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Are You Doing The Small Things? Part 3

1 Corinthians 1: 26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

Most plants require 3 essentials for growth. For those of you that are not green thumbs, let’s review: They are water, sun, and good or fertilized soil. Most plants require all three.

For the past two weeks, we discussed two elements that are essential for our spiritual growth. They are reading God’s Word and prayer. But they are not enough for us to thrive.

3rd small thing: Christian fellowship

The third essential element (and small thing) is Christian relationships (fellowship).

John 15: 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

This conversation Jesus has with His 11 remaining disciples takes place during the last supper. Notice how intimate it is. This is the culmination of spending three years with each other. Jesus actually exercises this “great love” the next day! This was a very tightly knit group of tax collectors, fishermen, a zealot, and we don’t know so much about the one’s whose professions are not mentioned, but they were a mixed bag that for the most part did not have a lot in common with each other. It was their love for Jesus that made them tightly knit. They were, of course, brothers:

Matthew 12: 48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”

We are to be known for our love for one another

It is through these relationships that prove to the world that we are His followers:

John 13: 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Can someone look at your life and know that you are His because of your love for your friends?

These relationships are special and just like any other special relationship they take time to build. This is where believers become “Christ in the flesh” for each other. To me this is “fertile soil” that enables a believer to grow.

Matthew 13: 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

We can just call them “fellowship meetings”. 

These meetings of brothers and sisters should be a safe place where you are listened to without judgment. It should be a place where those issues that weigh heavy on your heart can be discussed openly without fear of laughter or shame.  They should be regularly occurring, consistent events that become typical of our lifestyle as believers. This is the only way for this love to grow, as we practice getting to know and love one another.  The fuel that keeps these meetings “alive” will be the reading of Scripture, discussion, praise and prayer. This can be between 2 or more people. I know this might sound like “just another church service”, but this is much more intimate with fewer people. It is OK to have several meetings a week other than the “regular church” service and I think it is vital.

Other than corporate worship, there should be a small group of the same gender as well as for couples if one is in a relationship.  A small group should be not much more than 6. The bigger a group gets the less likely certain people will share and the more frequently they’ll need to meet for the group to “gel” (grow closer together). The leadership of the group should ensure that the focus of the group stays on the Lord and that the conversation stays positive and encouraging making sure that what is being said is applicable to the whole group. This is not always easy to do and certain people might need to be reined in accordingly. All meetings should start in prayer which sets the tone, always asking for the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation, inviting Him to be present.

I am convinced that this should be the normal lifestyle for the Christian individual. 

For some I know this could be a radical change, but it is this radical change that I needed to get my life in line with His and keep it there.  It did not happen overnight, but over time I started to integrate meetings into my schedule until I had enough and was not overburdened.

These meetings can also take place over the phone. I don’t think its ideal, but it works. Just like any relationship or plant, you will reap what you sow.

These meetings are an investment well worth your time. It is in these meetings where relationships blossom which make our lives incredibly rich.  The more time invested, the greater the value becomes.

If you are not currently in fellowship on a regular basis then
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Ask Him to bring people into your life or help you to meet with others and you can be certain that He will answer a prayer like that. He wants His children to get together and anytime I pray for a great meeting with others He answers it.

Acts 2:  42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

These are the small, yet essential things.

These three regular activities of reading His Word, praying and God-centered meetings are simple, yet essential for spiritual growth. When all three are combined it is most powerful and dynamic. Participation from each individual is key. It is important to make sure each person is engaged and a part of it. The leadership or simply those most mature of the group should naturally pray for all members on a regular basis as well. The evil one does not want these meetings to occur and he will do all that he can to disrupt.

Once meetings are established, it should be considered as if God engineered it and it becomes the work He’s given us to do. This is not work in any negative sense, but work that yields much joy and is something to look forward to because we know that it pleases Him and greatly blesses us.

Keep in mind that the great purpose of these meetings is all about putting into practice the two greatest commandments: To love God with everything we’ve got and to love our neighbors as our selves.  These meetings prepare us for ministering to those in greater need and those that do not know God.

Hebrews 10:  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.

Are you ready for true growth?

Dear Lord, thank you for the precious relationships that you have blessed me with. Thank you for my family and for those people in my life that make my life rich and blessed. Help me to invest my time where it matters most, which is relationships. I pray that these relationships make you the focal point and lead to greater service for you. In Jesus’ name, amen.



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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.
Are You Doing The Small Things? Part 2

Are You Doing The Small Things? part 2

Psalm 112:

1 Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands…
They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

Does this describe you? How do you handle “bad news”? When you realize the last check you wrote will bounce. Or maybe when you’re called into your boss’s office after a day when you know you made a poor decision?  How about when you’ve had an ugly dispute with your spouse who brought up the “D” word and they were serious? Or when you receive an intimidating letter from the IRS?

Does the passage in Psalm 112 resemble you?

If it does, and bad news doesn’t phase you, then you have found the peace that truly passes all human understanding.

If this does not resemble you, and you cannot relate to it, then let’s discuss an additional “small thing” that is essential in bridging this gap from who you are now to this “gold standard” of a believer given in Psalm 112. This peace is not something one can get from reading self-help books. It cannot be found in a yoga class or a zen garden. While some methods, such as these, may provide temporary relief, they do not compare to the peace that only our Heavenly Father can provide.

Peace, of course, is a spiritual fruit:

Galatians 5: 22 There is no law against these things! But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

How is this fruit produced?

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.

Isn’t this a fantastic verse? We’re actually told how spiritual fruit is produced. But wait, what does it really mean to “remain in Christ”?

How do we “remain in Christ”?

I think I know, and I am convinced that it is in these “small things”, exercised day after day, week in and week out, after many months and in some areas only after years can significant growth be seen.

Consider the oak tree, which begins as a humble acorn. It takes many years to grow to its full height and you wouldn’t want to sit around watching it grow. It would be like watching paint dry. But it grows, little by little and over time it becomes gigantic. It was designed that way and so are we.

In this microwave, drive-thru, cell phone and ATM culture we seem to want to go to church, pay for a fully grown “tree of spiritual growth” and bring it home.  That “tree of spiritual growth” starts at home, daily.

Here is my favorite Psalm that illustrates this growth:

Psalm 1
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

Do you see the connection to John 15? Last week the “simple thing” was reading the Word of God. Today it is prayer.

Prayer and Reading the Word go hand in hand.

They feed off each other. Reading His Word drove me to a greater, richer prayer life. God gave me a voracious appetite for reading the Word as a result of my sincere and diligent prayers. Prayer prepares my heart to receive His Word. The knowledge of Him, what He likes and dislikes have helped sharpen and enrich my prayers. Picture two vines growing together, intertwined as they continue to grow. This is how I see these two disciplines in my life. They are both maturing. I get more out of my Bible reading now than I did last year and my prayer life is more pervasive throughout my daily activities.

There are many different ways to pray and variations of it so I’d like to refer to a passage so that we are on the same page.

Matthew 6: 5 “ But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.

This is the type of prayer that matters most. Taking the time to be in His presence, seeking Him in prayer alone, can never be underestimated. But I know for myself it is what I lack the most.

How important is it?

Luke 10:  38 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.” Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 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.

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

Reading the Word and meeting him alone in prayer is sitting at the Lord’s feet. What does Jesus say?

“There is only one thing worth being concerned about.”

This makes it clear to me, from my understanding Jesus’ statement, that if there is ANYTHING that I do that is worth being concerned about from day to day is “Did I spend time at my Lord’s feet today?”. How do you read it?

When I meet with Him I usually like to get on my knees, in a prostrate position. I don’t know why, but I think this helps me meet Him with humility. This is my conviction, not to put it on anyone else, but this is what works for me. You could sit, lie face down, kneel at your bed, whatever you feel most comfortable for you. Not comfort in a physical sense, but comfort in a spiritual sense. Some days I am too tired and just lie on the bed and pray. This is not something to be dogmatic or legalistic about. God simply wants you to meet with Him and meeting with Him on a regular, consistent basis is essential for spiritual growth.

“…let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2c

I don’t necessarily know what I want to say to Him or ask of Him. There are times that I don’t have anything to say, but I feel a great desire to meet with Him anyway. I close my eyes, am still and take deep breaths. Slowing down and being still like this helps me to think and maybe prepare my words for Him. I usually start with “I praise your name”, or it’s never a bad idea to just start thanking Him and let the list go on for everything you have to be thankful for.

Psalm 50: 23  But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

Once you start a dialog with Him pray whatever comes to mind and let it go.

Cast thy burden upon the LORD

Psalm 55: 22 Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

If you are anxious, tell Him. If you are scared, let Him know. If you don’t know how to solve a problem, ask for His help. Don’t be in a hurry to leave. Pretend that you are a six-year-old that had a bad day with the other kids on the playground.  As a young child, you run to your Father with all your needs, anxieties, questions, and strange feelings that you cannot express.

Unload on Him as any child would and make it a habit. After a while, after you begin doing this, the idea to pray will change from “I have to pray” to “I really desire to pray.” You will find that you will desire it more and more, rather than as an obligation. Then if you stop doing it for any reason, maybe when taking a vacation, you will miss it dearly and He will teach you just how important it really is to maintain your peace of mind.

Remember that Jesus is humble, gentle and very patient.

He is not like some harsh taskmaster that likes scolding us. He has been good to me and I’m certain you’ll see that for yourself.

For those of you that are incessantly worrying about something right now, I want to give you an exercise that has helped me tremendously.

I’d like you to meditate on these two verses:

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. 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.

God promises that if you meditate on this verse, storing it in memory, you will take on a new way of living. A way that is peaceful. This is what letting go is all about.

Fall into the arms of a great and loving God, the One who created you uniquely for His good purposes.

Will you join me at His feet?

 “Dear Father in heaven, you are so good to me. Thank you for calling me to know you on a more intimate level. Help me to remain in you and hold me tight. I need you now more than ever and I thank you in advance for leading me to a closer walk with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”



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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.

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



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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.
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



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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.
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



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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.
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

 



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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.
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



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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.
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



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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?

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



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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.
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?



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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.