It is time to live in His Grace

 

It Is Time To Live In His Grace

I must admit for much of my adult life, I did not live under God’s grace. Instead I chose to live under guilt, regret and condemnation. Constantly re-living my mistakes and sins. Continuing to condemn myself instead of living in God’s grace through Jesus.

Actually guilt, regret, fears and living in condemnation can be an addiction. Making it very difficult to stop living and thinking that way. For some it is nearly impossible to break this cycle if it were not that “nothing is impossible with God”. For me, without allowing Jesus to redo my thinking, I do not believe I would have ever been delivered from this life sucking negative way of thinking.

So how do we live in His grace? How do we stop the cycle? We simply start by turning around and going the other way, our Lord’s way. How? Baby steps, yes baby steps and through prayer and reading God’s word.   Yes, God’s word needs to be ever present in your heart and mind or instead of going His way you will go your way and will end up back on that same road of despair.

Here are three scriptures that will show you how to begin walking with the Lord:

James 4:8: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Isaiah 30:21; “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

You need to trust these scriptures. Here is a little nugget of truth: Don’t try and make grand leaps on this journey. Just keep thinking baby steps. Why? Because I have found, at least in my life experience, that when I tried to make grand leaps in my progress of anything, it did not go as well as expected and I was discouraged. Often that would create a setback or failure to reach a goal. This can easily happen, especially at the beginning and you become so discouraged you give up. Let the scriptures, not your mind, be your guide and your support on this journey.

Going hand and hand with walking in our Lord’s way is to understand what Jesus has already conquered for us, sin, guilt, fear and condemnation. The victory that you walk in now is because of what Jesus our Lord and Savior did for us on the cross. So, while we are walking His way we also need to have the right mind set. Here are two scriptures that you need to meditate on day and night while following this new path of freedom under Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:24; “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

And Hebrew 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Believing and trusting in these two scriptures is imperative to getting you on the right path of living in His grace.

Just think about if you had to run a 10k race, which is 6.2 miles, and all that time you kept telling yourself;

  • You are not strong enough to walk that far.
  • Your legs are hurting already so you will never make it.
  • You are so out of shape that it is going to be impossible to even walk 1 mile.

Do you think you will reach that goal and walk the 5 miles? It is highly unlikely. It is the same with walking in His grace. If we keep dwelling on our sins, our weaknesses and the past, we will not make the journey of living in His grace.

We must begin with the key truth of Christianity. We must know and believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. If you do not believe that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, died on the cross for our sin then that is your real first step. Acknowledging that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ died on the cross to take FULL punishment of your sins. After that you need to understand as it reads in 1 Peter 2:24 in addition to taking on the punishment of our sins, we need to know that, “by his stripes we are healed”. His stripes are speaking about the deep cuts and wounds that were on Jesus from being whipped and beaten.

When we acknowledge these truths and keep them in our hearts and mind, the negative thoughts of guilt, regret and condemnation must leave our mind. There is no room for such negative thoughts.

Now, to the second scripture I gave you above. In Hebrews 8:12, the Word tells us that God remembers our sins no more. Did you hear that? I meant it. This is very important. God remembers our sins no more. This is very powerful. In fact I believe this is the most important scripture when it comes to living in God’s grace and no longer living in guilt, regret and condemnation.

It is so important that it is worth repeating. Hebrews 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

So, I ask you the same question I ask myself all the time. If God does not remember our sins, why do we? If God does not remember our sins, why do we bring them back up in our minds? If God does not remember our sins, then how can guilt, regret and condemnation of those sins continue to control our mind and our actions? If we really believe these truths of God’s word and act on them then all those negative thoughts can’t control our mind. If negative thoughts still continue in your mind that is not from God but from the devil who wishes to keep your life in this negative frame of thinking. Or it is from you because you want to live that way.

If God, through Jesus Christ’s dying on the cross for our sins, does not remember our sins, then quit calling God a liar and quit telling our Lord Jesus Christ that his act was worthless. Forget them all and forgive yourself because God already has!

I know accusing you of calling God a liar is a very strong statement. That continuing to dwell on the past and live in guilt and condemnation is saying Jesus dying on the cross was worthless. Does that bother you to read those words, Jesus dying on the cross was worthless? Does it make you very uncomfortable to even think that? Good, that is a great start. Yes, they are very strong words but maybe you need to hear them to shock your thinking into rebuking these negative thoughts and start living in His grace.

If we can truly forget the past, and know in our heart, mind and soul these basic Christian truths: that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, by his stripes we are healed and that God remembers our sins NO MORE! Forget your forgiven sins and your journey will take us to living in peace, free of guilt, regret, condemnation, and walking with our Lord at our right side.

What is it like to live that way? I think one of the best visualizations of this is in Psalms 1:3 “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

So let’s begin our journey of being set free and living in His grace.

Lost and Lonely People

There are several scriptures that keep reminding me that I need to help more people in need. That I need to be more aware of my surroundings because someone right next to me could be in such emotional pain or need and I just walk by. There is a song by Casting Crowns titled” Does Anyone Hear Her?”

It is powerful. I tear up every time I hear it. I love to sing and I have yet been able to sing this entire song without breaking up. The link I have above is a music video of the song. I hope it speaks to your heart as much as it does for me.

So why is lost and lonely people the subject of this week’s lesson? Because God’s word talks alot about lost and lonely people. Also about the sick, the needy and more.

Matthew 25:31-46 covers it all in a very powerful way. As we go through it, I hope that it will convict you as much as it has convicted me to do something. Anything but ignoring it.

I encourage you to read the entire Chapter 25, because in the entire chapter Jesus was talking to his disciples and the crowds of people who came to listen to him. He talks about the kingdom of God and being ready for it. You will learn so much.

Starting on verse 31 is where Jesus is talking about when the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him and He will sit on His glorious throne. It goes on to talk about the Son of Man separating the people as a shepherd would separate his sheep from the goats with the sheep on the right and goats on the left.

Let’s pick up what Jesus is saying in verse 34,  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

That is important so I am going to repeat that last part. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” I have always wondered what I could do for Jesus because I am always asking him what he can do for me. Then when I read this I have my answer. It’s pure and simple. You now know how to do something for our Lord.

If helping the lost, the lonely, the needy, the stranger, the sick and those in prison is not motivation enough. Then perhaps doing it for our Lord hopefully will get us moving in the right direction.

I do not mean this in a condemning way. Trust me when I say, I am not just talking to all of you but also to myself on this.

I need to ask God to keep me more aware and to hear from His Holy Spirit and see these lost and lonely people. In the song I mentioned above by Casting Crowns, there is a line “Does anybody hear her? Does anybody see? I know I am missing many of them. But if I were perfectly honest, there are one’s I do hear and one’s I do see. And I do nothing. Have you been there also?

Oh I know, we had our reasons why would could not help them at that point in time. Some of the reasons were very valid. We were on the way to work or picking the kids at school. But again if I am being honest with myself, thee were other times where I could have stopped or could have gone to help someone. It was more of just an inconvenience. So I would come up with some reason or excuse.

Why do we do that? Are we embarrassed, afraid of the person? Why? Perhaps if we know the reasons, it might help. We need to be true and honest to ourselves if we ever want to grow in life and in the Lord. We need to examine our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to show us how we can help these people. There is one positive thing we can do. Something that may help us to get involved, to help the lost and lonely, hungry, needy, sick and in prison.

Bring some Christian friends along. I have found that when a group of Christians get together they are more willing to go to places when by themselves they would be uncomfortable or unsure. With a group people, many are more willing to move out of one’s comfort zone. This is scriptural. Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”   Now there is the perfect way, you, Christian friends and Jesus helping the least of His brothers and sisters. You just can’t go wrong with that. Praise God.

Thank you Father for this word. I pray that all of us listen to your instructions and help those in need.

Breaking through Fear

instagramfearFear is a word that in some way connects to all of us. I have not met anyone who did not, at some time in his or her life, experience fear. I’m talking about the fear that grabs hold of you and will consume your every thought. I know I have dealt with it.

In my observations, fear can be categorized into many types. The one I want to talk about for this lesson is fear of something that is actually happening. This type of fear is very understandable. The doctor tells you that you have a serious life threatening disease and fear can be the first reaction. There is a terrible storm that hits your area, flooding, power outages, and winds, again fear can be one’s first reaction. You are out of work, you have no money, and you could be homeless in a week if things do not change. I know that in these situations, it is scary. I believe financial issues are the most common fear people deal with in their lives. Here are some reported facts from a recent survey that support this:

  1. 76% of American’s live paycheck to paycheck
  2. 56% of Americans say they have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined,
  3. Nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) have less than $100 to their name.

The 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are just over 242 million adults living in the United States. Applying this population number to the above facts it shows us that:

  1. 184 million American’s live paycheck to paycheck.
  2. 135 million Americans have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined.
  3. 60 million have less than $100 to their name.

Are you one of those in this type of situation? If so, with ¾ of the adult population in the same boat you are not alone. Or are you just wondering what might happen if we, in the US, are just pushed over this precipice of no money and mountains of debt. Does that create fear in you? It does in me.

With this fear, our lives can be in total turmoil. We don’t sleep. We worry. Our family relationships suffer. We can’t concentrate on much but the fear of being one paycheck away from losing it all. If you remember in my lesson on the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus himself was fearful and scared. In Mark 14:33-34 it talks about Jesus going to pray in the garden. It reads “He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” He was literally scared to death because at that time, Jesus was fully human because he needed to be human to die for our sins. What Jesus did is what we need to do. Pray to our Lord and ask for help and also for the ability to get through troubling times.

In fact, here is exactly what Jesus did and prayed in Mark 14:35-36, “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 3Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

He basically said, Father everything is possible for you. You can make it so I do not have to do this. You can get me out of this situation. But it is your will that I want in my life, not mine. Jesus knew that God his Father and our Father could get him out of that situation. But Jesus also wanted to do God’s will not his so he knew that, if he did have to go through this situation, God would give him the strength and the ability to get through it.

Can you see what I am saying? This is important and key to overcoming fear.  God can change the situation and get us out of it or he will give us the strength and ability to get through the situation. In either way, he has our back. We will make it through.

Sounds easy huh? No it is not. At least for me it is not. The biggest battle is with our own thoughts. It is then that you need to use God’s Word to get through this. Yes I said use God’s Word to get through it. I think people sometimes forget that in living God’s Word, you actually have to not just know it, your really do have to live it AND use it. For example, 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Using prayer, trust and God’s Word, we can take our thoughts of fear captive and make them obedient to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Again, I know that sounds impossible right now with what might be happening in your life. I am sure you are asking, how is taking all my thoughts captive and obedient to Christ going to help me with my situation?

It can. I promise you it can. To better explain, lets look at some facts, from a study at the University of Minnesota, on what the impact of fear and anxiety does to our mind and body.

“People, who live in constant fear, whether from physical dangers in their environment or threats they perceive, can become incapacitated. Living under constant threat weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately. Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, accelerated ageing, and even premature death.”

“Fear can impair formation of long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain. This can make it even more difficult to regulate fear and can leave a person anxious most of the time. To someone in chronic fear, the world looks scary and their memories confirm that.

Moreover, fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. “

“Let’s look at that last part again. Fear interrupts our thinking processes in our brain that allows us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cue and other information that is presented to us. This study tells us that when we are in a state of fear and anxiety we can’t think straight and we cannot make rational decisions.”

We can’t even see opportunities and information that could show us a way out.

And that is important. Often times, having the ability to think rationally and clearly about a problem allows us to actually find a solution, a way out!

Again, lets look at 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

When we do this, and again LIVE God’s Word, we allow God’s Word to end the fear arguments and thoughts that we, or others are saying, in our minds that cause us to worry and panic. We let the knowledge of God, which is what we read and know from His Word, take every single fearful thought captive and let our minds be guided by our Lord Jesus Christ.

What happens then is we are in a state of peace and calm, not fear. Our mind is not racing with fearful thoughts. Our inner voice is not in panic mode. In this calm peaceful state, God allows us to clearly think about the situation in a way that He can show us His way out or His plan for us.

You know I am not just writing to this as a lesson to all of my readers. I am writing this for me also. In fact, this lesson was not a lesson at first. It was an effort by me to search the Bible and try to understand from God’s Word how I can get a hold of the fear in my life. In many areas, I was letting fear dictate how I acted. Dictate what decisions I made for my family and myself when it came to finances, health, and our future. I needed to get ahold of the fear and panic in my life. And I knew the only true and lasting way was in living God’s Word.  

So I prayed for God to bring alive His Word in me and help me with my fear. And as a faithful and loving Father, He is helping me. Every word, in this lesson, was written for me too. And it is my plan to learn from it even if I have to read this lesson over again several times. I am going to memorize and claim that, 2 Corinthians 10:5 , can work in my life. I am going to find more scriptures that I can get into my mind, soul and spirit to help me take captivity over fear. Will you do the same? Let’s win this victory over fear together.

I leave you with this. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

The Armor of God

armor-of-god

The purpose of this week’s lesson is to help you learn and understand the Bible so that it can guide you and equip you in your spiritual walk with the Lord and in your every day walk in life. It is also interactive and if you would like to participate in the interactive part feel free to send my your answers to gary@Godmadebubbles.com.

God’s word tells us, in Ephesians 6:10-18, that to be strong and mighty in His power we need to put on the full armor of God. Therefore, I can think of no better way to achieve our goals, in this Bible study, then by beginning the small group with studying about the Armor of God.

Ephesians 6:10-18  – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes. 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 realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Let’s break down the various aspects of the armor of God.

  1. Stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist
  2. Have the breastplate of righteousness in place
  3. Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
  4. Take up the shield of faith
  5. Take the helmet of salvation
  6. Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Let’s think about someone dressed in armor and what each part would do in a battle.

The armor, as in all battles is broken up into three parts, firm foundation, defensive equipment and offensive equipment. First, if you are going to be in a fight, of any kind, you need to try and be as sure footed as possible. If you are off balance, it will be both hard to fight and it will make you vulnerable to being thrown to the ground. Secondly, you have to account for defending yourself when attacked. And finally, when you have to go on the offensive, and you need to attack the enemy, you need to be properly equipped and trained in the use of your armor and weapons.

Let’s first discuss having a firm foundation, which sometimes, can also include some discussion of defense. Imagine, if you had armor on and the breastplate was loose and moving around, and your belt, that was supposed to be holding everything together, was missing. Or you had improperly fitted boots for your feet. You are already at a disadvantage and you’re not even in the battle yet. That tells us how important truth; righteousness and the Gospel of peace are in preparing for a battle. If you are not firmly rooted in all of these you are not ready for any battle.

Find at least three scriptures that talk about each of the following:

  1. Truth and how you think it can help you stand firm and hold the rest of your spiritual armor in place.
  2. Righteousness and how it can act as a breastplate to protect you. Remembering that the breastplate in a battle covers and protects your vital organs. Organs that if struck could easily led to death.
  3. The gospel of peace. Find examples in the words of Jesus Christ that teach us that peace is the way to be firmly planted on solid ground. And that being firmly planted in peace will keep most Christians from ever having to go on the offensive.

Now to the other two are key pieces of the armor needed to defend you in a spiritual battle. You need a shield which gives you the ability to block weapons coming at your from many different directions and you have a helmet which is protecting you head, or better put is protecting your mind from negative thoughts. I believe it is important to see why these two parts of the armor deal with faith and salvation. The devil knows how to get to us mentally and two of the most common ways is through challenging our faith and challenging our salvation.

Find at least three scriptures the talk about the following:

  1. Faith and how our faith can build us up and defend us against doubt, fear, anger, and many more.   Try and show how the faith scripture counters a negative attack and what that negative attack is.
  2. Find scriptures that, to you, best show the definitive truth of how we are saved through Jesus Christ and how knowing we are saved acts as a spiritual helmet.

Now, to the last part of the armor taking the offensive. When you get to a point in a battle that you need to strike down your spiritual opponent, you need to have a very powerful weapon. A sword when used properly, and effectively, can strike down your opponent very quickly. You notice I said when used properly and effectively. Think of a Samurai and how efficient they can be with their sword. Often times, it is one or two strikes and their enemy is defeated.

That is why the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Nothing is more powerful and effective in defense or taking the offensive in a spiritual battle then the Word of God.

Find at least three scriptures that show the power of the Word of God.

It is very important to understand that in order to use a sword properly you have to know the sword and how to use it. Again think of a Samurai. If you go into battle and you have never handled a sword before or you just understand a few aspects of it, you could not only lose the battle but you could hurt yourself or others.

How does that apply to the sword being the sword of the Spirit and the word of God? If you are up against a battle with the devil or someone else that is trying to take you away from the Lord and you never read the Bible, or do not have some of God’s word rooted in your mind, spirit and soul, you could be in big trouble and ill equipped for any battle.

Or if you know some scriptures but because you have not read and understood how those particular scriptures work in context with God’s Word, you use the scriptures the wrong way and you hurt yourself, or someone else or, worse, you cause them to doubt their own faith and salvation.

Take three of your favorite scriptures and tell me why it is your favorite and then show how it is in context with the scriptures before and after it.

In closing, the Bible is the gospel of peace and the Word of God, so it is imperative that knowing the Word of God is a necessary part of the armor of God and a necessary part of our walk with the Lord. In fact, as it reads, in Psalms 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.”

Without God’s word, we walk in darkness. Try fighting a battle in darkness.

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God’s miracles in our time

Habakkuk3_2

This is somewhat of a different type of lesson for me to write. It’s about what I would like to see happening today. The question is, can it happen?

Let’s start this lesson with Habakkuk 3:2. “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known….”

For me, this scripture just makes me want to shout out “Yes Lord please let us really see you, hear from you and make yourself known to us.” I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to see, in our time, God working in our lives like I have read about his deeds in the Bible. Where God would talk with people or angels would give messages from God. Where men of God spoke prophecies, or stopped it from raining for days or split open the sea. Or how Jesus and his disciples went out to preach and people were saved, people were healed and sometimes, the dead were brought back to life. I keep thinking that it would be awesome to see the mighty work of God, in our time. I can honestly say, that it is practically part of my prayers every single day. I know for sure I think about it every day. What a revival we would have!

But, we don’t see those type of miracles. Yes, we see miracles every day. Once you have the appreciation that God created this world you will see more miracles daily. However, I would like to see the miracles we read about in the Bible. As Habakkuk said, “Lord, repeat them in our day, in our time make them known.”

I often get friction from people when I say it was easier to have faith during Jesus’s time than it is right now. I have to believe that being there and seeing the miracles would have a great effect on one’s faith in Jesus.

Let me list the miracles Jesus performed during his 33 years.

Changed water into wine
Healed of the royal official’s son
Healed the Capernaum demoniac
Healed Peter’s mother-in-law
Healed the sick
Caught a large number of fish
Healed a leper
Healed a centurion’s servant
Healed a paralyzed man
Healed a withered hand
Raised a widow’s son from the dead
Calmed the storm of the sea
Healed the man possessed by demons
Healed a woman with internal bleeding
Raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead
Healed two blind men
Healed a mute demon-possessed man
Healed a 38 year invalid
Fed 5000 men and their families
Walked on water
Healed a girl possessed by a demon
Healed a deaf man with a speech impediment
Healed a blind man
Healed a man born blind
Healed a demon-possessed boy
Caught a fish with a coin in its mouth
Healed a blind and mute man who was demon-possessed
Healed a woman with an 18-year infirmity
Healed a man with dropsy
Healed 10 lepers
Raised Lazarus from the dead
Healed Bartimaeus of blindness
Restored a severed ear
Jesus rose from the dead
And ascended into heaven

That is quite a lot of miracles for people to witness and it had to have instilled such faith in the people of that time. It is one of these miracles that is very pertinent to this lesson of how we can see those same miracles today.

It is the healing of a centurion’s servant. We can read about it in Luke 7:1-10. “When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.”

That blows me away every time I read it. This centurion had so much faith and confidence in Jesus. Read the centurion’s words again. “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

His “great faith,” as Jesus stated it, even amazed Jesus, something, which I believe, was pretty hard to do. And this passage from God’s Word is the main point of this lesson. The centurion did not need Jesus to come to him and in fact, he felt he was not even worthy for Jesus to come, YET he believed in what he heard of Jesus’ fame and he was in awe of the deeds. It is this that belief that gave him THE FATIH in Jesus to heal his servant without Jesus having to come and pray directly over the servant.

Is that not what we need to do to see miracles like this happen today? To see the sick healed, the blind see, the deaf hear and the crippled walk and yes the dead brought back to life. Do we not just have to say, “Lord just say the word, and it will be done.” We do not have to have Jesus appear to perform the miracle. AND we do not have to even be worthy.

Did you hear that? It is key to this lesson. The centurion said, “I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.” I believe that is one of the two main reasons we do not see the miracles happening today. We don’t feel worthy. I have said it before and I will continue to say it. You are not worthy. You never were worthy to be saved and you are not worthy to be healed or see mighty miracles. It is all for us by grace from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 53:5 explains it perfectly. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” So the next time you are looking for a miracle of healing for you or someone else. Do not ask if either is worthy. Look at Jesus’s wounds and KNOW you are healed.

The second reason we do not see the miracles happen today is you have to have faith. The centurion’s faith amazed Jesus. In Jesus’s own words He said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”

Here is a little nugget of truth. When the Jews, who were friends of the centurion, went to see if Jesus would come, they told Jesus “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” They were figuring that the centurion earned it. That he was worthy for Jesus to come and perform the healing. But I believe, that is not what impressed Jesus or cause him to heal the servant. Why do I believe this? Because if it were the reason then Jesus would have mentioned it, instead he mentioned being amazed by the great faith of the centurion. Jesus healed the servant because of the faith of the centurion not his worthiness.

So, it is faith we need. Great faith! How do we get faith? First we need to define it. We need to fully understand what faith is and not have any misconceptions or misunderstandings of what faith is. So let’s go to the definitive source. God’s Word. In Hebrews 11:1 it says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Our faith gives us confidence and assurance for what we do not see. Let’s go deeper by looking at the definition of assurance and even some similar words.

Assurance – a positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise. Some synonyms would be promise, pledge, vow, oath, bond, and guarantee.

Using Hebrews 11:1 this would mean that faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the promise, the pledge, the vow, the oath, the bond, and the guarantee that we will have those things we hoped. Praise God! His mercy endures forever!

How do we get that faith? Again, the Bible gives us the answer.

Romans 10:17 – “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

For years, I wanted to see the miracles of God. I constantly prayed for healings for my friends and family. I have always longed for this. I often asked people if you could have only one gift from God, what would it be. And after they told me their one gift they desired, they would ask me what mine would be. I would always say “the gift of healing.” It has always been my one truly desired gift from God. So trust me when I say Habukkuk 3:2 is important to me. Not just for me but for all of his children to be able to work miracles in the name of Jesus Christ.

Now back to faith. Faith may come by hearing the Word of God and reading the Word of God. But it is always how you hear and read it. You need to let it sink into your mind and soul and let it grow in fertile soil. Planting it in your mind along with the TV, music, news of the day, what your friends are talking about on Facebook or Instagram isn’t going to allow the Word to grow in you.

Luke 8:4 -15 explains what I mean. “While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

When Jesus said this, He called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” His disciples asked him what this parable meant. Jesus said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,“ ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the Word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the Word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no roots. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Did you hear that? Hearing, retaining and persevering in the Word of God produces a crop.

At the beginning, I asked the question can it miracles happen in our time, the really big miracles? Will the Lord, repeat in our day, in our time, the miracles and deeds we read about in the Bible?

Yes, it can, if we just forget about being worthy and just have faith. And to have such faith we need to read the Word of God and let it grow in fertile soil within our heart, mind and soul. And not let the world and every thing about it trample, choke or lead us away. And in return, that seed of faith in the good soil will produce a crop of faith, of people being saved, of nations being saved and of healings and mighty works happening in this day as they did in the Bible.

Is that a little overwhelming? Are you thinking that it better be a very big seed for a crop of everything I just mentioned? I close with Jesus telling his disciples how to increase their faith.

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Here is a picture of a mustard seed:

mustardseed

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Why do we pretend to God?

Why do we pretend to God

It reads in Psalms 139:1-4 says “O Lord, your have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”

This being true, then why do we pretend to God? As if we can keep a secret from him. As if he does not already know what we are thinking?

This was one of the most disconcerting parts of my relationship with the Lord for a very long time yet it finally became the most liberating part. Once I was able to grasp the fact that I cannot hide anything from God, I was then able to REALLY talk with Him in my prayer time.

It is key that you understand you cannot hide anything from God. More proof is in Hebrew 4:13 – “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Think about that for a moment. Everything you think, everything you desire he knows. Let’s get a bit more personal, every one of those thoughts of lust, greed, anger, jealousy, fear, and more, He knows you are thinking it.

AS YOU THINK IT.

On the other hand, He also knows and sees every act and thought of love, peace, kindness, joy, generosity, and love for Him.

Yes we have a direct connection to God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but how we use that direct connection dictates how productive our prayer time is with the Lord. Let’s look at this concept another way. We all have, sometime in our lives, been talking to one of our children, or our husband or our wife or a close friend and they are telling you a story about something that happened. And in this case, you already know about the whole situation and what really happened. So as they are telling their story, they are telling it different from how it really happened. They are completely unaware you know what really happened or how they really think. Most likely they are telling it in a manner that puts them in a better light and/or takes the responsibility off of them.

Now while they are telling you their story you are thinking to yourself “this is not what happened” or “why are they holding back parts of the story”. Then at sometime in the conversation they ask for your advice or for help. Perhaps it is a financial need and they are asking you for money.

Now knowing all that you know about the situation and knowing that they are keeping a lot from you, how do you feel about helping them or giving them advice? Possibly you would be thinking “how can I help this person when they won’t own up to the whole truth and facts about their lives.” Well that is basically what our Lord experiences with a lot of us day to day.

There were, and I admit still are, times I will be praying to God and my thoughts are the opposite of my prayers. I may be praying “O Lord, I praise you, I give you thanks for all that you are doing in my life” yet in my mind I am thinking “God why am I struggling financially. I am a tither, why am I broke. I do not understand what you are doing in my life.”

Let’s move from thoughts to actions. Most of the time your thoughts are much different than your actions. Some thoughts are pretty out there especially some of the lustful ones. And many Christians seem to be able to control their actions better than their thoughts. Not all though. God sees all our actions even if we do them in private.

Please understand this lesson is not written to condemn you or hold you in condemnation but it is written to set you free, to liberate your relationship with our Lord and Savior.

If there would be one thing I would want you to take away from this lesson, it is the fact that no matter what you are really thinking or doing God does sees it. And if He sees it then we need to be honest and open with him at all times. Believe it when God’s Word says in Matthew 6:4 …. “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”; and in 1 Samuel 16:7 …..”People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Now if you believe this is true, then act and pray that way. If our Lord looks into our heart and knows every single feeling and thought we have. If our loving Father sees every thing we have done in secret, then I challenge you to be very blunt and honest when you are talking with Him.

I can guarantee you, yes guarantee, that the next time before you start to pray or talk with God, and you truly believe that He has searched you and knows you that you many not even know what to say, your prayers will be much different.

When you finally realize, that He knows when you sit and when you rise; He perceives your thoughts from afar. He discerns your going out and your lying down; He is familiar with all your ways and before your speak a word He knows it completely, your perspective on praying will completely change.

In your prayer time, you may try and say something but, knowing that God knows everything you are going to say and everything your thinking, you begin to realize that you may not even have to say anything. And then you have reached that intimate zone with God, the zone that I call the “Be Still” zone. When you are their, just do what the Bible says in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know I am God”.   Just listen or let the Holy Spirit pray for you, as the Word says in Romans 8:26 – “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

And, at those times that you do pray with words, you will be set free in your prayer time knowing, that he knows all your thoughts and actions. You can talk with him and say things like, “Lord you know that I am angry, please help me with it.” Or “Lord you know I’m doubting your help with my finances, please help me with this unbelief.” Or “Lord you know what I did earlier. I need to stop that. Can you show me what to do, where to go for help or how your Word can set me free.

I’m sure for many of you right now as you read this; there are thoughts and actions that you have not been honest with God about. And yes He knows that already so quit pretending He doesn’t. Again don’t be condemned instead talk with Him about these things. Bring them out into the open when you are talking or prayer to our Lord. The burden will lift from you when you openly and honestly talk with God about all those things you think your are keeping to yourself. I know I have repeated that many times but it is only because I want you to feel the liberty and peace you can have when you talk with God knowing He knows everything about you.

And that takes us to the final portion of this lesson, the fact that He knows everything about you. If our Lord knows everything about you, then who better to help you in your life when facing your own demons, so to speak. Or when you are fearful, sad, angry, and lonely or you have major decisions to make in your life. He can help you and counsel you better than anyone.   And He can guide you in the way you should go for help. You just need to trust Him and be yourself and quit thinking you can keep secret from our Lord.

Praise God for the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.

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You are not alone.

You are not aloneAs I write this lesson someone very dear to me is struggle to find joy. Her struggle and those of many others right now is why I feel God gave me these words to tell all of you going thru some tough trials.

You are not alone. Jesus will never leave you.

Right now are you so down now that you don’t believe that. Are you thinking that is nice but it is just something I am saying? God promises this in His Word, where He tells us, He is always there and will never leave us.

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.”

Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” And Isaiah 41: 10 – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

In addition to our Lord always being there with you, He is holding your right hand. We can see this in these two scriptures, Isaiah 41:13 – “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you. Do not fear; I will help you” and in Psalm 139: 10–11 – “Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light round me will be night.”

I cannot tell you how many times when going thru trials that I just simply reached down with my right hand and squeezed the hand of my Lord Jesus. To many this may sound silly but to me God’s Word is truth and it bring life to our very soul.

Lets look at it another way. You are down, depressed, and weary. You see no relief from your troubles. At that time spiritually, and definitely mentally, you’re at that proverbial “fork in the road” and you have two ways you can go. If you go further down the road of depression and despair, God only knows what might happen to you.

And that is the point!

God does know what you’re going to do. Psalms 139:1-4 says “O Lord, your have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”

So if God knows and if God is “I Am”. WOW, what power in those two words. “I AM”.

If God, who told Moses his name is “I Am”, is right now, through our Lord Jesus Christ, standing right next to you holding your right hand, don’t you think you should trust him and grab tight and let him lead you? Let him take you down the path he knows is best for you. Trust God at His word when He says in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

My loving wife is always sending me scriptures especially when she thinks I need encouragement. We all need it at some time in our lives. She sends them because she knows that God’s Word will grow within me and strengthen me. And I have learned that some times, I need to literally speak out the scriptures because my mind is filled with so many thoughts that just reading it does not get through to me. But when I speak it out, and my ears hear the Word, my mind stops thinking and hears the Word of our Lord speaking to me.

The other day my wife sent me a verse out of Psalm 23. I know you all know that one. Everybody knows that one.  You hear it at many funerals but I thought, yes I know it, but perhaps I should read it again.

Here is a little nugget of truth. One of the best tricks of the devil is to get you so familiar with certain scriptures that you no longer hear the message. You just say in your mind, oh I know that one, it is about walking through the valley of death and you go on to thinking about other things. So lets stop and lets look at the message of hope and strength that God gives us in Psalm 23.

Verse 1 – “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall now want.” A Shepard is responsible for his sheep. It is his job, to make sure we are protected and have all we need to be safe, sound and nourished. It tells us in Isaiah 40:11 that our Lord is the Great Shepard. It reads “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

Verse 2-3 – “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He refreshes my soul.” Have you ever had the chance to lie down in a lush green field by a nice quiet brook? It is so relaxing, and yes refreshing. Such is the place our Lord will bring you to in the times you need it. A place so peaceful and quiet, a place that you can trust you will have the time to lie down and your soul will be refreshed.

Verse 3- 4– “He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for your are with me.” Our Lord will actually lead us on the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Literally this means he will guide you on a path that brings glory to His name. Pretty cool! Your life and what you do will bring glory to His name.

The second part of this again talks about God holding us with His right hand and leading us on the right path. In verse 4, our Lord is assuring us that when we are in those dark valleys, when fear, stress, worry and depression are getting us down, and for some, to the point of thinking death would be better, that He is telling us to not be afraid, He will get us through the valley and He will always be with us.

Verse 4 cont’d – “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Shepherds carry a rod and a staff. The rod is normally use to protect the Shepard and the sheep and for gentle correction. The staff is used to care and manage the sheep. It had been used to help pull a sheep out of trouble. Think of how wonderful our Lord is that even his correction will comfort us and His staff will helps out of trouble.

Verse 5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” In biblical times, and still the custom in many countries, after a peace treaty or covenant was made with one’s enemy, they would sit down and have a meal together to signify the peace between them. In this verse, God is telling us, He will make peace with our enemies for us even if the biggest enemy is ourselves.

Verse 5 cont’d – “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” In the Bible, the custom of anointing the head of someone with oil was reserved for honored guests. And a cup overflowing means you will have more than you will ever need and your can share your blessings with others. So God is saying that He treats us as an honored guest and will give us overflowing blessing so that we can also be a blessing to others.

Verse 6 – Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Simply put God’s blessing and love will follow us. We cannot out walk or out run God. Like it says in Psalms 139, he really does know where we are at all times. This verse also reminds me of a wonderful Christian song that I love to hear Kari Jobe sing.

The refrain or chorus is so powerful, I sing it out loud to feed my mind, soul and spirit. I recommend you do the same. Let me end this lesson with the words in the chorus.

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me.

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Lord what do you mean, pray all the time?

What if I told you God wants us to pray all the time. What if I told you it was His will for us. It is true!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Well, you can do this and see this right now in our time. I see God and his blessings every day in my life, I hear from him in prayer and his Word every day and through his Holy Spirit he has made himself known to me and talks with me. And he can do that for any one of his children who asks Him. And that is a very important point. If any of you want to know God better and hear from Him then you need to have your prayer time and you need to have your time in his Word. And you need to ask for God’s Holy Spirit to dwell in you. It is that easy. And you will hear from God if you follow those three easy steps.

Pray
Read God’s Word
Receive and listen to the Holy Spirit within you.

Perhaps easy is not the correct word. With all the demands on our lives from home, kids if you have them, pets, work, relationships plus all the demands we add to that, work outs, TV, sports, hobbies to name a few, we just run out of time.

Most people, rightly so, try to spend this alone time with God, first thing in the morning. My wife gets up earlier than our kids or me so she can make a cup of tea and read her Bible and pray. That is usually 5:30 in the morning. That is impossible for me. My clock runs different. I am a night owl. I tried first thing in the morning to read my Bible and pray but I fall asleep. It is just not fair to God that I don’t give him my full attention and I’m not fully awake.

So I find my sweet spot of time where I can spend it with the Lord. That is the time that I can hear from him through His Word, prayer and the “Be still and know I am the Lord” time as it says in in Psalm 46. And that is the most common time that God speaks to me through his Holy Spirit. My sweet spot is first thing when I get to my office desk, I do not use my computer, check emails, read papers, instead this is my prayer time. To be the most effective during this time, you need to also find that sweet spot when you can pray or carve out that time.

But we should not just be praying and talking with our Lord just during that time. We can pray all day, rejoice in the Lord all day and talk and hear from our Lord all day.

I know what you are thinking. Really? Come on I can’t pray all day, I have things I need to do. My boss would fire me if I just prayed all day at work. Or I would not be able to do anything with my kids if I just prayed all day. But again let me remind you praying all the time is God’s will.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

For years when I would read that I would think and often say, I can’t do that. It’s impossible to pray without ceasing. And if you are thinking in the physical realm you are correct. It is impossible. But through the Holy Spirit it is not impossible. That is why having the Holy Spirit working in us and through us is so important.

Romans 8:26-27 – “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Now you have to trust me on this, it works.   Let’s look at this a different way. First what is prayer? Sometimes, it is verbally spoken prayer such as a written prayer from the Bible, or at certain times an inspired prayer. But it can also be just talking with God because that is all prayer is, talking with our God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and with the help of the Holy Spirit.   And praise is a form of both prayer and worship. I do find myself praising out loud all the time when I see my kids laughing, when I see my beautiful wife, when I see a beautiful moment in nature.

I praise the Lord every time I succeed at anything. Ask any one who plays golf with me, I immediately say “Thank you Lord” if I make a great putt. Or when I thank God for bubbles. I tell you that because being thankful to God is a state mind and once you start you will find, that more often than not, you will be thanking the Lord all day for something.

But let’s get back to the praying unceasingly. Trust me when I tell you this can and will happen through the Holy Spirit if you ask Him into your life. At first I found myself, to achieve this praying unceasingly, thinking “God I praise you or thank you Lord.” I would be trying to think it a lot throughout the day. But again it because impossible.

It is just like you cannot earn your salvation by doing every commandment perfectly all the time. You need our Lord, Jesus Christ for salvation and you need the Holy Spirit to pray unceasingly. Without Him, it was just impossible.

I found that even thinking praises, which is a type of prayer, was impossible. Our minds wander. It takes little journeys all of the time to a vacation I need, something my children or wife did and of course to worries and fears. Although most of the time when your thoughts turn to worries and fears, you immediately start praying and often times it is out loud.

But you can pray unceasingly through the Holy Spirit. Again trust me, it works through the Holy Spirit. It has gotten to a point in my life that I can sometimes hear in a corner of my consciousness praise and prayer to our Lord through the Holy Spirit. And definitely when I am in my alone time and I’m being still, I can really hear the Holy Spirit both praying for me and talking to me.

In closing, remember Philippians 4:13 “ I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

If you have not asked the Holy Spirit into your life, I implore you to. Your life and relationship with the Lord will change dramatically. You will see his deeds, and he will make himself known to you. And if you want more of an incentive, dwell on Romans 8- 14-17.

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ”

Praise you Lord your mercy endures forever.

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Guilt

Guilt. Let that word just dwell in your mind for a moment. Try not to think of anything else but the word guilt. What happens? For most of us, thoughts of things we did wrong start coming to mind. We begin to think of the past mistakes, which then can bring on regret. So now you have the double punch. Guilt and regret.

In my opinion, guilt is the most powerful tool the devil and, we ourselves; use to keep us from total fellowship with the Lord. It keeps you thinking you are unworthy. Guilt keeps us in bondage. It keeps us down. And we use it to tell ourselves we are not worthy of the free gift of salvation.

Have you even seen someone be given an award and they say, no please I do not deserve this, I really did not do anything to deserve it. In a way, we do the same thing with God’s love and gift of salvation to us. We also apply this towards blessings from God as well.

But we say it a bit different though. We don’t say we didn’t do anything to deserve it. We normally bring up all we did wrong and say something like, Lord I do not deserve this after all the things I did wrong.

Well let’s settle that point right away. No you do not deserve it. And you did not earn it. And no you are not worthy to have it. It was and is a gift from God. Our Lord Jesus earned your salvation by dying on the cross for your sins. Jesus Christ’s act of love made you worthy to receive salvation.

There are many scriptures to back this up but here are two that address it very well.

Ephesians 2: 8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.

Romans 3:22-25 – “And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

So what does it mean when we allow guilt into our lives. Or better put when we continually keep guilt in our lives and continually remind ourselves of the sins that we have done.   Simple put, it means we are calling our Lord, a liar. I know that is harsh but it is true yet is it not something I am just saying, God’s Word says in 1 John 1: 9-10.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” Yes that scripture is referring to the case that if we are claiming we have not sinned we are calling our Lord a lying.

But can you see how that if we claim that, the first part of 1 John 1:9-10 is also not true, that we would also be calling him a liar.

The first part says “if we are faithful to confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.   Living in guilt is the same as saying we are not forgiven AND that we are not cleansed from that unrighteous act which is causing the guilt.

So I ask you again. If we are saved and believe that our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and the Bible say “if we confess our sins God is faithful to forgive them AND will cleanse us from all unrighteousness”, then…

Why do we let guilt keep us in bondage? Why do we let it affect our lives?

Let me take this one step further. Here is the ultimate biblical proof that we can and need to stop felling guilt, Hebrews 8:12 says “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Did you get that? God will no longer remember your sins. So let me ask you, as I have asked myself many times, why do we remember our sins if God doesn’t? Why do we regret our actions, mentally beat ourselves up and hold ourselves down because of guilt that God doesn’t even remember but what we can’t seem to forget.

Yes it is that simple. He remembers our sins no more. You need to trust and have faith in God’s promises. You simply need to believe and have faith.

Every time, guilt rears its ugly head and keeps reminding you of what you did wrong and that you are not worthy. Just remember God’s truth. In fact some times, you literal need to speak it out. You need to say, through Jesus, God has forgiven my wickedness and he remembers my sins no more.

My oh my, what a liberating moment that will become when guilt no longer has power over you.

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank you for what you have done for me and everyone who believes you died for our sins and because of that we are saved. Please Lord have your Holy Spirit help all of us to remember, that when guilt tries to convince us that we are not worthy and tries to keeps us in bondage, you remember our sins no more. Amen

Praise God!

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Judas? Peter?

 

JudasPeter2It is my belief that God never does anything without a purpose or a plan. I also believe it was the same for Jesus during his 3 year ministry, nothing said or done was without a purpose or a plan. There were approximately three years of his teaching and actions that would equip his team of disciples and all believers to fulfill the great commission. Matthew 28:19-20 – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So was Judas part of that plan? Yes, definitely! And we immediately think that his part of the plan was for Judas to betray Jesus. And you would be correct to think that but is that all we are suppose to learn from Judas.

I believe what Judas did had a much grander lesson and a more personal lesson for all of us. In fact, I hope to show you how God used the life of Judas to teach us a life changing lesson, one that will help many to find Jesus, and help all of us in our daily walk with the Lord.

How is that for a statement? Judas will play a major role in helping many accept Jesus as their Savior.   Now before you all start yelling heresy and looking for a good size stone to throw, let’s look at some scriptures.

The first is in Matthew 26: 20-25 where Jesus is telling the apostles that Judas will betray him. “When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

It is important in this lesson to look at the comparison of Judas and Peter. So lets look at Peter’s role in this lesson. Let’s read Matthew 26: 31-35 where Jesus talks about Peter denying him three times. “Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”  “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.”

Two scriptures showing, both Judas and Peter, were told they would betray or deny Jesus.   I would like to believe that if the Son of God told me I was going to betray him, and in front of my friends and fellow Christians, I would do anything not to do that. And I would probably be like Peter “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” But often times, saying something is a much easier than doing. When the time came, with all the pressure of the people and the actual fear of death, Peter could not stand by his claim of “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you”.

Have we not all been in that situation, all the best intentions to have faith and confidence to stand with Jesus and then, at the first big test, we fail. I know I have and I may again. But don’t be discouraged, and please here this.

It is not the failure but what you do after the fall or failure that mold’s your life and walk with the Lord.

Let’s read on and look at Matthew 16:22. “Jesus had just told his disciples that he would be handed over to the elders and chief priest and would be killed and on the third day he would be raised back to life. “ Then in verse 23 “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

What did Jesus then do? He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me.”

WOW! That must of hurt. Can you just imagine Jesus shouting that at you?

Now lets go back to Judas in John 13, where it gives us more information at the Last Supper with Jesus and Judas. Jesus is telling His disciples that one of them was going to betray him. They asked who and in verse 26 “Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”

And what happened over the next hours? Both Peter and Judas did exactly what Jesus said they would do. Peter denied him three times and Judas betrayed him and help the soldiers take Jesus. The Word tells us that both were devastated after they did the very act Jesus said they would do. Yet that is where these two accounts take a different path.  Let’s look at Peter’s and Judas’s actions.

Peter wept bitterly but he did not walk away from his faith. And he did not walk away from his fellow Christians.  This is a very big mistake some Christians do when they feel they have totally blown it.  They leave their church and stop hanging around their Christian friends.   Peter stay with his other disciples and he found the strength to face Jesus again after His resurrection and was given the chance, to re-affirm his love and commitment to his Lord Jesus Christ. Three times in fact, three times he denied him and three times the Lord gave him a chance to profess his love and faith in Jesus. Let’s read this in John 21: 15-17 – When they had finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” He answered, “You know I love You.” Jesus replied, “Feed My lambs.”

Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he answered, “You know I love You.” Jesus told him, “Shepherd My sheep.”

Jesus asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was deeply hurt that Jesus had asked him a third time, “Do you love Me?” “Lord, You know all things;” he replied, “You know I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

Do you notice that when Jesus asked Peter if he loved him a third time, it says “Peter was deeply hurt that Jesus had asked him a third time. I believe at this time, several things happened that changed Peter’s life right then, more then many of the other life changing moments that Peter experience. First, that it was not lost on Peter that Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him three times. I believe at the time, Peter was reminded that he denied Jesus three times.   And that memory hurt, deep into his soul. But his denying Jesus and Jesus forgiving him actually strengthen Peter’s faith and knowledge to the point that he responded, “Lord, You know all things. You know I love You.” Peter finally understood that Jesus knew back at the Last Supper what Peter was going to do and Jesus knew back at the Last Supper and right then, the love Peter had for his Lord and Savior.   Such faith Peter had at that moment.  He thought he had the faith back at the Last Supper but not knowing the true love and forgiveness of the Lord, his faith had exponentially grown.  We can and need to have that same faith.

Now lets look at how Jesus handles this whole thing. When he met Peter in John 21 did he chastise Peter, did he rub it in by saying to Peter “see you did deny me just like I said you would.” No he simple responded after every time Peter said he loved him, “Feed My lambs”, Shepherd My sheep” and Feed My sheep.” He gave Peter the responsibility to care for our Lord’s sheep. Who are his sheep?  We are.

Now lets get back to Judas.  Judas on the other hand ran away. Satan convinced him that he was lost, a traitor to the Lord. These lies of Satan devastated Judas so much that he hung himself on a tree.

I believe Judas did not have to hang himself. I believe that if Judas would have rebuked those thoughts, and looked for Jesus and asked for forgiveness, that he would have been forgiven. In fact, he would have found the risen Lord who died for our sins and could have been rejoicing and praising God.

Why do I believe this? Why do I believe Judas would have been forgiven? Because we serve a mighty God who, through our Lord Jesus Christ, ALL who confess their sins, turn away from their old life, will be saved, born again and full of righteousness.

Does this help you in seeing the full picture on God’s plan for us. Showing us the life of Peter and Judas and how they failed and how each reacted to their failures. Peter had faith and found forgiveness. Judas gave up believing he was the worse sinner and could not live with what he did.

God was showing us what happened to two people, Peter and Judas, when both faced a moment of failure. In both Satan put thoughts in their head of fear, doubt, anger and depression. Just like he does with all of us. Satan puts these thoughts in our mind in an effort to destroy our life and our joy. Depression can cause hopelessness; it can cause us to give up, and for some to actually end their life here on Earth. It is not just the unsaved that this can happen to, it can happen to Christians. Satan tries to put these things in our heads to take our mind off of Jesus. But Praise God, through the help of many people and knowing, above all things, that God loves us and that Jesus died on the cross we can have victory over such things.

Everyone please listen for this is so important. You need to see what God is teaching us in these two disciples. Each one of us could or will have a Peter or Judas moment. A time where we deny Christ even after we swear we will not. And it is at that time, the devil is telling us in our head, it is over, you failed, no way will anyone including God forgive you. Don’t bother going to church and your Christian friends will never forgive you or understand what you do so stay away from them. Why even live anymore.

When you are alone and have failed and when you are filled with thoughts of guilt, failure or worse that is the time that you must reject those thoughts and focus on the saving blood of Jesus. We need to focus on what Peter did not what Judas did. And we need to go to Jesus, and cling to his promise that he is with us and will never forsake us and fill your mind and spirit with God’s promise in Isaiah 41:13. “ For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you ‘Do not fear, I will help you’.”

Oh God, I praise you for your loving mercy. For your kindness and generosity to us, your children. I praise you for letting your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, die on the cross for all of our sins so that we are set free and we need not fear coming to you when we have fallen short.

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Are We Envied?

envy-fw

Are we envied? Now that is an interesting question. And one, that at first glance, we feel is wrong. We should not envy so why would we want to cause envy. After all, we read in Galatians 5: 19-21 where it talks about envy being one of the acts of the sinful nature. And even in Galatians 5: 26 where after talking about the fruit of the Holy Spirit, it reads, “ Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

So why should we be envied? Why would we want to be envied? Paul talks about it in Romans 11:13-14 “ I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.” Many of the different translations use jealous instead of envy.

What do you think Paul was saying when he wanted the Gentiles to make the Jews envious or jealous? He wanted the Jews to envy what was in us because of Jesus Christ.  He wanted them to envy us so much that they would become followers of Christ.

 

When the unsaved meet us, how should our lives be in order for them to envy us or be jealous of us for being a Christian? Or better put, how should we be living our lives, that makes people want to be like us?

If we can go back and read more of Galatians 5 it gives us a clear description of what type of person we should be and what our lives and actions should be, so that people would want to be like us. Let’s read Galatians 22-26. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Love, joy, peace, forbearance (which also means tolerance, restraint), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, now there are some goals to have. Imagine if everyday we focused on just having one of them. And once we were able to have that in our lives, we can focus on adding the next one. And before you know it, you would be living your life with all of those fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Remember these are fruits of the Holy Spirit, so when I say focus on having them, I mean praying and asking the Holy Spirit to let these fruits grow within you.

I think then people would envy you. And would want to be like you. And hopefully want to be so much like you that they ask “What is it with you. You are always up, you never have a bad word about anyone, and your such a loyal friend and gentle with everyone even when people wrong you.”

I know you may be thinking how would anyone see all of that in your life. Well the people you work with would and do. They see how you act everyday now. What do you think they are seeing now in you? Are you a light for the world? Do people see the fruits of the Holy Spirit in you?

If the answer is no, please don’t put yourself down. Instead, decide today to change. Pray to God for all the fruits of the Holy Spirit. And practice using them. Focus on using them. Let me repeat that because it is of the utmost importance.

Practice and focus on using the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your life. Let me explain. I read a story in a book called The Energy Bus, written by Jon Gordon, that explains this very clearly.  The story went as follows: “A man goes to the village to visit with the wise man and he says to the wise man. ‘I feel like there are two dogs inside me. One dog is the positive, loving, kind, and gentle dog and then I have this angry, mean-spirited, and negative dog and they fight all the time. I don’t know which is going to win.’  The wise man thinks for a moment and he says, ‘ I know which is going to win. The one you feed the most, so feed the positive dog.”

Now that is powerful. So what are you feeding your mind and spirit? Are you daily feeding your minds by reading and studying God’s Word and praying for guidance, strength and for the fruits of the Holy Spirit?

And are you listening too?  God will speak to you through his Word, the Holy Spirit, and by what your read.

In my opinion the really battle is with your thoughts. What are you thinking most of the time?  Money, the lack of or something you want to buy.  You job, that you want a new one or why someone else got the promotion instead of you. Things you want like why do others own a nice house and you are still renting?

Why do they other people have this or that and your don’t. I can come up with 1000’s of these, mainly because I said a lot of them for my life. I was always asking God why other people had such wondering lives. Great kids. Great jobs. Nice homes.  And it was not just with worldly things.  It was in my Christianity also.  I would ask God why does He seem to always be giving revelations to other people but not me. Better yet, God why aren’t you talking to me or showing me the way I should go.

Let’s just think about those thoughts for a moment. Which dog do you think those thoughts are feeding? If you said the negative dog you would be correct. Do you see the connection with what you think and what you feed into your mind and spirit with is what will grow in your life? And what will be evident to everyone you meet, know and work with even be evident to your family.

You want to live and walk with the fruits of the Holy Spirit, then feed yourself with the positive things we have been talking about. Grab a hold of God’s Word and don’t let it go. Read it.  If certain scriptures seem to come alive to you, memorize them.  Repeat them.  Tell others about them.  And then read them again and again.

I know a lot of Christians, who are wonderful people with a heart after God and so dedicated to their church but when I ask them how often do they read their Bible, they say “I know I need to read it but I don’t right now. I can’t seem to find the time”. And I ask them how often they pray, or if a couple, how often do they both pray together as a family. They again answer, “I know we need to but we just don’t seem to find the time.” Then after awhile, I will bring up one of the TV shows my wife and I watch and they will say, “Oh we love that show. Watch it every week. Or they record it to watch it later when they have time.”

Now I am not judging. In our family, we do the same thing. We record shows and watch them later. There is nothing wrong with it. In fact, we are so diligent to record these shows that I have them programmed to record each week. So trust me when I say I am not judging about watching TV and making sure we always watch our favorite shows.  But we have to have a balance in our life. We can watch those shows, but if we watch those shows and leave no time in our life for God’s Word or pray, then we are doing what? Exactly, we are feeding the wrong dog.

We need to feed the right dog. I promise you that if you daily spend time in God’s Word and if you pray alone, and with your family, the results will be noticed. By you and everyone around you.

I was going to say you would be envied. But there is still something that bothers me about using that word envied even though, in the context that I am using it, the Bible shows that we want to be envied for this.

I think a better way to put this is people will want what you have. They will see God as such a positive force in your life, that they will crave it. Desire it.  And then ask you what is different about you. You then will get to have one of the greatest privileges in our lives, you will get to share Jesus Christ with them.

Again God’s Word always puts it better than any person or book. It reads in 2 Cor 2: 14, “But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

I pray for all of us, that we will become the fragrance of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Promises of God

Here is a great scripture! Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him (God) who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask, or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

I get so excited when I read that scripture because I have an pretty powerful imagination and I have imagined some pretty awesome things happening in my life with my career, my finances, my wife and our kids.

And God says that He is able to do immeasurably more that what we can imagine. WOW!

The standard dictionary definition of immeasurably is “incapable of being measured, limitless.”  Did you get that? Incapable of being measured, limitless. Now I can tell you with total confidence even with my active imagination, my imagination has limits.

According to one expert, there are 3573 promises in the Bible. Perhaps that may be a great Bible study project, finding all 3573 promises in the Bible. That would certainly help equip you with the Amor of God describe in Ephesians 6, especially the part in verse 7 “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.”

Here are some other great promises from God in his Word.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

John 14:13 “And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do”

Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask, and it shall be given to you, seek and your shall find.

And my standby when I am troubled and wonder what is happening in my life – Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

And since I am blessed to be a tither, Malachi 3:10-11 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty”

I am positive that all 3573 of those promises would make a great lesson but the point I’m getting at, for today, is that I rely on these scriptures as I travel down the pathway of life. And I am sure many of you do also.

But….have any of you read these scriptures and these promises and they have not manefested in your life.  You are in a desperate situation, you pray to God reminding him, as if he needs reminding, that his scriptures have promises for you and you feel he is not fulfilling them.

I know I certainly have.

In fact for a large part of my Christian walk, I felt this way. I would ask God. “Why Lord are you promising these things and I’m not receiving them?” Or “I am a tither, and I can’t pay my bills, and everything I have seems to disappear. Lord you promise in your Word, you will rebuke the devourer.”

Let me go a bit off the subject to give you a small nugget of truth here. Sometimes you really don’t want God to rebuke the devourer because you are the devourer. You are spending your money in the wrong ways and devouring it yourself to have all the nice toys, cars, houses and clothes that right now in your life you can’t afford. Well at least that was the case with my spending.

Now back to the lesson. For years, I would pray God help me, show me the way. Give me clarity. I was praying this BUT I was not really listening to God. I was complaining to God. Here is God’s response to that. Proverbs 4: 1-2 says “Listen, my children, to a father’s instructions, pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning so do not forsake my teaching.”

Key theme here is “paying attention.” God’s Holy Spirit is always talking to us; we just need to pay attention. In my case, that “pay attention” time came one day, when I was talking with a Christian friend of mine about how I was constantly praying for clarity and what God wants me to do but still had doubt about what I was suppose to be doing. And he said something, that I had heard a 1000 times before, no I would say 10,000 times before, but at that moment, the right moment, I chose to pay attention to what my friend said and act upon it. What did he say? Simply put, he said, “Well all I know is if I want to know what God is saying to me, I read his Word.”   It was like God saying. “There you go. There is your answer.”

Can it be that simple? Just read his Word? YES! It is that simple. Back to Psalms 119:105. “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.”

I need God’s Word to show me the path, to give me clarity on where I should go and what I should be doing. I need his Word, as my flashlight for the path.   I would spend time in prayer and reading the Word but often times my prayer was telling God what I needed and when I needed it. And reading the Word was more of a ritual then anything else.

You have all heard of Warren Buffett and how brilliant he is with finances and investing. People in the investment world would love to just spend a hour or so with him to get his advice and have him show them the best way to use their money and invest it. I read the other day, that people through a charity event, were paying $200,000 to have lunch with Warren Buffet. You can win a chance to have lunch with Warren Buffett. Imagine all the information and guidance that one would get from that one lunch.

Now let’s take that one step further. What if we could have an hour of time talking with God or have a lunch with Jesus.   Imagine what we could learn. What you would it be like after just that one hour?

Well we have that! Right now! It is God’s Word. The Bible. And we don’t have to win a raffle to have it. We can sit down each day and walk in the light, learning what we should be doing every day of our lives.

In the Bible we have:

A road map to life;
The best marriage advice book;
The best financial strategy book;
Best parenting book;
Best relationship book;

You name it, God’s Work talks about it.If you need to know something, God’s word has the way or answer. It is the “Manual living Life and Eternal Life.”

Praise God for his Word. Don’t wait another day. Take advantage of having that one on one time with God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Lesson at the Garden of Gethsemane

There are some great lessons to learn from the time Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and just before he was arrested.

We find the story of Jesus in the Garden in Mark 14:32-42 and Luke: 39-46 and Matthew 26: 36_46. So we know with some confidence where this time was in the life of Jesus, we know that it was just before Jesus was arrested in the garden. After the arrest, Jesus would be taken away and brutally beaten, whipped and crucified for us. Taking on the punishment for our sins and allowing us to be saved through Jesus.

Lets look at Mark 14 first. “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

Wait a minute. Did you catch that? Here is Jesus, the Son of God, who fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, performs countless miracles and so much more. Yet, right now, in the garden, knowing what was to come, he was genuinely frighten at what he knows is going to happen to him. He is basically saying to three of his closest disciples. “Guys I am scared to death, please stay with me I don’t want to be alone.”

How can Jesus be scared to death? Let’s read on.

“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.

What a minute. This sounds like the way I pray. Repeating the same prayer in case God did not hear it the first time. As I read this part in Mark, I can’t help but wonder why would Jesus be so scared and go back three times to repeat the same prayer. Which to me said, I would do this if it is your will God, but is there any chance this could pass and not have to happen?

And then it just struck me, what was happening here. The powerful lesson we can take from this part of Jesus’s life.

God was letting Jesus experience ALL of being human? Yes Jesus is God. He created us. He has counted the hairs on our head. He knows us better than we know ourselves but knowing and actually experiencing can be two different things. We know fire burns but how many of us stuck our finger in a fire and felt the burn. For those of you, like myself, who just had to stick your finger in the fire of a candle to see how much it can burn, you can really understand how much it hurts. Knowing is not the same as experiencing something.

Now lets read Luke 22:43 -46 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

This scripture tells us two things. One God will be there to help you and strengthen you in tough times. It may not be an angel coming from heaven and appearing to you to comfort you but He will be there to comfort you.  The second powerful lesson, this scripture shows us is that Jesus was fully submitting himself to God completely to the point that he allowed himself to become human in every respect, so he could experience the actual emotions of being humans. To experience being so scared to death that his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground,

Let’s think about that. We know in Romans 8 vs 34 that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God interceding for us. So when we are confused, or fearful and we pray to God for help, not once, but multiple times in a row, let this lesson reassure you that Jesus is at the right hand of God saying, “I now how that feels, I have been there. I was that scared” as he intercedes.

What a wonderful and generous Savior we have in Jesus. He experienced so much sorrow and pain unto death for us. Not just to save us but so that when he is interceding for us, he has empathy because he lived it too.

This should not just translate to his intercession for us, it should translate to every thought and prayer we have, that Jesus had to deal with it also. That we can talk with him about every issue in our lives and have total confidence that his answer is “I know. I understand.”

If you noticed I said “when we talk with him.”  Talking is praying.  We do not have to pray in some set fashion we can just simply talk with our Lord and it is praying.  I encourage you in your pray time to just have a simple conversation with our Lord.  Tell Him really how you feel.  He does understand and more importantly that Bible tells us in he knows what we are thinking so why not just said it.  Here are three scriptures that say this.

Psalms 139:4 – Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
Isaiah 65:24 – Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
Matthew 6:8 – Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Simply put if you are thinking something and praying something else that you think God wants to hear then you are telling him you don’t trust him.

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God Really Does Know What He is Doing

I believe that God did things or affected things in the past not just to teach the people of that time. He also knew it would teach us also.

Much of the story of Moses and the Israelites leaving Egypt is filled with examples of God leading them in the right direction but for this study, I want to cover Chapters 13 and 14 in Exodus. This starts where the Pharaoh lets the Israelites leave Egypt.

I think we need to lay down a little of the back story, as they say in the movies, to see why they are able to leave Egypt and the mindset of Moses, the Israelites and the Pharaoh.

We start in Exodus 7 where God tells Moses and Aaron to tell the Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt. I say Moses and Aaron because when God told Moses to talk to the Pharaoh he said to God that he had faltering lips and did not speak well so God told Moses that Aaron would speak for him.

This is the first important lesson we are to learn. When God wants you to do something and you have the will but not the way, he will find a way to help you to accomplish the task. I am sure many of your have a future you believe God is moving you toward. But you feel you don’t have the education, the skills or the confidence to do it. God will give you a way.

If you are at a point where you feel led by God but fell you do not have the ability, let me give you a few words to help with this. MOVE and just do it. Start moving towards that future. As we go further in the lesson the word MOVE will become much more clearer.

Back to Moses and Aaron. They spoke to Pharaoh and told him to let the Israelites leave Egypt. The Pharaoh refused so God did a bit of convincing to get the Pharaoh to release the Israelites.

It took 10 plagues upon Egypt to final make the Pharaoh let them go. Most of us know them. They are listed from Exodus Chapters 7 to 10:

  1. Water turned to blood. The Pharaoh’s magician also replicated this. Which brings up another subject and sermon of how the Devil can sometimes manipulate things to make him look like he can work the same miracles as God
  2. The plaque of the Frogs – Pharaoh’s magicians also replicated this, but it was the last one they could replicate. Which show the Devil is not God and he can only imitate him to a point.
  3. The plague of the gnats and lice.
  4. The plague of flies
  5. The plague against livestock
  6. The plague of boils
  7. The plague of hail
  8. The plague of locusts
  9. The plague of darkness
  10. The death of the firstborn

Throughout many of the plagues the Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites go but then changed his mind. It was not until the firstborn in every Egyptian family died, including Pharaoh’s son, that he was left so broken he let the Israelites go. This takes up to Exodus 13:17-18. “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.”

Here comes our second main lesson. Lets look at all that happen from this verse.

Pharaoh knew the way out of Egypt. He knew the shortest route out of Egypt was through the Philistines and most likely that is where the Israelites would go. I believe God has shown me, in this verse, that this was part of the Pharaoh’s plan to have the Israelites slaughtered by the Philistines or in fear run from the Philistines and back to Egypt where the Pharaoh would either slaughter them or enslave them again.

Before we go one with this story I think it is important to look at who the Philistines were to see just how bad of a decision it would have been for the Israelites to go the shorter route. The Philistines were an aggressive, warmongering people who occupied a part of southwest Palestine between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. They were known for their innovative use of iron, which was superior to the bronze used by the Israelites for weapons and implements  The “road through the Philistine country” refers to a route later known as one of three major trade routes in ancient Israel. And later on in David’s time we will see him as a teenager take on the giant Goliath who was a Philistine. So it is correct to say they were a warring nation that would not appreciate or take lightly to the Israelites coming through their land. The Israelites would have been defenseless against the mighty power and weapons of the Philistines.

Let’s go back to verse 17 – 18 we tells us that perhaps the Israelites knew they would run into problems on that route. After all the last line in this verse says “The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.” So they must of expected to encounter some trouble. But they did not know the Philistines, the Israelites had been in captivity in Egypt for 400 years so they were not aware of what they thought was going to be some trouble would actually be a slaughter. Their slaughter.

But you see God knew them better than they knew themselves just like he knows us better than ourselves. He did not take them through the Philistine country. He took them a safer way because…. NOW LISTEN TO THIS IT IS IMPORTANT… at this time in their lives, God knew they would not fight or could not defend themselves, with the meager weapons they had, but out of fear they would change their minds and return back to Egypt.

Are you hearing this? God knew they needed to be more prepared for battles then they were at this point in their journey. Wow I just am overwhelmed at how much God really does know what he doing.

We read this in Chapter 14 verse 1, “Then the Lord said to Moses, tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hadiroth, between Migdo and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.

Let’s think about that. God, knowing that the path they were on, and for that matter, the path we are on, which looks like the perfect shorter path for our walk in Christ or where we think God is leading us. And of course we are positive that we are equipped with the proper armor for that path. But God may know that the path we were going to take was not only the wrong path but taking that path, at this moment in our salavation, could cause us to go back to where we were before being saved. Held in our own captivity in a life without Jesus in it, a slave again to our sinful life.

I can surely remember the times I have thought “God what are you doing? Everything was going perfect, I’m armed with the Armor of God, and I’m ready. Why did you close that door? Do you feel you are armed, ready to go, can’t understand why God is delaying it, or slamming a big door in front of you? Or you seemed to have stepped back several steps instead of going forward in your journey. Is this making sense?

Let’s read on in verse 6, Pharaoh found out the Israelites were fleeing another direction and his heart was hardened so he took his army and went after them. Now this wasn’t just Pharaoh and his elite soldiers. It says in Exodus, he took his Army, 600 of the best chariots along with all of the chariots in Egypt with officers over all of them.” Now I suspect that was one large army.

Let’s read from Exodus 14: 10-18 – As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

We may think, after all those plagues, after all God did to get them here, how could these people have so little faith? Yes they have seen God move but now they were standing there watching this huge army of Egyptians in chariots coming down after them and the Red Sea behind them. The huge dust cloud created by over 600 plus chariots must have struck such fear into the Israelites.

Try to put yourself in their shoes. You have seen God move mighty in your life but some very serious situation happens like a major illness, loss of job and your faith seems to waiver and you are there saying God why did this happen? God where are you? Or what was the point of taking me this far, if I am going to just die here between my own type of Red Sea and may own type of Egyptian army.

Now as we read on, I want you all to close your eyes and try to picture the sights and sounds that are going on at that very moment. Israelites are panicking. They are screaming, running everywhere, yelling at Moses and most likely at God too. The Egyptians are rolling toward them, you can hear the thunder of the chariots, and the heavy breathing of the horses; the ground is trembling beneath your feet. And you look behind and there are waves crashing on the shore, the power and size of the Red Sea looks terrifying. Can you see it in your mind, can you hear it. Phew. Stress or what?

Then Moses shouts out over the noise, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I can see this. At that moment, Moses has given them some hope. They begin to calm down and they all look to him for the next move. So what happens next, does Moses yell follow me and start heading toward the Red Sea. Nope. I believe he must have just stood there for that moment because the next verse shows the Lord saying to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to MOVE on.”

I just absolutely love that line. It is so God being God and so, us humans being humans. Here Moses just got finished telling the Israelites not to be afraid, to stand firm and you will see the Lord deliver you today and the Egyptians will be destroyed. Then why is God basically saying to him “Hey why are you looking to me. You know what to do. Tell them to MOVE.

It is because God know our thoughts, and I believe that while Moses was saying that to the Israelites, he was thinking in his head, “Okay I am saying this but God I don’t know where to go, or what to do. In his head he was crying out to God, Please, HELP?” I know I would have.

But God is so gracious. God fills in the blank spaces.

This is our third major lesson. God filled in the blank spaces. He will do that for those we seek him even in the mist of what looks like certain disaster. He did it for Moses and he WILL do it for you.

God tells Moses. “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

Now I don’t want to pick on just how little faith the Israelites had at this time but I am trying to relate this story to our lives and how many times even though God is leading us, we doubt him and we still are fearful. But lets look at what has transpired.

Let me explain. In Exodus 13: 21- 22 it says – “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Did you get that? Day and night God was leading them on the right path. He was visible to them, each and every day and night, either as a pillar of cloud or a pillar of fire.

Come on now, one would think that after the 10 plagues and the Israelites being lead by the Lord both day and night with a very visible sign, that their faith would be rock solid how could they not know God is leading them and if God is leading them why are they not trusting him.

How many of us, if we had those same visible signs leading us in the right path would trust God that we were on the right path even when situations became so dire that we are fearing for our very lives? Would you? Would I? I would like to think so but maybe not.

So what can we take with us from this story? I would like to believe that reading these accounts in the Bible, would remind us in all situations to be able to be still and trust God. To be able to say, Lord I am not sure what is happening, but I trust that you are leading me the right way and to have confidence in our faith in God.

What is confidence? The origin of the word confidence is the Latin and means (to trust, to have faith in). Hence the original meaning of confidence is literally “to have trust or have faith in an object or person”. The word “trust” itself is based on faith in an object or a thing to be true. So the common element at the heart of confidence is “faith in something being true”.

In our case, faith that God does know what he is doing. And that he has a plan for us, again a plan, not to harm us, a plan to prosper us and give us hope for the future.

We need to let that truth get into our spirit, our soul and our minds. I want for every Christian to learn this powerful truth. I do not want us to fail to learn this lesson like the Israelites failed to learn this lesson.  Yes the Israelites, after God delivered them out of Egypt, after they witness the 10 plaques, after He led them by day with a Pillar of Cloud and by night with a Pillar of Fire, fter He opened up the Red Sea so they could all walk across it and then it swallowed up the Pharaoh and his soldiers. They still did not fully learn the lesson.

Why can I say they did not learn this lesson?

Because for 40 years after all of these mighty moves of God, they wandered around the desert, demanding things their way, ignoring what Moses has to say, listening to everyone but God. Basically telling God, thanks for getting us this far, but we’ve got it from here.

Let me explain it a different way. The Israelites ended up doing it the hard way instead of God’s way. The distance from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan was about 240 miles.   At a 20-minute mile, which is a good walk and walking 8 hours each day that would be 24 miles in a day, so in theory there could have walked to the Land of Canaan in 10 days. And since it says the Lord went ahead as a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night, this tells me they walked both day and night, and most likely walk more than even 8 hours. So it would be safe to say, taking days of rest that they would have walked those 240 miles easily in one month.

Yet it took them 40 years to walk what could have taken less than a month. Is that saying anything to you? I know to me it is saying I do not want to spend 40 years trying to get to where God wants me to be, JUST because I think I know better than God in how to get there. So you see.

God really does know what he is doing so let’s let him lead the way.

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Yes Jesus Loves Me

My son is 4 ½ years old and every night at bedtime, for the past two years, I sing to him Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and then we sing Yes Jesus Loves Me. The song Yes Jesus Loves me is such a simple truth. “Yes Jesus Loves Me because the Bible tells me so.” So simple that sometimes we do not give it the credit or better-said attention it deserves.   But more importantly, if the Bible tells us Jesus loves us why do we still sometimes not believe that? Why are there days where we truly believe Jesus and God do not love us?

For many of us there is an internal thought process that is like a meter telling us, based on what we have done or are doing, how much we feel God loves us.

Does this sound familiar, allowing one’s judgment of one’s behavior to dictate how much God loves us. We then use it to put us down and convince ourselves that were not worthy of God’s love. Sometimes, we can actually take it so far as to equate God not loving us to whether we “feel” we are saved.

It can be that easy when you let your mind take control and judge what you did wrong. And then let it tell you how much God loves you? And if you believe God doesn’t love you, how can you believe anyone else can love you including yourself?

Would you like to stop this bad habit? Are you ready to take the song as literal Gospel truth? Yes Jesus Loves Me because the Bible tells me so. Well let’s go to the Bible. Let’s all read Ephesians 3 vs 16-19 and let it sink into your heart, mind and soul.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

That one line “may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” is so spot on.   Your “inner being” is your heart, mind and soul. That is where you need to let the confident assurance that God loves you be residings.

What you do, what you say, what you think cannot effect how much God loves you.

I once read a great truth. “Nothing that you do or DON’T do can separate you from the Lord’s presence.” Often times, it is the “don’t do” that we can use, more effectively, against ourselves than what we did wrong.

Let that sink in for a moment. Nothing that we don’t do can separate us from the Lord’s presence. Often times, we can understand or accept that if we did something wrong or not Christ like, that we are forgiven. But when we don’t do something, THAT is when the thoughts can really take hold. We did not pray this morning or we did not pray long enough. I did not stay awake reading my Bible. Why don’t I smile at church? Everyone else is smiling. Why don’t I _______? We can all finish that sentence several times over.

Let’s read Romans 8 38-39. Read it out loud if you are in a place you can. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creations, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The line” nor anything else in all creation” includes EVERYONE OF US and what we think and what we do and don’t do.

I pray for all of you that this scripture, being rooted and established in love, sink into to you. And let the unsurpassable knowledge that, God wants you to fill your inner being and turn off permanently all negative meters in your head.

Amen! Praise God, his mercy endures forever

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Dependency is Not a Bad Thing

For many of us being dependent on someone else goes against our thinking. For some independent thinkers, as I was and still can be, it seems to go against our very existence.

Many of us strive for independence in one way or another. As toddlers, you first start wanting to do it your way. When you graduate from high school, most young men and women declare their independence by going off to college or moving to a place of their own.

Even in your job you tend to strive for a bit of independence. Even working for a major corporation with all its standards and practices, you do little things that carve out room for your need to feel independent.

But what if I told you that being dependent, I mean completely dependent, will actually free you more than whatever you think being an independent person could ever do for you. It will liberate you.

How so? By being 110% completely dependent on God and our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe Proverbs 3 vs 5-6 says it best.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

There are many great sermons in that one quote.

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart
  • Lean not on your own understanding
  • All your ways acknowledge him
  • He will make your paths straight.

But, for today, lets concentrate on dependency on the Lord giving you freedom because that is what will happen and God’s word promises it. You will see.

Let’s start breaking down this quote. Lets look at “He will make your paths straight”.

For all of us that believe, being an independent thinking, was the best way to go, you can attest to some of the “less than straight paths” you have taken one time or another.

I was such an independent thinker. My mantra or better-put inspiration was a poem called “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Many of you know the poem; it is basically about a traveller coming up to two paths diverging in the woods. He looked down the one and it was well worn, implying many people had taken that path. He looked down the other trail, and it was barely used, brush still covering part of the trail. He pondered going both ways. But, as the poem implies, the traveller was an independent thinker, he chose the road less traveled as it says in the poem.

That was my mantra. I would say that all the time. I would proudly and with conviction quote the last two lines in the poem. “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Of course to me I was saying I took the road less traveled and that has made all the difference in making my life better. But was that really true?

About 5 or 6 years ago, I began to question that self-imposed truth. I took the road less travel but am I the better for it? As I look back at all I lived through. All the roadblocks, all the crooked paths I took, and boy did I take a lot of crooked paths, I realized that doing the independent thing and making my own roads, was NOT the best thing and I was NOT better for it.

After a one step forward 20 steps back type of life, just the thought of the Lord making my path straight was truly liberating. So I said I’m in for it. Sign me up Lord. I’m all in. Please Lord make my path straight, I am worn out of trying to always do it my way.

Do any of your feel that way or is it just me? Weary of feeling like I was wasting my time correcting all the mistake and poor decisions I made.

Now I have a new way of thinking, a better way to guide my life. A simple, straightforward and less complicated prayer, “Lord you lead and I will follow.”

In the Bible, Jesus said in John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” In fact throughout all of John, Chapter 10, Jesus talks about him being the Shepherd and we being the sheep.

Let me tell you a little bit about herding sheep. When working with sheep, they become very familiar with their shepherds voice. They learn to trust that voice and will follow the shepherd anyway. If a stranger tries to command the sheep, they ignore it or will more often runs away from that person because then know he is not their Shepherd and they do not trust him. As it says in John 10 vs 3 – “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Did you hear that? He knows your name and he calls to you by your name. That is something for all to remember in times of trouble, especially when we get intimidated by the awesomeness of who God is.

But how  do I hear God’s voice? How do I hear Jesus Christ, my Lord, Savior and Shepherd’s voice so I can make sure I follow him? How do I know it is him leading me through his spirit and not just my thoughts, which may not be his thoughts or his ways for that moment? Well you here his voice in his Word, in Prayer, having your alone time with the Lord and letting his Holy Spirit speak to you.

Maybe it is just me, by there are times when I think about all that happens in one day or even one minute of our lives and how many Christians are praying to God every second throughout the world that I think, how can he hear my prayers and guide just me. And doubt can enter my mind. That is when holding to the truth that my Lord knows my name will eliminate that doubt and my dependency on God is taken to a higher level. But perhaps the word dependency is not as accurate when discussing this subject as the word trust. Trust, now there is a word that can conjure up all sorts of feeling.

So are we talking about the famous trust exercise of one person standing behind another and the person in front, with arms out falls back, trusting that the other person will catch them. Yes that is a big test of trusting someone but what is the worse that can happen with that test. You either find out the person will catch you or they don’t and falling might hurt a little bit and you will be embarrassed but that is all.

Trusting God with everything is so very different and can be scary especially if you are not sure you are hearing or being lead by him. In life, trusting him for things that can be life altering Trusting him when you or your loved one is very sick. Trusting him when your marriage needs help. Trusting him when you are trying to make major decisions. Sometimes trusting for your very life.

Again Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight”

How do you really know you are trusting God. Two Words. DON’T WORRY.

There is no better way to show your trust in God and our Lord Jesus Christ, then to give him your cares and fears and then just freely, with peace, trust that he has your back. A good practice that I do is when I am at that point where I am freaking out in fear, I just whisper, “Jesus, help me.” And then I know it has been given over to him and that I have put my trust in him that at that very moment is trying to lead me.

Luke 12:22 says “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or about your body, what you will wear.

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Are you ready to give it a try in your life? Are you ready to just say “Jesus, help me. I trust you”

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