Archive for May, 2010

Opposing good is evil


                “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

                “Don’t stop him,” Jesus said.  “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us (Mark 9:38-39.)


                We see here that good done in the name of Christ can never be evil.  Yet, if we stand in the way of a good action, then we ourselves become evil.  The disciples tell Jesus that they attempted to stop a man from doing miracles in his name, simply because he was not associated with them (his disciples.)  Jesus is revealing that associations outside of his name do not make true believers; it is only the good that we do in his name that matters.  What that man shared was the belief in the very name of Jesus Christ.  He was a brother, because he acknowledged the power of our Lord, even though he was not a disciple.  The beginning of a Christian life, begins, and remains in the hands of Jesus Christ.  We, who call Jesus Christ master, are bound only by our servitude to him, and to one another because we serve him.

                Many Pharisees at the time of Christ attempted to stop Jesus from doing good, based upon rules of the law.  The law was not evil, yet men took it and twisted it, telling Jesus it was unlawful to heal a man on the Sabbath.   If the Sabbath gets in the way of the healing of a man, then it gets in the way of the working of God.  This is why; Christians are not under the law, but under the commandment of Love.  Anything that is truly selfless is not considered work, but service.  Through service we do all things in love.  Jesus has told us that the greatest commandment is to, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the First and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it.  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All of the Law and the Commandments hang on these two commandments” (Mathew 22: 37-40.)  If we follow these two commandments we follow all ten.  When love God and others it is impossible to do harm to anyone, and we become obedient to the law, but not mastered by it so as to allow it to be a stringent boundary that would leave us unable to love someone through acts of kindness and goodness; even if, say, we did it on the Sabbath, if good was done to another, then it is the work of God, and not our own work (The Sabbath was a day out of every week that the Israelites were to keep Holy; they were not supposed to do work on the Sabbath.  The Jews, during the days of Christ, considered it work to heal people.  So they accused Jesus Christ of healing on the Sabbath, and thereby claimed he was breaking the Sabbath commandment.  Sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it?

                Today, when we do good things for others in the name of Jesus Christ, we are revealing our love and faith in him, and I believe that anyone who tries to stop someone from doing good in his name, whether they are misguided or not, gets in the way of God.  To stop someone from being loved, is to is to go against our Lord and savior.  Doing good in the name of Christ, without stipulation, is the true working of God.  Catholics can do good, but not because they are Catholics doing good.  Protestants can do good for Christ, but not because they are protestant doing good.  Even Jehovah’s witnesses can do good, but they are not in the right if they do works under the name of being Jehovah’s witnesses.  Rather, the only affiliation that makes an action pleasing to God the Father is the action that is done in the name of his son.  I believe, that it’s hard to keep the gospel simple, and it’s hard to simply keep Christ in the center of the gospel.  No denomination will ever bring salvation; Jesus Christ is the name that carries power; that name alone is what binds together the faithful.

                “Lord Father we ask and pray today that You would give us discernment Lord, and we ask that You would allow Your faithful servants to see that it is Your Son that makes all things possible.  Lord, help us to not stop others from doing good in the name of Jesus Christ, but to do good ourselves in His name.  Lord help us to not call ourselves to faith in the name of a church or denomination, but in the name of Your Son, in whomever He dwells (the Holy Spirit), makes up the body of Christ.  Father, we pray that You will continue to bestow upon us the Holy Spirit, and that through us, Your miracles would continue to be done upon this earth.  We thank You Father, we love You, and we praise You in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”

Being a messanger of God!


             “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me, receives the one who sent me.  He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.  And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.  And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” (Mathew 10: 40-42.) 


            In the culture of Jesus’ day, communication across long distances was done through the use of messengers.  Emissaries of one king would bring that kings message to another king.  To mistreat a king’s messenger was to mistreat the king who sent him.  To treat the messenger well, was to treat the king well.  Many messengers were treated exactly the way the king would be treated; acting as a substitute for the king in his absence.  They were rewarded for being his messengers.  The receiving of the messenger would be reported back to the king, and this would dictate future relations.  Those who received the messenger joyfully, would receive a reward, but those who mistreated the messenger would be mistreated.

            God sent his son in to this world, and in turn, Jesus Christ sent his disciples in to the world to baptize and make disciples.  Nearly two thousand years have passed, and the links in a long chain of God’s messengers has not been broken.  When you receive God’s messengers you are receiving God himself.  The way to know a messenger is to determine whether or not he or she has twisted the message, or has altered it in any way; to altar God’s message is to bring upon oneself future destruction.  Jesus says, “My doctrine is not mine, but his who sent me.  If anyone wills to do his will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority.  He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.”

            There are many false teachers, and false prophets today who are not connected to the apostles’, nor to Christ, nor to his Father.  Anyone who has distorted the message is someone that should not be received warmly.  Sinners we always welcome, but false disciples and prophets should be rejected (those who are attempting to use God’s word to benefit themselves.)  Despite many deceivers, there are many who are still preaching the gospel; they are still seeking to get God’s message across to others today.  That message is, ‘that God has made a way; that God loves them, and that through Jesus Christ, anyone can have a relationship with the eternal creator of the universe.  Anyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ has eternal life, and is called to be a disciple.  We who share that message share one another.  We are all brothers and sisters in the Lord.  We share the same Father.  We all carry the same message.  As you go out today, recognize that you are another link in a long chain of those who have been sent by God out in to the world to do his work, and to carry his message to those who are lost.  Sow some seeds today in the hearts of those around you.  Share a scripture with them.  Tell them what the gospel is, and give them the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for all that You have done, and for all that You are going to continue to do.  We ask Lord that You will send us into the world, with Your message and not ours.  Give us the strength to continue spreading Your gospel, and Your message to the world, and help us Lord, to make more disciples for Your Glory, and for Your Kingdom.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Overcoming the Fear of following Him


                “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?  And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Mathew 10: 29-31.)


                The command of Jesus Christ is clear; preach the gospel and do not fear anyone who threatens you, or attempts to silence you, even with death.  There are two kinds of death; bodily death, and eternal death.  Jesus makes this life and the next adversaries.  Wanting to keep this life and the one to come are incompatible.  He tells the people in this scripture not to worry, because they are worth more than many sparrows who die every day.  If something so invaluable is remembered by God, how much more is God going to care for the lives of his human children.  The images and comparisons Jesus uses here are used to bring his listeners out of fear.  They, like most people, were afraid of dying.  They had forgotten that God was in control of their lives, and they began to live as though the bodily life was all there was.  Those who stood for God during this time period were constantly being tested.  Israel was subject to whichever conqueror decided to invade them next.  And every conqueror, whether it be the Greeks, or the Romans, or the Egyptians, often made laws and decrees that made practicing the Jewish faith a very dangerous thing.  At one point, any mother who chose to circumcise her son would be crucified along with that son.  During another period, if one chose to not make a sacrifice to a pagan Idol they would be immediately killed.  Yet God allowed these things to occur.  Jesus is clear that these deaths were not outside of God’s control.  So many of these Jews had become like their conquerors because they feared the conquerors rather than God.  Jesus reminds them to not fear death, because the life that really matters is the internal one that lives within each human beings heart.  The body may die, but the soul shall live.

                If we look at all of the apostles, we see a wonderful example of how God controls the death of every human being; and we are reminded of the commitment we are making when we choose to live for God.  According to the church historians, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome.  Andrew was crucified in Greece.  James was beheaded by King Herod.  Philip was crucified and then stoned to death.  Bartholomew was flayed alive (skin cut from the body) and then crucified.  Thomas was stabbed to death by four soldiers with spears.  Mathew was axed to death.  James the less was apparently clubbed to death.  Thaddeus was crucified.  It is believed that Simon was crucified in Persia.  Matthias, the one chosen to take the place of Judas Iscariot, was burned to death.  John was nearly burned in oil.  What I’m about to say is what makes the deaths of these men more beautiful than a sunset on a warm summer night.  None of these men are dead.  Peter, Andrew, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Mathew, James the less, Thaddeus, Simon, Matthias, and John never died.  They are with the Lord, as is every human being who has ever made Jesus Christ their’ everything.  Jesus said, “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17: 33.)

                The 12 Disciples couldn’t be made to shut up, but today His followers need to be reminded to speak up.  Why?  Do we have a different message today than they had?  How many of us profess Christ in our daily lives to those who know nothing about Him?  Today missionaries across the globe are putting themselves in harm’s way to bring the message in to Muslims countries, but we it seems difficult to convince a churchgoer in the United States to lean over in a coffee shop and ask the person next to them if they know Jesus Christ.  Today, if we are afraid of anything but not doing the work of spreading the gospel in love, then we may not be on the side we think we are on.  This week let’s get moving.  Let’s look for opportunities to insert in to our conversations with other the truth of the Gospel, without fear, no matter what may come.

                “Heavenly Father, remove from us the fear of death and the fear of other people, and give Your message to give to others.  Father, make Your message like a burning in our hearts that we just can’t bear to keep hidden from others.  Father, help us to remember that we share eternal life with all those who died for their faith in You and in Your son.  Give us opportunities to give away the eternal life we have been so freely given.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Choosing a side


            Jesus shared his crucifixion with two other men; both of them were criminals.  Below is the account of their interaction with him.

            ‘Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed him, saying, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.”  But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?  And we justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come in to your kingdom.”

            And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23: 39-44.)


           The religious leaders who were standing at the foot of the cross were taunting Jesus and teasing him; telling him to come down from the cross as a show of his power.  The first criminal joined in on this taunting.  Mockingly he added in the request that Jesus save he and the other criminal from death as well.  The second criminal made the decision to chastise the criminal for teasing Jesus.  He recognized his own guilt, and the guilt of the other man, and professed the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  He understood that he was paying for a life of sin, and that Jesus did not deserve to die. The second criminal asked for salvation, but a different kind of salvation.  He knew he was going to die on that cross, but he believed that Jesus was able to save his soul.  He was focused on the eternal, unlike the first criminal who was thinking only of his bodily life.  Jesus granted him eternal life, not because of any work that he did, or because he lived a good life, but because he believed in the one and only son of God.  He acknowledged his sin and recognized the purity of Jesus, and in humility, asked to receive eternal life.  The purpose for the crucifixion, and for the life of Jesus Christ is revealed in this scripture, and it applies today.  He divides people.  Some choose to deny him and make him a myth.  Others choose to recognize him as the ‘Son of God,’ capable of granting them eternal life in a kingdom that will have no end.  Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’” (Mathew 10: 34-35.)  There are only two categories in to which every person must fall; those who believe in Jesus Christ and join him, and those who deny him and make themselves the friends of those who ridicule him and blaspheme him. 

            There was man named Polycarp who lived from 65 A.D. to 155 A.D.  He was an early Christian who headed the church in Smyrna.  The Romans required that everyone in the City burn incense to their Gods.  Polycarp refused to engage in this activity.  The Romans gave him an ultimatum, roughly stating that if he did not burn the incense, he himself would be burned at the stake.  Polycarp’s reply was, “Eighty and six years I have served him.  How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior? Bring forth what thou wilt.”  The Romans did just that.  Apparently he requested that they not tie his hands down to the stake, indicating that he would not attempt to flee from the flames.  Legend has it that he did not burn, and that the flames simply swirled around him.  A Roman soldier was then commanded to run him through with the sword.  The flames were put out by the blood that poured from his body.  Polycarp today is in paradise with his king, in his kingdom.  He chose to stand for Christ rather than to lay down with the world.

          Today, everyone is still offered the choice to call Jesus Christ their king.  We can stand for him, or we can stand against him.  We can trust him, call him our king, and receive eternal life, or we can join the world as they deny him and tease him; as they call him a myth and a legend.  Those who are lost believe he was just a man.  They don’t believe he has the power to give eternal life because they believe he is dead.  But those who know him, know differently.  Today, do you believe that he is able to grant you eternal life in paradise?  Is it possible that just on the other side of death lays a life of overflowing goodness?  Are you willing to stand with him now?  The answer to this question is very important.

“Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You will give us eternal life.  Help us to stand for You and to be courageous in professing our faith in You and in Your Son.  Father, give us more faith that we might do Your will in this world, and continue that work in your kingdom to come.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

What’s your foundation look like?


            “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of  mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.  But everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was it’s fall” (Mathew 7: 24-27.)


            Jesus is identifying one group of people here: all those who hear his words.  He further divides this group in to two distinct groups.  The division is based upon the response to what the hearers have heard.  One group puts in to practice what they have heard from Jesus, and the other group does not.  Those who take action are wise, and those who do not are foolish.

Both groups are likened to builders, who undertake the construction of a house.  One builds on solid rock (unmovable, sturdy, and permanent), another group builds on sand (movable, shifting, and impermanent.)  Every human being is a building, and their actions and behaviors are the result of following a blueprint.  Some blueprints are horrible, some are wonderful, but only one blueprint is eternal.  The wind, and the rains, and the floods that Jesus is talking about are the forces in life that attempt to break us down, cause us to fail, and give up hope.  Everyone suffers set-backs; everyone suffers trials, and those who don’t practice the teachings of the Lord crumble when those trials arise.  When a person acts and behaves in a manner that is pleasing to God, they are laying their lives down upon an eternal foundation.  They are building a life for themselves in a place that will last forever; even when this world fades away and dies, those who have lived for Christ will remain forever.

Along the coast in southern California many people have built huge mansions on the cliffs that overlook the ocean.  Every so often mudslides and sink holes bring down huge portions of the cliffs upon which these houses stand.  In the newspaper you might see a picture of a half a house standing on a cliff with the other half of the house laying on the beach below, buried with the cliff that gave way.  Sometimes a house built on a solid enough foundation will hang over the cliff, fully intact with nothing supporting the half that’s hanging over.  The same thing happens with anyone who builds a life in this world based on the teachings and sayings of Jesus Christ.  This world will eventually perish, and it will undergo it’s destruction; yet whatever was built in this life according to God’s design has also been built in the life that is to come. Anything that has its foundation in the eternal God will not perish like those things that will perish.

Today, each and every one of us is a carpenter, just like the Lord.  We are builders, and we are following a blueprint.  One life, a life that takes shape because we follow the directions outlined for us by the eternal God, will never end.  The other life, the one that is built following any other example other than that given by Jesus Christ, will be destroyed, and that destruction will last for however long God determines.  Eternal life is not obtained solely by what we have heard but by what we have done as a result of what we have heard.  Obedience to God is how we build our lives upon the eternal foundation.  How can you start doing the things he is teaching?  First, pick out a scripture and then do what it is saying.  Bend your life to his truth, and don’t seek to bend his truths to meet your life.  Do you pray for those who mistreat you?  Are you generous?  Do you give to everyone who asks you?  Do you give him the credit for the good things you do for others?  These are just a few examples of actions God rewards.  God has written a book, and reading it is how you know what his blueprint for your life truly is.  Read his word, and do his word, and when this world passes away, you will not pass away with it, but rather, you will spend an eternity with him in paradise.

“Heavenly Father we come before You and we ask that You empower us to do what we have heard from Your Son.  Open up more opportunities to implement your directions for living; give us a deep pleasure and satisfaction in completing the tasks You given us to do.  Father help us to strive to please You, and to be a blessing to all those around us.  Give us the strength of Your Holy Spirit, and guide us in all that we do.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

The Meaning of Life


            He also said to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.  So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you?  Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’  Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do?  For my master is taking the stewardship away from me.  I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg.  I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’  So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’  And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’  So he said to him take your bill and sit down quickly and write fifty.’  So he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’  So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’  And he said to him, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.’  So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly.  For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.  And I say to you make friends for yourselves with unrighteous mammon (money), that when you fail, they may receive you in to an everlasting home” (Luke 16: 1-9.)



This is a parable, in which certain characters respresent different people.  The rich man is a picture of God, and he is in control of life; he is the giver of life.  He gives life to each person as a stewardship.  The steward represents each human being God has placed on this earth.  Most people don’t realize their lives are not their own, but rather, they are on loan from God.  Every human being has been given a small measure of life; 60 – 80 years perhaps, (if one is blessed) to learn to live in submission to the will of God.  If they succeed, they will be rewarded with a never ending amount of life.  (Salvation comes through faith, but faith also carries with it the obligation to act as Jesus teaches us to act.)  Those who have had faith and ‘put their feet to their faith,’ will live forever.  Many people today, even those who profess faith waste the lives that they have been given.  They choose to live life their own way, spending time in pursuits of self pleasure, rather than seeking to do what is pleasing to God.  Every person will one day stand before God and give an account of the way they lived their lives, just as the steward had to stand before the master and give an account of his dealings in this parable.  They will have to explain every idle word, and every wasted moment.  God will take back for himself the lives he gave out.  The mortal life is his; yet some will receive eternal life in its place, and others will be condemned to eternal death.  Many people in this life choose to serve money, or material wealth.  It controls and guides the lives of whole populations of people.  However, money is supposed to serve the person who possesses it.  There is a great freedom that comes when the order of things is set right; the correct order of things is that the possessions of a person, money, property, even life itself, is meant to serve the one who possesses it, and to serve others, and to serve God.  Jesus wants us to know that money can be used to build relationships with other people.  When we give to others who are in need, we are using wealth the way it is supposed to be used.  Whatever we give away here in this place, we keep for an eternity.  When we ‘fail’ (as Jesus said) in this life, which is to say, ‘we die,’ then being welcomed in to an everlasting, eternal home is the end goal of all of human existance.

Today across the country and around the world, employers are hiring and firing.  Anyone can get hired, but remaining employed can be more difficult.  A good employee is someone who has proven themselves to be an asset to the company; if a person is a good employee they become a permanent fixture at a company, moving from the ground floor often times up in to more important positions.  Most new employees are given a 90 day trial period.  In that 90 days, an individual is looked at to see exactly how they handle themselves, and generally however they handle themselves in that short period of time is a reflection of how they will handle themselves if hired for a long period of time.  If they prove themselves, then they become fully employed.  They are given a short period of time, and it is what they do in that short period of time that decides the rest of their lives.  Some will stay, and many will go.

Today, you and I are given a very short period of time; a time in which you can profess your faith and actively seek to give freely of your time and resources in the service of others, which is to activate the faith you have been given.  Today, are you seeking to please mainly yourself, or are you sacrificing your time and your desires to take an interest in those around you?  Is the gym, the mall, the job, etc. worth more than the love you have to give away to others?  We are called to deny ourselves in this place.  To put the needs of others ahead of our own; we must place serving God and others ahead of serving ourselves.  Ultimately the way to eternal life is to follow the will and the teachings of Jesus Christ in this life, so we may continue that work in the life to come.  Let me give you some examples of serving others that may help you this week; picking up garbage in your path that isn’t yours and putting it in the trash bin.  Returning shopping carts that aren’t yours.  Listening to someone’s problems instead of talking; buying someone a cup of coffee; doing ministry; calling people to let them know you love them; jumping up to hold the door for someone; doing the dishes when it’s not your turn; taking out the garbage when it’s not your turn; buying a meal for someone who is in need; giving to anyone who asks you for money (amount not specified); tithing; praying with someone; praying for others; giving someone a ride who has no transportation…etc.  The list goes on and on.  This week be open to the needs of others, and if you see a need, try to let God use you to fill that need, and receive something in your heart that is priceless.

“Heavenly Father, we come before You today, and we ask that You give us a desire to serve You, and to commit our lives to serving all those around us.  Lord, give us wisdom in our daily lives, that we may be able to recognize opportunities to serve You when they arise.  Help us to let go of anything that is controlling us and leading us astray Father.  Convict our hearts when we are acting selfishly Father.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Oh righteous Father


                “O righteous Father!  The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent me.  And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17: 25-26.)


                Here, Jesus is finishing his prayer for his disciples just before being crucified.  Jesus makes it known to us that most people don’t know God, that he does know God, and that all who believe in him will know that God too.  Jesus delivers a message from the God of all creation to the people on this earth.  The message he has given us is a message of love.  Jesus has shown us that God the Father loves us and He desires to have a relationship with us.

                Today there are so many religions, with so many different beliefs and ideas about who, or what God is.  Some religions have claimed God has asked them to kill, some claim God hasn’t asked them to do much of anything.  Jesus has shown us that the one true God has commanded us to love.  God did not set the universe in motion and then walk away, leaving us in confusion and uncertainty concerning the meaning of our existence.  God has always been reaching out to us, sending us messengers to speak on his behalf.  At last He sent us Jesus Christ.  If we want to have a relationship with a Heavenly Father, it begins with knowing his son.  May we all desire to enter into a loving relationship with God.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You would speak to our hearts concerning Your Son.  Help our hearts to be open to receiving Your love.  Testify to us of the truth of Your messenger, and give us Your Spirit, that we might be able to fellowship with You today.  We love You and praise You and thank You, and we ask all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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