Do you know Him?

Our Savior, Jesus, the Son of God is the Him of which I speak. He shed His divinity to come to Earth, be born of a woman, live the life of a man of Jewish descent, perfectly fulfilling the Law (which no normal human could do), teach a group of disciples so that they could carry His teachings to all parts of the world, died on a cross on the day of Passover and then rose again on the third day!

john_3_16_17_scripture_memory_card-raf7013e639264b87b918bea9971565b3_vgbaq_8byvr_540Yes, a long sentence to tell of the life of Jesus the Christ. A short version of His life, death and resurrection, but a story which has significance for so many around the world! Some of whom believe that He is our Savior and Lord, some  do not believe He was anything other than a prophet.

Do you know Him? You can get to know Him if you will believe in Him and follow Him. Learn about Him through reading of the New Testament and do the things which His disciples did…tell others what He has done for you!

 

Understanding your role

I did a sermon on the first chapter of James last week which I will break up into 2 sections. One will be here, which will be about half of the sermon, since it is a bit long. The second part will be at my other site, thelivingmessage.com. I pray that those of you who read this will take the lessons of it in stride because it has much to say about how we are supposed to live as Christians.

Faith responds with practical godliness under testing (1:1-27).

James uses the description of himself as a servant or in some other translations “a bond servant” of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to show that he willingly and lovingly served. He could’ve claimed status since he was the Lord’s half-brother, according to history. But, he didn’t. A bond servant serves out of love not because of being bound. This is the service that we should be giving unto Jesus and to our faith!

Your faith and your Christian life is no good if the people that you are around can’t tell that anything has changed in your life. Testing is like polishing a car or a piece of jewelry, it needs to be done from time to time so that your life reflects Jesus more than it does yourself. Sometimes the testing or pruning in your life may not be very enjoyable, I mean look at Job! In the first chapter of Job, God actually brags to Satan about him. Yet, when Satan challenges God on this he is given permission to do anything he wishes EXCEPT take his life.

Will we be tested quite that hard? It is possible, I mean when you are given a diagnosis of cancer or some other disease which can kill you, that is pretty hard testing. Sometimes the test is just getting through one day at a time, getting past the treatments and the medicine and the side effects of that. Lean on God’s strength when yours fails you and He won’t let you down. Because, James used the word “when” to say that we will go through testing because we are His servants in this world and this world hates Him.

A. Faith responds with joy when it faces testing (1:2-4).

This one is tough, especially when you may not be in the midst of testing right now. But, if you ever have been I am sure it didn’t seem like a joyful time. Our joy comes from knowing that Jesus is also God and He won’t let you down, no matter what. “Joy comes in the morning” is something which I turn to almost every day when my legs and hips hurt and when my spine feels like it won’t flex at all. (Psalm 30:5)

God is there with you in your pain and in the joyful times. He is near when tragedy strikes and when a child is born. In all things give thanks that He loves you and is working the best out in your life so that others will see Him in your life! Trials will cause you to develop patience and endurance in Him, if you will stay close to Jesus during your trials. Don’t think or even consider that your strength is enough to get you through any trial, regardless of the hardness of the trial, because if you do Satan can make the trial hard enough to make you look to Him even though he isn’t trying to turn you toward Jesus our Lord.

B. Faith seeks God for wisdom in times of testing (1:5-8).

In our trials, whatever they may be, we truly should seek God’s wisdom during these times. Trying to lean on your own understanding and your own wisdom will bring more problems and even harder testing because you think that you can get through without God! God’s Word contains all of the wisdom that you need to get through trials. Prayer and fasting can increase your faith to bring you even closer to God and His Wisdom. Even Jesus said that “when ye fast”, it was not a command but He knew that even in our time, there will be days and problems which require fasting to bring the solution to our knowledge from God!

It is well with my soul

Many times, in church and even on social media sites, I get requests for prayer either in person or by a message. Prayer is a necessary part of a Christian’s life, just like breathing or drinking water, yet many people don’t seem to think that God listens to them so they ask their pastor to pray for them. I don’t mind, but if you are a child of God you have the same privilege and right to step into His Presence at anytime.

Sometimes, people just don’t exercise their right as a Christian until it gets to be so bad they just hit their knees in agony. God can and will answer your prayers, particularly when you pray about a family member’s illness or an accident. I don’t mean to say that He won’t answer a prayer about your children or your keys or other “small” thing, but God looks for ways to bless you in areas where He is the real solution for the problem!

So do you seek out God when things are going good or do you wait until He is the last resort? Don’t you think that when things aren’t going very well, you should seek out the One Who can do something about the situation? The Creator that made all of our universe and every molecule in your body can fix any problem in your life, regardless of the cause! If you will give Him the chance to do so.

When life throws a curve ball at you, swing at it because you might hit it. God can give you the strength and the ability to make it through any real problem in your life, regardless of whether it is one involving your spiritual condition or a medical problem. God is bigger than ALL of your problems or any of the problems in our world today or at any time in the future.

Each of us has a choice to make. To ask Jesus into our lives and repent of our sinful ways or to keep doing what we feel is right, what makes us feel good. To keep being selfish and prideful in what we can do and to do it without anyone telling us that it is wrong. In reality, the Bible doesn’t tell you anything like that. There are no rules about what to do or not, but when you truly realize that you need Jesus and you come to Him in repentance…then you will change. You won’t do it on your own but you will change by the influence of the Holy Spirit after you ask Him to live in your heart!

When that happens, and you begin to change into a new creation, a new person. Then you won’t crave those things which you did before. You won’t go to the places that you went to before. The rules have changed because you aren’t the same anymore. Not because of rules from the Bible, but because your heart, your soul, your inner person has changed and is changing. While you learn more about Jesus and read His Word and pray about this new life, you are changing and becoming the person that God has always known you were since before you were born.

When this change occurs then it will be well with you no matter how life turns out, good or bad. Why? Because you are an adopted child of God! The Creator and King of the universe! How could you possibly feel down or depressed or unloved when God loves you more deeply than anyone on Earth could ever understand? Yes, there will be days which you may be depressed, but with prayer and reading God’s Word it won’t last for long. Seek Him and His Kingdom and all of the things which God has prepared for you will be yours.

So much bitterness…

We are beginning a new year and this topic seems to show up in the news quite often. Actually, it has been in the news for a while in one form or another. Can we do anything about it, really? Sometimes we can but unfortunately much of the bitterness in the world is brought on by Satan and his influence in it. Oh, there are many who don’t believe that he exists but since he has been around since the beginning, he really does exist. If he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, then you know he has had plenty of practice over the millennia!

Truly, the bitterness that is rampant in our world today is because of our sinfulness. We can’t be civil and understanding of people that we don’t agree with in all aspects. Every person on the planet has a different opinion of things, that is something that we shouldn’t be stressing over. But, we do it all the time.

God loves each of us whether we give Him our heart or not, He still loves us and has provided a way of salvation. All we need to do is believe in Jesus and in the atonement provided, then when we feel His call on our life and in our heart…answer it! Just as you do when your phone rings, unless it is someone you don’t want to talk to. If it is God calling your heart and your life into His service please, don’t ignore it and DO answer it! You won’t be disappointed and it will be the greatest trip that you have ever taken, even if you never go anywhere until you are called home to Heaven!

 

Time….

We count it and watch it, some days it seems like we don’t have enough of it yet we waste it too. So, what do you intend to do with the time that you have? How much time do you have? How much of it have you thrown away with games and silly things that don’t give you any reward? We look at a new sunrise and think that we have all day to do things when actually we have already lost six hours of that day since midnight. During the spring and fall we get two equinoxes  which give us twelve hours each of daylight and night, but as Jesus said to His disciples: “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4

I was curious about the hours and minutes and seconds that we have in a day so I am breaking that down here: In one twenty-four hour period there are 1440 minutes and 86,400 seconds. We tend to use part of those for sleep of course, but the point is that our time is limited. We don’t know for sure how long we will live and yet we fritter it away as if we will have a century or more.

Life begins with our conception but our breathing life begins at birth and from that point on we begin to die physically. Of course for a couple of decades we don’t notice the breakdown of our cells and our bodies, if we are lucky or blessed to be born healthy. Some don’t get that blessing though and are born with built-in limitations, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how we look at it as we grow. The thing to remember is that GOD DOESN’T MAKE JUNK!

Physical limitations, disabilities or whatever you may call them are just points where we need to learn to lean on God more in our daily lives. The apostle Paul had a thorn that he had to deal with while he was serving the Lord and he asked God to remove it three times, but God told him that “my grace is sufficient for you“. Paul had to learn to live with it, whatever it was and he did some mighty preaching with it until his execution.

Time is given to us in increments of seconds and minutes and hours and days and months and years, but we are never guaranteed a certain amount of time. We get our days just one at a time, and no more. This is why I try to tell people about Jesus and His mercy for your life, provided on the cross and through His resurrection so that our sins are paid for. All that we need to do is to claim this grace and mercy from God.

Once you do, then you can use the remaining days that you have telling others about Jesus in your life. We are given this time to do just that, to tell others about our Lord and Savior. This is God’s will for a Christian’s life. We all don’t have glorious and grand ministries like some on TV do. But, in telling others about Jesus we do have a ministry. Because, God loves all of His creation. He doesn’t like the sins that many seem prone to live in on a daily basis, but He loves the people anyway.

Living a sinful life is not pleasing to God, whether you are a CINO (Christian in name only) or a true, born again Christian. One who truly has had their life and heart changed by the Holy Spirit cannot comfortably commit sin because you are convicted of it when the thought enters your mind even before you do anything with that thought! I don’t mean that Christians are pure and sinless because nobody lived a life on Earth that way except for Jesus.

We can live a life sanctified by Him, washed in His blood, and our records have been wiped clean from that point on, but we will still say things, think things, and do things that are sinful. We can claim His forgiveness for those sins at the point of conviction because we are covered by His righteousness. As long as we don’t choose to go back into a life of sin and ignore the Spirit’s prompting us to stop. We are still His, but like putting a white cloth in the mud we have soiled our life and our soul. If you keep on in your sin, it will get easier to ignore the Spirit’s prompting each time until one day you won’t hear it or feel it at all.

But…God is still with you. He hasn’t left you, you are the one who moved. Come back to Him, seek Him out and He will forgive your sins and take you back. Just because you have gotten off the path, doesn’t mean that you can’t find it again. Give your life and your heart to Jesus and the rest of the journey won’t be easy but He will give you the strength to get through each minute…each second…of each day that is ahead of you.

Contentment…what is it?

In our daily lives, it seems that “being content” is as elusive as the boson particle. If you find it, then it is fleeting and it only lasts for a short while. What are we looking for in order to be content with our lives? Many people are looking for…something, they just don’t have a clue what it might be! You can feel it as you grow up. When you are a teenager, you feel that there is something more and at that point in life it might be a CAR. Then, when you do get one whether it is new or used, it never seems to be “just right”. There is always something that is not quite right, whether it is the paint or the wheels or the engine (not the most eye-catching color or wheels and maybe not enough horsepower or if you are frugal, not enough gas mileage).

Being content with what we have takes time and patience which many people are not willing to wait for in our society today. “We want patience and we want it NOW!!” kind of attitude. So, what can we do? The first thing that I caution you to do is this: DON’T PRAY FOR PATIENCE! You will learn it but it will not be on your terms, it will be on God’s terms and according to His timing, not yours. Just a warning before you ask for something that you won’t enjoy. I asked for it and by the time I found it, well lets just say it took far longer than I expected.

Contentment is really being content, happy and satisfied with whatever situation you find yourself in, regardless of your circumstances. It is not an easy thing to attain and it does take patience. It also takes maturity in yourself and in your spiritual life as well. Contentment is not something which a young Christian will be able to attain, even though they will want to and feel that they need to get to that point.

I am not saying that it is impossible for anyone to be content with their lives, spiritual or otherwise, but it isn’t easy in the culture that we live in today. When you are content, there is nothing that you feel is missing, and that is the part that is hard for most people to find, regardless of the amount of money that you have or your position in life. Although, the contentment that you seek can be found in a relationship with Jesus.

Yes, He is the Savior of mankind and He can bring peace to our world and to your life, if you will seek Him out and ask Him to come into your heart and your life. Every area of your life, not just an occasional visit on a holiday or once a week, but every day too. Read and study the Bible because the wisdom contained in it will also help to bring peace to you and to your life.

Start with Psalm 23 and John 3:15-17, then seek out more about Him through the other gospels. When you have come to know Him you will realize that He is the answer that you have been seeking all along.