What Are You Focusing On?

What Are You Focusing On?

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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

 



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Greatest Commandments

Are the Greatest Commandments Greater Than The 10?

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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



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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

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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



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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?

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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.

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Keep Seeking Jesus

New Name, New Look

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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?



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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.
How Does Your Faith Grow?

How Does Your Faith Grow?

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When I finally started taking God seriously and diligently read His Word, the idea or concept of “faith in God” was foreign to me. I didn’t really understand it and I certainly did not have any kind of faith to speak of. I would read about Abraham being told to sacrifice his son Isaac and I thought that Abraham was someone extra special or that he had “superhuman” qualities that God gave him. As if to say that no one could be ordinarily expected to have that kind of faith. I am learning, however, that this is somewhat true, but not entirely. Allow me to explain…

Let’s start with the Bible’s own definition of faith:

Hebrews 11:  1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Isn’t this a great definition of faith?

Imagine you and a close friend are standing on the edge of a great chasm like you might see in an Indiana Jones movie. There is no visible way across. But when you re-read the ancient map you read a clue that suggests that a walking bridge exists starting at the end of the path, only it is invisible!

Do you trust the old map? What could be that important on the other end that would warrant the risk? Who steps out first, you or your friend? When you decide to take the first step, you are hoping that your foot will stop at the same level as your other foot and be able to support your weight.

How much confidence would you have in that first step? After taking the first five steps and seeing that this invisible bridge does indeed exist, do you have a little more faith in the map and the bridge itself? Of course! How exciting it would be to stand on an invisible bridge in the middle of a chasm. Now you have to keep on going and the rest of the bridge is still invisible. Are you ready to run across at this point, or still go one step at a time? It still takes faith and each step should be made with more and more confidence, but you’ll never see the bridge.

John 20: 29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

In this analogy, the bridge is like God, He wants us to trust totally on Him, leaning entirely on Him.

Let’s take Asa, one of Judah’s kings, as an example.

Here is a lesson for what is right:

2 Chronicles 14: 10 so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. 11 Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”
12 So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled.

And here is a lesson for what is wrong:

2 Chronicles 16: 7 At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. 8 Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you. 9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”

What I find fascinating is that king Asa knew better. He saw the Lord work in his life previously and witnessed a great miracle in defeating 1,000,000 Ethiopians, yet failed to continue trusting in God.

This tells me that we need to be careful and persistent in knowing where our faith is placed. This is why it is imperative in getting to know God on a personal level deeper and deeper. I am convinced that the more we know Him, the more we’ll trust Him. Does this make sense to you? How well do you know Him?

The map is like the Word of God.

All believers can digest the Word for spiritual nutrition and this helps us to understand and know our Creator all the more. This is why the Bible, in and of itself, is never enough. Anyone can read the Bible, but real faith comes by putting into practice that which we’ve learned and act on it.

For example, when the car breaks down, do we quickly whip out the credit card for the solution without acknowledging God and go to the nearest mechanic? Or do we pray about it and allow God to work in the situation? If we do not give God a chance to help us and rescue us as promised then how will we ever develop any kind of faith? Does this help you realize why it is so difficult for the rich to inherit the Kingdom of God?

Psalm 37:
5 Commit everything you do to the Lord.
     Trust him, and he will help you.
6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
     and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
7 Be still in the presence of the Lord,
     and wait patiently for him to act.
  Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
     or fret about their wicked schemes.

Hebrews 11:  6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

I love this verse, don’t you?

First, it makes it clear that faith is required to please God and second, it gives us the basic requirements of that faith. This is just a starting point. This is where the spiritually new-born begin. But in order to truly please God, I believe He wants us to grow and develop this faith.

I believe the parable of the servants is a great illustration of this:

Matthew 25: 24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

This servant clearly did not know his master very well and committed a grave mistake. Here’s where his ignorance led him:

Matthew 25: 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Unfortunately, I believe there are too many self-proclaimed believers in this position right now.

I apologize for the cynicism,

but I think far too many people that know the Truth are far more interested in working for their retirement on this earth than they are in working for eternal treasures.

Matthew 6: 19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

John 6:  26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

This is where the “rubber meets the road”. This makes it an individual sport. Not that we can’t work together to help build each other’s faith through fellowship, but the “day in and day out” practice of trusting in God requires the individual’s effort and the Christian believer cannot rely on their pastor for that.

Check out this verse…

The Bible actually tells us how we can build the faith. In other words, it is saying “Read me!”:

Romans 10: 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (NASB) (This translates from the English to “Read your Bibles daily!” LT (Larry’s Translation) 🙂

Getting back to Abraham, it is important to keep in mind that he was an ordinary man. There was nothing special about him other than being chosen by God. What we need to keep in mind is that he was prepared over time by being tested by God and for his obedience and this is the case for any one of the saints.

Hebrews 11: 17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

Back to our analogy, to get across the bridge and develop a faith in it, we needed to have the map and read it. God is far more complex and the journey He intends for us is much more complicated than the bridge will ever be.

This is why the Bible is essential for daily consumption.

This is why the Bible is required reading with the kind of faith that leads you to expect to hear God’s voice so that He can lead and direct you. A “man of God” such as a pastor or elder can usually never tell you what God wants you to do next, although it may seem obvious. That is something only you can discern for yourself. Is there any wonder why God put countless “Be not afraid” passages in His Word? And we must never forget this, straight from the Master’s lips:

Matthew 28: 20 … be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Are you complacent in your Christian walk? Are you ready for an adventure?

“Dear Lord, I lack faith. It seems as though I doubt you all the time and fail to take your Word as truth. Will you please forgive me and help me to know you more so that I can have a great confidence in you? You are my Lord and I commit my life to you today. I will trust in you and you alone. Change my heart so that I desire what you desire and despise what you despise. Thank you in advance for all the wonderful things you’ll continue to do in my life as a result of me putting my faith in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash



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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.
Do You Know Your Purpose?

Do You Know Your Purpose?

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It is perhaps one of the most common questions asked by humans throughout the ages.

“What is the meaning of life?”

Another related question for any given individual is:

“What is my purpose?”

People are born, live their lives, then they die. It’s that dash, you know, on our tombstone, the one between 1968 and 20?? (At least for me) that we’re living out.

Some people seem to love living, they just enjoy life.

Then there are others, the majority, unfortunately, that can’t wait for the weekend so that they have some time off from their work. These people would like to enjoy life but they don’t know how. In most cases, their happiness is based on being able to have time off, a better job, or having a nicer home or car.

What about you? Is your life satisfying? Are you enjoying your time here on planet Earth?  Is your life worth living? Do you have a clear purpose? Or does it seem meaningless?

How does one go from living a meaningless life to one filled with purpose?

Suppose you found a device. It’s a little electronic gadget that has some buttons and a little display. The only words on it are foreign and you can’t get it to turn on or do anything. Until you know what it was designed for, it has no obvious purpose. It seems to have been masterfully designed and looks really interesting, but it does nothing and seems meaningless.

Then along comes the device’s creator. He has something in his hand that appears to be some sort of power source. He plugs it into the device and it lights up, makes some noise and starts doing some of the most marvelous things you’ve ever seen. What the little device does is simply amazing. The technology is so wonderful and so exceptional that it makes you say “Wow, whoever designed this little thingy is a genius!”

Psalm 19
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
     The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
     night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word;
     their voice is never heard.
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
     and their words to all the world.

Have you ever observed the sky at night?

Did you ever look at the moon and stars and said “Wow!”? Now check this out:

Genesis 1:  14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them mark off the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. 16 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

Isn’t this cool? The Bible actually tells us what these heavenly bodies were made for. Though we see them day in and day out they continue to amaze us. The heavens happen to be God’s handiwork and it’s been working very well. Also, notice that they are multi-purpose, they separate day from night, one to govern the day, another to govern the night. The sun governs by affecting wind patterns and weather, while the moon governs by affecting the tides and I’m certain other undiscovered influences. All the heavenly bodies have the purpose of illumination and each is quite brilliant at that. I think it’s really cool that the moon has no light by itself, but only when we see the moon when it is reflecting the sun does it have light.

Are there any true atheists?

The people who deny God say that life and our universe happened all by chance. They see no purpose in any of it and think we’re just some cosmic accident.

Romans 1:  18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. 21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t 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.

This is telling us that even atheists know God, but they’ve suppressed the truth. This proves the point that if you lie to yourself long enough you’ll end up believing it. Their minds are really dark and confused.

Satan has a lot of people fooled these days, doesn’t he?

He does anything he can to distract us from the Living God to the point of believing that there is no purpose and that life is meaningless.

So what about humans? What is our purpose? How were we designed?

Genesis 1:  27 So God created human beings in his own image.
     In the image of God he created them;
     male and female he created them.

What sets us apart from every other living creature is that we were made in His image. This knowledge helps us a lot. This implies that, by design, we resemble God. He’s cast us to be God-like, it’s in our DNA.

But since creation, we’ve encountered a bit of a problem. Well, actually, it is a major problem:

Romans 5:  12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

Born Sinners

Humans have been separated from God since Adam’s transgression and we’re born sinners:

Psalm 51:
5 For I was born a sinner—
     yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.

Separation from God means that we cannot know or understand our purpose. Like the aforementioned device, we have no purpose until we are plugged into our Power Source, the Creator. Only then can we live in such a way that brings Him glory:

John 15: 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

This makes it clear that humans are in need of reconciliation with God. How can this happen?

Romans 5: 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Only in Jesus

Only when our faith is in Christ do we truly live and are plugged into His power.  Then we can live up to the purpose He’s created us for, which is to glorify Him.

Again, how do we glorify Him? John 15: 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

Is there a sure-footed way for us to bear fruit in every season? You betcha!

Psalm 1
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
     follow the advice of the wicked,
     or stand around with sinners,
     or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
     meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
     bearing fruit each season.
  Their leaves never wither,
     and they prosper in all they do.

This makes complete sense when you think about it.

The Bible is God’s instruction manual for us, it really teaches us how to live and how to love God. We are so wonderfully made that unlike the device mentioned above, God’s designed us so that He made us aware of our sinful nature and has given us free will and the ability to plug ourselves into His power.

John 6:  26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
29 Jesus told them, This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

This purpose of living for God yields eternal life and when this sinks into our hearts it brings true joy. The more we read His Word, the more we know how to please Him and give Him glory. After a while, our lives become simpler. We live each day making a concerted, deliberate effort with the simple goal of pleasing Him and giving Him the glory.

Paul said it best:

Romans 12:  1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Will you live for His glory?

“Dear God, you are my maker and my savior. You came before me and follow me. Without you I am nothing and have no meaning. I owe everything to you. When I consider this, I am compelled to give you all the praise and thank you for my life. Thank you in advance for the eternal life you’ve promised me! If only I can keep this fresh in my mind, I take it for granted all too easily. Please help me to get to know you better. Help me to put my complete faith in you. You are so faithful and loving, a God that will never let down all whose hope is in you. Thank you for everything! In Jesus’ name, amen”

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash



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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.
Faith & Love

Faith & Love

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Faith comes first.

A person comes to God in/through faith (belief):

Hebrews 11: 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Love comes after.

There is no way to love someone without knowing them. He already loves us as He’s always known us.

1 John 4: 19 We love, because He first loved us. (NASB)

By coming to Him in faith we are simply responding to His love. He is the initiator.

He promises time and again throughout His Word that when we seek Him, we will find Him. Here’s just one example:

2 Chronicles 15: 1 Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. 4 But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.

Here is another verse that sheds some light on God’s character:

James 4: 8a Come close to God, and God will come close to you.

Notice that He doesn’t seek after us. To get our attention, He can do any number of things. But for us to really know Him, we have to do the seeking and this takes time and effort as do all valued relationships.

The more I know God personally, the more I love Him. The more I love Him, the greater my faith in Him becomes. Our faith and love for Him go hand in hand.

As a child, and like most children, I had implicit faith in my father. I could jump from the monkey bars and into His hands without wavering because I knew him and loved him. I had great faith that he would catch me. God wants the same from us, which is why He requires “child-like” faith:

Mark 10: 13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

Faith in God does not happen overnight. If we are truly “born again” (of the Spirit), we all start off as babes in Christ and need to grow and develop into young men and women of God.

Keep in mind that Abraham walked with God at least 38 years before he was asked to sacrifice his only (legitimate) son.

David spent many years with God as a young adult working as a shepherd and was able to develop a great faith in God after experiencing God helping him kill lions and bears while watching the flocks.

1 Samuel 17: 34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”  Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”

Without a relationship with the Lord, which God requires (love the Lord your God), we will never grow in faith.

Yes, faith comes first which introduces us to God in the first place but in order to grow and have deep roots we must love Him and learn to love Him more and more.

Ephesians 3:  14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

This helps us to understand why the greatest commandments are:

Matthew 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
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.”

Out of this relationship, obedience should come naturally.

God desires obedience more than sacrifice, which brings glory to Him:

1 Samuel 15:
22 But Samuel replied,
  “What is more pleasing to the Lord:
     your burnt offerings and sacrifices
     or your obedience to his voice?
  Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
     and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
     and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
  So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
     he has rejected you as king.”

John 14:  23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.

So how could we ever obey Him if we fail to hear His voice because we don’t know Him? It becomes our heart’s desire to obey Him when we love Him.

What does obedience mean to you on a day to day basis? Is it simply doing good things and making sure we don’t do wrong? I can tell you most assuredly that God desires much more than simply staying away from evil and doing good works.

He wants your heart, completely.

Jeremiah 29: 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the LORD.

When you know Him and trust Him enough to give Him your whole heart, it will be your greatest desire to do what He want’s you to do. This does not mean that you’ll never be without sin, please don’t have that expectation. What can be expected, however, is a transformed heart and that, my friends, is the greatest!

Hosea 6:
6 I want you to show love,
     not offer sacrifices.
  I want you to know me
     more than I want burnt offerings.

1 Corinthians 13: 13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

If you do not know how to seek Him or how to develop this relationship, feel free to reply to this message and I’d be happy to discuss it with you.

Will you take the time to know Him?

“Dear Lord, thank you for loving me. Thank you for getting my attention and letting me know that you desire a relationship with me. Please help me to get to know you more and help me to stay on your path. Draw me close as I’ll draw close to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Daniel Páscoa on Unsplash



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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.
Is There A Better Way To Pray?

Is There A Better Way To Pray?

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Today I’d like to examine one of the greatest examples of prayer that we have in all of Scripture, and it’s very simple.

It is the prayer that Jesus prayed while in the garden of Gethsemane just after the last supper. To me, it is the perfect example of a surrendered prayer life. It is honest and He yielded to His Father’s will.

There is a lot to be learned from the words that were said that night, let’s take a look…

John 17: 1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.

Jesus knew what was coming next. It was the event that finalized His work here on earth, the crucifixion. Most of us know that Jesus is God in the flesh, but in these passages, we also see that He was also human.

When He first arrives at the garden He becomes filled with grief:

Mark 14: 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Isn’t this interesting? The overwhelming events ahead must have been unbearable to think about.

As anyone that is faced with fears or grief should do, He prays:

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Now it gets even more interesting.

Although He knows that He is to die and offer the atoning sacrifice for all mankind, He prays that the suffering be taken away from Him.

Hebrews 7: 27 Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.

To me, when I began to understand that Jesus asked not to go through with it, it gave me much joy, mostly because I could relate to Jesus. Although He was perfect, He had this human element that we all share. So the next time we pray “I don’t want to go through with this.”, we can look back on this verse and feel OK, we’re in good company. He was faced with circumstances that He did not want to face. This is just being honest and transparent before His Father. Dare I say that this is the weakest moment of his ministry? But the prayer didn’t end there.

“Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

It was more important to Him to have His Father’s will done than His own. This was yielding to His Father’s will.

He not only prayed this prayer once but three times:

Matthew 26:  42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”

44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.

So like any child, He kept asking. (Practicing what He’s preached) He might’ve wanted to ask more, but time had run out, the “lynch mob” had arrived, led by Judas Iscariot (evil villain).

It’s in Luke we read that “an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him”:

Luke 22: 41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

Notice also in verse 44 we read that He was in such agony that we sweat drops of blood!

When the mob does show up, after these prayers, we see a different Jesus. After Peter slashed off the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave, Jesus had these words to say:

Matthew 26: 52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

This is significant.

This is why the “Thy will be done” is so important. Jesus knew that if He would not have prayed for the Father’s will, and asked for protection, it would not have pleased His Father and Jesus would have none of that.

John 5: 19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.

Just like anything, “Thy will be done” comes off the tongue real easy, but it is not easy for me to pray it like I mean it.

A hypothetical situation

For practical application, let’s read about Tom and his wife Barb (fictional characters)…

A hard-working, God-fearing man, Tom, makes a mistake at the office. Not just any mistake, but a doozy. He loses a huge account for the company he works for because of this mistake. He knows that the company will review the situation and hold a disciplinary meeting that could result in the loss of his job.

Tom is quite concerned at this point and is surprised that he’d even commit a mistake like that to begin with. So he prays “Lord, please help me keep my job, the idea of being fired is unbearable.” The Lord, being the generous God that He is, has the company find favor with Tom and they decide to keep him. Praise God, that is wonderful!

But what if God had other plans in mind? Here’s an alternative ending. Suppose Tom had prayed this prayer “Lord, anything is possible for you, can you help me keep my job? Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” The next day Tom gets fired. He’s gone. He gets the boot. He’s sacked. He’s absolutely miserable.

The next day and in the days to come, he has more time to read his Bible, spend time with his wife, Barb, and he starts to see things from a different perspective. “I’m not so tense, he says to himself”. Weeks go by and he actually grows closer to God and to Barb. Yes, there is a financial strain and some humiliation (which is good), but his relationships are better off.

He’s already better off, God already worked out a plan that is better for Tom. Even if Tom gets a job that doesn’t pay as well perhaps he won’t have the tension or the long hours, he’s found that it is more valuable to him to spend more time with God and with his wife. Maybe God has a better job in mind that will pay him more and have fewer hours.

You can see where I’m going with this and this can play out in many ways. Most of the time it is difficult to know the will of God, but I think we need to give Him a chance in our lives just to show how great He is rather than keeping control over it ourselves.

We serve a God who knows everything about our future.

Of course, Tom wants to keep his job, that’s all he knows and few people like the “unknown”. Perhaps it is God’s will for him to keep his job. God gave him the job and he’s got great friends there. If it’s God’s will to keep the job and he keeps it, then Tom will give God all the praise and thank God from the rooftops for His mercy and grace.

Suppose God has other plans. How is Tom to know what’s best for him? Does he know the future and can he figure out where he should be to maximize his potential and glorify God?

So if it is God’s will for Tom to be fired, doesn’t God know what’s best for him? Doesn’t God care more about their marriage than they do? (absolutely)

Remember Job? God not only knew what Job would have to endure but gave Satan permission to humble him, stripping everything away from him. Job had no idea why it happened and suffered greatly while experiencing tremendous loss. Little did he know at the time that God had it all planned out. At the end of the story, he was awarded twice what was lost and became a better man of God than before. What an amazing God!

Here are a couple passages that provide food for thought:

Isaiah 29:
16 How foolish can you be?
He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay!
Should the created thing say of the one who made it,
“He didn’t make me”?
Does a jar ever say,
“The potter who made me is stupid”?

Isaiah 55: 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Will you give God the chance to do what He wants with you?

“Dear Lord, You are my maker, why is it so easy for me to forget that? You are good, loving and only have what’s in my best interests. Please change my heart so that I will follow you more closely. You are the one that gives me life. Thank you for all that you’ve done in my life thus far, but I want things to change between me and you. I want your will to be done from now on, Lord. I plan on changing my prayer and allowing you to have your way with my life because I believe that you can do a better job with it than I can. It’s scary sometimes when I think about what might happen in the future but I will trust in you, thank you Father! In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash



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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 Does God’s Sovereignty Mean To You?

What Does God’s Sovereignty Mean To You?

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When I consider the whole of Scripture I think of a summary of what God has to say to us, in a nutshell. Many ideas come to mind and when I considered the constant theme of His sovereignty, I thought I’d write about it.

His sovereignty is best understood once we’ve read the entire Bible. We can see it in the New Testament, but the Old Testament drives this point home and it gives the reader a completely different perspective and understanding of God than the New.

Consider these definitions of sovereign as an adjective:

  1. Self-governing; independent
  2. Having supreme rank or power
  3. Paramount; supreme

Which of these definitions apply to the most high God? If you answered the missing number 4, “all of the above”, you’re absolutely correct!

Psalm 115: 3 Our God is in the heavens,
and he does as he wishes.

I believe to fully trust God we need to have an accurate perspective of Him. After all, what kind of God are we serving here?

Genesis 1:  1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

This is the perspective we need to constantly keep. We see many prayers in the Bible referencing this very event, for example:

2 Kings 19: 15 And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: “O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth.

I think this is so important to keep in mind because I get so caught up in my day to day life which causes me to focus on material things and the difficulties I have. Before too long I can lose sight of my God and start to lose hope or just become confused.

Isaiah 26:  3 You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

When I was young my Dad could do anything, he was all-powerful and took care of all my problems. That’s exactly how we should think about God, as our heavenly Father who is always there when we need Him.

Romans 8: 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

Knowing that our heavenly Father is the Creator of all things, seen and unseen, gives us a great sense of peace doesn’t it?

Knowing that God is sovereign also gives me a healthy fear of God. For example, suppose a married man is working in an office. He’s been living right and fears God.  But one day he starts thinking of the cute, new secretary in the shipping department that smiles at him when he talks to her. He then has this thought to make up an excuse to go see her, “Just to talk”, he thinks to himself. Although this idea is not from God it keeps running through his mind and is very seductive. Before too long it’s time for lunch and he didn’t have a chance to act yet on this thought, but it’s still alluring to him. He takes his Bible to the lunch room and as he normally does he cracks it open and starts to read as he eats his meal. Suppose he reads one or more of the following verses after a prayer for discernment:

Ecclesiastes 12: 13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

Job 31
1 “I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look with lust at a young woman.

Proverbs 5:3-6
3 For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,
and her mouth is smoother than oil.
4 But in the end she is as bitter as poison,
as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
6 For she cares nothing about the path to life.
She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.

21 For the Lord sees clearly what a man does,
examining every path he takes.
22 An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23 He will die for lack of self-control;
he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Matthew 5:27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Hopefully, after reading any one of these scriptures, the man will humble himself before God because in his heart he knows that what he has been planning is wickedness, I think that when he reads any part of the Bible he’ll get convicted as the Holy Spirit works on his conscience. When he’s done reading he has a choice. He could simply forget what he’s read and continue as planned or he’ll have this renewed sense of fear of the Lord which will cause him to pray something like this: “O Lord, thank you for showing the deceitfulness of my heart and making it clear to me that I was going down a dark and dreadful path. Your ways are pure and righteous; please change my heart so that I’ll willingly obey you. Draw me close to you so that I’ll love my wife so much that I wouldn’t want to jeopardize this precious gift of marriage that you’ve given me, amen”

I think the more real our God becomes in our lives the more fear we have for Him and the more we wish to please Him. Just like the more a man loves his wife the more he wants to please her.

King David understood His sovereignty very well and it is illustrated beautifully in Psalm 139. I’ll end this message with just the beginning of this psalm and I encourage you to read the entire psalm as soon as you can.

Psalm 139

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!

What does His sovereignty mean to you?

“Dear Lord, I cannot even begin to understand you. You are far too wonderful for me to comprehend. My hope is that I can continue to know you more so that I can love you more and share your kindness and everlasting mercies with others. People need to know how great you are. Please help me to stay on your path. Thank you for your patience with me and calling me, to begin with. You are a great and mighty God, Creator of the earth and who am I that you even think of me? In Jesus’ name, amen.”

You can read Psalm 139 online using this link: Psalm 139

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash



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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.