image_pdfimage_print

Are You Also Going To Leave?

When it is first heard, the Good News, or when we first realized that we were sinners and that we would face eternal judgment if we reject God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, a “believer” could easily think “Why would anyone reject or abandon God once they become knowledgeable?”

There are those that never receive Him in the first place…

Luke 8: 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

then there are those that believe at first, but then fall away…

 13And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.

This is most troubling for me, how one can know the truth, and walk away. Everyone can hear it, at least physically for those that have the mental faculties. But isn’t that enough? Then again, why doesn’t everyone “embrace” salvation? It’s so strange to me. Why was Abel obedient and Cain insolent? You’d think that the first son of Adam, the one created from dust and walked with God, would know better.

No one can come, unless…

John 6: 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

This knowledge of the Good News or “awakening”, as I like to call it, is only the beginning. Being “born again” (see John 3) is just that, in a spiritual sense, anyway. We start out as these little seedlings that require tender, loving care. Our faith, at this point, is very delicate and prone to many dangers that can retard our growth or uproot it altogether.

 14And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Did you catch that? 

“their fruit does not mature.” Can’t we all relate to this in one way or another? The friend that seemed to answer the altar call one night, but he won’t even return your call the next? What happens to them?

 Romans 10: 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

1 Peter 4: 17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

And what is the gospel?

Acts 17: 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

In even simpler terms:

Matthew 4: 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

There’s that word: Repent

This is not a very popular word, but it is the Word that Jesus, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, and all the other saints preached.

This is not something we do as one event. Repenting is something we do continually until we die. It is a command for the unbeliever and the believer alike. What kind of a believer says “Oh, I repented 3 years ago, but now I’m good, no need to do that again, whew! (as he wipes the sweat from his brow)”?  I think many do, in their minds, but they fool themselves.

Although we are made perfect through Christ, this is not realized while in these earthly bodies of flesh.

Allow me to make one thing clear about repentance.

I used to think that when I repented, it meant that I was somehow “turning from sin and vowing never to commit those sins again that I committed before”. That is no longer my understanding, thank God. That used to give me so much guilt that the devil used to keep me from doing much good because I hated myself.

Repenting, as I understand it now, is simply changing my mind about my sin, knowing that it leads to death, and feeling sorry about it. This is the godly sorrow that brings us back to His feet where we confess and seek restoration and healing.

1 John 1: 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

James 4:  8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Do you see the difference?

When I focused on my inability to keep from sinning and thought that I must be a “bad Christian” because I kept doing the things that I knew I should not, it kept me from going to God.

Genesis 3:  10And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

Now that I continually seek Him, despite my sinful nature, I know that I will never meet His standard, although I strive for it. As I seek Him I am always repenting in prayer saying “Teach me your ways and change my heart. I am far from living the way you want me to live.” The closer I get to knowing Him, the more I realize how far I am off the mark. The closer we get to God, the worse we look in comparison. He is so merciful and patient with me that I cannot even begin to tell you.

Matthew 5:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Check out what the Apostle Paul had to say after many years of serving Jesus:

Can you relate to this?

Romans 7: 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

This text is difficult for me as if things are hopeless, but it is always a breath of fresh air when I get to chapter 8:

Romans 8: 1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Isn’t this cool? “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us” Is that Christ-like or what?

Compare that to:

Matthew 5: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

I take this to mean: The work He accomplished over 2000 years ago is still being fulfilled through our lives today. Pretty cool, huh?

Growth is essential.

Growth should be constant and consistent. At first, the seedling should be protected, taking extra protection against temptation. I believe that in many ways, God has great mercy for the new believer and at the same period, He expects growth.

This is Discipleship 101.

If the growth does not occur, the roots will not grow deep and the seedling will start to wilt and be easily uprooted.

Hebrews 6: 1Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do if God permits.

Just like any relationship, like marriage, for example, it is always either moving towards one-ness or towards separation.

Are you moving closer to Him or further away from Him?

Growth yields a closer walk with Christ.

Consider how close Abraham was with God so that after 35+ years of walking with God he was obedient enough to sacrifice his only son, no questions asked! He wants this closeness with us!

My life over the past 10 years has been somewhat chaotic. (some of you reading know this to be true) Can anyone else relate to a chaotic life? Have you been greatly frustrated or has life made no sense at times? OK then, at least a few of you, or perhaps many, will understand this then.

A part of my testimony is this: The more life seems chaotic and things seem to be in complete disarray, the more following and focusing on Jesus Christ makes sense to me. 

Can I get an amen?

Hebrews 4: 7c “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

Here is my ultimate “secret” for spiritual growth, at the very least it is the catalyst that got me started. Read and see what that seedling can become! The secret, of course, is found in verse 2, which helps me to live up to verse 1. The fruit of this obedience is mentioned in verse 3. The little seedling has grown up. 🙂

Psalm 1
1Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

 3He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Let me draw a conclusion that I’ve made as a result of this brief study. 

People fall away primarily because they fail to continue growing in the knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ.

Please do not let this be said of you!

I beg of you please, seek God with all you’ve got! Grow deep in God’s love so that you will have the same conviction that we see Peter have in verse 68:

John 6: 66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”

Will you grow with us in 2019?

Dear Lord, I don’t know what to say. After all the wonderful things you’ve taught me, I am speechless. My prayer is for those that don’t know you and for those that don’t share the same conviction that I do. You are the One that has the words of eternal life. Where else would I go? Teach me how to love you more.

Let my words, thoughts, and actions become your words, thoughts, and actions. I want to be more like you. Less of me is fine with me and more of you is greater. Thank you for all that you’ve done in my life and for what you continue to do. I know that you know what’s best for me and that gives me great joy. Please use these words you’ve given me to bless others and perhaps open some hearts. You are the God of all Creation and I am excited to be at your service!  In Jesus name, Amen.

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

What Do You Want From Him?

I hope you carefully read last week’s message: “Will You Miss Out In 2019?”, because it cuts to the chase of my message and that is encouraging everyone to walk closer to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Today I want to discuss what it is what you’re truly seeking from Jesus…

Matthew 7:  7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

 9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

At the very least, He’s already given us the gift of life. Whatever gifts, talents, skills and abilities He’s given us is a bonus. It is up to us to make the most of all that He has blessed us with. This is how we glorify God, by doing what we’ve been purposed to do, to the best of our ability, while giving Him all the praise and thanking Him through all circumstances, good and bad.

1 Peter 4: 10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Isn’t that awesome?

Did you catch that? “everything you do will bring glory to God” isn’t that the coolest thing? To know that everything you do could bring glory to God?

God wants us to seek Him so that we might know what true living is all about. Before knowing Jesus on a personal level, I simply existed. I was alive, but only in a physical sense, living a life without much hope, peace, or passion. Now that I know Him more intimately, relying on Him for everything, I have hope, peace and a great passion to pursue Him more and tell others about how great He is. This is truly living, far superior to simply existing. Not just in a physical sense, but spiritually becoming one with Him. His delights started to become my delights. His sadness became my sadness. What He’s passionate about became my passion.

You Only Live Once

1 Peter 1: 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver.

I used to desire a new truck or at least one that runs well (this was when I had my ’98 Ranger). But eventually I became content, beyond my own belief, with my twelve-year-old, green Ford Ranger. It came complete with its constant “check engine” light, transmission problems, and banged-up sides. The truck itself was a miracle, at one time it ran without oil for about 6 weeks! There is a reason God did not provide a truck to replace it. He used that truck to teach me to trust in Him to sustain it, which He had. I no longer desired a better truck! This awareness has taught me that He can truly change my heart and this gives me unspeakable joy. There is hope, even for me.

Change does not happen quickly, as in the movies.

This change of heart did not happen overnight, but after spending much time with Him on a regular, if not daily basis, feeding on His Word, at His feet, and meeting with other seekers that sought Him as much as I did.

In this way, I can thank Him for so much more than I ever thought possible. What truly excites me is knowing that His love is endless and that He has so much more to teach me. Though I can clearly see my weaknesses and faults in light of His Word, He’s shown me that I can have peace in knowing that it’s His role to perfect me so long as I remain humble and willing for Him to change me day in and day out. It is this change in me, like that of a caterpillar turned butterfly, which is molding me into a new creation. This brings much glory to Him.

It is my hope and prayer that you, the reader, will join with me so that we can run this race together and meet up with Him for a glorious feast rejoicing together about how wonderful He is.

John 10: 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Do you really seek what He has to offer you?

Do you want to make the most of this life and have no regrets as you look back? Carefully consider how you choose to live in 2019. If you desire a greater presence of God in your life, you can have that.

James 4: 7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you.Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

God expects us to grow and the more we grow and get to know God, the more peace we will receive:

2 Peter 1:  2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

If you are looking to develop a habit of daily reading or looking for others that pursue God as seriously as you do then consider joining us in 2019 and bring a friend that can grow with you in discipleship.

What do you expect from your life in Christ?

“Dear Lord, thank you for the changes you’ve made in me so far and thank you for what you’re doing in my life today. You really do know what’s best for me and I know that you love me and desire my heart. Please lead more people to know you. Use me, Lord, to tell others about how wonderful you really are. Help me to inspire others to get to know you and thank you in advance in leading me to greater heights. In Jesus name, Amen.

Photo by Christine Donaldson on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Will You Miss Out In 2019?

Will You Miss Out In 2019?

We are only a few days away from the New Year and sometime between now and then would be a good time to reflect on how the year went. Give yourself some time with a journal and consider asking yourself questions such as these: “What went right?”, “What went wrong?”, “Did I grow closer to God in 2018?”, “Did I work too much or too little?”, “Did I spend enough time with those I love the most?”, “Did I read enough?”, “Do I know the Bible anymore now than when I started the year?”

If you have never done it, this is a great time to stop and think “Where is my life heading?”, “If I continue on the path that I’ve been on in 2018, where will that lead me?”, “Am I living a life that is glorifying God?”, and here’s the question I like the best:

“What can I do in 2019 that will lead me to a closer relationship with Jesus?”

Can we ask ourselves a better question than that?

Luke 10: 38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

“my sister just sits here”

By reading verse 42 I think it’s a great question to ask. What was Mary doing exactly?…

“Her sister, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.”

And what was Martha doing? “But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.”

Jesus was present. Mary had her priorities straight and was focused. Martha was distracted.

Mary “just sits here”, and Martha is “worried and upset over all these details”.

I can think of so many other things to be concerned about and I am sure that you can too, but Jesus makes it clear:  “There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” And in the NASB: “but only one thing is necessary”

Remember who Jesus is?

 This is Jesus speaking, Son of the Living God. Shall we do a quick review of just who this man is?

Colossians 1:

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Is that clear enough for you?

Let me get this straight as I review what the Bible is telling me:

Jesus, the Head of the Church and Supreme Being over all. The One who made all things seen and unseen is telling me that the only thing worth being concerned about and the one thing that is necessary is to just sit and listen to what He teaches.

Did I get that right? Read it again, I’ll wait.

WOW! I re-read it too. It seems to me that Martha didn’t get it. As far as Martha was concerned Mary was “just sitting there”. She saw no value in it. What she was doing had to have been far more important, or so she thought. After all, she was “working” to please the Messiah (Think of the self-righteousness here). I think Martha understood who Jesus was, but she was clearly missing out by being distracted.

Psalm 51: 16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

This message is about as “counter-cultural” as you can get today. Even within the church, it seems to be all about service/working and I don’t hear “sit and read/or listen” enough.

Psalm 46:  10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

 11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

Being still is required

I don’t think this verse 10 can be overstated. In order to be transformed into “Christ-like” individuals being still is required.

Do you realize that we have the opportunity to sit and learn from Him every day? That is if we focus and purposefully make the effort to be with Him. The more I do this the better off I am. The more peace I have. I learn just a little more about Him each day. The more I can tell others about Him because I have a greater conviction and a better testimony.

It’s not like I spend all day reading His Word, but it is taking care of the one thing worth being concerned about and everything else throughout the day, as it turns out, is of little concern in comparison.

The great thing about reading the Bible daily, spending time with Him, is that every night when you lay your head on the pillow you can say to yourself “At least I did that which is most important, thank you Lord!” and you won’t miss out.

Did you miss out in 2018?

It is for this very reason that TheBibleTeam.com was created. The website has tools and tips to help the individual excel in this area. While the tools and tips are great, it will take a commitment from the disciple to “do the work”, which is to sit still and read, placing a higher value on it above all else each day.

http://thebibleteam.com

I know that for most, it is an ambitious goal to read through the Bible in a year, but it is so worth it. If it’s too much, there is a month to month plan or you can customize your own reading plan using the Reading Plan Creator.

http://thebibleteam.com/PlanMaker.asp

We also host a conference call once a week that gives readers an opportunity to discuss what they’ve been reading. This time of fellowship is priceless and goes a long way to ensure the disciples’ success with staying plugged in.

http://thebibleteam.com/news.asp

Will you sit still and read with me in 2019?

“Dear Lord, I am in awe of you. You constantly amaze me. When I read about what you like and dislike I learn more and more about you and how I can please you. I apologize for perhaps not taking you seriously enough in 2018. I commit to spending more time with you in 2019. Will you help me? I know that it will not be easy and that the devil will try even harder to distract me with things I might think is more important. Thank you, Lord, for the hope I have in the coming year. Please draw me near you and reveal yourself to me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Photo by Justin Veenema on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Are You Ready For Christmas?

Are You Ready For Christmas?

I don’t know about you but the year flew by so fast and 2019 is just around the corner. These days are going by so fast, you better not blink or you’ll miss it! The problem that causes a lot of people is that on top of a very busy life, December usually brings a lot more “busy” ness with it.  At a time when most people have no time to spare suddenly there are parties to attend, gifts to purchase, lights to hang, decorations to arrange, cookies to bake, eggnog to drink and preparations for travel or for hosting family from out of town. Did I cover everything?

I know it’s a crazier time than it should be, but what can we do? I’ve got some ideas if you’ve got just a few minutes to read about a way to get through this “most insane time of the year” with more peace and a heart that is truly “ready for Christmas”.

I know that the generally accepted definition among the secular populace and even Christians of being “ready for Christmas” is “Are all the gifts purchased?”, “Is the house decorated?”, or maybe “Are the travel arrangements in order?” or it could mean all the above.

What’s wrong with this picture?

It seems that everything but the birth of the Savior of mankind is given thought.

Isn’t it ironic that one of the many titles of our risen Savior is “Prince of peace” and most of us celebrate His birth during a time when there is anything but peace?

Isaiah 9

 6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!

Everyone but Christ’s true disciples won’t understand the peace He has to offer, but we believers should. My great concern is that most Christians, or those that identify themselves as a Christian, do not know what real peace means. Have you ever stopped to wonder why the divorce rate among those who claim to be “born again believers” is not significantly lower than the other religions as well as the secular? The statistics of the divorce rate can be skewed in any number of ways mostly due to those being surveyed, the questions asked and how they are asked. But those even within the mainstream Christian community believe that the divorce rate is much higher than what should be expected.

Did he just bring the divorce rate into this?

Yes, I am relating the behaviors and customs of mainstream Christians at Christmas time to their divorce rate.

But here’s the point…

The point I am making is that for most of those that check off “Christian” on the list of religious groups are not really born again and do not truly worship the Lord of heaven in their heart. They might not even go to church at all, and if they do, they just attend once a week simply for social reasons. You know these people; they sit next to you in the pews and say all the right stuff or they work with you and might mention being a Christian but never discuss it. Jesus or the Bible is not on their mind much, but “American Idol” (or any other popular show) is. They might even talk about how they went to church on Sunday to one colleague and turn around and tell a course joke to some other colleague.

Matthew 7: 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Is it any wonder “they” think we’re hypocrites?

Is it any wonder why those that are “non-religious” are so outspoken about Christians being hypocrites? I suspect that we not only have many individuals like this, but entire churches could be categorized as such. Take the letter to Laodicea as an example:

Revelation 3: 14 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:

 15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! 17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

Did he just call the church of America lukewarm?

Do you see the correlation between the people Jesus talks about in Matthew 7 and His message in Revelation 3? These “Christians” always claim to be believers in Christ (by the very label itself), they might even always attend on Sunday, “yep, I can do that at least, no one will have any doubts about my beliefs”. So they are not cold in that regard. But do they show up early to praise God in song or dance? Will he join the prayer team on Monday morning before work? Does she share with others their conviction about why they believe in God and that Jesus is the Way? Will they devote time each day to get to know God more through His Word and talk to God in prayer giving Him all their burdens? Do they congregate with other believers regularly, talking about what God is doing in their lives? So they are not hot, are they?

Malachi 3: 16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.

 17 “They will be my people,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. 18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

It’s time to get practical

OK, now it’s time for the practical advice of giving this season true meaning and finding the peace that Jesus spoke of.

Matthew 11: 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

The key phrase I see here is “Let me teach you”. What do you think this means? Being a disciple of Jesus is not a passive activity, it is being deliberate and intentional with our time and attention. For me, letting Him teach me is reading the Word of God daily and expecting to learn something new each time. I will hover over the confusing passages long enough for them to soak in or at least put them before someone else that has followed God longer than I have and have them teach me via the Spirit of Jesus.

Are you letting Jesus teach you?

It also means attending regular meetings with others that have a similar zeal for following Him and sharing this joy with them as well as the trials. This “training” that I speak of, which is all about learning how to love Him and others (remember the 2 greatest commandments?), is simply being obedient to His commands. This is not going “above and beyond” as some might think. The Scriptures make it clear that this is the work He’s given to us all. It may start out as an obligation, but when it starts to soak in (assuming your heart is soft), you will enjoy it more and more.

To put it clearly and so that there is no misunderstanding…

In order to have the peace that Jesus promises, do this:

Follow Jesus with all your heart and allow nothing to distract you from doing these things.

  1. Diligently read His Word daily.

    1. Joshua 1: 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.
  2. Never stop praying and be thankful. You’ll become more and more effective over time and with practice.

    1. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
    2. Philippians 4: 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
  3. Fellowship regularly with other believers that love God at least the same or more than you do.

    1. Hebrews 10: 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

I can only speak from experience and this is what I know to be true. I am convinced that if you follow these activities in earnest and with persistence, you will be transformed and certainly become more and more like Him.

By doing these things you will find His wonderful peace and will be all the more eager to discuss how great God is with those that are willing to listen and desperately need to hear it!

I guarantee that you will find His peace if you follow Him closely

My friends, I am far from perfect and in fact, I am the greatest sinner I know. And yet, in spite of my sin, I do know this: Jesus has changed my heart and ever since I have determined in my mind to follow Him by reading His Word daily and taking His instructions of Loving Him and others seriously, I have a much greater peace than I’ve ever realized I could have.

I am ruined for all other work. ESPN no longer satisfies me and I get bored of it now when at one time I could never get enough of it! I am not the same man that I was when I committed in my heart and started to diligently follow Him. I am not someone special, but I made a very special commitment. While there are some that commit to physical training or financial training, I’ve decided to train in His ways and I plan on graduating with honors someday, God willing.

2 Timothy 2: 3 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 5 And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules.

1 Corinthians 9:  24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Will you train with me?

“Dear Lord, thank you for the wisdom you have given me, the Godly wisdom that only you can give. Thank you for making it clear to me what I should be doing regularly and the impact it has made on my life. You’ve greatly simplified things for me and although I have trials in my life you’ve given me a peace to endure them. I want all to know you more and experience your peace. Help me to get the word out that you are the Living God just as your Word states and that you have not changed since the days of Moses and are still in the reconciliation and transformation business. You are great and mighty and I will commit my life to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Are You Eating Right?

Are You Eating Right?

Before we discuss “eating right”, my last post, “What are you focusing on?” , was about the need to focus on Jesus rather than the law. The difference is day and night, white and black and according to the Apostle Paul, life and death.

Galatians 5: For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

In the same way, in the natural world, if we desire better health, we’ll put more focus on healthier food choices, which brings us to our topic today.

Everyone should know the concept of eating right for their bodies, right? The well-known saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” has a lot of truth to it, or at least there is good logic to it, given that it is “eating right”. What if we changed that saying to be “A candy bar a day…”? It wouldn’t end the same, would it? 🙂

Aside from getting hit by a bus, all things considered, I believe most will agree that the healthy diet leads to a healthy lifestyle, where the person lives longer, has a higher quality of life, and fewer ailments than those that don’t eat as well. I try to eat healthily, but I admit that most decisions I make are more for flavor than for health. I’ll choose bacon over broccoli any day of the week (not that I don’t eat broccoli at all), but I stay away from most fast food and do not drink sodas. But that’s just me!

Now let’s get to the good stuff, spiritual food.

Consider this passage from the Apostle Paul when giving advice to his apprentice:

1 Timothy 4: 7 Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. 8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 9 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. 10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

Keep in mind that they did not have fast food those days (at least as we know it), so it wouldn’t have been mentioned. But apparently, they did have physical training. Here Paul gives value to physical training, but clearly values “training for godliness” much more. So I no longer worry myself over what people put in their physical bodies, but I am concerned about what people feed their souls with. Sure I want people to be physically healthy, but there will be physically fit people separated from Christ and unhealthy people meeting with Jesus on good terms.

Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.

While reading Ephesians I ran across some great verses that support the idea of living our lives with intention. You see if we wake up every day and commit the day to God, saying “Today I will commit myself to you, Lord”, that sets the tone for the day. And suddenly, before your day even begins, you have volunteered to serve Him and do as He pleases for the duration of the day. Would that change things for you?

Ephesians 5:  1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

…  10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.

…  15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

Do you get the idea here that God wants you to put thought into your day and think about what you ingest spiritually?

What is your great “distraction”?

Take music for example. I like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Rush, The Eagles, and Van Halen (today’s classic anyway), just to name a few. I grew up listening to these bands and I can easily play their tunes in my head. While I used to think of this entertainment as neutral I no longer do. God’s given me a conviction about this and I am much more careful about what I listen to. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you to destroy all of your secular music unless God has convicted you as well in this area. I’m not saying “Don’t listen to this music.”, this is just my personal conviction, 

Romans 14: 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

So here’s the thing…

My flesh enjoys this secular music. It seduces me. When I listen to the Eagles “New Kid In Town”, it takes me to another place, and if I let it, it dominates my mind. Sometimes I can’t get the music out of my head. Am I the only person that this happens to? I can play an old tune that I loved 30 years ago and three days later it’s all I can think about! Is that crazy or what? This is what began to convict me; when I realized that this secular music dominated my mind.

I thought to myself “What if I could fill my mind with praise and worship music?” and that’s what caused me to reconsider what I intentionally listen to. I took this conviction seriously as though God was telling me “Larry, perhaps you shouldn’t be listening to so much secular music.” It’s like anything else that can dominate your mind, such as movies, TV, food, sports, exercise, shopping, work, sex, drugs, money, video games, etc.

“I am humble and gentle at heart” – Jesus

What I love about following Jesus is that He’s done this gradually and gently. First, it was my love for the New York Yankees; they used to dominate my mind. When I started to take God seriously, reading His Word gave me peace, more than I ever thought possible. Then April rolled around and Baseball season was in full swing. Just like an instinct (doing something without putting thought into) I started to follow the Yankees (just like every year prior). If they won, “Woo Hoo! the Yankees are awesome! ”, I was sky high. If they lost, “I can’t believe those stupid Yankees lost that game!, I am so bummed.” Keep in mind that there are 162 games in a season and the Yankees performance each day would determine my mood.

Isn’t that insane? It was an addiction for me. I would even watch the game online (simulated), waiting for every pitch! And this happened during work hours. That wasn’t healthy and this insanity started to rob me of the peace I was finding from spending time with God. So I could hear God nudging me “It’s time to distance yourself from baseball.” So I did. I am still a fan of the game, but a former Yankees addict. I am healed of that, but I know very well that I could get right back into it if I allowed it. They were clearly an idol to me, but no longer.

Isn’t that exciting how God changed me? 

Do you see how God has been gently working on me? He didn’t convict me of everything all at once. I have a long way to go and as I submit to Him daily in prayer and continue to read His Word and meet with other believers I’m certain that He will continue to work on my faults and what I spend my time doing. I have a long way to go as I have many faults still, but knowing what I know now, He will continue doing what He’s been doing.

Philippians 1:  6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

This change that I speak of was totally from God. I simply gave him myself each day in submission and read His Word diligently and this act of obedience has given the Spirit of God fertile soil to work in which led to spiritual growth.

Will this nourish me or harm me?

The things that fill our lives, whether they are relationships, books, activities, and substances we consume, can be either toxic or nourishing to our soul. Toxic is anything that leads us away from God by either poisoning our minds or taking the focus off of God. This is why baseball and secular music can be toxic for me. Nourishing is anything that leads us closer to God and promotes spiritual growth. This will include daily devotionals, sermons, Christian music, godly books, the Bible and genuine fellowship.

Just like certain plants need daily watering for growth, I believe we need to be nourished daily as well.

John 6: 32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” 35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

What will you purposely use to feed your soul?

Just like food, “Will you eat the Twinkie or the Taco?” Although Tacos might not be the best food (depending on how they’re made), they are certainly better than Twinkies.

Likewise, if there was only one source to choose from on a daily basis, would you consume Motor Trend/Field & Stream/a James Patterson Novel/People/Good Housekeeping or the Word of God?

I am convinced that if you are not in the Word of God each day, then you are, at the very least, missing out.  Don’t you realize that there are people in the world that crave the Word of God and don’t even have access to it? But here in the US, we have Bibles that collect dust, while we rely on daily devotionals, a sermon once a week and “The next great Christian book” (if we read at all). I think daily devotionals can be good, but it’s the Word of God interpreted through the mind of man. This can be great, but I think God wants you to learn to feed from His hand directly.

Matthew 23: 8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.

Great habits are difficult to develop

That being said, I know that it is not easy to pick up the Good Book and just read. For those not accustomed to it, it is an acquired taste. Once you start the habit and develop it over time the Word of God comes alive. The more you read it, the more you’ll want to read it and the more you’ll know Jesus. The more you know Him, the more you’ll love Him. If it is a challenge to understand it, then find someone that might help you or send a message to me at Larry@KeepSeekingJesus.com and we can discuss it. Your spiritual growth depends on it.

My friends, this is “eating right” and feeding our souls daily from an organic source, which will lead to spiritual growth and produce much fruit. If you seek Him, you will get to know God in a way that you’ve never thought possible.

I’ll leave you with this:

Colossians 3: 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

Will you eat with me?

“Dear Lord, help me to get to know you more. Thank you for all that you have taught me so far and thank you for giving me a voracious appetite for your Word. Also, thank you in advance for what you’re doing in my life and where you plan on leading me. I want all that you have to offer me and I rejoice in this relationship with you. You are my Teacher and my Creator and I will praise your name. In Jesus name, amen.

Photo by Christopher Czermak on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
What Are You Focusing On?

What Are You Focusing On?

My purpose for last week’s message, “Are The Greatest Commandments Greater Than The 10?”, was to emphasize the importance of focusing on loving Jesus rather than following the laws of Moses. Paul makes it very clear that we are not to forget the law, but that our faith in God is infinitely more important than obeying His laws.

Faith comes first, only then will we develop the ability to obey the law through being transformed.  The focus though, is to please God out of our love for Him, not to obey the law.

Romans 3: 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

Take the “Rich young ruler” for example…

Mark 10 17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

 20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

 21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

 22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

I find this passage very interesting. Jesus first of all makes it clear that no one is good (All have sinned Romans 3:23). Then after checking off a list of commandments, the man states that he’s obeyed them. After that Jesus seems to ask the man to do the one thing he wasn’t willing to do. I believe that we can surmise from this that the man’s sin was idolatry and it kept him from being obedient.

The disciples were willing to walk away from their soon to be former lives to follow Jesus, but this man was not willing. But Jesus’ instructions did not end with “Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor”, that was what he would need to do, in order to do what Jesus requires, which is to follow Him.

That being said, I think it is far more difficult to follow Jesus  than it is to obey the 10 commandments, but it far more worth it.

Turn from your selfish ways

Mark 8: 34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

I truly believe that’s all He really asks of us, which is to “Follow Him”. He says this time and time again throughout the gospels as I’m sure you know.  We’ve all read it before:

Matthew 4: 17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

“Turn to God” = “Follow Jesus”

The rich man was obeying Moses’ commandments, but when it came to following the Messiah, forget it. He didn’t even realize that his very own “riches” were an obstacle.

Think about this.

Every other religion and belief system is all about “do this”, or “do that” to achieve Nirvana or “the next level”. Jesus never makes it about what we can or can’t do, He wants our hearts and for us to have faith in Him. Just like a daddy wants the hearts of his son or daughter more than for them to just clean their room. This is so fundamental to our faith and sets us apart from everyone who is not following Jesus.

Romans 4: 5 But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.

“Follow Me”

What does that mean to you? What do you think about when you read those words? Are you following Him now? And what does that look like?

I think when we follow Him for a period of time He will direct us on a day to day basis and we start to recognize His voice more and more:

John 10: 24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

 25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”

Are you focusing on Jesus or the law?

When we follow Jesus, we learn how to know Him on a personal level, have a greater peace and learn what true joy really is. This also simplifies our lives. If our prime directive each day is to evaluate each decision based on the two greatest commandments then our decision making is easier.

When I focus on the Ten Commandments (the law) it is always about my ability or inability to live up to them. If I’m doing a good job of following them, then I start to become proud and it’s all about me. If I’m not doing a good job of following the law and sinning out of control like a reckless maniac, I’m full of guilt, become angry at myself and others, and again, it becomes about me. Do you see then the focus starts with the law and before I know it the focus is on me and my problem? This is stressful and the Christian life should not be this way.

This also naturally leads to the comparison with others. If I’m following the law, I become inclined to see other’s failures to do what I can do. This leads me to be boastful. If I see others obeying laws that I struggle with then I might think “If only I was as good as Joe is…” What a horrible place to be. This is a childish way to live our lives and is an endless game of comparison and trying to live up to some standard that I cannot.  This is not restful in the least. I grew up with this way of judging myself and others based on performance.

Matthew 7: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

You won’t find forgiveness in the law.

The more I follow Jesus, the more my “selfish ways” becomes clear to me. I become very aware of my “issues” and this allows me to have more compassion for others as I know Jesus has so much compassion for me. There is no forgiveness in the law, but Jesus is all about forgiveness, but that does not mean we take advantage of this freedom.

Romans 4: 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)

 16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.

God values relationships more than anything

When I came to the realization that God cares more about my relationship with Him than my ability to lead a sin-free life it released a heavy burden and allowed me to accept my weaknesses for what they are. This does not mean I become comfortable with my “problems”, it just means He still has work to do in my life. The closer my relationship with Him becomes, the more sorrow I have over my sinfulness.

1 Thessalonians 5: 23 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 24 God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

Remember that we are broken and it’s His job to fix us, not ours. He is the Healer, we are not. When we continue to follow Him, He will heal us in many ways, on His terms, and in His timing.

My Before and After

Before, when I did not have this relationship, the sin in my life pushed me away from God because I did not know Him well enough, but now that I know Him I know that what He truly wants is my love, which yields thanks and praise. Now when I sin, whether it is deliberate or not, I have a greater desire to repent of it and come crawling back to Him, asking for His forgiveness. Oh, what a joy that is!

Psalm 32: 1 Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
3 When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

1 John 1: 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

Do you see how this personal relationship with Him makes all the difference?

Will you follow Him?

“Dear Lord, if only I knew you more. You are perfect in all your ways and I am so thankful for your wonderful love and everlasting compassion. Thank you for the relationship that we have and for teaching me things I couldn’t have learned elsewhere. You are so good and I desire to be more like you. Please change my heart and help me to live a life that truly pleases you and brings you glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Greatest Commandments

Are the Greatest Commandments Greater Than The 10?

Before we discuss the “greatest commandments”, have you watched my latest testimony? It’s below last weeks message “A Beautiful Life“, in case you missed it.

In almost everything, the greater the number, the better. “Two heads are better than one”, “There is strength in numbers”, “Four of a kind beats three of a kind”… I think you get it.

What am I alluding to you may ask? I am comparing the two greatest commandments with the Ten Commandments. This may be one of the more controversial topics that I’ve written about, but I also think it is one of the most important topics to discuss.

Much of what I’ll be discussing in this message can be found in Romans (chap. 7, 8, 14), Galatians, Ephesians 2, Hebrews (chap. 9 & 10) and various passages scattered throughout the gospels. Since a lot of the New Testament is simply a commentary of the Old in addition to the revelation of the Messiah, it would be good to have an understanding of the Old Testament.

The Ten vs. The Two

It seems to me that Cecil B. DeMille and Charlton Heston have left quite an impression over the past generations with the masterpiece of “The Ten Commandments” movie they produced in 1956. As a nation we seem to be very nostalgic and defensive when it comes to the Ten Commandments. After all, it is what our laws are based on. Our founding fathers saw fit to place them in the halls of institutions, courthouses and on monuments.

I’m not saying this is wrong. I have no problems with what the founding fathers have done and I have enjoyed the movie many times. What I do have a problem with is when this adoration of the 10 commandments seeps into our personal theology as something to place special focus on. As if to say that some might worship the law more that the Law Giver.

Our focus should never be on these 10 commandments. Our focus, at least for those proclaiming to be Christ followers, should be on Jesus Himself. Jesus did not contradict Moses, but He placed the emphasis on relationships rather than self-righteousness and faith rather than obeying the law.

Let’s compare The Ten Commandments vs. The Two

The Ten Commandments

They are found in Exodus and restated in Deuteronomy 5:6-21…

Exodus 20 (Abbreviated)
3 “You must not have any other god but me.
4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image…”
7 “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
12 “Honor your father and mother.
13 “You must not murder.
14 “You must not commit adultery.
15 “You must not steal.
16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house.

The Two Commandments

Matthew 22: 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

These OT commandments are:

Deuteronomy 6: “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

Leviticus 19: 18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

If our focus is on the law and keeping the law then there was no point in Jesus’ death on the cross.

Galatians 5: 1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. 2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

Instant Replay: “So Christ has truly set us free!”

What is important to understand about Jesus’ work on the cross is that He fulfilled the law completely.

Matthew 5: 17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

Matthew 5: 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (NIV)

And did He?

John 19: 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.

At this point His work was done, the law was fulfilled. Their purpose was so that the Jews might have life:

Deuteronomy 30: 15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.

But that system was only a shadow…

Hebrews 10: 1 The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.

The author of Hebrews goes on to state:

Hebrews 10: 8 First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses).9 Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. 10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Did you catch that?

The first covenant with the laws and the sacrificial system has been canceled!

12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 13 There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. 14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

It is because of His death we are “made perfect” and “made holy”. Not by our ability to obey His laws, but by His obedience and work on the Cross.

We read on that in Jeremiah 31, the prophet said this of the New Covenant:

Jeremiah 31: 16
“This is the new covenant I will make
with my people on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”

In other words, we don’t have to be told what to do (or what not to do).

Our faith requires that we be proactive, not passive

But what is excellent about the two commandments that Jesus focused on is that they require a proactive faith and is basically commanding us to have a relationship with Him.

If we really understand these two “Greatest Commandments” and Jesus death on the cross, then we’ll know what sets Christianity apart from all other beliefs, philosophies, and religions. Why did Jesus come?

John 10: 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

This “rich and satisfying life” is to be had here, on this planet, now! No other belief system or religion offers this. This freedom that Christ has given us from the law is to be enjoyed today. Not that we would abuse it, but to live life abundantly.

Galatians 2: 17 But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! 18 Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. 19For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God.

20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

The greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13: 13b)

So the focus here is to love and live for God, rather than “trying to follow all the rules”. There is absolutely nothing wrong with “not breaking the rules”, but if we miss out on the loving relationship that God desires that we have with Him then we’ve missed the boat completely.

Keep this in mind:

Matthew 7: 12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

If our focus lies on loving God and others, it covers all the “laws” anyway. Do you see how the shift of “focusing on the person of Jesus Christ” rather than “focusing on His law” simplifies things, draws us closer to God, and gives us a greater peace? Let the relationship begin!

Paul puts it this way…

Galatians 5: 16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

And he seems to restate it here:

Romans 7: 5 When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. 6 But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.

There is so much more that could be said and many more scriptures that support this idea, but I think what I’ve included here is enough for now. I have found a great freedom in focusing my attention on loving God rather than simply trying to “obey the law”. If you focus more on relationships with Him and with others I guarantee that you will have a much more satisfying life and an eternal one as well.

Galatians 4: 12a Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles—free from those laws.

Will you focus on Him?

“Thank you, Jesus, for the freedom that your death on the cross has given us; so that we may enjoy life here and now! Your commandments are very challenging to me and I’m trying my best to love you and others. But I need your help. Please continue to reveal yourself to me as I read your Word, so that I might have a greater understanding of you and how to relate to others. Your love is like the mighty mountains and I rejoice in my relationship with you! In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Greg Becker on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
A Beautiful Life

A Beautiful Life

I have something beautiful to share with you today. Something that is near and dear to my heart. It’s so precious and valuable to me that I can’t help but share it whenever I’m given the opportunity. It is something that I never want to take for granted or think to myself “It’s not so special after all”.

John 9: 25b “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (ESV)

If you’re still wondering what I have to share with you…

It’s my story.

At least the story of my life as it is so far. God is writing through me a beautiful life, with a beautiful wife, beautiful daughter, a really cool son-in-law and three of the most amazing grandkids that any grandfather would be jealous of!

I cannot recall a time in my life that I did not believe in God or even challenge that belief. I’m not saying that I never had doubts or that my faith was perfect, but I can honestly say that I never had an affair with Atheism or considered leaving my faith to be an Agnostic. I thank the Lord that I always had a belief in Him (and that He was always faithful to me, even when I was unfaithful).

Living in Lukewarm City, USA

Don’t get me wrong, although I always had faith, for most of my life I was lukewarm at best. There were a few occasions that I had a strong passion for God, like after a spiritual growth conference, a retreat, or even a Promise Keepers event. The longest “hot streak” was when I came back to the Lord after being stone cold during my college years, but that lasted for only about a year and a half. Yes, for most of my adult life I was in a lukewarm comfort zone.

I was just another church attender, sitting in a pew, week after week, singing the songs and going through the motions. I was a fan of Jesus, but not a follower (taken from the wonderful book, “Not a Fan”, by Kyle Idleman). I said all the right things and knew the language, I was steeped in it. But I wasn’t a phony, like a “wolf”, so to speak. It was just that my faith was shallow. There wasn’t much depth to it.

Mark 6: Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

I had no idea! (I once was blind)

More than a few Christians told me over the years “It’s about a personal relationship”. I heard it many times and thought I understood it, but I was clueless. We cannot understand what we don’t have knowledge of or experience. I had a relationship, but it was superficial at best. I knew of Jesus but really didn’t know Him. I’d said “Hi, Jesus”, but never spent the time to truly get to know Him.

I must say that I don’t understand all this nor can I take any credit for it. It’s truly a work of the Spirit. All I can say is that if any of what I said resonated with you and you’re seeking a deeper faith, then I recommend that you read my post from last week and watch the video below…

But Now I See!

That was me (keyword: was), prior to 2007, Mr. “hot nor cold” from the Land of Indifference, but as you watch this video, you’ll learn about the rest of my story.

Photo by niko photos on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change: Are You Ready?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since diligently seeking and having a relationship with Jesus, it is this:

If we humbly seek Him, giving our lives to Him and asking that His will be done in our lives, change is inevitable. Not only is it inevitable, but it is always meant for our good and for His purposes. This is what He promises. It is His character that He always creates a win-win for all His people and for Him. He gets the glory out of our story and our transformation.

Romans 8: 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

The catch, so to speak, is that we humans typically don’t like change. Change always comes with uncertainties such as “Where will I work?”, “Where will I live?”, “What if I don’t get the job?”, “How will I move on from this tragedy?”, etc.

How can we prepare for change?

The best thing we can do in order to prepare for change is to develop a close relationship with the One who created us. In other words, to know the One we’re seeking, the Lord Jesus Christ. Without a close relationship (or “walk with Him”), we are subject to the waves and turbulence that come with change. We absolutely need Him to be our stabilizing force so that we can endure change without appearing to be a fraud or worry like an unbeliever. He needs to be our solid Rock for us to stand on otherwise we’ll be sinking in the sand.

Luke 6: 46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

How do we develop that close relationship with Jesus? (I’m glad you asked!)

It’s simple, we spend time with Him. Just like any other relationship, in order for it to grow and to develop into something more than just an acquaintance, time with the other person is absolutely essential.

Let me make this very simple and it is something that I learned first hand from the Lord Himself (That’s another story)

There are…

3 essential, regular activities that we must pursue…

in order to develop our relationship with God.

These activities are:

Spend time in His Word

This should be no surprise. When Jesus says “listens to my teaching“, either hearing the Word or reading it is how we listen to His teaching. And this is not just the New Testament, but the Old Testament is just as valuable. He wrote that Book as well, with the help of His friends, of course.

We need to devour it just as we devour any good book or novel. It is our daily Bread, for our souls. Our spiritual life depends on reading the Word of God. If you’re not reading His Word consistently then I don’t know how you can expect to grow much without it.

Spend time in Prayer

I shouldn’t have to tell you this. I think it is a given. But I know first hand that prayer is one of the most difficult things for a person to do, especially when they’re just starting to develop the habit.

There’s just something about prayer to a Holy and Righteous God that offends our flesh and we look for all kinds of distractions and/or excuses not to pray. It always seems to be a challenge, at least starting out.

Prayer is the simple act of conversing with God. Just talk to Him. When you’re driving, when you wake up, when you’re waiting in line or when you talk with a friend who’s losing their home, pray with them! And continue to pray for those that God has put in your life.

Once this habit is developed, a believer realizes just how important it really is and I’ve never met a believer who thinks they pray enough, honestly.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing” (ESV) or “Never stop praying”

Luke 10: 38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Spend time in regular Fellowship

I define fellowship as spending time with other people that love Jesus. Where the focus of your conversation is about the Bible, sharing your lives and your burdens. It’s having meaningful discussions about living out our faith. Fellowship can come in many flavors but it is always worthwhile and never superficial. Maybe it’s over food, coffee, going on a road trip, in Bible Study, or prayer meeting. It’s going on a hike or after a long day at work sharing your life with someone over the phone.

This is how relationships are developed, real, meaningful relationships, with Christ being at the center.

Galatians 6: Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

We can’t do this without meaningful fellowship.

Hebrews 10: 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

After spending this time with Jesus, alone and with His family we will not only have a strong foundation in Christ, but we’ll also have a beautiful family that will also endure the seasons of change with us. That, my friends, is invaluable! Can I get an “Amen”?

Dear Father, thank you for leading me to you and opening my eyes so that I might know you, a Holy and loving God. You are magnificent and I want to know you more. Please help me to develop a closer relationship with you so that I can have confidence and a peace that the world couldn’t possibly understand. Thank you for leading me closer to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Photo by Will Swann on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Keep Seeking Jesus

New Name, New Look

This is just a personal update.

Forgive me for not writing or posting anything since February! A lot has happened since then and I’d just like to let you in on it.

A new blog name (and domain name!)

Early this year I got the conviction of changing the domain name to something other than my name. When I first started the blog I was modeling my site after a mentor’s site (who uses their name) and since I already had the domain name “LarryPittman.com” (the old domain name), it just seemed like the right thing to do.

The moral of the story is: “Don’t always do something just because someone you highly respect is doing it.” We always need to be deliberate about our decisions and put them before the Lord!

The Lord gives and He takes away (Job 1:21)

Another change that directly impacted my time for this blog was work. The Lord answered my prayer one day and almost doubled my workload. This was a real financial blessing, but it took away a lot of my time, of course.

By the end of September, however, I was informed that they no longer needed my services and I was promptly let go at the end of the month. I was no longer receiving a regular paycheck, but suddenly I had freedom! Isn’t it funny how that works?

This leads me to think that the thing Paul learned, which is located in Philippians 4, is well worth seeking:

Philippians 4: 11 “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

I’m not where I want to be yet at “being content”, but I am much better than where I was years ago.

Thank you for being one of my readers and partners!

Thank you for pursuing Jesus with your whole heart. That’s what this is all about. As I keep seeking Him I just want to work with others that do the same.

Psalm 105: 4 “Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (ESV)

Will you seek Jesus with me?



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.