Relationships and Getting Prepared (Ephesians 6)

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As we all know, marriage is not the only relationship that we have in this life (aside from our relationship with God). We are also sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, and slaves and masters. These relationships must also display the same sacrificial love that I spoke about yesterday. Paul writes, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right (6:1, NASB). No matter what we are to listen to our parents. It is even one of the big 10 rules God gave us, the Ten Commandments. When we obey and respect our parents, we show our understanding of God’s authority over us. Just like our parents did when we were little, God sometimes asks us to do thing that we don’t quite understand. We must obey what our Heavenly Father is asking of us, in order to show him honor and glory.

Paul then turns his eyes on parents. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (6:4, NASB). I know it says “fathers”, but honestly it can be applied to mothers as well. As parents, we should not intentionally do things to harm our children. In speaking about prayer, Jesus asks these questions to the crowd at the Mount, “What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?” (Matthew 7:9-10, NASB). Jesus is talking about God taking care of us, and having our best interests at heart. This same relationship, should be the one that we have in relation to our own children. Care for them and have their best interests at heart.

Some of you may have given your screen a second look when I said “slaves and masters”. I assure you that this relationship still exists in its most basic form, only today we call it employer and employee (or government and citizen). As slaves, it is our duty to obey the authority placed over us. We get this from another of Paul’s writings, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Romans 13;1, NASB), or in Jesus’ own words “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11, NASB). We should treat all authority over us as if it where actually God giving these commands (so long as it aligns with God’s Word). As masters, we are to realize that everyone under our authority is a loved creation of God. We cannot abuse these people and exploit them so that our lives can become a little easier. No matter what, we are not the true masters. Everything has been given to us on loan from the real master in Heaven.

Finally we come to the armor of God. I know that I have heard dozens of sermons and read tons of teachings on the subject of the armor. All I will say is that this armor represents our need to be secure in God, and be prepared for the battles that face us everyday. At some point, we will be questioned for our faith. Someone will ask questions that can shake you if you are not prepared. Knowing who we are in Christ, and knowing what God’s Word has to say to us, is the best thing we can do to prepare for that day. It’s coming, are you ready?

Paul teaches us how to live out our day to day lives in this chapter. No matter what, you have one of these relationships facing you today and the need for preparation for battle. Spend time in the Word everyday. That is my best suggestion I could ever make. Don’t just read your Bible, that doesn’t count. Simply reading your Bible is an intellectual exercise that will barely scratch the surface of what Scripture can do for you. Pray through the Bible. Ask God to show you what you need for the day. Ask Him to enter into your time with Him. This allows us to be prepared for the battles, and helps us to be more like Him in our relationships. It’s hard to be imitators of someone we do not spend much time with. So spend time. I provided some Psalms to pray today if you need some help getting started. But give this practice a chance. It will help you polish your armor and get you ready for the day.

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 4-6

Also in this Series:

The Love of God (Ephesians 3)

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Paul spends most of this chapter reaching out to the Gentiles. His mission that was given to him, by both God and the apostles in Jerusalem, was to minister to the Gentiles. Before Christ, the Gentiles were widely regarded as outsiders by the Jews. Their belief was set around their status as the “chosen people”. This led them to believing that the Gentiles would not be a part of whatever salvation the Messiah would bring. However, Jesus and Paul thought differently. The basis of salvation is not by who you were born to, but is rather based on faith. Paul writes, “to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (3:6, NASB). This is Paul telling the Gentile and Jewish Christians, that the Gentiles are just as much a part of God’s Kingdom as the Jews.

It would seem that the Ephesians church is having a problem that was very common during Paul’s ministry. This problem was that Jewish Christians would come in and tell the Gentile Christian that they were somehow  of less significance or would have to conform to a Jewish lifestyle before they could be saved. We know this is wrong today, but it was something that many people believed then. Paul’s answer to this is the knowledge of God’s love. He tells them that he is praying for them; specifically he is praying that they learn about God’s love, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (3:17-19, NASB). The love of Christ is so all-consuming, that there would be no way for the Church to focus on things like Jews over Gentiles. Instead their focus would be to love each other, and spread the love to everyone else.

This is a message that I believe still rings true for us today. We can get all caught up in living in a way that honors God that we forget why we do it. Yes, we should live a life that reflects Scripture. We should stand up for our faith, and oppose the things that God opposes. But I feel that there are people, especially some in the media and politics, that portray our faith as a list of rules that if we don’t make everyone follow they will all go to hell. Well I have news for those people; if they don’t believe in Christ, they’re going to hell anyway. No amount of forcing anything is going to help their salvation. As a matter of fact, it will more than likely push them away. Is that really the life that Christ showed us to live? Is that really living a Christian life?

Christ said to the people, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28, NASB). People can become weary when they are being told they are wrong all the time, or that their life should actually look like “this”. Jesus wants those people, and so should we. We should not be the cause of their stress. We should take them in and show them the love of Christ. We should take in the teenage mother, and tell her that Jesus loves her. We should hug the homosexual and tell them that God’s loves them. We should spend time with the felon, and share the love that God has given us. The point, I guess, is that God has given us so much love, we cannot contain it; we have to spread it.

Love does not come from following rules, following rules comes from love. If we love God, we will follow the rules. But we cannot force people to follow the rules and say that it is love. Love comes from personal experience. We cannot lead people to that experience if we are constantly pushing them away. So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s give “Bible-thumping” a rest. It isn’t helping our cause any. God is love, and we should be wanting to share that with everyone. Only God can “fix” people, so let’s trust Him to do that. We can just share Him with every single person we come into contact with.

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 139-142

Also in this Series:

Is Anyone Thirsty? (Isaiah 54-56)

Book of Isaiah

 

In their sin and disobedience, Jerusalem became shameful because it was not bearing fruit for God. They openly rejected His ways and teachings. So God, in His righteous anger, decided to punish His people for disobeying. However, in today’s reading, God promises that when they return to Him, He will gladly take them back. He will bless them with abundance they have never known. They will no longer have to suffer through the shame and disgrace brought on by their disobedience. “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood.” (54:4, NLT). He makes a promise to them that will last forever, just like He made with Noah. “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I  swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken.” (54:9-10, NLT). No enemy will ever overcome them, so long as they remain faithful to God’s way of life.

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink — even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or mink — it’s all free!”  (55:1, NLT). God offered the Israelites a gift that they would not have to pay for, they simply needed obedience. He tells them to feed off of Him. Physical food would only feed their bodies, but they need more that simply eating bread and meat. They need God’s word to live off of as well. He knows that unless they seek after Him, just like they will seek after food everyday, the Israelites will have problems keeping their end of the covenant God wishes to renew with them. He tells them that His word produces fruit, and it will prosper where ever He sends it. He wishes to give it to the Israelites so they can become fruitful again. He reminds them that they cannot understand His mind. “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (55:9, NLT). Men cannot understand all that God knows and thinks. Our minds are small and feeble in comparison to His. There are times where God calls His people to do things they don’t understand. He reminds them that the  proper way to behave is in obedience to Him.

God shows His people how obedience to Him gives greater glory and blessing than following the will of man ever will. God picks two classes of people in Israel to speak directly about, eunuchs and Gentiles. He says that so long as they obey God, He will give them blessings beyond anything they could receive by man. “Don’t let the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will never let me be part of his people.’ And don’t let the eunuchs say, ‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.'” (56:3, NLT). God is not going to allow people who truly seek after Him live with the shame that these people groups have to live with. “I will bless those eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy and who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me.” (56:4, NLT), “I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant.” (56:6, NLT).  “For the Sovereign Lord, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people of Israel (56:8, NLT).

Just like in the days of Isaiah’s writing, God cares for His people today. He wants to bless us, and see us prosper. He doesn’t want to see us harmed, or have to suffer. Yet we constantly choose to disobey Him and have to live with the consequences of that decision. In order for us to have better in our lives, we have to seek God first. Whether that means for you, the first thing you do in the morning is study the Bible, or you have to go find one of those WWJD bracelets for a constant reminder. The point is that God has to be our first priority. While Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness after his baptism, he became hungry. The devil tried to convince him to turn a rock into bread so that way he could eat and be filled. But Jesus knew better. He turned and quoted Deuteronomy to the devil, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3, NASB). We have to realize that we need God more and more. It is not enough to make sure our physical needs get met, and only give God whatever prayer we say before dinner time. We live because God allows it. His word sustains us. We can only grow and hunt whatever food we eat, because God allows that to live. We should seek after Him first. This is the way we align ourselves in a right manner. We cannot be distracted by other directions, because God is our primary objective. Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NASB). We won’t have anything to worry about or anything else to need, if the very first thing we look for in our lives is God.

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 112-114

 

Also in this Series

Holy Week Day 3

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Tuesday

Today was a day filled with teaching and questioning for Jesus. He spent most of his day teaching in the Temple. However both the Pharisees and the Sadducees were watching him, waiting for him to make a mistake. They even asked him question in order to trip him up. They ranged from “Is it right for us to pay taxes?” to “Is there marriage in the Resurrection?” With each question, Jesus had an answer that not only put them in their place, but also was good for teaching the people about the Kingdom of God. Then in Matthew 24, Jesus takes his disciples out to the Mount of Olives and teaches them about his return. It was on this day the High Priests decided they had had enough of Jesus and decided to capture him in secret and kill him (Matthew 26:4). It is possible that this is the day Judas met with the priests to offer them Jesus Christ.

The teaching of Jesus that I love on this day comes from Luke 21: 1-4. Jesus reminds the people hat we must give our lives to God, not just what we can do without. They saw rich men putting their gifts in the offering plate. They were clearly giving only what they were obligated to give and not anything more. Then there was a poor woman who gave only 2 pennies. Jesus tells the crowd, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” (Luke 21:3-4, NASB). Her act was essentially placing her life in God’s hands. She had no idea when the next time was that she would have money, but she knew she had to give something. So she chose to give it all.

What could you give? Could you give it all and trust it all to Jesus? Let’s think about this today on this third day of this Holy Week.

Today’s Readings: Matthew 21:23-25:46; Mark 11:27-13-37; Luke 20:1-21:26)

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 91

Holy Week Days 1&2

Well everyone, I’m back and both baby and my wife are doing excellent!


 

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I thought that for this week we would look through the final events of Jesus’ life as we observe Holy Week. However, I am starting this a day late so we will be taking a look at the events of both Palm Sunday and Monday.

Palm Sunday

The events that happened on Palm Sunday can be seen in all four of the gospels. Jesus left Jericho early in the morning with his disciples. They traveled towards Jerusalem. When they reached Bethany, Jesus sent two of his disciples to get a donkey for him to ride into the city. They met on the Mount of Olives, and Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. The people shouted at him, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel” (John 12:13), “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38), “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10),  and “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9, NASB); all of which echo the words found in Psalm 118:25-26. All of these things were done to fulfill a prophecy found in the writing of the prophet Zechariah:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you:
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
–Zechariah 9:9, NASB

After these events, Jesus went into the temple in order to have a look at the environment. However he soon left to go back to Bethany, which was were he and the disciples stayed during this final week of Jesus’ life.

Monday

After 3 years of ministry, today is the day that Jesus makes his final push for the people to come to realize the truth about God and His Kingdom. When he entered the temple, undoubtedly to teach, he saw a sight that he absolutely despised. He saw people, inside the temple, selling animals and other sorts of merchandise, and people who were taking peoples money either with taxes or exchanging currency. Jesus tells the people, quoting Jeremiah, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robber’s den.” (Matthew 21:13, NASB). He then drove them out with a whip of chords he made, and by turning over their tables.

Both of these days were also filled with teaching and healing. I think it’s nice to see the events of Jesus’ life as his time on earth came to an end. Join me tomorrow as we continue onwards.

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 90

 

A Firm Foundation, Part 1

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This weekend my church is starting some new programming. We’ve decided to do a one day vacation Bible School. Our theme for the day is going to be “Jesus is our Rock!” So I thought I would try to get into that subject this week. Today we are going to start with Jesus’ own words in Matthew.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sad. The rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell — and great was its fall.” –Matthew 7:24-27, NASB

This passage comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus had spoken many great truths to the Jewish people in his message, and knew that it was now up to them to decide what to do with it. He wanted them to know that unlike many others (sometimes called false prophets), he, like God, doesn’t change. You can rely upon Jesus to stay the same no matter what is happening. The comparison of the wise and foolish man is to compare the two choices the people had with his teaching. They could either take it and live lives based on good, unchanging foundations. Or try something else, that is quite possibly going to fail.

Jesus offers the same choice to you and me. He hasn’t changed in the last 2000 years, and he isn’t ever going to change. The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NASB). With someone who is that predictable and true, how could we not trust Him. I know that it gets hard. We have our own thoughts and opinions, and there are times that they contradict Jesus. I think this is where we have the hardest time trusting Him, because we say “This seems right to me”. Anytime I’ve ever followed my own opinion verses what Scripture says, I’ve always ended up wrong.

Jesus is our rock and firm foundation. When we build our lives upon Him, we won’t be disappointed. I’m reminded of what God says in Jeremiah,” For I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NASB). With plans like that for us, we should probably follow Him since we tends to lead ourselves away from welfare and hope.

We will be looking at more ways God promises to be our firm foundation throughout the week. Let this song be our song for the week.

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 17

Seek and You Will Find

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When God says things multiple times, He’s probably trying to make a point. You see this many times, with many different topics, but they all have one thing in common; they lead to a deeper knowledge of Him. Today I wanted to talk about seeking God.

It all started while I was praying through the Psalms the morning. “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10 NASB). I started to wonder what it meant for God not to forsake us if we seek Him. The Hebrew word (‘azab) used here, translated forsake or abandon, is what really caught my interest. It’s common usage and connotation is to simply abandon a person or object or anything else, but rather to abandon something held dear. This verse says to me that the people that seek God won’t be left by Him, but that He actually hold them dear to Him. When we are seeking God, we are drawing nearer to Him and making Him happier.

The next passage that came to me is found in Matthew. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NASB). I think this is especially important when times are hard to see God. It’s always easy to see Him when times are good, but when times are bad it gets a bit harder. But God says that He tests the righteous and the wicked (Psalm 11:5), so my must persevere and seek Him through the hard times. He is there for us to lean onto, to take refuge in. He isn’t going to let us down. We just have to look through all the smoke and the fog and find His glorious face shining right back at us. I’m not saying this is easy. When times are tough, even tragic, most people turn away from God and blame Him for doing this to them. But something God says, over and over as well, is that He is there for us. All we have to do is seek Him out.

The final passage I came to was, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13, NASB). The last part I think is what we all seem to miss, “with all your heart”. It doesn’t mean that we can spend 10-15 minutes a day doing a quick devotion or reading a short passage of Scripture, or saying a short little prayer before your day starts. Yes, God can be seen there, but we can never truly find Him like He is calling for us to do. We must devote our time and energy into this. This is the foundation to living with worship as a lifestyle. But I think we get in this trap because of the culture we now live in. Information is at our fingertips (literally if you have a touchscreen smartphone or tablet). We can find anything we want with a couple clicks of a mouse, and a few words on a screen. God doesn’t work that way. There is no way to instantly download God. We have to spend time searching for Him.

If anything came out to me today it was that we, as a culture, have to be more intentional about seeking God. It’s not something that we can do quickly or randomly throughout our days. We have to set time to focus on Him and dig into Scripture and prayer. We must seek Him, because that is the only way we will ever find Him.

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 9-13

Praying For A Change of Heart

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Over the weekend, my wife and I were having a conversation with my sister. I caught myself saying something that is embarrassingly true, “I have the tendency to act like a Pharisee and not apply Scripture to life. Rather I use it to read and understand, but I have a hard time living it.”

I believe that this stands to be true for far too many people. We all have our moments where we say, “The Bible says…” but we are just as quick to do the opposite. My biggest concern is for those people we can affectionately call “Bible Thumpers”. These are the people who take the Bible and use it as Law, especially against those sinners. I try my hardest not to do this because I view the Bible to be our guide through life. It is what shows us how to live a Godly, holy life. The issue here is that you have to choose this life. No one can make you live this life, and if someone is, I’d say they have become a lot like the Pharisees.

This is a hard life, being a Christian. It’s not something we are born into. It’s not something we receive from our ancestors. It’s not based on our own abilities. It is solely based on God’s love for us, that we can even be forgiven of our sins.

I read a passage today that got me thinking about my life. Jesus says “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” (Matthew 15:17-18, NASB).

Am I showing Jesus with my actions and speech? Jesus is telling the Pharisees, and us, that when we speak (or do anything really) we are showing what is within us. If we have the Spirit within us, we can’t help but show Christ to everyone. This will keep us from acting like that Pharisees and Bible Thumpers, and bring the love of God to our friends, family, and others.

I pray for myself and for you that we can all learn to have a heart like Jesus. If you have a hard time with this, like me, please join me in this prayer.

Heavenly Father. Help me to be more like Your Son. Soften my heart to Your Word, and allow it to fill me up so that I may show the love of Christ to others. This Christian lifestyle is difficult and requires me to do things I don’t really want to do. It’s when I go into it dragging my feet that I shut myself off from You, and whatever opportunities you have for me today. Help me to change my heart to what is good and holy. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” In Your Son’s holy name I pray. Amen.

What Type of Soil Are You?

Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday, but my daughter was sick. So Daddy had to stay home and take care of her, which made me very busy.

Jesus once told a story, “A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a [road], and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 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!” (Matthew 13:3-8 NLT).

What is Jesus saying to us through this story. Yea, you could read onward and hear Jesus’ explanation (v. 18-23). But instead of quoting Scripture, I’d rather talk about it.

Each one of these types of soil relates to someones relationship with God, and the seed represents the message of Jesus. The first type of soil is the road. As we heard, once the seed was spread, the birds came and took it away. This person would be an unbeliever, especially someone who is very against the church. They just let God/Jesus bounce right off of them, just like they don’t matter. We all no people like this (maybe you’re one of them), but it is still our duty as the Church to spread Jesus’ message everywhere. Even to the people we know will not receive the message.

The second type of soil is the gravel. This type of person are the people who get hyped up about the cause of the Church. These Christians get super excited about their faith at the beginning, but then the inevitable happens. Life gets tough (and if you don’t believe me you should probably re-check your theology), and they go through some troubled times. The issue that arises in this situation is that they lose their faith, and there is no hope of gaining it back. We all have had a season of doubt at some point in our lives. But the people who are the gravel we’re never really interested in Christ, they were just focused on what His church was doing (or even what it was doing for them).

The third type of soil is with weeds. These Christians hear the message and accept it, but never really venture forward in their belief. These people believe when Paul writes, “The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT), but they don’t live this way. They allow their old ways to continue. They live with their boyfriend/girlfriend, have premarital sex, get drunk every weekend (or during the week too), do drugs. They also don’t always engage in Christian behaviors like praying, reading Scripture, and studying the Bible.

The last type of soil is the good soil. These are the Christians that walk with Jesus. They are the ones that let the message of Christ sink into their lives and change them. They become a “new creation”. They take to heart the words Paul writes, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace my increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4, NASB).

So where are you? Which type of soil to find yourself in? Don’t feel bad or discouraged if you find yourself somewhere you didn’t expect. I have personally ventured through all 4 types of soil, and I still believe I’m not going to stay where I am. I think we go through periods where, for instance, we maybe good soil, but then some weeds appear. We just have to remember to work through these troubles to our faith. Just as God is a good gardener (John 15), I believe he can till our soil to make us better. So stay strong in your faith and work to God to make yourself a better Christian. If you find yourself in the “good soil” category, then pray that God helps you stay there. Just remember that we must first become good soil if we are ever going to further the Gospel, which is the very command Jesus gave to us (his disciples) before leaving us until his second coming (Matthew 28:16-20).

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Are You a Fan or Follower?

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This morning, I was reading in Matthew’s gospel and came across a story that just floored me. If you look at Matthew 9:10-13, Jesus says something remarkable that I don’t think many Christians think about anymore. Jesus is sitting with tax collectors and sinners for dinner, when Pharisees and Sadducees saw what was going on and said to themselves “What is this man doing eating with those people?” (Matthew 9:11, paraphrase). Jesus comes back at them and quotes Hosea to pass on a message that I believe we all need to hear. “I’m after mercy; not religion.'” (Matthew 9:13, MSG).

Do you hear that friends. He’s more concerned that you live and walk a Christian lifestyle, over the fact that you go to church and say you are a Christian! Just let that sink in before we move on.

 

 

 

We all know somebody that fits into this latter category of Christian (the ones who say it but don’t do it). It’s unfortunate that they don’t comprehend how this is bad. Being a true follower of Christ changes you. There’s a reason Paul wrote, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB). I’m not the same man I was before I met Jesus, and neither are you (if you have truly met him).

This group thinks that it is sufficient to simply claim Christ. While this is true (if we mean it, i.e. Luke 23:39-43) it can’t be all there is. James writes in his letter, “What us is it, my bretheren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and on of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what us is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:14-17, NASB).

So clearly it is important to do more than simply profess the faith. While it is most important to take Jesus as your Lord and Savior, truly meeting him changes you into a new creation. I encourage you to spend some time in worship and prayer today. Thank Him for all He has done, and ask for Him to meet you where you are. There’s a song that has a great lyric for this. The chorus of the song goes “If there were a thousand steps between you and God/And you can see no way across the great divide/ Just take one step towards his loving arms/ And He’ll take nine hundred and ninety-nine”. So take that one step, and he will come running to you!

PS I recently read a great book that talks about this very subject. If you are interested in reading it, you can get it here.