Life through Jesus Christ

Do you live your life for Jesus? Are you truly saved? We each have to take responsibility for ourselves and determine whether or not we are confident enough to call ourselves saved. This blog reaches many different countries, nations, and people groups many of which cannot say that they are able to freely be a Christian, but in America we still have that ability, at least for the time being. In America it is almost assumed that you are a Christian even if you don’t live a life that exemplifies that of what Jesus has called you to do, but does that mean that you are going to go to heaven when you die?

Did you know that it takes more than being a good person to get to heaven? Did you know that it takes more than going to church to get to heaven? There are a lot of people who are good people that are not going to get to heaven and there are people that go to church that will not get to heaven either. Being good does not mean that you are saved just as going to church does not mean that you are saved. You see none of us are good, not one of us and being in church makes us no more a Christian than being in a garage makes us a car.

Mark 10:17-25 (NLT) says this,

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

Being “good” does not reserve for us a place in heaven for even Jesus said that “only God is truly good (v. 18).” In answering this man after listing the commandments he went on to tell the man that he must sell all of his possessions and follow Him. This was the one area of his life that this man was not willing to give up in order to follow Jesus because he was a rich man and took great pride in his treasure so he went away sad.

What treasure do you have that you are not willing to give up to follow Jesus? God does not want us to follow Jesus partially, His desire is for us to be all in and when we are we will inherit eternal life and receive the greatest treasure that we could ever imagine.

As persecution increases so does the cost of following Jesus. When we are faced with persecution our faith is tested. Even when we are faced with mockery our faith is tested which is more the case in America, but that is not the case everywhere. When is the last time that you kept silent instead of standing up for what is right for fear of being made fun of or looked down upon? When is the last time that you laughed at an inappropriate joke or made fun of someone for fear of being belittled for your faith?

Let’s take it a step further because some of you who are reading this are faced with far bigger decisions each day. When is the last time that you had to choose between getting a job and denying Jesus or not getting the job? When is the last time that you were beaten for being a Christian? When is the last time that your family was in danger because of your faith?

People around the world are faced with the choice to follow Jesus and proclaim His name or to deny Him every day. We are faced with the choice of self-preservation vs. proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ every day in some way or another. What choice are you making?

When we choose to give up our lives for Jesus we are told that we will have treasure in heaven (v. 21). It is only when we give up everything that we can follow Jesus and reap the eternal rewards that He has for us. Some of you may be thinking that you are not willing to give up everything in order to follow Jesus. Maybe your faith in God isn’t strong enough to be certain that there is a heaven and you may be thinking that it is not worth the trouble to give up everything on an uncertainty and you would be right if it were an uncertainty, but it is not.

When we make the decision to follow Jesus we do receive God’s blessing in our lives. When we follow Jesus and live a life for Him we are changed and if you don’t believe me than try it, you won’t be disappointed. You can have joy in your life even in the face of adversity, you can have peace in your life even in the face of trials, and you can know that everything will be ok for you and your family even in the face of an uncertain economy or political climate, because God cares deeply for His children and pours out blessing upon those who follow Him and who call upon His name.

God does not promise us great riches, but He does promise to provide for us each day just as He provided the Israelites with their daily bread as they were on their way to the Promised Land (Ex. 16:4, Phil. 4:19). He promises us life to the fullest when we follow Him (Jn. 10:10). Life to the fullest occurs in a manner that we cannot understand until we are truly following Jesus, because it doesn’t make sense when you look at it from the outside. When we are truly living our lives for God we receive a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7) and it is that peace that each one of us are seeking. We also receive pure joy because Jesus went to the Father (Jn. 17:13).

Do you want joy, peace, true love? Do you want to live life to the fullest? There is only one way to receive these things. They are not found in this world, they are only found in Jesus Christ and in order to receive them we must lay down our entire lives to Jesus and follow Him. It is then that we will have eternal life and that we will have true joy in our lives. Following Jesus is more than just a promise of eternal life. Following Jesus is life changing and can only be achieved through giving Him your all.

Maybe you’re thinking right not that there is no way that you can receive this because you have made too many mistakes in your life or maybe you have walked away from God and think that He could never receive you back, but that is a lie from Satan. God knew that we would never receive life through the Law which is why He sent us Jesus. When we turn from our sins and ask our Father to forgive us in the name of Jesus we are forgiven. When we follow Jesus and listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit within us He begins renewing us and changing us into what He desires for us to be, but it requires us to worship Him and Him alone. God’s love is ever abounding, but He will not give life to those who do not choose to accept it and follow Him because there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ; all other ways lead to destruction and death (Jn. 14:6, Mt. 7:13-14).

Count Your Blessings

When is the last time that you sat down and counted your blessings? This is something I have started getting in the habit of trying to do everyday. It is one of the first things I do when I get up and one of the last before I go to sleep. For me this is a time of peace and reflection upon how much God has poured out His grace on me. It is also a time that I realized how much more I need Him. There one time that I was literally able to count my blessings for five hours on a trip to Minnesota, that’s a lot of blessings, but it made me realize how much we take God for granted. I had been mediating on and contemplating God’s word in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which says, “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What I came to realize is that even when we get short sighted in our vision and struggle to see how blessed we are, we are still completely surrounded by God’s grace and provision.

As I was praying this morning I felt like the following words were spoken to me and I wanted to share them with you.

I have blessed you in many ways. From sun up until sun down I shine my glory down upon you, yet you do not listen. How long will it be before you see that everything that is good has come from me. You toil and labor throughout the day, but to what end? Do you do it for me or do you do it to fulfill yourself? What is it that you think you will gain in life on your own? The birds do not worry about where they will get their food, the grass grows, withers, and dies and yet it still returns. If I have done all this and I call you sons and daughters then what greater blessing will you receive. Follow me my children, I will give you rest, I will set a lamp upon your feet to guide your path. Times will get hard, but know that I with you always even to the very end of times. Pick up your rod and follow me, you are my warrior, stand up and fight. Remember to count your blessings everyday and know that I am God who gives freely to all who follow me.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount He paints a picture of what our lives being filled with blessings might look like and it is quite contrary to what the world tells us our lives should look like if we are blessed. His words are sobering and many are difficult, but I also know them to be true. It has been in the times where my life has aligned with His words that I have truly felt and been blessed. I also know the reverse to be true in the times in my life that I have not been aligned with Jesus.

Life can be tough at times and it can be difficult for us to count our blessings when we do not feel as though we have any blessings to count, but if you look hard enough and deep enough you will find them there. I know a man, who has now gone to be with the Lord, who when he was asked how he was doing would always reply “I am blessed.” These were not just words for him, they were a way of life. He knew how to count his blessings even though his body was riddled with bone cancer and the pain was severe. He knew that God had used him and was still using him despite the way he felt physically. It is because of that man that I am walking with Jesus today. He inspired so many people simply by acknowledging to them that he was blessed.

What impact is your life having on those around you? Are you bringing life when you walk into a room or are you bringing death? Have you counted your blessings lately, if not just try it and see if it doesn’t lift you up. Our Father loves us and pours out His blessings on us daily, we just need to stop and recognize how great He truly is.

Thank you Father for the abundance that you have given to us, thank you for always being there for us even when we feel lost and alone, thank you for letting us see the good where others see only bad. We thank you that we can always trust you with the best that we have in our life because you are the one who has given it. Lord, there are times when we do not feel as though we are blessed and there are times when we do not trust you. Please forgive us in those times and help us to know in the depths of our soul that you are good. Thank you for your son, Jesus Christ, the greatest gift of all. We thank you that we have a future promised to us because He came, died, and rose again so that we may do the same. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.