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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
I thought I would take a break from my Bible Study just for today to share some amazing opportunities to get involved with some Godly ministry options. I've had the pleasure of not only working with these organizations, but am seeing some fruit from that calling in my life as well.
As you know as believers in Jesus, we are called and commanded to help financially when we can. For most of us, that is our simple tithes to the church, but what about other opportunities like helping our your local food bank or homeless shelter with food or clothing you can donate. I read that most food banks can purchase more food if we provide them with the funds to do so, than if we bought the food ourselves. Trust me, I believe they know more about what people really need over what we can "spare" from our own pantries. Some tips to consider when making a food donation:
1. Check the food dates to verify that these are still good to use. I know many of the cans and boxes of food in my pantry are often so outdated, I fail to check the dates on the packages or cans. I didn't realize how old some of my stuff really was until I moved.
2. Consider buying a gift card over making your own selections at the grocery store, that way fresh meat or milk can be bought from the shelters to provide to those in need. This works out so well during the holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, when most shelters get everyone's left over canned goods that no one really wants to eat.
3. Consider donating what you would want to eat, not what you have sitting around in your cabinet. Cans of tuna or chicken, macaroni and cheese, pasta and pasta sauce, cereal, baby formula, and rice and beans make great options to donate.
4. Consider calling your local food bank and see what they could really use. You might be surprised at what is really in need compared to what you were going to bring instead.
Local homeless shelters are often in need of basics like clothing, bedding and baby items. Personal hygeine items are also in need. Calling ahead will provide you with some opportunities to donate what is needed in case storage for those items may pose an issue until they are truly needed. Churches and women shelters are also places you can check to donate items you may have on hand. A rule of thumb I always use, is before you throw something away, might it be reused in some way by someone who truly needs it? Consider donating it over throwing it away instead.
For animal lovers, consider donating items to your local shelters such as towels, blankets, pet food and toys. Financial donations are always welcome to help provide for these items since most of the time, donations are way down. This way they can provide what they need instead. Calling your local animal shelter can provide you with some great opportunities for the church to step in and help out as a service to the community.
Love listening to your favorite Christian station in the morning while driving to work? Consider partnering with them as a monthly sponsor. You'd be amazed at how much it takes to keep a radio station on and broadcasting in your area. If you've been blessed consider a one time or monthly donation to help.
Some of my favorite charities are listed below and would love it if you might consider helping out in any way if you feel lead. Some you may have heard of while others might be surprisingly new, but I wanted to share them with you.
Compassion International:For $38.00 you can provide everything a child needs to help feed, cloth and educate them in third world countries all over the world. You can write to them and get letters back showing how much your donations are helping to make a difference in the lives of children all over the world. It amazes me that some of these families exist on a $1.00 a day, while the monthly donation is the price of a dinner for two here. It can provide meals, health care, schooling costs and clothing to help make someone's life a whole lot better.
Salvation Army: Always my favorite! From the little red kettled bell ringers during the holiday, Salvation Army is one of the few charities that donates most of their proceeds to help those truly in need from financial contributions or donation of any items to their stores that benefit the communities that they serve. You can do monthly financial obligations or a one time donation.
Heifer International: For a donation of any amount, you can help families all over the world earn a living through buying a flock of chick, rabbits, ox, cows, goats or bees. These gifts are presented to families to earn a living, so they can become self sustaining in their communities and help others in their communities by donating offspring to create a lasting legacy that keeps on giving. Each sponsor family receives education on farming and how to care for the animals as well as any supplies they need. It truly is a wonderful program to help people earn a trade. Nepal has a great need for this right now due to the recent earthquake there to help get people back up and working again to provide for their families. In fact some times, Heifer will double your donation amount or triple it. We love knowing that by buying a goat or a flock of chickens were are helping people learn to live again!
Cup of Joe for a Joe: Green Beans coffee company sponsors these local coffee shops at our military camps all over the world where our troops are serving by offering a cup of coffee to those who are serving in our military for $2.00 a cup. You can make a one time donation, or monthly donations and each time a service member picks up a cup of coffee on you, you get an email with a personal message of thanks from them and where they are stationed. Truly a wonderful way to help support our military with some love from home. We have actually become pen pals with some of the men and women serving overseas. Here's one of the emails we recently received:
A Service Member wants to thank you for sending them a Cup of Joe!
Cup of Joe #1
message and gift of a CUP OF JOE was delivered to a Service Member
serving at BPC Mall in Qatar. They wanted to say thanks and make sure
you knew your gift was received. Please see below for their note to
It really feels good to get a gift from back home in SoCal! God bless you!
Adam Consider helping fund your local schools lunch program for families who are struggling to provide lunch for their child. Most can qualify for free lunch through programs offered by the state or government, but many families are struggling who can't. I know so many kids don't get lunch because they might be hurting on a temporary basis. My daughter used to share her lunch with a girl who couldn't afford to buy a lunch or bring one from home for personal reasons. As you can see, there are truly hundreds of opportunities to help and expand the reach of our churches and for those who want to serve God in profound ways. These are just some of the ones our family has participated in. Won't you share some of yours with me as well.You can even get creative and think up your own ways to help your neighborhood or community. Now's the time to show others what Godly people can do if we are willing to go out there and help! Acts 20:25 ~ "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must
help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It
is more blessed to give than to receive.' "(NIV).
If you have ever had your blood drawn, you know that there is so much they can tell by what your blood reveals. It can convey if you are anemic, if you are sick, if you carry a specific disease, or if you are in perfect health. In fact, whenever you go to the doctor or even hospital with a specific issue relating to your health, one of the first tests they do is a blood test. Because our blood reveals things we can't necessarily see and may not even be aware that exists. It helps to understand what is going on so it can be treated.
Our spiritual health can be diagnosed the same way. What our blood reveals conveys the spiritual nature of our heart. Like the church in Thyatira from the Book of Revelation, they were commended by Jesus for what 4 things they were doing right.
1. They had love. A deep practical kind of love. A love that does. It's is a verb not a noun. When someone tells you that they love you, it's a God thing. Unbelievers don't really understand it when we tell them that because it is a life changing thing when you can express that kind of love for someone you never met before. This was a church that acted out their love for others.
2. They had service. There was never a need within the church or outside of the church that wasn't met by members of the church. They were active in their love by showing it to through what they did for others. They never saw anything they did as a burden, but as true servanthood.
3. They had faith. They loved the Bible, and were loyal to the scriptures. They were just leaving things out of the Bible when they were teaching from it. Things that may have caused people to feel uncomfortable so they left those verses out and didn't mention them. They were allowing the gods of the culture to begin to permeate the church. (Sound like any churches you know?) God's like Apollo, whose attributes were that he had eyes of fire; and the god Helios, who had feet of bronze.
This is why Jesus came and told them in Revelation 2:18 ~ "To the angel of the church of Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like the blazing fire and who feet are like burnished bronze."
Jesus was telling them, I see everything. I alone am the perfect truth, I am the only one who can stand before God in righteous judgment. I see your hearts. Truth is fluid in the world, relative by most people's standards, meaning it's not absolute, but is relative to those who believe it is. Their perspective is in fact, their opinion. We, as Christians, are people who rely on absolute supreme truth, not in feelings of opinions.
Psalm 119:153 ~ "Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law." (NIV).
Why is absolute truth necessary? There has to be a measuring stick that redefines truth from opinion. We need stabilization, something outside of ourselves that we can rely on to tell us what the absolute truth is.
John 14:6 ~ "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Romans 3:4 ~ "Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge." Romans 7:12 ~" So the, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good."
4. They had patience. While they were anticipating the Lord's return at anytime, they didn't just sit around and wait. They stayed busy doing God's Work.
While they were one of the seven churches referred to, they too, had fallen short. They had started well but are now going in a steep decline. This was a growing church, and there was more growth in the end than in the beginning.
Revelation 2:!9 ~ "I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first."
It's great when you can have a good beginning and a good ending in your life. But if you can have them both, strive to have a good ending. It's not how you start, but how you finish. Never let anyone tell you that you wasted your life, by coming to Jesus so late in life. We might have had a lot to deal with in life before we were ready to hear about God, so we could come to accept what He has to offer.
The good news is that if you haven't accept Jesus into your life, it's not too late. Nothing you have done in this life, is too horrible, unforgiveable, unimaginable that God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, can't forgive you and begin to change you forever on the inside. You can still get back into this race of life with whatever time you have remaining and finish it well. Even if you have been told, you're dying in the next month and you can't physically do anything because of your health. You can pray! It's the greatest thing Christians can do. You can share the transformation of what Jesus is doing in your life with others you come into contact with every single day.
Once Jesus lives in you, you can't wait to tell everyone else about Him. Why do you think there are so many people coming to Jesus all over the world today. The ministry opportunities that are being filled by churches to share the great news of Jesus' unconditional and life changing love! Your best days should not be behind you; they should be in front of you.
Isaiah 43:18-19 ~ "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
We might be excited by what the Lord did yesterday, but we should be looking forward to what He will bring today and even tomorrow. Some people are so trapped by their past, they can't even look at their future. They may have had a glorious past, those good ol days! Just like the church of Thyatira, they were making great progress, but then they begin to drift off course. It's a warning for us, more so today than ever before.
Hebrews 2:1 ~ "So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it." (NLT).
The very moment you begin to neglect your growth in Christ, you will begin to drift away from Him. So now it's time to ask you, how is your spiritual health? Are you excited to see what God will bring for you today? Are you looking forward to going to church this week? Are you anticipating what God will reveal to you when you open your Bible today? Are you growing or have you stopped?
Remember it's not too late, to jump back in, repent of what you have been doing, living in the spiritual desert instead of basking in the living water of God's truth. True Christians have a world-view that comes from our study of the Scriptures and from our belief and faith in Jesus Christ. We absolutely believe these things to be true, without question. That is the very reason why Christians want to share their faith with others. If your not satisfied, you're not living for Jesus.
Jeremiah 9:24 ~ "but let him who boasts about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord." (NIV).
Don't let God become a fad diet. One in which we start, then stop, then start again, then stop. We get wisdom and understanding through our spiritual growth in God. Are you drawn to God's Word? Do you want to be near Him? Are you compelled to know more about Him? It doesn't occur to us, not to spend time with God, to go to church, to pick up a Bible, so why do we do it? It will keep you, it preserves you. God's way is the right way.
Hosea 14:9 ~ "Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning?? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them." (NIV).
Stop being fed by this world and begin to feed on the Word of God. Stop trying to do it yourself. We have a choice. We have been equipped.
Psalm 37:23-24 ~ "If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." (NIV).
Psalm 18:30 ~ "As for God, his way is perfect; the world of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him." (NIV).
We need to be careful and not stop our spiritual walk when life gets hard, boring, routine, the thrill is gone. Don't stop because God is visible in the highs or in the lows (the pits of life.) But what about the middle? We need to remember the words we see on the back of shampoo bottles, wash, rinse, and repeat. Come back to God, repent of your sins, and go back to growing your faith. It's all about the blood that saves and redeems us, not what we can do for ourselves.
“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” - (quote from Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Dumbledore knows that only if everyone is willing to make sacrifices and
cling to what is good in a world soon to be engulfed in darkness will
victory ever be achieved. Likewise, in a world that is inundated with
temptation, we as people must strive to live with integrity and stand up
for what we know is right even if we are the only one standing.
I think we are living in definitely darker times than ever before. Everywhere you look, you are being bombarded by something, a new law being pushed by the liberals, our rights being called into question, altered or even taken away, people are dying quite literally for their faith while no one does anything to stop them, and the threat of nuclear war by countries like Iran, Russia and North Korea are on the imminent horizon against those who support Israel and the United States.
It is hard as a Christian, not to get so tired of things, that we simply want to turn it all off. Stop paying it any attention. Walk away. Get some perspective on what we need to do.
But the truth is, that we are called into battle every single day. We are called to run a race with the intent on not only finishing, but winning.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ~ "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (NIV).
Philippians 3:13b ~ "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 4:7 ~ "For I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
It is so easy to take our eyes off of Jesus, when the wave of the world overwhelms us, and we become like Peter trying to walk on the water to Jesus, who takes his eyes off of Him, and begins to sink.
Matthew 15:28-31 ~ "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he as afraid and, beginning to sin, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" (NIV)
That is exactly the formula we need to keep at the forefront of our mind. When we take our focus off of Jesus, the waves of this life and world will seek to drown us in the chaos and pain all around. To suffocate us, fill us up with the lies the world offers, until we can't see what is happening and we just let go.
We need to keep at our walk of faith and service to God even when we are tired. We might be physically tired, but we should never get tired of doing things for God. If anything, it is a testament of our faith, that we should get tired doing God's work every single day. It is interesting in John 4:6 ~ "Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour." that Jesus got tired.
If you think about it, He was never alone, until He hung on the cross. He was always about the Father's business while He was here, only when He cried out on the cross, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" that we see the separation between the sin of the ALL world poured out on the Son of God that God could not look at Him because He beared it all. Sin is what keeps us separated from God. It was the only time where Jesus felt the distance between Him and His Father.
So one of the things we have to remember in talking to people about our faith is the one thing most Christians lack, and that is tact. We are well-meaning in our intentions, but our biggest issues come in learning how to apply skill and grace in dealing with others. We have all seen this first hand, whenever we talk to someone who realizes we are a Christian, and we can see the immediate distaste someone has when they hear it. It is obvious that they have had a bad experience with Christianity at some point in their life. Now they want to get as far away from that as possible.
Tact is making a point without making an enemy. Sometimes our biggest issue is turning a dialogue into a monologue. We don't come up for air, and that drives such a wedge between the person we are talking to, that all they want is to get as far away from us as possible.
In order to meet someone on their terms, consider asking questions. People LOVE to talk about themselves. Then engage them and respond appropriately. Remember you can't argue or manipulate people into Heaven, but we can argue and manipulate them out of Heaven. Conversion has to be the work of the Spirit. Our job might not be the harvest, but the simply planting of a seed, nurturing it, watering it, caring for it, before the harvest. We never know when the harvest will come or if it will come. Just like a farmer who plants seeds, even with all the right care, some seeds don't grow. That has to be the work of the Holy Spirit working in their hearts to open their eyes, ears and minds to hear the truth. Remember the Word of God never returns void.
Isaiah 55:11 ~ "so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (NIV).
We have to remember not to be rude, untactful and insensitive when talking to people about Jesus. Sometimes people will take it the wrong way, when backlash occurs from those we are talking to, and we sit back and smile, saying, "Oh, look I'm being persecuted, I must be doing something right!" You aren't being persecuted, you're just being stupid.
We have to learn to adapt to the situations we are in, when talking to someone about Jesus. A person can't appreciate the good news without the bad. Remember there is no forgiveness without repentance; no conviction without confession. We need to flexible to the persons needs and recognize that there is no set script on how to engage someone in conversation. Sometimes the best witness to someone is simply live out the Bible everytime your with them. Let them see how great life can be for a believer and follower of Jesus. Don't be a sour lemon Christian. Why would anyone want to join that, if you look like that life is one of struggle, heartache and most of all not fun at all?
Make sure we take time to recharge in the Spirit. Let us remember to pray or say grace and thank God for all our blessings during meal times. Start your day and end your night with spending some time in prayer and reading the Word of God. Acknowledge God not only in your prayer requests but also in the answers when we receive them. We must not forget God in our giving, whether financial tithing or even our time. Have you ever considered tithing your time daily for God? Out of 24, what difference would your life be, if you gave God 2 hours and 40 minutes? Might make all the difference in the world.
Isaiah 40:29-31 ~"The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings of eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint." (NIV).
The point is, don't give up! Run the race to win. Pray daily! Spend time in the Word of God every day. One day, we will see how all the efforts we made down here on earth, will have when we get to Heaven.
Hebrews 12:1-3 ~ "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men. so that you would not grow weary and lose heart." (NIV).
I can't help but be overwhelmed at times, but the growing number of suicides happening all over the world. That people are hanging on by a proverbial thread and suddenly feel that letting go is much easier than holding on. They despair and lose all sense of hope. Just what is it that drives people down this volatile road of destruction? What causes people to turn to alcohol and drug addiction, often times, leading to death by overdose, looking for something that can't find? When they can't find the answer, they take the shortcut out of life, and end it all.
You'd think that having money, power and a prestigious position or better yet, all three would make all your problems disappear. If it did, taking a hard look at Hollywood clearly shows us that even that isn't the answer. Well, you might argue, it would work for me! Really?
Philip Seymour Hoffman, a man at the pinnacle of success, winner of the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Truman Capote in the film Capote, and was nominated three other times for Academy Awards. Yet where did he wind up, dead with a heroine syringe still sticking out of his arm in his bathroom. He was found to have had a toxic mix of a variety of drugs in his system, but investigators found over 50 envelopes in his apartment with heroine referred to as Ace of Spades.
Heath Ledger, another actor from Hollywood on his rise to the top of his career, who at 28 died from an accidental overdose like Philip Seymour Hoffman of six different drugs, 2 strong pain killers, 2 anti-anxiety drugs, and two sleeping sleeping aids. He died alone in his bed.
Amy Winehouse, singer at 27, died from alcohol poisoning with five times the legal limit in her system, who refused psychiatric help when she felt it would take away from her creativity as an artist. Some stories in the media claim she died while watching videos of herself. She too, died alone. She joined what some are calling the 27 club, famous people who died at the age of 27, like Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and still more others. You have notable celebrities like Whitney Houston, and Robin Williams who have reached the end of their rope and simply let go of the life they had here, because it was easier than dealing with whatever they were being haunted with.
Anywhere you look around you, suicide is on the rise from the Indian Reservations where teen suicide is at an all time high at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation according to the New York Times.
The common theme in all of these circumstances is they all felt empty, lonely, and hurting. They are signs of a spiritual thirst. What people need is the love and acceptance found only in a personal relationship with Jesus.
Luke 9:25 ~ "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?" (NIV).
Just like the woman at the well in Samaria, Jesus came to her where she was at, because he needed to. We have to be willing to go to where people are. We need to engage. Sometimes Christians isolate themselves from what is going on around them, when we should be infiltrating and permeating our culture as our mission from God. From our angry neighbor, our hostile co-workers, unreceptive kids or even our own parents who don't know God. If you don't reach out to them, who will?
There is no room for bigotry or prejudice in doing so and we must go into it acting superior. We must overcome those obstacles in our own faith. Notice that Jesus broke the tension the Samaritan woman must have been feeling when walking in the heat of the day to the well, only because she was ostracized by those in her town, and came upon a Jewish man, looking at her when she approached. In those days, Jews and Samaritan's steered clear of one another. They didn't go out of their way to interact with one another at all. Before Jesus even spoke with her, she already had three strikes against her.
1. She was a Samaritan. Considered outcasts by the Jewish people of the day.
2. She was a woman. In fact, most Jewish people prayed that they were thankful they were men and not a woman. Women were considered lowly in both cultures over men.
3. She was an immoral woman, and her reputation was well known by everyone in town. No one wanted to associate with her.
Jesus broke the tension she had as she approached, simply by asking for a drink of water.
John 4:7 ~"When a Samaritan woman come to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (NIV).
A great quote I have heard said when asking why a farmer's orchard bared the best fruit and what was his secret to success was "For the fruit to grow, the farmer's shadow has to fall in the field." It means the farmer has to be in the field, engaged and willing to get his hands dirty. That is the secret to successful leadership as well.
Jesus didn't say to the whole world needs to go to church, but He did say, the church needs to go to the whole world. We need to be willing to go to where people are hurting and we also need to care about the people we share the gospel with. We can't see it as a job, it has to be personal for both of us.
John 4:4 ~ "Now he had to go through Samaria." (NIV).
Jesus met people where they were. He didn't call them to come to Him, even though many did. There are those remarkable stories of one on one, face to face encounters, Jesus had with those who needed His message more than anyone. From the demon possessed man, the adulterous woman, the lepers, the blind, and the sick. Jesus met them on their terms.
I can only imagine where we would find Jesus today. It wouldn't be in some stadium or mega church, preaching His message, it would be those personal one on one times, in the streets the homeless, to the sick in hospitals, or the prostitutes on the street corners. Jesus would be there, giving them the living water, than satisfies more than this world ever can.
The things people are searching for, hope, love, acceptance, and self worth, can't be found in a bottle or a pill. There is an enemy at work that will try and convince you that you are unworthy, flawed, broken, worthless, and unlovable. But we serve a living God, one who died just for YOU! To give you a life that will be filled with peace, love, hope and a feeling that YOU were created perfectly just to serve Him. Isn't that what we all want in life?
Only a relationship with Jesus can do that.
Jesus said in John 4:13 ~ "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, (referring to the water in the well) but whoever drinks the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (NIV) 1 Peter 1:3-7 ~ " Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in the praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (NIV)
We have to remember that every single day is a spiritual battle. The devil never sleeps nor do the demons he employs to accomplish his tasks. There is a battle for souls and we are running out of time to share the message of hope with a dark and cold world.
Ephesians 6:12 ~ "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm." (NIV).
Only a believer and follower of Jesus understands this scripture. The world is lost. They have no understanding of what is going on. They are ruled by emotions and feelings when they feel at the end of their rope and the enemy comes at just that moment in an effort to push them over the edge. Let us all make it our mission to be the salt to the earth, the light to the darkness and showcase the beauty and love we have through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you have found your way here, it wasn't an accident. God guided you here because He is the only answer You need to what is troubling you in your life. He can make your worthy. He can heal the brokenness inside you. He can give you the peace you are seeking. He can give you the unconditional love that you so desperately need.
Psalm 139:13-18 ~ "For You created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
Precious reader, if you are looking for that answer to the deep, dark hole in your life? Take a chance on Jesus!!! Give him an opportunity to show you what He can do in your life and in your heart. He will always love you, always protect and care for you, and most importantly, He will never leave you!
Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." John 3:16 ~ " For God so loved the world, that whosoever that believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 5:24 ~ "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my Word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
If you want this living water that Jesus spoke about to the Samaritan women, consider this prayer with your whole heart and give your life to Jesus: Father, I come to You, confessing my sin and asking for Your
forgiveness. I thank you, Lord, for You have promised that if I will
confess my sins, You will be faithful to forgive me and cleanse me from
all unrighteousness. I want to turn from my sins and live in Your will. I
ask that You give me the power through Your Holy Spirit to live the
I thank You that Jesus Christ died on the cross,
paying the price for my sins, and then rose from the dead. I accept Him
now as my Savior, my Lord, and my Friend. Thank You for giving me new
life in Christ. I surrender myself to You; make me what You want me to
be. In Jesus' name. Amen!
Friend, if you have prayed that prayer and meant it with your whole heart, Jesus will begin to work in your life in ways you have never dreamed of. I welcome you to the family of God and rejoice over your salvation. There is a celebration going on in heaven just because you gave your life to Him. Luke 13:7 ~ "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety nine righteous people who do not need to repent." (NIV).
Now, for the best thing, grab a Bible when you can. Begin reading it, starting with Matthew and work your way through it. Ask God to reveal Himself to You and what His plans are for your life from this point on. His Word is alive, because it changes and transforms people. Begin to enjoy the relationship you have with Jesus and get yourself involved with a church, not because you are required to do so, but because it will encourage you in your faith and help you grow spiritually!
If you have any questions or need prayer, please reach out to me at Stevenkat27@gmail.com. I'd love to help you and pray for you! ~ Love Kat
Father, I come to You, confessing my sin and asking for Your forgiveness. I thank you, Lord, for You have promised that if I will confess my sins, You will be faithful to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I want to turn from my sins and live in Your will. I ask that You give me the power through Your Holy Spirit to live the right way.
I thank You that Jesus Christ died on the cross, paying the price for my sins, and then rose from the dead. I accept Him now as my Savior, my Lord, and my Friend. Thank You for giving me new life in Christ. I surrender myself to You; make me what You want me to be. In Jesus' name. Amen!
This is my online ministry that God is using to bring about encouragement, hope and love to a hurting and dark world. I am hoping that all of you that find your way here will take something away that will add some meaning to your life! I personally feel it's a calling I have from God at this time in my life to reach out to people that are hurting and offer them hope in a dark world or at least give them a smile and laughter back! I am sold out, body, mind, spirit and soul to Jesus Christ! This blog is dedicated to God, The Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, Jesus Christ, my Savior!