THE LOST AND LONELY

When was the last time that you felt truly lost or alone? Do you remember what that feels like? Maybe you feel that way right now. Maybe you’re not physically lost, but you feel like you’re lost in your life without any direction.

It happens to all of us at some point in time or another along our Christian walk; we lose sight of Jesus and we feel lost and alone and it is a horrible feeling. There is a feeling of helplessness that overwhelms us when this happens and we wonder what went wrong or how did we get so far away from God that we can’t seem to hear His voice anymore.

Now try to think back to before you knew Jesus and how you felt. Chances are that if you really think about it you can remember feeling utterly lost in life and completely alone; like you had no purpose in life. Or maybe you found your complete purpose in your job, or family, friends, or whatever else we turn to instead of God and still you felt empty.

This feeling of desperation and being lost is something that people go through every day all around us. There are possibly times in which they feel like things are coming together for them if only they can maintain what they are doing, but then…BAM…something happens again that puts them right back where they started if not even further back and the cycle starts over again.

Yesterday I posted a poem that I felt like God placed on my heart after finishing reading the book “Exposed: True Stories of Messy Survivals from Rolla, MO.” It is a book of seven stories from seven people who were saved by Jesus and how they came to know Him. It was written by people from Christian Life Center in Rolla, Missouri and it shows just how messy life really is and it reminded me how it feels to not know God.

It is a book of pain, desperation, fear, addiction, etc… But it is also a book of hope and life in Jesus Christ. It is a book of reality. It is a book about the people who Jesus gave His life for. He came to heal the sick and to help the lost find their way home. Jesus said that it is not the healthy who need a doctor, it is the sick (Mk. 2:17). Often times we tend to forget what being a Christian is really about, we forget that Jesus came to heal the sick.

After Jesus’ death and burial He arose and appeared to many people before He ascended into heaven and before He left He Commissioned all who would answer the call to follow Him when He said,

Matthew 28:18-20 (New Living Translation)

I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Being a Christian does not mean going to church on Sunday, or singing in the choir or on the praise team, it does not mean reading your Bible, it doesn’t even mean living a moral life. Although all of these things are a part of being a Christian they alone do not bring life. Being a Christian means doing the things that Jesus did and answering the call of the Great Commission. It means that we must not raise ourselves up above others and think that we are better than them. It does not mean that we must have everything together. It does not mean that we should preach to people about their sin, rather we should walk alongside them in their struggles in prayer and encouragement that God desires more for their life.

Being a Christian means that we must love God first and foremost. We must love Him more than anything else in our life. This takes time and faithfully following Him, but when we start with loving God above all else He changes our hearts for others. He helps us to see the hurting people all around us. He gives us compassion and love for our neighbors, people on the street, our friends, and our family.

If you call yourself a Christian you have been given a portion of the light of the world and it is your job to let it shine so that others can find their way. It is your job to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in your heart to humbly follow Him wherever He would call you to go and to do whatever He would call you to do.

There are lost and lonely people all around you. There are people hurting and in despair in which you have influence. You have a responsibility to share the love of Jesus with them. Don’t worry about what you know or don’t know. People don’t really care what you know until they know that you care about them. So love on people and be in prayer for them especially when you are with them. And when you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you to share your story about how God redeemed you; about how God changed your life when you started following Him, then share it in love and listen to your friend. Listen to what they are saying and how they are feeling and trust in God to do the rest.

There is nothing that any of us are going to say in our own power that will convince someone that they need Jesus, only God can do that. All we can do is to come along side what God is already doing in that person’s life and share how God has changed our life and then when they give you permission and are ready to listen we can tell them all about Jesus and maybe even have a chance to lead them to the Lord. But, even if that chance to lead them to Christ never comes for you stand strong in knowing that God is leading them and desires for them to know Jesus even more than you do.

You cannot fail if you share your faith in love. The only way you can fail is by keeping silent. The only way you can fail is by not loving and by trying to convince someone by your vast understanding of the Bible. Just like you needed to be ready to hear the Word of God spoken in truth and love they must also be ready and until God brings that time to pass they will reject everything that you try to tell them. So relax and trust that God has everything in His hands and that He wants to use you and then pray, pray, pray, and when you sense that God wants you to act then act and understand that He is doing all the work, but He is allowing you to join in with what He is doing so that He can deepen His relationship with you and show more of Himself to you.

We have a glorious God who wants to bring people to Him. He wants to reveal the love that He has for His people and He has given us the opportunity to join in with Him to share that love. The choice is yours and the choice is mine to follow Jesus’ example and to love the people around us, even those who may seem hard to love. What will you chose to do?

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).

Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

Have you ever noticed that when you are diligently seeking God that things just seem to go better in your life? How when you read the Word and meditate on it that you are reminded more often of His Word? For instance when I am most hungry for the Word it seems that on more occasions than not I will hear that same message during the day, I will have an opportunity to learn from that Word that day, and I will more than likely have an opportunity to share it with someone else that same day. Things may seem coincidental, but they’re not. God is speaking to you through His Word and desires good things for those who will listen and follow Him.

When Jesus was in the midst of spending His forty days and forty nights in fasting and prayer in the wilderness He was tempted by Satan himself. I don’t know if I have ever been tempted by Satan himself, but I know that I have had his demons on me more than my fair share of times and they are sneaky and deceptive and they are relentless so I can’t even begin to imagine the temptation that Jesus was going through when He was faced with Satan himself. Matthew 4:1-12 says this,

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Satan and his demons are crafty and they will hit us where we are the weakest. The very first temptation that the Devil sent Jesus’ way was of the flesh. Jesus was hungry and anyone who has ever fasted knows, as we are instructed to do, eating food is a deep craving when you have not eaten for a period of time. The Bible tells us that Satan waited until Jesus has spent forty days and nights in the wilderness and that Jesus was hungry because he wanted Jesus to be more susceptible to his deception. So when Satan swooped in to begin tempting Jesus he did so by hitting Him where He was the weakest at the moment. He said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”

At first glance this is a simple request and something that Jesus could have very easily done and likely desired to do since He was hungry, but what was Satan really asking of Jesus? Was He just asking Him to do a miracle and turn stones into bread? This was something that Jesus could have very easily done. Turning the stones into bread would not have been a sin, so what was the sin that Satan was tempting Him with?

With each and every temptation Satan was trying to get Jesus to turn away from God and to follow him. Satan is smart and he was smart in his tempting of Jesus. You see Satan knows the Word because he was once one of the mightiest angels in Heaven until he turned against God and sought to have people worship him. Satan will use anything to try to deceive us and to get us to follow him, even the very Word of God. But he does not have plans to give us a good life; he only has plans to give us the illusion that we will have a good life by following what he has said.

Psalm 32:8-11, (New Living Translation)

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

When we follow God there is nothing else in all of creation that will lead us down a better path for our life. God has the best pathway for our lives and He will guide us down that pathway accordingly, but we need to follow Him willingly and we need to be aware of who we are following. He will not force us to follow Him, but He will advise us if we seek Him and He will watch over us. It is when we turn away from Him that we get into trouble.

Satan went on to tempt Jesus two more times by urging Him to jump off of a cliff in order to test God in protecting Him and then finally Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and told Jesus that all He had to do was to bow down and worship him. Every temptation that Satan sent Jesus’ way was something that the Father already promised Jesus and we have the same promise.

God promises to care for us and to provide us with all that we need from His glorious riches (Phil. 4:19) just as He provided for the Israelite’s with their daily bread as they spent their forty years going to the Promised Land. When we follow God we do not need to worry about our needs because God will always provide for us.

Matthew 6:25-27

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Satan tempted Jesus to test God and his protection, but Jesus replied saying that, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’

Deuteronomy 6:16-19

You must not test the Lord your God as you did when you complained at Massah. You must diligently obey the commands of the Lord your God—all the laws and decrees he has given you. Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so all will go well with you. Then you will enter and occupy the good land that the Lord swore to give your ancestors. You will drive out all the enemies living in the land, just as the Lord said you would.

Finally Satan tempted Jesus by promising Jesus something that he could not provide in exchange for worshipping him. Satan likes to promise us great things, but great things he cannot provide. He likes to promise us the world and a good life, but all he can deliver is death and destruction. The things that Satan can give us may be by all appearances good, but nothing that comes from Satan is good for us and when we stop following God to follow Satan we will have many sorrows in life (Ps. 32:10).

Satan and his demons are out to kill and destroy us (Jn. 10:10). They have no intention to give us life because they cannot do it only Jesus can (Jn. 10:10). When Satan was tempting Jesus his promises were only half-truths and some were old faced lies. Jesus saw through the deception though because He was grounded in the Word of God and He used the Word to fight back against Satan and finally He just told Satan to leave.

We have the ability and the power to do exactly what Jesus did, but we need to embrace it. We need to be seeking God in all things. We need to be seeking to honor God and glorify Him in our actions and to follow Him always. We need to remember that Satan does not have plans to give us life, he only seeks to kill and destroy us, but Jesus has come so that we could have life.

When we follow Jesus and diligently seek God’s will for us our lives begin to change. God doesn’t desire for us to live a treacherous life. God desires for us to have a full life and He will take care of our every need when we follow Him with all of our heart. When we are regularly in His Word we are able to better fight off the enemy from the harm that he intends us. Jesus did not fight against Satan by any natural means, He fought off Satan with the Word of God and He stood on the promises that God has made us all when we choose to follow Him.

When you choose to follow God your life WILL change as you begin to realize God’s will for your life. Do not be surprised though if you meet resistance, especially at first. When you walk in the ways of Satan he pretty much leaves you alone, but when you choose to follow Jesus Satan does not want to lose your obedience so he begins to do things to try to get you to change your mind. Satan knows how good God is and he knows that once you truly decide to follow God and live a life that reflects that decision that it is extremely difficult to persuade you back to following him. It is much easier for him to keep you by trying to dissuade you from following God in the first place by speaking lies to you about who God is and about himself. Satan would have you believe that by following him you will have a good life, but that is an utter lie straight from the pit of hell. Satan wants you to worship him, but God has a better plan for your life if you choose to follow Him.

Following God may seem difficult and at times it is because we live in a world in which Satan has been allowed to roam around with his demons and it is their desire to get us to turn away from God. It is their desire to see us so lost in our sin that we do not even realize that we are following the path that leads straight to hell. But, God’s plan is perfect and is good and when we follow Him we are guaranteed life through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected to be with the Father so that we too will one day be resurrected to be with our Father in Heaven, but we must follow Jesus. We must give our lives over to God and follow Him with all of our heart. He will ask us to do many things, but He will not force us. He is kind and loving, but He will not force us to follow as a horse with a bit in its mouth. No, we must choose to follow Him. “Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure (Ps. 32:10-11)”!

Father thank you so much for your love and your watch over us. Thank you for sending your angels to care for us and for your Holy Spirit who guides us through our lives. Helps us to follow you God in all things. Help us to see the deception of the enemy for what it is. We long to follow you God and to follow you alone. Father help me to learn your Word and to stand on it so that I will have the courage to fight against Satan and his demons when they seek me out. Protect me from them Lord so that I can keep on the straight path that you have chosen for me. Guide me and help me to know your good and perfect will for my life. Lord I want to know you more, please reveal yourself to me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Our Identity in Jesus

The Israelites were God’s chosen people but they often times forgot that they were. In the Old Testament there is a recurring theme of God blessing His people and eventually as generations passed they would forget what God had done for them and as they forgot what God had done they would slowly turn away from Him. God would eventually get fed up with them and would hand them over to their evil ways, but He would not leave them forever. He would always do something to bring them back. This happened over and over again throughout the Old Testament and although it is not a specific motif in the New Testament I would say that in part we continue to do the same thing today. The problem boils down to God’s people not understanding their identity in Him.

What does your identity in Christ look like? Last time we saw that we can either call ourselves children of God or children of Satan (1 John 3:9-10). If we call ourselves children of God then we need to realize what our identity in God actually looks like. Just like as we grow our identity begins to look different, the same thing happens when we grow in Christ. When we are first converted we need to be “fed with milk, not solid food (1 Cor. 3:2),” just like when we were born we needed milk to grow; however, just as when we were born we eventually grew up and began to eat solid food we must also grow in Christ and learn to feed ourselves and to become mature in Him. As we begin to develop our own personality and character traits we must be seeking to become more like Christ in all that we do and we do that by following Him.

For those in the Old Testament things were a bit different than what we have them today. They had a much different system of approaching God, because when Jesus came He gave us access to God by tearing the veil that separated us from the most holy place when He died upon the cross. Matthew 27:50-51 says that “Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Now that the veil is torn we have direct access to God. We have Jesus who “always lives to make intercession for them [those who draw near to God through Him] (Heb. 7:25)” and we have the Holy Spirit living within us (1 Cor. 6:19) to guide us and direct us through our life.

So if we have the Holy Spirit living within us and Jesus making intercession for us then how can we get so caught up in the ways of the world that we forget where our identity lies? To answer that let’s take a look at Exodus. By the time Exodus 5 rolls around Moses and Aaron have already confronted Pharaoh and asked him to allow the Israelites to go and worship God. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart though and increased the oppression upon the Israelites so that the Israelites turned against Moses and Aaron and said to them…

Exodus 5:21-23

‘May the Lord judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!’ Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, ‘Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!’

The Israelite’s had become so accustomed to the oppression that they were under from the enemy that they did not want Moses and Aaron to continue to talk to Pharaoh. Though they groaned to the Lord about the oppression that they had been under they were not willing to trust that God would save them, they were not willing to put their trust in Him. Moses and Aaron were no different even though Moses had gotten his orders directly from God. They were scared and saw that Pharaoh was a hard man and would punish them if they continued in their current course of action, but God had different plans just as He has different plans for you and me.

It is so easy to get caught up in the ways of the world without necessarily realizing it if we are not regularly communing with God and I do not mean by just going to church regularly or even once in a while. In John 10:27 Jesus says that, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” A good shepherd does not leave his flock when He knows that the enemy is near, likewise Jesus is always watching over us when we follow Him because the enemy is always lurking around the corner waiting to attack us. Satan has come to steal, kill, and destroy, but our identity lies within Jesus who came to give us life in abundance (Jn. 10:10).

So if our identity and our security lies within Jesus then how do we ever get away from Him? The answer lies in our actions. Typically we have a tendency to fluctuate between being close to God by following Him closely to being far from God by doing our own thing. This doesn’t just happen overnight typically. For the person who is intentionally following Jesus it typically happens over time as they get focused on other things that are happening around them. Sheep get tend to get focused on eating and as they see greener grass they begin to move towards that and are unaware of what is happening around them or even where they are going. We are much like sheep. We have a tendency to seek comfort and to seek something better than what we have and as we focus our attention on getting something better we can easily take our eyes off of Jesus and wander away, even though He will care for our every need.

The Israelites had wandered away, far away. They had turned from honoring God just as we do, but God wasn’t done with them yet. He had different plans for them other than to be under the oppression of a tyrannical ruler, just as He has different plans for us. Let’s go back to see what God did for the Israelites.

Exodus 6:1-8

Then the Lord told Moses, ‘Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!” And God said to Moses, ‘I am Yahweh—‘the Lord.’ I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh to them. And I reaffirmed my covenant with them. Under its terms, I promised to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as foreigners. You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are now slaves to the Egyptians. And I am well aware of my covenant with them.

‘Therefore, say to the people of Israel: I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!’

These are some pretty big promises from a God who allowed them to fall into slavery in the first place, but it was not God’s fault. Sure, He allowed them to fall into the place where they currently found themselves, but it was to teach them a lesson. Just as earthly parents must teach their children our Heavenly Father does the same thing with His children. He has plans for and hopes for us that He longs for us to follow and when we veer away He doesn’t force us back instead He allows us to reap the consequences of our actions and to grow through the process.

It should be noted that each of us has a different lot in life and that God will use us wherever we are and in whatever situation we find ourselves in. Our status is of no regard to God, for God opposes the proud and shows favor to the humble (Prov. 3:34). He is able to use each and every one of us who chose to follow Him and He promises to give us life in abundance (Jn. 10:10), but that does not necessarily mean earthly riches. When we follow God and do His work we are building up for ourselves and inheritance in Heaven.

1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

God keeps His promises to us in the face of the enemy, just as we will see with the Israelites who have been under the oppression of Pharaoh. God went on to harden Pharaoh’s heart over and over again as He brought plague after plague upon the Egyptians and their land until eventually Pharaoh along with the inhabitants of the land begged the Israelites to leave and even gave them their possessions, just as God had told them He would do.

Exodus 12:31-36

Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. “Get out!” he ordered. “Leave my people—and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you said, and be gone. Go, but bless me as you leave.” All the Egyptians urged the people of Israel to get out of the land as quickly as possible, for they thought, “we will all die!”

The Israelites took their bread dough before yeast was added. They wrapped their kneading boards in their cloaks and carried them on their shoulders. And the people of Israel did as Moses had instructed; they asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold. The Lord caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So they stripped the Egyptians of their wealth!

God keeps His promises and He follows through in ways that we could never imagine. It is not our job to try to figure out how to accomplish the things that God has told us He will accomplish; it is our job to do exactly what He tells us to do which starts with repenting of our sins and following Jesus. God desires us to be holy and will cause circumstances to happen around us to refine us and to strengthen us and to make us into the holy people that He desires.

I have lived a fairly blessed life, even in the face of having walked away from God for six years, but I have faced my fair share of trials and obstacles as well and it never ceases to amaze me how God has used each of those trials that I have gone through to not only bring me closer to Him, but to draw others in as well. For instance the death of a loved one has given me insight into suffering, into the stages that lead into death, the grieving process, hospice, etc., and has given me much valuable and personal experience and insight to use as a hospital chaplain where I often times am dealing with death and sickness.

You see our whole identity is in Christ and the more that we follow Him the more we become like Him. He takes our hard hearts and softens them, He gives us patience, teaches us humility, shows us how to love, but He also reveals to us the strength that we have in Him. When we understand that we are Children of God and that we have been given power through the Holy Spirit to fight the enemy and win we start to live life in a completely different way. We begin to live life in a way that is pleasing to the Lord and attractive to others even if it doesn’t seem to make sense to them. When we take on the identity of Christ our whole demeanor and even our appearance begins to change. Have you ever noticed that someone who has faithfully followed and worshipped God for a long time looks much younger than others their age? Have you ever noticed that they actually seem to have a glow to them? That glow is the light of God reflecting from within them as they have faithfully taken on the identity of Christ and chosen to do the things that He has instructed them to do throughout their life.

Just like God kept His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob He kept His promise to Moses and the Israelites to pull them out of their oppression and to cause His name to be exalted throughout the land. He wants to do the same thing with us. When we get off of our seats and start doing what Jesus is calling us to do we begin to see more of God around us. When we choose to follow Him we begin to see our lives change for the better and are filled with more joy and peace even in difficult situations. When we understand and embrace our identity in Christ we will not be content with standing by and doing nothing while there are people who are lost and hurting around us, people who do not know God and the power that He has over Satan. Satan has already been defeated! In the end we know that we win, but we must be diligent in the battle and stand strong in Jesus Christ who gave His life so that we could have life.

So if you have not been diligent in your walk with Christ then it is time to start. God is not looking for part-time help. It is an all or nothing gig that we have signed up for. There are people around you who are hurting and need to know the love of Christ. There are people around you who are lost and wandering and need to find their way. There are people in your life that you have influence over that need to know that Jesus died so that they can have life if they choose to follow Him, but first you have to know where you are going and that starts with following Jesus and giving Him your heart and whole life. It starts by repenting of your sins and humbling yourself before Him. Anyone who wishes to call them self a child of God must do this. The choice is yours, it has always been yours. And for those who choose to follow Jesus life will be given, but much will be asked of them. It is not a decision to take lightly. It is a decision that requires a community of believers to work together to support one another, encourage, lift up, and even help one another get back on track when needed. There is no such thing as a lone ranger Christian so if you have decided to follow Jesus then your next step is to get involved into a deep relationship with Him within a community of believers who are diligently following Him.

I pray that you will earnestly seek God in your life and let the Holy Spirit guide your actions. If you have found yourself far from God then I pray that you will turn back to Him and will repent of your sins. I pray that you will fall before Him and that He will forgive you of your sins through Jesus Christ who has shed His blood to blot out your sins for you and to make you pure in the eyes of God. May God be with you as you go and share your faith with others and shine your light into the dark world that you have been placed in. May God reveal who you are in Him and show you just how much you mean to Him. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

1 John 2:1-11 “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”

footsteps-of-jesus-6-copy-001Have you ever thought hard about what it means to be like Jesus? About what it really means to be a follower of Christ? I know that for me I have great intentions, but let’s face it, if Jesus only came with great intentions then we would all be eternally lost. Luckily for us though Jesus was not just a man of intentions, He was and is a man of action. He did not only pray, He acted. Jesus lived His life in worship. He regularly spoke with the Father, He did as the Father told him, He joined together with what God was doing.

As we continue through the book of 1 John we are forced to face the following reality; “whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 Jn. 2:6). As these words strike us to our core we are invited to join in with what God is doing, because that is exactly what Jesus does, He joins in with what the Father is doing. But what exactly does that look like? I would challenge you in that it probably looks a lot differently than how we are currently living. The following gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to “walk as Jesus did.”

1 John 2:1-11, New International Version (NIV)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

1811317highresWe are reminded that we must follow our Father in complete obedience in order to say that we know the Father. If we say that we know Him, but do not follow His commands then we are liars and are not in Him. At first glance it seems impossible that any of us should be able to know that we are in the Father, but we must not forget that Jesus Christ truly is the “Righteous One” and has come to advocate for us on our behalf. You see God’s standard is so great that none of us could ever live up to it. There is only one, the “Righteous One”, who can live up to God’s standard and He laid down His life so that we too could inherit the Kingdom of God.

As we continue to deepen our knowledge and understanding of Christ we must submit more and more of our lives to Him. As the Holy Spirit reveals to us sin that is in our life, things that keep us from God, we are given a choice to choose God or to choose ourselves and effectively Satan. When we choose to obey we are are making love complete through our actions, we are saying that we would do anything to be with God. Sin keeps us from God by keeping us focused on ourselves. Sin is enticing and promises to bring life, but instead it brings death, it is counterfeit to the life that following God in obedience brings into our lives. The reason that we are often times so lonely and unhappy has nothing to do with the amount of wealth that we have or the number of friends that we have, or any other perceived necessity of happiness that we desire. Instead we are unhappy because we are not obeying God who has laid before us the path of Righteousness that leads to life.

Matthew 7:13-14, NIV

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Depressed_(4649749639)We must be obedient in all things because the gate is small and road is narrow that leads us to life. We must quit allowing ourselves to be deceived by the things of this world that stake claim to happiness, but lead to death. We must be filled with love and compassion for one another and walk boldly together lest anyone of us find ourselves alone when we fall, unable to get back up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Love your brother and stand firmly beside one another for the one “who claims to be in the light, but hates his brother is still in the darkness” (1 Jn. 2:9). Walk in love and extol the Lord in all that you do. Encourage each other daily and do not be a stumbling block for other. Pray for one another and petition the Lord on each other’s behalf for it is written “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). We are given power and authority to do what Jesus did and most of the time we don’t even recognize it. We walk around unhappy and hurt, we see other people under attack by the enemy yet we do nothing about it. We must follow the path of Righteousness in words and in deed, just like Jesus did and continues to do today.

God, thank you for always being their guiding my path no matter where I go. Help me to follow the path of Righteousness and walk as Jesus did. Help me to see the things that are happening spiritually all around me so that I am not so easily deceived by the schemes of the enemy. Father help me to stand united with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ so that none of us should fall and be unable to get back up. Show me how to make love a priority in my life. Show me how to put aside myself and clothe myself fully in your armor God. Holy Spirit continue to reveal that which is in me that is not of the Father. Lead me Lord where you need me. Father, I know that I easily get scared and confused when the unknown is before me that you are calling me into, but help me trust in you always and help me to say to you “not my will, but yours be done,” just as Jesus did when He laid down his life for me. Protect us Father from the enemy. Use us as a mighty weapon against the enemy. Thank you Jesus for willingly laying down your life so that I might have a chance at life, a chance to follow in obedience, and a chance to bring others to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen