Archive for May, 2010

Serving God with your heart


          Now as he was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

          So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good but One, that is, God.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’

          And he answered and said to him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept since from my youth.”

          Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you still lack:  Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven:  and come, take up the cross and follow me.”

          But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions (Mark 10: 17-22.)


          (Disclaimer:  IS JESUS CLAIMING THAT HE IS NOT GOOD?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  In other portions of scriptures Jesus challenges others to point out some sin in his life.  He allows others to worship him and doesn’t stop them.  He also claims to be God in the flesh, saying, “He who has seen me has seen the father…I and my father are one.”) When we want to manipulate someone we may often use flattery like the man in this scripture does when he comes to Jesus and calls him ‘Good Teacher.’ Making a flattering statement is a way of controlling someone’s response.  Manipulation begins with flattery.  Here is a man who comes to Jesus seeking acceptance, approval, and a certainty about his Godliness and his eternal life.  He begins with flattery. He came to Jesus, not seeking a healing or a miracle, but rather he was seeking a ‘thumbs-up.’  He wanted peace of mind with as little sacrifice as possible.  This man wanted something from Jesus, but didn’t realize that Jesus was going to want something from him.  Jesus sees the man’s heart and identifies the obstacle that will come between the man and his ability to be used by God.  For this man, his wealth was the thing he was trusting in.  The one thing that he was unwilling to give up, was the one thing God asked him to give up.  The man valued his wealth above God himself.  He sadly leaves Jesus, realizing that he is unwilling to change, unwilling to give up the thing he prized the most.

          Today, many people are seeking to keep the things that give them comfort, and still somehow find comfort in God.  There is something called ‘The Seeker Friendly’ movement.  The man in this parable would have fit right in had Jesus been preaching a seeker friendly message.  In order to make Christianity popular, many have made the path very wide indeed.  Many have made for themselves their own Jesus.  They have decided to only preach the parts of scripture that will allow the members of their church to feel good about themselves, because God forbid, they might lose some members who cut large checks.  Instead of understanding that God is going to ask the members of the church to sacrifice something, the church leaders will sift through the scriptures and exclude those that speak of sacrifice and repentance; or worse yet, some churches have gotten rid of bringing up sin all together.  They say things like ‘God wants to bless you financially.’  In our nation today most people are confused about what God is requiring from them.  The line that seperates what it means to be walking with God and what it means to not be walking with God has been blurred.  The life of a follower of Jesus is not an easy life.  Many have tried to change God, much like this man attempted to manipulate Jesus to get the approval he wanted, but God does not change to meet us, we change to meet God.  This is the hard message, but the true, and most rewarding and refreshing message.  Jesus is asking us to give up our lives for him.  Not just a small portion, but the entire thing.  The thing that we hang on too, the thing we struggle to keep for ourselves is the very thing that is keeping us from moving forward with him.  And in the end if we don’t get it right, it will wind up making us walk away from God in the same way that the man in this scripture walked away from God.  Ask God to reveal that thing to you, and he will.  Then it’s your choice whether or not you lay it down and follow the Lord completely, or whether you choose to keep that thing for yourself and walk away from God.  The consequences of that choice will be harsh, or they will be rewarding, but the choice is each of ours to make.

“Lord Heavenly Father we ask and pray that You would reveal what it is that is keeping us from serving You with our whole hearts.  Father, show us the truth, and convict us of the error of our ways.  Help us father; remove that obstacle from our pathway that we can serve You completely and totally.  We love You Father, we praise You and we thank You, and we ask all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

The works are the witness


                “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.  There is another who bears witness of me, and I know that the witness which he witnesses of me is true.  You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.  Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved.  He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.  But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me.” (John 5: 31-34.)



                In God’s law if a man was to be blamed for a crime he had to have at least two other men there to testify against him.  The witnesses were a firm way of establishing truth and still are today.  The more witnesses the better.  Any man who is his own witness isn’t able to establish the truth of a matter concerning himself, because he might simply be lying.  John the Baptist was a prophet who testified that Jesus was the messiah, even directing his followers to follow him.  John baptized Jesus, but before the baptism, John recognized that he was unworthy, and instead decided to insist that Jesus baptize him.  Jesus, for some reason chose to proceed with the baptism.  During the baptism, God spoke and said from heaven “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Now we have John the Baptist, and God Himself testifying of Jesus.  We also have prophecy that was written before Jesus arrived describing what the messiah will look like, and Jesus fits the descriptions to ‘a-tee.’  So the Holy Spirit which inspired the prophets and the writers of the Old Testament, had testified of Jesus as well.  One scripture says, “my hands and my feet have been pierced” revealing the manner in which the messiah would die hundreds of years before any cultures were even practicing crucifixion.  Finally, the lame were walking, the blind were healed, the deaf could hear, and the dead were being raised by Jesus; all of these events were being witnessed by thousands of people.  And Jesus himself continually predicted his completed work on the cross before he was taken to be crucified; this work is the greatest of all testimonies.

                Throughout history there have been many who have attempted to claim they were messengers of God.  The eternal God of the universe endows His messengers with the ability to accomplish the kinds of works that He himself does.  There have been many false prophets, but Jesus on the other hand, is a different story entirely.  One man, after being healed of blindness that had plagued him since the day of his birth was being questioned about his condition by the religious leaders who were looking for any way to discount what Jesus had done.  He replied to their repeated questioning by saying, “Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.  If this man were not from God he could do nothing” (John 9: 32-33.)

                Today, God has not asked us to have a faith in some rumor, myth, or wives tale that has been changed and handed down throughout the generations.  There is more than sufficient testimony to establish the truth of who Jesus is, and what he has been doing in the lives of people still to this day.  Go to any church and ask them to present those whose lives have been transformed by Jesus, and you’ll see miracle after miracle; testimony after testimony of the dead being raised to life again; of drug addicts becoming family men, of women stuck in lives of sexual promiscuity regaining the purity that God had originally destined for them; of atheists who believe in nothing and search for truth, coming to find the truth and turn from searching for anything but God Himself.  May we all continue to trust in him, and to believe the testimonies of the thousands, and of the millions of people who have had their lives transformed by the work of His Holy Spirit.  

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You now and we ask and pray that You will strengthen us in our faith, and open up our eyes and our hearts to the miracles that are taking place all around us.  Father we thank You for Your Son, and for His message; we thank You that we can know You, and we thank You for making a way for us to fellowship once again with You.  We love You, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Let down your nets


                Then he got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s (Peter’s), and asked him to put out a little from the land.  And he sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.  When he had stopped speaking, he said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

                But Simon (Peter) answered and said to him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.”  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their net was breaking.  So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.  And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.

                When Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5: 3-8.)


                The disciples had just finished fishing and had caught nothing; they were cleaning their nets for the day.  Jesus tells Peter to push out one last time and drop the net.  Peter doesn’t want to, but he obeys Jesus and once more put’s out to sea.  The result is a catch that no one could have ever imagined, and we see Peter’s understanding of who Jesus is and what he can do, drastically transformed.  He is humbled and falls down to esteem the Lord.

                Peter is able to witness a miracle because he chose to listen to Jesus, and chose not to allow his experience as a fisherman, or his own intellect or reasoning to compete for his obedience to God.  Peter did not expect his boat to nearly sink because of the weight of the catch.  Peter did not push out in to that sea because he was hoping to catch any fish at all; he pushed out in to that sea because he was being obedient to Jesus Christ.

                None of us woke up this morning to discover that our car wouldn’t start (at least I hope not.)  The mere idea would never have popped in to our heads because we all automatically expect them to run.  The same is true of the light switches we will use today, and the alarm clocks, and the telephones, and anything else we rely upon for our daily activity.  We trust them.  To me it is interesting, that we can trust a small cell phone, a computer, even our own instincts and abilities, but when it comes to trusting Jesus Christ we need to constant convince ourselves he will or is working in our lives.  Peter was a doubter because he was relying on his own knowledge and understanding, and forgot about the power of God.  How can a person rely upon their’ own power, and remain obedient and reliant upon God’s power?

                Today, we need to lose our own understanding and replace it with a trust in Jesus Christ.  We need to let go of what we are trying to do under our own ability and power and allow God’s power to work in our lives.  As we have learned from this scripture, the first thing that needs to be done is we must trust in God, even when it doesn’t make sense to us.  Then we must be obedient to what God is calling us to do.  Is there some area of your life where you are trying to control something; to gain a desired result on your own rather than relying upon God; you might be seeking love and attempting to gain it in worldly ways.  You might be seeking a career, and you find yourself using the tactics of those who do not know God to get ahead.  The situation is different for all of us, but the message and the solution are the same.  God has called us to do what he is asking, and often times, relying on him is difficult, because we must stop relying on ourselves.  May we all choose to rely upon Him.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, help us all to discontinue our attempts to control our own lives and help us to give them completely over to You.  Jesus we want so desperately to be obedient, so please help us with this.  Holy Spirit, give us the trust we need to witness the miracles that You want to do in our lives.  Please reveal to us where we need to trust You fully and completely.  We love You Father, we thank You, and we trust You, and we ask all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.



                “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs from the rich man’s table.  Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  So it was that the beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.  The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades (hell), he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’  Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my Father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’  Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead’” (Luke 16: 19-31.)



                Jesus reveals the reality of hell, laid out plainly for us in this parable.  He speaks of Abraham, who is the original Father of all of the Jews that live today.  His children are the people that God chose to send prophets and messengers too.  Jesus describes heaven and hell, and what paths lead to each place.  The man who has a wonderful life, a life filled with luxury is a man who is doomed.  Those who are oppressed in this life; those who find more value in loving others instead of chasing after wealth and beauty; those who have faith in Christ, will receive a reward in the life to come.

                The greatest hope for any Christian is the hope in eternal life.  We give up the comforts in this world because they confuse our purpose, and you can’t love a house, a car, or a bank account, but they can get in the way.  Had the rich man known that on the other side of death lay eternal torment, he would have changed his life.  He might have invited Lazarus in to his house, and taken care of him, and loved him.  The man, being a Jew, knew that the prophets spoke of a time when he would be judged.  The man did not believe in God nor the prophets that claimed God had sent them; and he certainly never knew that when he died he would be in hell; the truth, if accepted causes a person to change.  In this man’s case, he denied the truth, but denying it didn’t stop the reality of judgment from happening.

                Imagine for a moment, that you suddenly become aware that an earthquake has rocked Los Angeles and one of the overpasses has collapsed; imagine that it is the middle of the night and all of the lights in the city have gone out.  Now imagine that you are near the on ramp where thousands of people are pouring on to the freeway that will lead them to their death.  Would you warn them?  Would they believe you?

                Today, God has made it clear to everyone that there is a heaven and a hell.  For some there will be eternal life, and for some there will be eternal death.  He has warned us, and those who believe him change directions, but those who don’t believe him will continue traveling toward their own destruction.  Telling people the truth is an act of love, whether they choose to listen is up to them.  So the question we each have to ask us today is; do we believe Jesus Christ?  Can we trust what he has told us?  Do we believe someone who was raised from the dead so we might believe?  The answer to this question leads to one of two places, and I pray that we might all choose the place of comfort rather than torment.

                “Heavenly Father, we come before You today, and we ask and pray that You will give us the faith that we need to live for You.  Lord, we put our trust in You, and in Your Son.  Lord give us the Hope of things to come, and help us to see the light that awaits us if we take Your path.  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.

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