revelation, the church of Sardis was exactly like this. It looked grand on the outside. It was a church people wanted to be involved with. They spent tons of money making it big and grand. They hired all the right bands to play there, invited world renown celebrities to come visit, but inside it was spiritually dead. They had the name and reputation, it was one of the richest churches, no shortage of financial funds, it was the happening place to be. If people asked what church you went to, you definitely wanted to say you belonged to Sardis. It looked like it was a growing church.

You got to love Jesus, because He sees things no one else does. He cuts down to the core what the issue was at Sardis. It is a reminder to us that what we can see as successful, it's how Jesus does. Our measure of a successful church might be how big it is, how many people attend, the quality of the pastor or the worship band, does it have a coffee shop on site? And those are great things to have in a church.

The church in Sardis wasn't measuring up to the standards Jesus desired and that is what matters most. What Jesus sees in us, not in what we see or what the world sees when it looks at us. Only Jesus standards matter.

He says to the Church of Sardis in Revelation 3:2 ~ "I have not found your works perfect before God." 

Now He isn't saying it like perfect as He is perfect but more like complete or fulfilled. In other words, He might be saying, "You have not fulfilled your purpose before God."

So what is the purpose of the church you might be asking, isn't it to grow in size, in numbers of people coming to the church? It has to be more than that. The church is to fulfill three purposes, upward, inward and outward. The churches purpose is to exalt God, edify the saints, and evangelize the world.

So what was happening in Sardis? I'm sure that they were a praying church, but like the Pharisees, they were very eloquent in their prayers. It was more for show than about God. They were concerned that this prayer was heard by God, but by those attending the church. Did they listen to the sermons? I'm sure they did, but more about how well the pastor was teaching, than the message itself. Did they have worship services, definitely yes! It was the best money could buy, but they were more concerned with how it sounded, over directing it to God.

We need to take a hard look at the reason we attend a church. Do you attend it because you love the building or because you walked away experiencing God in that place. Do you attend because you love the worship band, or because you love worshiping God? Do you leave thinking what a great message or what a wonderful God we have?

A dead church worships its past. God doesn't want us to live in a glorious past, but a living church lives in the present and plans for the future.

A dead church is inflexible and resistant to change. We need to be inflexible in preaching the Word of God and stick to what the Bible has to say over what the church wants to hear. The church must always be a place where God's Word is taught and the gospel proclaimed. It must be a place where the Lord is glorified through prayer and worship. Those are non negotiables. We need to be flexible on music and worship styles or even technology, such as big screens in the church or websites or social media.

A dead church has lazy leadership. When complacency and lethargy sets in when a church doesn't want to do anything new or rethink the way things are done. Sometimes the way it has always been done needs to be re-evaluated. They need to keep in mind the big picture of what they were called into their communities to do

A dead church neglects the youth. This is such an issue where churches are missing reaching the next generation. Aging congregations can so please themselves they forget about the youth in their communities. We are seeing this growing trend in the churches as most of those leaving the church are 35 years of age and younger. Maybe the older people need to be a bit more flexible in how the younger generation view the church, perhaps that worship music needs to be updated a bit to appeal to a younger generation.

A dead church lacks evangelistic zeal. If new members are coming into the church, it is only a matter of time before that church will die. New believers are the life blood of the church. We should want them, pray for them, embrace them, encourage them and minister to them in every way we can.

The only way we can make sure people are seeing a change in our lives is through the power of the Holy Spirit in our life. Without it, we are doing things in our own strength and our own power. We are living our lives for what we think God wants for us, and not what He truly wants for us.

Ephesians 5:18-19 ~ "Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." 

It means being filled every single day with a fresh supply of life from God. We need to make sure when people see us, we get out of the way, so they can see God working at us in our lives. They shouldn't see the old us, but a profound change in how we live our lives. It should be all about Him and nothing to do with us.

Some people are so concerned with the mission field, but in all honesty your mission field is right where you are. In your home, in your job, in your neighborhood. The mission field is everwhere. We don't need to go anywhere to find it.

Did you know that Biblical literacy is at an all time low while spiritual ignorance is at an all time high? We spend more time as Christians arguing among ourselves over minor issues instead of sharing our personal testimony to the world. People can't argue over your personal testimony. They can't say, "Oh that isn't true!" because it is our own story. We need to be building more bridges to the world, than winning arguments. We need to be winning souls to our heavenly kingdom. Very few people who are "Christians" actually get out there and do it.

Luke 10:2 ~ "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (NIV).

Let's change how the world sees Christians! Let's start being the real thing in a broken and dark world so people will be drawn to us, because of the God we serve is more powerful than the god of this world.