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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 Doing The Small Things? Part 1

Are you satisfied?

Do you know in your heart what the “abundant life” is? Is your life as a Christian what you’ve always expected it to be? Be honest with yourself. Are you content with your knowledge of God and the transformation that was once started in you? Do you think you’ve hit a plateau or are you progressing in your faith? Are you satisfied with your relationship with Him or do you want more?

I believe that we are to be content in any given situation. Perhaps we should be content with the spiritual growth we have to date. After all, if you are seeking Him daily (or abiding in Him), you can be sure that you are growing because He knows what He’s doing:

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

But I don’t think that means that we should not want more. I don’t know about you but the closer I get to God, the more deficiencies and inadequacies I see in myself. This is something that I am not pleased with; therefore, I continue to pursue Him because I know that He’ll continue to work on me. The motive here is not just about being more Christ-like, but being more Christ-like so that I can be of greater use to Him.

This is the slow and painful death of me.

John 3: 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less

If God is the CEO of a company called God, Inc. then I am a “sold out” company man, reading the Employee Manual diligently and constantly discovering what the CEO likes and dislikes and being willing to change accordingly so that my life will please Him and the Boss’s Son.

Consider these verses:

Matthew 22: “‘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.”

Have you ever thought about what it really means to carry out these commandments? Forget about the 10 commandments, Jesus says these are the greatest and that all of the law is based on these two commandments. We are commanded to love Him, and everyone else.  Before you start thinking “Really?… commanded to love? What kind of god does that?” Think about this: He’s never commanded us to believe in Him. He’ll never force you to follow Him. He doesn’t make anyone believe that He exists (He gave Nebuchadnezzar seven years to come to his own conclusion, read Daniel 4).

He loved us first:

1 John 4: 19 We love because he first loved us. (NIV)

God’s love for us is constant. He is the Rock. He will not move or be moved.  We cannot do anything to make Him love us more or less.  King David understood this:

Psalm 18
1 I love you, Lord;
you are my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.

Because He loves us, He’s given us free will. He is not some puppet master forcing us to trust in Him, otherwise, it would not be love. When we surrender our lives to Him, we make Him our Master. We are then His slaves because we have been bought for a price.

1 Corinthians 6: 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Just One Thing

I’d like to focus on just one thing you can do, if you’re not already doing it, that will help you to pursue Him and obey His greatest commandments. What I’m about to tell you is nothing new. It’s something I’m sure you’ve been told many times before, but it is essential to spiritual growth and bearing fruit. Are you ready? OK, here is the secret (not really a secret, it just sounds cool to say that) that I’ve found that really works:

READ YOUR BIBLE DAILY AS IF YOU

AND YOUR LOVED ONE’s LIVES DEPENDED ON IT!

Follow my logic for a second in case this is not clear enough…

God created you, right? You’ve made Him the Lord and Master (CEO) of your life, right? He commands you to love Him first and foremost, right? If you said yes to all three questions then what is stopping you from doing a simple daily task that will help you to love Him more? This is called obedience and it pleases Him.

John 14: 15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.

To know Him is to love Him.

Before I started taking Him seriously I read His Word very little, very infrequently and with very little interest. I really didn’t know how to love Him. After taking Him seriously and reading the Word several times, I appreciate Him much more now that I know Him a whole lot better. The more I know him, the more I love Him, it is that simple. Now that I love Him and because I love Him, I read his Word in greater volume, every day, and with great interest. Do you see the shift that has occurred in my life? This has taken me from being shallow and lukewarm to a passionate man with a purpose.

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

Look, friends. Reading your Bible daily is one of the “small things” you can do. And if you can’t be faithful with the small things, do you think He’ll ever give you greater responsibilities? (Let me clue you in for a second, completing seminary or starting some ministry is not necessarily God giving you responsibilities.) There are not many things that I can control in my life, but I can control what I read and how much I read, can you?

Enough for now.

But I must tell you that reading the Word is not enough on its own. Over the next few weeks, God willing, I’ll be discussing other essential elements involved in spiritual growth. In the meantime, I’ve included a reading plan that you can use to start developing the daily habit of reading the Word today.

I’ll leave you with this one passage to meditate on. I’ve had the privilege of watching these words come to fruition in my life and you can have hope in this for yourself:

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 give your body to Him daily by allowing Him to teach you with His Word?

 “Dear God, thank you for giving me the privilege of serving you. Please help me to know you more. As I read your Word, open my heart so that I might savor each word that is read. Help me develop a greater appetite for your Word and to develop a habit that will last for the rest of my life. In faith, I give my time to you. Give me the wisdom and discernment I need to spend more time with you each day from this day forward. Thank you, Lord, for leading me in this way. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Reading Plan:
http://www.thebibleteam.com/plans/Matthew.pdf

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.

How Will You Spend Your Time In 2019?

Did you catch last week’s message, “What Do You Want From Him?”, it has a lot to do with transformation if you’re into that sort of thing. 🙂

One Thing

If there was just one thing you could focus on that you knew would please God the most, what do you think that would be?

Luke 10:  25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

In my opinion, the expert asked the most important question anyone could ever ask. It was a great question. He got the Master’s attention and possibly thought to himself “This man is so popular, I’ll only have time for one question. Hmmm….  I know what to ask!”  And so he did. “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

Of course, it’s a two-fold answer; it seems that it’s a package deal. As though God made sure that the two are inseparable. The other references found in Matthew and Mark both say “The second is equally important”.  They are both considered “the greatest commandment”.

What’s harder to do?

Personally, I don’t know what the greater challenge is, loving an invisible God or loving my neighbors (others). I find both to be very difficult at times.  The one thing I am certain of is that I absolutely cannot love others unless I love God. If I do not love God, I do not have it in me to love others. On top of this, Jesus issues another commandment in John 15:

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

Whoa! That’s literally impossible for me alone, and it turns out that I am right:

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.

Have you ever asked yourself “What can I do to love God more?”

After all, it is the greatest commandment.  How do we love an invisible God? Good question.

How do we love anybody? I’m not an expert by far, but I know some of the basics of loving someone include:

  • Getting to know them
  • Investing my time with them
  • Being attentive to them
  • Giving my heart to them

This is, at the very least, what He wants. Not only that but in comparison to loving others, we are to love Him much more:

Luke 14: 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.

Talk about a “challenging passage!”

This hasn’t always been easy for me to read. At first glance, it is disturbing to me. The key words here are “by comparison”. Restated, using my words: “If I am to be His disciple, I must love God so much that I hate others, even my own family, by comparison”. It’s still tough for me to comprehend, but I think the more I love God, the more I will understand it.

OK, so now that we can see how much we are to love God and how important it is, let’s discuss how we love Him. Since He is invisible, how do we get to know Him?

Colossians 1: 15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

That helps. From this, we know that Jesus is God in the flesh. So then, how do we get to know Jesus?

The gospel of John starts out like this:

John 1: 1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
     The Word was with God,
     and the Word was God.

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

Now, this is cool.

This equates Jesus to the Word of God and that the Word is God.  To me, this means that the Bible’s ultimate message is the written representation of Jesus, “the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come” Revelation 1: 4

My logic then concludes that spending time in the Word of God equates to spending time with Jesus. The Word is really all we have. Any book that is written about the Word or that uses the Word, is not the Word, but simply a by-product of the Word.

I think I’ve said something like this before. If you really wanted to get to know someone, let’s say someone named Chris, would you read books about Chris, spend time with people that know Chris, or would you spend time with Chris? The first two options are not bad, but what if the books about Chris were a bit off-base and you couldn’t really trust the author. Or what if someone talked about Chris as if they really knew Chris, but it turns out they don’t know Chris at all?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

If we really want to get to know Jesus, we need to read straight from Him. He is our daily bread:

John 6:  32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Along with establishing a habit of reading the Word, two other practices should also be developed in order for our love to grow.

Two Other Activities

The first is prayer and the second is close fellowship with other believers, people who are just as excited about spending time with Jesus as you are.

Prayer opens up the necessary dialogue that should always continue to grow and develop. This is not easy, but necessary and invaluable. Pray that God will reveal Himself to you and that He will help you to discern His Word. After spending some time in the Word, the ability to understand it increases as long as our hearts remain soft.

The fellowship with others is necessary to stay grounded in the Word and to practice our love on others.

Get this right, this is foundational

These three activities of reading, praying, and fellowship are foundational and essential for true, sustaining growth. Notice how they each require time, are personal attention. It is through these disciplines that we will learn how to love God and love others, practicing the two greatest commandments and putting us on His path.

Psalm 32:
8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
     I will advise you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
     that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
     but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
     Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

According to what we learned earlier, these 3 activities need to be prioritized higher than anything else we do. This is seeking Him first.

Matthew 6: 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

New habits are not easy, but well worth it

Just like starting any new habit it is not easy, especially when the devil will do anything he can to keep you from getting closer to God. But this is one habit that will put you on the road to a peaceful and satisfying life that only Jesus can offer. Will you seek Him?

Hebrews 12: 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Here is a brief list of other verses about the Word itself:

Psalm 119: 105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
     and a light for my path.

Isaiah 40: 8 The grass withers and the flowers fade,
     but the word of our God stands forever.”

2 Timothy 3: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Hebrews 4: 12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Will you learn to love God in 2019?

Dear Lord, I want 2019 to be different. I want to do all that I can to get to know you more. I know how distracted I’ve been and those distractions have come between me and you. Please help me live a life that is truly pleasing to you.  You are all the really matters and I’d be crazy to let anything get in the way of loving you more. Thank you for bringing me to this realization and helping me to prioritize things differently from here on out. In Jesus name, Amen.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao 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.

Does He Know You?

We all should know, as believers in Jesus that “It really doesn’t matter what you know, but who you know.” But does He know you?

Matthew 7:  21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

From this passage, we discover that doing the “works” or miracles of God can be grievously overrated, but knowing the Lord on a personal level cannot. This is where the organized church can go painfully wrong.

John 6:  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.”

It’s about your relationship with Jesus

If the relationship of the seminary student and his/her God is not the foremost priority of an educational organization, (Christian school), then they will more than likely produce “workers” who are driven more by numbers, doing works and acts of service than learning how to become “true disciples”. If these workers, at the core, do not learn how to be a disciple themselves, how can they (or why would they) teach others to do the same? And if these students, who will be the next generation of Christian leaders are not going to be making disciples, who will?

1 Corinthians 13: 1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Therefore, I think the “true disciples” are those that truly know God and His son, Jesus Christ. They are disciples based on love, not based on works. As the passage above makes this point clear: Works, in and of themselves, do not count for anything.

He is after the friendship. That is His greatest desire.

His friends will do His works out of their love for Him and have great joy in doing so. This passage reinforces and gives clarity to the first:

John 15: 1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

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.

The “others”, those that might be mistaken as disciples, do works out of obligation.

John 14:  15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

This is why the “organized”, or should I say secularized church, has a rancid odor to so many because it is simply not bearing good fruit.

Beware of the leaven of modern-day teachers!

Matthew 7:  15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.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.

My friends, I love the body of Christ. I cherish my brothers and sisters who love God and are fighting alongside me. But I have some major, foundational concerns with what the organized church has established today. I see pastors caring more about their church activities than promoting their congregation to pursue God in daily devotion with Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship. It is these fundamentals that will make a healthy church that will bear good fruit. A church like this will not diminish, but be alive and growing.

Matthew 28: 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Does it get any clearer than this?

The great excitement I receive from this knowledge is that it puts everyone on a level playing field and any can grow in Christ and pursue Him just as much as any other. Going to seminary or a Christian School does not necessarily get you any closer to God than what you can do without the schooling. If you seek God with all your heart, He will use you wherever you’re at and this will not require a degree of any kind.

Will you be His disciple?

“Dear God, have mercy on us. We’ve messed up as a church in so many ways and we need your help to know how to follow you even closer. Please open our hearts and encourage each of us to examine our own motives and plans. Thank you for your Word and how it convicts each of us, keeping us on your path. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Have you seen my testimony?

http://thebibleteam.com/about.asp

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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.

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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.”

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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 Eating Right?

Are You Eating Right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.

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

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

…  10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.

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

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

What is your great “distraction”?

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

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

So here’s the thing…

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

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

“I am humble and gentle at heart” – Jesus

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

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

Isn’t that exciting how God changed me? 

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

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

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

Will this nourish me or harm me?

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

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

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

What will you purposely use to feed your soul?

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

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

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

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

Great habits are difficult to develop

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

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

I’ll leave you with this:

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

Will you eat with me?

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

Photo by Christopher Czermak on Unsplash



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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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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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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.