Foolish or Wise? Which Will It Be?

There are no shortage of ‘opinions’ today.

People seem to grow more ‘opinionated’ every day…and show it–with gusto!

Social Media has ushered in a ‘coarsening’ of those opinions (in my opinion). ūüôā

Having an ‘opinion’ is not necessarily good…nor is it necessarily bad!

One thing we can all agree on, however, is that ‘just because I think it, doesn’t mean it’s right–or certainly smart, wise, or ‘right’.

There are many people who are ‘spouting off’ their opinions–from the most powerful to those with a very small circle of influence.

Influence, however, does not make one ‘wise’. Because you may have ‘Followers’, that doesn’t mean that you have ‘wisdom’.

How can I know?

The Scriptures provide the answer. The book of Proverbs, by itself, is a great guide.

Even one chapter–Proverbs 18–provides much to learn from.

“A fool find no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinion.” (verse 2)¬†

“He who answers before listening–that is his folly and his shame.”(v. 13)

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” (v.15)

Other chapters of Proverbs speak to this too:

“The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” (15:2)

“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while¬†the¬†fool¬†feeds on trash.” (15:14)

The point is that simply ‘going off’ and ‘venting’ is not ‘Wisdom’. Any ‘fool’ can do that. Any fool can “feed on trash”…and we all know that there’s LOTS of ‘trash’ to choose from!

So, how can I know? How do I know true ‘wisdom’? How do I know if I have it, or if those I listen to have it?

Again, the Scriptures provide the answer.

“Fear¬†of¬†the¬†Lord¬†is¬†the¬†foundation¬†of¬†true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”–Proverbs 1:7

If you are trying to be ‘smart’ or ‘wise’, but do not fear (revere, worship, stand in awe) of God, you may be many things. You may be learned, you may be experienced, you may be well-schooled, but you are not “wise”.

True ‘Wisdom’ must…simply must…come from God, who is the only truly ‘Wise’ One there is!

“If you are wise and understand God‚Äôs ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.¬†But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don‚Äôt cover up the truth with boasting and lying.¬†For jealousy and selfishness are not God‚Äôs kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.¬†For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.¬†But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.¬†And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:13-18)

Don’t settle for the ‘wisdom’ of this world–that is a dead-end street.

Instead, go to the Lord for true Wisdom.

He will guide you, keep you on track, and help you know who’s ‘opinions’ are worth listening to…and who’s aren’t!

No Rest for YOU!

One of my favorite ‘Seinfeld’ episodes from years ago was called ‘Soup Nazi’. There was a chef in New York who was very temperamental, and IF you wanted soup from him, you had to make sure to conduct yourself according to his ‘code’ while in his shop…otherwise you’d here the phrase, “No soup for YOU!”, and you’d get kicked out.¬†Soup Nazi

Fortunately for us, God’s approach is very different than that, however, many don’t understand that. In fact, many–outside the Church, and even inside of it–believe God to be like that temperamental chef, and if we ‘mess up’, He’s going to say something like ‘No Rest for YOU! No Salvation for YOU! No Grace for YOU!’

The truth is that, IF it were up to us–our heart and behavior–we would stand condemned. Not because God is irrational or moody, but because we have rebelled against His righteous, holy standards. By ourselves, we can do nothing to change that.

The Scriptures make it clear: Romans 3:23: “all have sinned¬†and fall short of the glory of God”; Isaiah 53:6: “We¬†all,¬†like¬†sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way”; Ephesians 2:1: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…”

That’s the ‘bad news’ of the Gospel.

Fortunately for us, however, God didn’t let it end there.

Instead, He provided for One–Jesus–to be the ‘Atoning Sacrifice’ for our sin, and to earn our forgiveness…the Perfect One substituting Himself for the imperfect ones…the Righteous One paying the price of us, sinners.

Romans 3:23-24:for all have sinned¬†and fall short of the glory of God,¬†24¬†and all are justified¬†freely by his grace¬†through the redemption¬†that came by Christ Jesus.”

Isaiah 53:6: “We¬†all,¬†like¬†sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the¬†Lord¬†has laid on him the iniquity of us¬†all.

Ephesians 2:1-5:¬†As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,¬†2¬†in which you used to live¬†when you followed the ways of this world¬†and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air,¬†the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.¬†3¬†All of us also lived among them at one time,gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a]¬†and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.¬†4¬†But because of his great love for us,¬†God, who is rich in mercy,¬†5¬†made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions‚ÄĒit is by grace you have been saved.”

That’s the Good News of the Gospel!

Here’s the crucial…life-changing…ETERNAL Truth that YOU need to deal with:

God loves you and wants to welcome you in…but you need to repent of your sin and receive His forgiveness, by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

God wants us to have ‘Rest’…real, eternal rest!

‘Yes–Rest for YOU!

But…sadly, many of us would rather try to figure out our own answers.

We try to either: 1) Write God, Himself, off as an ‘invention’ of people who were more ‘primitive’, and less ‘enlightened’ than we are; 2) Convince God (and ourselves),¬† that we’re ‘not that bad’ and that we don’t really need His forgiveness or Jesus’ sacrifice; or 3) Show God that we’re going to try to ‘straighten up and fly right’, and that we’ll just try harder.

We invent ways to make ourselves righteous, hoping to placate Him.

This is nothing new.

The people of Israel, who should have known better, did it continually.

They would try to ‘figure out their own answers’, yet they’d miss God completely. Therefore, they’d be disciplined by God–out of His love, and for their own good–to bring them back to Himself.

He–their loving God and Heavenly Father–wanted to show them love and compassion…but it’s as if they said “NO!” “No Rest for ME!”

Isaiah 30:15-18:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.
16¬†You said, ‚ÄėNo, we will flee¬†on horses.‚Äô
    Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‚ÄėWe will ride off on swift horses.‚Äô
    Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
    at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
    you will all flee away,
till you are left
    like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
¬†¬†¬†¬†like a banner¬†on a hill.‚ÄĚ

18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!”

We’re pretty similar to them.

We try to figure out our own answers…our own ‘solutions’ to our personal and societal problems. We figure that, if we can just pass the right laws, put the right safeguards in place, elect the right politicians, then we can ‘have rest’.

Yet, this will never be the case–as a society, or as an individual.

You and I CANNOT have real ‘Rest’ apart from Jesus the Christ…because, apart from Him, we remain dead…separated from God.

The GREAT news?

We don’t have to stay there!

Through repentance and faith, we can be forgiven–and have New Life, in Jesus!

Then–and only then–can we hope to hear, ‘Yes! Rest for YOU!’

 

 

What Are YOU Here For?

Why do YOU exist?

Most of us never think about this.

We go through our days, our weeks, our months and our years doing pretty much the same thing. We get up, get ready for the day, grab a quick breakfast on the way to work or school, then come home, eat dinner, maybe watch some t.v., then go to bed. Next day, we do it all again.

When you look at it that way, it seems pretty ‘meaning-less’.

Ecclesiastes 1:2-14:

‚ÄúEverything is meaningless,‚ÄĚ says the Teacher, ‚Äúcompletely meaningless!‚ÄĚ

3 What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. 6 The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. 7 Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. 8 Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

9¬†History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.¬†10¬†Sometimes people say, ‚ÄúHere is something new!‚ÄĚ But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.¬†11¬†We don‚Äôt remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

12¬†I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem.¬†13¬†I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race.¬†14¬†I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless‚ÄĒlike chasing the wind.”

That is a serious bummer!

Is he right? Is that all there is? The sun comes up and goes down and all our scurrying in the meantime is meaningless?

 

The Mission Statement.

According to Dictionary.com, it means, “a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.”

Whether it’s about a Business, an Organization, a Church, or an Individual, it is, in essence, your REASON for existing.

So, what is YOUR ‘Mission Statement’?

Is if about money?

Satisfaction?

Impact?

Does it have to do with family? Work? Education?

All of these things are fine, and many have great impact, in the here-and-now.

However, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, ultimately, these, too, are “meaningless…chasing after the wind”(Ecclesiastes 2:22).

So…is there any real ‘hope’? Any secret to finding TRUE ‘meaning’ and purpose?

Yes, in fact, there is!

“This only I have found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.” (7:29)

Man rejects God’s ways and tries to find meaning and purpose on his own, by himself. We pat each other on the back and encourage one another to ‘do our own thing’ and do ‘what feels right’.

However, we miss God.

Wisdom–real wisdom–comes when we acknowledge Him.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come…” (12:1)

This will be THE best thing that sets you on the past to the ‘best life possible’. Remember your Creator. Humble yourself. Seek Him.

“Remember Him–before the silver chord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken…and the dust returns to the ground it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (12:6-7)

Seek the Lord. Pray to Him. Ask Him to give you ‘meaning and purpose’. Seek Him for an ‘Eternal Mission Statement’.

If you do, you will live differently, think differently, love differently, and react differently to all the ‘meaningless’ activity around us.

This will put you on the only real path toward “Life…to the Full” (John 10:10)

You will live to glorify and honor God, to impact this world in His name, to share the Good News of Jesus with all, and to walk out your faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now that is an Eternal Mission Statement!

What Can We Do?

My goodness!

There are LOTS of stressors in the world right now!

I look at the headlines from the last week–Political turmoil (what else is new?), Weather turmoil (Hurricane Florence is coming ashore as I write, with 3 ‘named’ storms churning out at sea and Super Typhoon¬†Mangkhut is heading toward China and the Philippines); Gunmen killing people in California and in Ohio; Iran is threatening Israel and America (again)…On a personal level, several friends are dealing with cancers, diseases and even suicides of loved ones; Racial tensions continue to simmer; and the places many turn to for ‘escape’–sports and media–are rife with turmoil…all this, and we just observed the 17th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

All of this got me wondering the other day…

What Can We Do?

Is there anything you and I can do to ‘make it better’?

Even more specifically, I mean ‘What, if anything, does Christianity offer to this world?’ What can the Church–the people of God who believe in Jesus–do?

I remember on September 12th of 2001…and on September 16th, that Sunday…that churches across the nation were filled with people. They knew that we’d been made to feel vulnerable in a way that we were not accustomed to…and it shook them to their core. They knew that thousands of countrymen and women (and even children) had died–of all races and ethnicities. They knew that war was coming, but didn’t know what the result would be.

It was a nerve-wracking time…and many, many people had the sense to know that 1) their lives were out of their control, and 2) God was a good place to turn.

Then, over the weeks and months to come, the attacks stopped, our military struck back…hard…and the ‘crisis’ subsided. Most people went back to their previous ‘normal’ lives, and forgot their need for God again.

Now, September 13, 2018…with crises all around…are people turning to God?

Some are, but most aren’t.

Why?

Two reasons, I believe:

  1. Many more believe, today, that ‘man’ is the center of the universe, and that we can ‘figure it out’ ourselves. This ‘human spirit’ is very proud, very independent, and very self-sufficient…qualities that can be beneficial–but not when they inhibit us from humbling ourselves before our Creator, Redeemer, Savior and Lord.
  2. The Church of Jesus Christ…believers who have come to faith in Him…has not done a good job conveying the truth that Jesus Christ IS Lord, and that He IS Savior to all who call upon Him. In truth, we’ve acted as though He is ‘no big deal’, or ‘one option among many’. We’ve fit Him in to ‘the spirit of the age’ with our relativistic, humanistic mindset taking over our theology. Therefore, we convince ourselves that we have nothing ‘real’ to offer.

As a result, our world continues to teeter on the brink of catastrophe…not a circumstantial one, but a theological one. The catastrophe is this: We are being deceived by the enemy of our souls…and we are celebrating it as ‘liberation’.

Romans 1:21-32:

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn‚Äôt worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.¬†22¬†Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.¬†23¬†And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

28¬†Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.¬†29¬†Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.¬†30¬†They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.¬†31¬†They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.32¬†They know God‚Äôs justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.”

This world–and those who are buying in to it’s ‘man-centered’ philosophy…is on its own. You want meaning? Come up with it yourself!

You want hope? Out of luck!

You want peace? Find it within your own mind!

Some see this is good–the evolution of the spirit.

I see it–and all other Biblically-literate Christians see it–as a HUGE step backward, toward our own destruction.

We have bought the lies of ‘The Deceiver’ who “comes only to steal, kill, and destroy”, while rejecting Jesus, who came to give us “Life…to the Full”! (John 10:10)

This world is desperately in need of the Truth–not ‘my’ truth, but THE Truth!

Jesus said “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; No one comes to the Father, except by Me.” (John 14:6)

We–Believers in Jesus Christ–need to share that truth more fully, more boldly, and more lovingly than ever. We need to live that truth out–not simply in our morality and religious behavior, but in our love, service, and sacrifice. We need to invest everything into the eternal principles of the Kingdom of God–and reject the temporary promises of the ‘here and now’ mentality.

Point Betsie LighthouseWe need to shine–even more brightly as the world around us gets more ‘dark’. As the ‘Bride of Christ’, the Church is called to shine like ‘stars in the night sky’…a ‘light’ in the darkness!

As Paul wrote elsewhere, (Philippians 2:12–16): “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.¬†13¬†For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

14¬†Do everything without complaining and arguing,¬†15¬†so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.¬†16¬†Hold firmly to the word of life…”

Our world NEEDS us to shine!

It needs us to point them, consistently and boldly, to Jesus Christ!

We do so in word, in deed, in attitude. We do it through love, grace, and truth.

The hope that He gives is definitely what this world needs!

Let’s do it!

Keys to Faith and Boldness

Last weekend, we had a group of young adults over at our house for a time of fun, food, and fellowship. Our ‘New Generation’ group has been a great addition to our church. Those young people who’ve graduated from High School and are moving on to college and careers need ‘a place to belong’…as we all do! We have a lot of fun together, but we also have some pretty crucial discussions around our faith.

Last week, we discussed that virtually every one of them was about to ‘step out’ into a new direction…a new college, a new town, a new job, and even (in a few cases) a new marriage! These are exciting times! How can these young people know that they are staying on track with God? How can they know that He is leading them?

Not surprisingly, there are some nerves, some anxiety in these moves. However, IF we know that we are following the Lord, we can have confidence.

In our discussion, we read from Joshua 1. In this chapter, Joshua is taking over leadership of the people of Israel from Moses. Moses, the strong, faithful leader…the one who would go up on Mount Zion and communicate with God, so closely that he would come down radiating God’s presence, was now gone. It was now Joshua’s time.

What did the Lord say to Joshua?

Joshua 1:6-9:¬†‚ÄúBe strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.¬†7¬†Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.8¬†Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.¬†9¬†This is my command‚ÄĒbe strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the¬†Lord¬†your God is with you wherever you go.‚ÄĚ

The obvious parallel for these young people can be very important for us, to…but we can’t take God’s presence and blessing for granted! If Joshua did not continue to live by the principles of faith that the Lord had set out through Moses, then he should not expect God’s blessing. Similarly, if we don’t continue to walk with Him consistently (not ‘perfection’, and not ‘works’, but consistent, growing Faith), then we shouldn’t expect it, either.

Could Joshua have ‘Bold Faith’? Yes–because God was pledging to be with him, to lead him, and to guide and bless the people.

What about us–can we expect God’s blessing?

I believe, by His grace, that the answer is YES!

IF we walk with Him, by faith, and let Him conform us into His image (Romans 8:39).

If we do that, then we can experience the blessing of “Life…to the Full!” (John 10:10) that Jesus promised His followers.

Tomorrow I’ll write about 4 Keys to Faith and Confidence.

The key: The Faithful Love of God, and our welcoming and following Him.

He has ‘Never Once’ failed us:¬†https://youtu.be/722zPX1npcA

 

 

 

YOUR Motivation For Living

WHY?

That is one question that we all answer, every day…although sometimes unconsciously.

WHY do you do What you do?

Simon Sinek wrote an excellent book about this,¬†Start With Why, and the premise is simple: If you’re going to lead people well, (including yourself) you need to…’start with Why’?

Why should I do what you say?

Why should we follow this course?

Why should I get up early to exercise…go to work or school?

Why should I pay my bills?

Why should I eat right?

If we don’t answer that question, then we are much more likely to live halfhearted, unfocused lives. We are more likely to move from one job to another, one major to another, one relationship to another, one diet to another, one credit card to another, and so on.

In addition, the ‘quality’ or our answer will determine the joy and satisfaction we get out of life.

Take a job, for example.

If the answer to my question of ‘Why should I go to work?’ is simply ‘To get a paycheck’, that’s a great recipe for a bad job, in which I get no satisfaction, end up doing the bare minimum that I need to in order to keep my job, complain the whole time, etc.

In contrast, if I can honestly say something like, ‘Because my job matters. I am called and gifted for this job. This job is an important training ground for my next job, and the things I learn here will help me in the future…’, then I am much more likely to give my all to it.

 

So…let’s apply that to faith.

Why should I go to church?

Why should I pray, read the Scriptures, and worship?

Why should I give your money to the work of God?

Why should I conduct your relationships according to His Word?

Again, if the only reason is, ‘Because I’ll get in trouble if I don’t’, or ‘Because it’s good for me’, then I’ll completely miss out on the blessing of knowing God and the pleasure and security of knowing that your life is secure in His hands, and His ways are best.

The Scriptures say,

The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
¬†¬†¬†¬†but it is the ruin of those who do evil.” (Proverbs 10:29)

In fact, you will find in many places in the Word of God: God knows what is best, God loves you and wants the best for you, and the best way to the best life is by following Him and His Word, period.

Our society tells us lies. It tells us that ‘Looking out for #1’ is best, or that ‘Using others for my pleasure’ is best. It will tell you that ‘Living for today’ is best.

Hogwash. Poppycock. Lies!

“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they might have LIFE and have it To The Full!” (John 10:10, emphasis added).

This especially shows up when God’s Word says one thing, and my friends (or culture/my appetites/my family) says something else. What will determine which I choose?

That depends: What is your ‘Why’?

My ‘Why’ is this: I know that I exist by His design, for His glory, and that I live in His grace. Therefore, my desire is to know and please Him, in all things.

That gives me meaning, direction, and joy–no matter the circumstances. It guides me along. It teaches me what to say ‘yes’ to, and what to say ‘no’ to.

It is both for His glory and for My good…at the same time!

What about You?

What is Your ‘Motivation for Living’?

 

 

The Test

How do you know if something is ‘legit’?

How do you know if you can trust a person–a teacher, a boss, a politician, a minister?

Is it possible to know, for example, whether or not a Church or ‘religious organization’ is the ‘real deal’ or not?

Is there a ‘litmus test’?

 

Actually, there is!

In my reading this morning, I came to 1 John 4: 1-3, which says: Dear friends,¬†do not believe every spirit,¬†but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.¬†2¬†This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh¬†is from God,¬†3¬†but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist,¬†which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

Note: that does NOT mean that ‘everyone who admits that Jesus was real’ is legit.

You have to remember, they didn’t write First and Last names back then–in other words ‘Jesus Christ’ isn’t like saying ‘Dave Johnson’. In that day, they either introduced someone as to their family, “Jesus, son of Joseph”, or according to their origin, “Jesus of Nazareth”. “Jesus Christ” is His name and His title. ‘Christ’ is not a last name, but a title, meaning ‘Chosen One’ or ‘Anointed One’…Messiah.

John is saying that “Anyone who acknowledges that Jesus (of Nazareth) is from God, and is the Messiah’ is from God. In fact, it’s clear that John taught that Jesus is God, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Messiah, and Jesus is Risen. Therefore, anyone who does not acknowledge all of these things is representing ‘the spirit of the antichrist’.¬†

He goes on to say that You, dear children,¬†are from God and have overcome them,¬†because the one who is in you¬†is greater than the one who is in the world.¬†5¬†They are from the world¬†and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.¬†6¬†We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.This is how we recognize the Spirit[a]¬†of truth¬†and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:4-6)¬†

Anyone who does not acknowledge these truths about Jesus is ‘from the world’ and will only speak from this world’s viewpoint–not God’s.

Therefore, Christian, you MUST be crystal clear: Jesus the Christ is God! Jesus the Christ is Messiah! Jesus the Christ is Risen, Jesus the Christ is LORD, and Jesus the Christ is the One and Only Mediator between God and Man.

He is ‘The One’ that “every knee will bow, and every tongue confess is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!”¬†(Philippians 2:10-11)

Let no one deceive you: No bumper sticker, no popular speaker, no tv show, nobody which says anything like ‘all roads lead to God’ or ‘as long as you’re sincere…’, or anything like that is ‘legit’.

It is absolutely true that God loves us, and He wants us to come to salvation, through Jesus the Christ…but He is THE authorized One, period.

He is the embodiment of God–His character, His holiness, His righteousness and His grace.

Matthew 7:13-14:¬†¬†‚ÄúEnter through the narrow gate.¬†For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.¬†But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”¬†

Are YOU trusting in Him, or in the voices from this world?

Come! NOW is the time to Worship Him!

 

Did Jesus Really ‘Mean’ It?

When Jesus was starting his public ministry, early on He went to His hometown of Nazareth.

He went to the synagogue, and offered to read. The scroll of the Prophet Isaiah was handed to Him, and He found the spot where he read…

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†and that the time of the¬†Lord‚Äôs favor has come.[f]‚Ä̬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them.¬†‚ÄúThe Scripture you‚Äôve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!‚Ä̬† (Luke 4:18-21)

Jesus was making a very bold claim…that He, Himself was the fulfillment of this prophecy–which had been looking forward to the Messiah!

He’s saying that HE is the Messiah!

Understandably, some of the people balked:¬†‚ÄúHow can this be?‚ÄĚ they asked. ‚ÄúIsn‚Äôt this Joseph‚Äôs son?‚ÄĚ (Luke 4:22)

It is understandable that they wouldn’t believe Him, just because he made that claim…after all, they’d seen him grow up with their kids…he may’ve been ‘different’–more righteous, for example, but it’s understandable that they’d struggle with this at this point.

‘The proof’,¬†as they say,¬†‘is in the pudding‘.

So…if they watched and listened to Him, what would they have seen?

The Gospels are filled with the ‘proof’.

Blind eyes are healed and made clear;¬†Good News is preached to everyone–rich and poor; those possessed or oppressed by demons are rescued and given freedom, many are healed of long-term diseases, the dead are raised to life…miracles are done–wind and waves obey His command, food is multiplied at His word…

The proof is right there!

But one promise stands out, in my mind: “Captives (Prisoners) would be set free” (v. 18).

What did Jesus mean by that?open prison

We have no record, after all, of Jesus walking into jails around Capernaum and releasing the prisoners. No prisons in Jerusalem were destroyed…so what did He mean?

Perhaps it was a ‘captivity’ of the soul…perhaps¬†a captivity of our emotions…perhaps a captivity of our addictions.

Surely, Jesus sets¬†people who were ‘captive’ to fear, anxiety, and hopelessness free. Absolutely, He sets those who’ve been captured and enslaved by the false¬†promise of a ‘high’ or ‘relief’ in the form of a drink, a drug, a sexual escape, or other ‘addictions’.

“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy” (and make false promises, and enslave, and shame, and threaten), “but I have come that they might have life…to the full!” (John 10:10).

“If anyone is in Christ, they are a New Creation! The old life is gone, New LIFE has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, emphasis mine.)

Leaning on Jesus…walking with Him, step by step, day by day, is THE way to deliverance, freedom, victory and healing! Only Jesus can give you the ‘real thing’ that was falsely promised to you by the enemy of your soul.

No one can fulfill those longings…other than Jesus.

Did Jesus ‘mean it’ when He promised to be The One who would heal, fulfill, and free?

Absolutely!

“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:36)

So, how about it…is there something that YOU need release or healing from?

Jesus is The Source of that freedom!

Invitation

You know that feeling–

The feeling you get when you go to the mailbox to get your mail and find something unexpected? Not your typical bills and junk mail, but an envelope with your name on it that looks like a card, or an invitation?

 

You drop the other stuff on the counter, and grab that thing sent ‘just for you’. You open it (try not to get a paper cut), and see that it’s an invitation!

Invitation

Someone–one of your family, friends, coworkers or neighbors–has invited you to an ‘Event’. They thought enough of you to make sure you were on ‘the list’. You are apparently special enough to them to make sure they saved room for you!

What a special feeling that is! You matter!

Truth is, you and I are always ‘invited’ to be a guest. We’re invited to be part of The Event. We matter. We’re cared for.

God, Himself, has invited us!

He sent Jesus as ‘the Deliverer’ of that Invitation. Jesus delivered the message to YOU.

God loves YOU and wants YOU to be part of the festivities–where we worship, honor, and serve the Savior…the Lord…the ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’.

What’s more, once you’re in, He invites you ever-deeper. He wants You to be close…to be at the ‘head table’ where the ones who are really special to Him are.

He doesn’t want you just ‘in the doorway’…

He wants you moving closer…because you matter!

Your seat is reserved!

Revelation 19:6-9:

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude,¬†like the roar of rushing waters¬†and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
¬†¬†¬†¬†was given her to wear.‚ÄĚ

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

9¬†Then the angel said to me,¬†‚ÄúWrite this:¬†Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!‚Ä̬†And he added, ‚ÄúThese are the true words of God.‚ÄĚ

This wedding is NOT something you want to miss!

You want to be there!

He’s inviting You to faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior…and to an ever-deepening relationship with Him.

Answer to invitation! RSVP, through repentance for sin, faith in Jesus–the Lamb of God–and life in the Spirit!

I’ll see you there!

 

Boldly Follow God’s Call!

You want to follow God, right?

You want to know His will and do it.

You want to listen for His voice, then follow.

…and you assume that your family and friends want to support you in doing so…right?

Not necessarily.

For sure, most of us have family members or friends who will support us in our desire to follow God. Some will even support you, for example, on a Missions Trip–even if they, personally do not have any interest in ever going on one.

However, there are times when those you care about will not support you.

Luke 12:51–53:¬†Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.¬†From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.¬†They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.‚ÄĚ

Note: The ‘division’ is caused when Jesus calls us to follow and others don’t want us to. It is impossible to ‘follow Him’ and ‘follow others’ at the same time. The¬†division is caused because many–even, at times, those we know and love–do not want to follow Him, and actively oppose any who do.

There are many times that the culture around you will not only ‘withhold support’, but will actively oppose you! In fact, there are times that they will launch an all-out assault against you for doing so!

Ezra 3:3: “Despite their fear¬†of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the¬†Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.”

When God calls you to follow Him in some endeavor–stepping out in faith to do so–don’t let those around you sway you! Instead, make sure–through Prayer, the Word, the wisdom of other godly men and women, and the testimony and leading of the Holy Spirit within–that you are ‘on track’ with the Lord. If, after these things, you still think you hear clearly what He wants you to do, pray and DO IT!

There will be times when everyone gets in line behind you and cheers you on. Be thankful for those times.

However, don’t ‘depend on’ them. Instead, be led by the Spirit!

Romans 8:5-9:

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires;¬†but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.¬†The mind governed by the flesh is death,¬†but the mind governed by the Spirit is life¬†and peace.¬†The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God;¬†it does not submit to God‚Äôs law, nor can it do so.¬†Those who are in the realm of the flesh¬†cannot please God.¬†You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh¬†but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.”

When He leads…FOLLOW!

 

 

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