Description Life is a series of choices. In today's story, Joshua had gathered all the leaders together for a final farewell. The key to Joshua's speech concerned choosing to serve the Lord. On the surface, it appars that the people made the right choice.
But as we look further in the book of Judges, we see the people had aldready violated their promise. Then by the time we get to the book of Ruth, we read there is a famine in the land flowing with milk and honey. Remember destiny is not a chance, destiny is a choice.
How do we choose the right destiny? First, remember what God has done. When the people obeyed God, He prospered them. Remember what God has done in your life. How? Through reading His Word and establishing some phyical reminders.
Next, get off the fence. Don't serve two masters. Give 100% to God alone. We must be changed by the power of Christ. The biggest danger of Christians today is not that they will reject Jesus, but rather they will add Jesus into their lives along with other things. So, choose to serve God alone. We are accountable to God fo the choices we make. How do we know when something has become a god to us? See if something or someone is taking more of our attention, time, and resources than we're giving to God.
Finally, choose to stay the course. Stay focused and finish well. Destiny is not a matter of chance, destiny is a choice. Everyone has to make a choice. Choose God and stay on track. The choice is yours.
Description Today I want to look at a story that involves Paul and a lot of bad luck. This account takes place right in the middle of Paul being taken to Rome. A few years prior to this Paul was arrested because he was preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. Because Paul was born a Roman citizen, he eventually appealed to go before Caesar. After defending himself in front of the Jewish council, he is placed on a ship that sets sail for Rome. While at sea a huge storm caused the ship to wreck. They swam ashore and learned they were on the island of Malta. It was the actions of Paul while on the Island that show why he was so great and successful. These same actions applied to our own lives will produce the same results.
The first thing we see them do is gather firewood for a fire. Paul was by far the greatest of all the people here, yet he was willing to be a servant. He understood the heart of ministry is about serving people. That's how we need to live our lives.
Next, as he throws wood onto the fire a snake jumps out and bites Paul. Paul was calm in the midst of distress and trials. The people saw the snake on Paul's hand so that means he didn't react. Everything Paul does, he does with purpose. Paul didn't leave the snake on him so that others could view him as a God, but rather to introduce these people to the one true God. How we act in the midst of trials and hardships has huge implications when it comes to showing people Jesus. We can walk in confidence that the Lord is still in control. Stand on the promises of God found in his Word.
Now, here's the best part of the story. The very hands that the viper bit, the very place that was supposed to bring death to Paul, is the very place God used to give life. Luke specifically states that Paul laid hands on this man and healed him. The situation, addiction, or thing you want to keep secret is the very thing God wants to use to bring others to him! God is on your side. He is so good at bringing healing to people and using that healing as a foundation to show others the life changing power of Jesus.
Finally, Paul knew God was not finished using him. He was safe in the arms of Jesus. We can take God's past faithfulness as a promise to future blessing and protection. The person walking in God's will cannot be stopped.
How do you know if you are walking in God's will? Are you telling others about Jesus and the transformation that has happened in your own life? It was Paul's mission in life to make disciples and that has to be our mission as well. Hardships may slow us down, but they cannot stop us unless we allow them to. God's purposes will have their way.
Description It is amazing what modern medicine can do to fix a heart. Unfortunately, modern medicine can do nothing for the divided heart. The heart of man is the mind, inclinations, conscience, will and soul. Disease of the heart and soul affects the whole man.
In today's passage the New Living Translation says that the hearts of the people are fickle. Elijah went before the people and said, "Don't waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if baal is God, follow him." The person with the divided heart can look good on the outside. The condition is difficult to cure because it is chronic. Matthew 6:24 tells us no one can serve two masters. Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful above all athings. 2 Corinthians 13:5 encourages us to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith.
What are the symptoms of a divided heart? ...having a form of godliness but denying its power. Do we know the power of God? Do we obey the Lord? Take God seriously, don't take ourselves so seriously. The essence of our faith is to transfer our focus from ourselves to Christ.
The sad effects of a divided heart are we are not at peace. David knew the joy of having an undivided heart. Take account of our life and see where we need to make changes. Don't have a divided heart, but a broken heart. Give your heart to Jesus.
Description Everyday we go through the same routines, at times complaining about the outcome of our day. I want you to discover a way to break that pattern today. How can we change things? It is a two step process, making plans and having faith.
There is an interesting story in 2 Kings about a widow woman who came to Elisha for help. Elisha presented a plan to her, but it required participation, seeking help, effort and privacy. To make changes in our lives, we must quit making excuses. We have to see beyond the hindereances. We have to have established relationships with friends, neighbors, and family. Isolation only leads to discouragement. Make it a private matter as the plan is put into place. Close the door to negative reactions and ignore whispers from the enemy.
As we continue with the story we see her plan had reached fulfillment. If making and following plans are so successful then why aren't people doing it? Lack of faith and fear of failure. Faith can work for you or against you. Stop walking in fear. Overcome the victim mentality and developa victorious mentality. Put actions in place in preparation for that new life.
We must believe and expect. Believe that God's desire is for us to have a better life. Approach Him with expectancy of knowing that something is about to happen. A better life does not develop overnight. Be patient.
Surrender your present life. God is the potter and our lives are the clay. His desire is to reshape our life into something better. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey my commandments." Are you ready for a better life?
Description The words Jeremiah prophesied were a warning to Judah to get their attention, but they would not change their evil ways. What were their evil ways? Simply put, they had no need for God in their lives on a daily basis. Remember God always knows our heart.
Listen to the actions words from the verses in Jeremiah: Call, go, pray, seek, search. find. God says do these things with all of your heart. It is simply showing up, being available, actively listening, praying, searching, and seeking for ways to become the hands of Jesus. God uses and blesses us where we are, when we just show up.
The life of Jesus is the blueprint for just showing up. The disciples simply accepted His offer, made themselves available, grabbed the opportunity andf showed up. It's a great example for us: be open, step out in faith, act on and search for the opportunities.
God will use us in a powerful way when we just SHOW UP! Call, go, pray, seek, search find, and JUST SHOW UP!
Description Life can be full of changes. People change; situations change; sometimes for the better and sometimes not. Life can be unpredictable. It's good to know we have someone in our lives who we can count on to always be the same, an Unchanging God.
God's Love is Unchanging "I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forevers, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself." Psalm 89:1-2 God's love is firm and forever. He has loved us to the fullest from the moment He created us. His loves does not depend on us. His thoughts and ways are not like ours.
God's Word is Unchanging "Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens." Psalm 119:89 It's perfect. The Word of God is living and active, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. The Bible will always be applicable. The Bible is timeless. Trust is absolute and God's Word is absolutely true.
If God Changed He Wouldn't Be God "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19 If God promised it, you can believe it. "I the Lord do not change." Malachi 3:6 As Christians we need to be about change, being transformed into the image of Christ. God has no need to change because He is already perfect. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He taught the truth, He showed the truth; He lived the truth, He is the truth. Jesus is no different today. He has the same power to enable us to do miraculous things in His name.
Same Jesus. Same message. Same mission. Same purpose. Unchanging God!
Description The parable today is about unexpected guests. Have you ever had unexpected guests arrive at your home? What is your response? There are a few things we can learn from the parable: God faithfully provides. God meets our needs. God loves and cares for us.
When we examine the story more closely, we see there are cultural values at work in this story. First hospitality, it was mandatory in Jesus' culture. Then honor and shame, putting the community first in all things was expected. Just prior to this passage in Scripture was the Lord's prayer. We can link the two together. The person inside represents Almighty God who is never inconvenienced and never sleeps. When you have a true, sudden need, make it known immediately to the Father. God will respond because it is an issue of honor. Our God is not just a God of promises, but promises fulfilled.
We can know this: God faithfully provides. God meets our needs. God loves and cares for us. When we pray for our needs, we can pray confidently.
When we bring our needs, not our wants or desires, God will respond immediately and often in a more expansive way. We only have to ask once for that need to be heard and be fulfilled. Confidently pray for what you truly need right now, ONCE, and then focus your prayers on other things in the kingdom.
Description Trust defined is reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc. of a person or thing; confidence. Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord!
There are truths about trust we can learn from the story in Matthew 14 when Jesus Walks on the Sea:
Just because we're following Jesus doesn't mean we're not going to go through storms.
Jesus comes to bring joy and freedom from fear.
jesus wants us to get out of the boat and trust Him.
Even when we step out in faith and trust in God, we may still fall.
When we fall, Jesus is always there to catch us.
Trust involves faith. As we look closer at faith in Hebrews, we realize having faith doesn't mean that nothing bad will ever happen to us. Faith means keeping our eyes on Jesus, running our race and not giving up.
How can we apply this to our life? Faith not only believes that God exists, but also that He is good. if you have a hard time trusting God, get into His Word. When you trust God, you will experience peace in your life.
Description John expresses his experience with Jesus in 1 John 4. God is love - you cannot separate the two. God defines true love. To live in God is to settle down in God's love, for God to take up residency in our hearts and lives. The world tells us there are no abosolutes, but God says that His love for us is an absolute.
Completeness and purpose begin when we accept God's love for ourselves and we allow God's love to be expressed back to God and to others. The cross shows us the seriousness of our sin - but it also shows us the immeasurable love of God. I am convinced the greatest act of love we can ever perform for people is to tell them about God's love for them in Christ. ~Billy Graham
You came to Christ because Christ reached out to you. God loved you enough to make His presence known and you were drawn to Him and responded to His love - because He first loved us! God has a plan for each one of us and He desires the best for each of us.
Truths about God's love. God's love does not fail. God's love is indispensible. God's love comes from God. God's love reflects God's love.
Holiness is what God does through us by His Spirit. God desires to transform His people, who in turn transform their communities. God desires to work in your life right now and carry it into eternity. When we grasp God's love for us, it changes us to love like He loves. Do you know how much God loves you?
Description A man's stomach is filled with the produce of his mouth. Life and death are in the power of our tongues according to Proverbs 18. Our words are seeds. Every word we speak will carry a harvest with it. We "choose" life and death with our words. We need to take responsibility for our words. In the context of Proverbs 18, this is talking about how we talk to each other in marriage. "Your marriage will never be better than your mouth." ~Jimmy Evans
Jesus addressed speech in Matthew 12:33-37. He calls our hearts "trees" and our words "fruit". Bad words equal bad tree. Good words equal good tree. What's in our hearts will come out of our mouths. The way to get our mouth santified is we get our heart sanctified. Casual speech is dangerous. By our words we are justified or condemned. If you want to change your life, change your talk! You reap what you sow. Words are seeds.
Christ sanctified and cleansed the Church with the Word. As husbands, we sanctify by cleansing with our words.
Little things matter. James 3 also reminds us life and death are in the power of our tongues. Sometimes the smallest statement can create lifetime hardships. Some of you are living in bondage today to a word that was spoken over you. Those words are not true, you are valuable. Words matter. Good and wise words bring peace. Jesus can heal you where you hurt.
Description The healing of the woman with the issue of blood is recorded in Mark 5. Jesus, asked "Who touched my clothes?" with a crowd of people surrounding him.She believed if she could just touch his clothes she would be healed and she was indeed. There are four truths we can take away from this miracle of Jesus. 1. Suffering is a part of life - But Jesus gives us hope. While the world is full of bad news, the Word of God is full of good news. We find a woman suffering on many levels: physically, financially and socially.The Apostle Paul suffered also. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2Corinthians 12:9) Suffering is God's way of making us stronger and suffering forces us to depend on Him. Rough experiences will actually take us further in life. 2. Casual contact with Christ isn't the same as a desperate grasp of faith. Jairus is leading Jesus and people are pressing in from every side. The had such faith she didn't need Jesus to touch her or speak to her. She reached out and grabbed the hem of Jesus' garment. There was only one person in the mob who reached out with a finger of faith - Jesus recognized the difference. The key to grabbing hold of the life-changing power of Jesus is to seek Him with your whole heart. 3. There is a personal cost to Jesus in every transaction. Jesus felt the healing power flow out of His body. Every time Jesus performed a miracle, power flowed of Him. Imagine the power that flowed out of Jesus on the Cross. It cost Him His life to heal us of our terminal sin sickness. 4. Jesus asks us to openly confess Him before others. Jesus wanted to give her opportunity to declare she had been healed. There is no such thing as a closet Christian. The woman thought her main problem was an issue of blood. But she had a deeper problem. This wasn't just a healing encounter. This was a saving encounter.
We have access to the remarkable power of Jesus.
Description A key word in the New Testament: Encouragement. The guy we are looking at today is Barnabas. His name means "son of encouragement." We meet him for the first time in Acts 4. The church was just getting started. Everyone was helping one another. Joseph, also called Barnabas, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. Now it appears others were doing the same, but Luke felt it vital to mention him by name. Joseph was somewhat of an outsider, but his giving was an encouragement to the church. He was given a new name Barnabas meaning "son of encouragement."
The next time we hear about Barbabas was when Paul attempted to join the disciples and everyone was afraid of him. Paul had been a persecutor of the church. Barnabas brought him to the apostles and declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road to Damascus and was preaching boldly in the name of Jesus. Encouragers believe you can change with God's help. Barnabas was inclined to see the best and to call it out. Because one person saw potential, change, and hope, Paul had the opportunity to start over. Can you do that for someone?
In Acts 11we read the Gentiles were beginning to hear about Christ. Who did the religious communities in Jerusalem send to check it out? Barnabas. Barnabas realized he needed someone to help him teach and disciple new believers. He called on Paul. Paul's gifts began to flourish. By the end of Acts 13, Paul is now the one leading. Barnabas' joy was in developing greatness in someone else.
Another powerful story occurs in the life of Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas would travel with other people in their ministries, one being John Mark. At one point we learn that Mark deserted them, yet in spite of that Luke tells us Barnabas wanted to take him again. A sharp disagreement arose between Paul and Barnabas and they seperated ways. Even though Paul most likely thought Mark needed to grow up, at the end of his life notice what he says, "Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry." Barnabas saw something in Mark that turned out to be right. Encouragers stand with you when you fall.
We meed to be encouragers for each other. Let's not give up meeting together. Find the good in others. Helpe them see what they can do! Be an encourager.
Description The most important issue in your life right now is your obedience to God. Obedience is the designed relationship of man to God. God did not intend for man to act alone without His divine guidance and care. We submit and obey the Creator; the Creator protects and provides for us. Man is naturally dependent upon God and was created to benefit from His infinite resource of love, wisdom and power. Simply obey God. True faith is characterized by obedience. Obey God and He will take care of you.
The New Covenanct did not regate the need for obedience to God; it empowered it! Obedience must arise from deep conviction in the heart. Jesus' obedience to the Father established the New Covenant. The end objective was to restore people to right relationship with God-One of obedience to God. Obedience was paramount in Jesus' mind. Our love for God is demonstrated in our obedience to Him.
Heaven will be a place of complete obedience. God is the source of all good things. Obedience is the gateway to fulfillment. Find fulfillment and joy in submitting, obeying and serving God-in doing the will of the Father.
Description The Definition of Fear An anxious feeling caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience. President Roosevelt once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." In life circumstances we either operate in faith or fear. Three Types of Fear The first two are healthy fears. Protective fear helps us respond to dangerous situations. Godly fear involves respect for God with fear of sin and its consequences.The third is an unhealthy fear. Chronic fear either stars as sin or some circumstance that you have been in, heard, or assumed. It can turn to anxiety and stress. It will keep us from doing things we should and can even lead to depression. The Danger of Fear Fear torments you causing physical and mental suffering. Fear restrains you from doing God's will, getting work done, and in relationships. What you fear will catch up with you. Fear is contagious. Do Not Be Afraid Numerous times in Scripture we are encouraged not to fear. 2 Timothy 1:7; Luke 2:10; Genesis 15:1; Deuteronomy 1:21; Isaiah 41:10; and Psalm 34:4 just to name a few. Overcoming Fear How do we deal with fear? First, expose your fears to God. Then, trust God with your fears and look to Him. When you are afraid, pray and believe. Finally, change your focus. Focus on God and His Word, the Bible. Hebrews 13:6 says, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid." 1 John 4 say, "Perfect love drives out fear." Fear and love cannot coexist. The key to overcoming fear is to hae your faith and trust in Christ alone.
Description Memorial Day is a time of rememberance. A time to reflect upon those who paid the price for our freedom with their lives. The Bible has many instances where we are called to remember. God wants us to remember the past, learn from it, and resolve to live our lives for Him. This is the case in our text today in the book of Hebrews.
First, remember the fallen. In the passage take note of some key phrases, "These all died in faith" and "Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God." The freedom we have in Christ is worth sacrificing our lives for.
Next, resolve to be found faithful. "Great cloud of witnesses" refers to the heroes of faith. Run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Finally, reflect on the finisher of our faith. To become like Christ means we will share in His suffereing. Scripture exhorts us to "not think it strange" and to "count it all joy." Why did Jesus endure? Because of the "joy set before Him." In the Hebrews passage all were commended for their faith, yet none received what had been promised before dying.God had planned something better and with Him they would be made perfect.
Will those who come after us find us faithful? Will we endure to the very end? Remember the fallen, draw courage from the memory, and resolve to be found faithful.
Description Have you ever been in a really bad situation? Today we are going to look at Peter and his miraculous escape from prison in Acts 12. Another passage that is a great outline for Acts 12 is 1 Peter 3:12 "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." Let's take a look.
First of all, God sees our trials.Understand the sovereignty of God. He is in control of all events and circumstances. He is still on the throne. So keep your eyes on the Lord.
Next, God hears our prayers. Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying for him. Prayer is the turning point. The night before his trial, he was sleeping soundly. An angel struck him to wake him up. What gave Peter peace in the midst of this terrible plight? He knew believers were praying. His faith in God and the knowledge that Herod could not kill him. In John 21 Jesus promised Peter that he would live to an old age and end his live crucified on a cross. God's will is always for our best and for His glory. Have rest and peace with the knowledge that God is in control of your life.
Now in contrast, the Jerusalem church was praying, but was it really in faith believing? In the passage we read that Peter was miraculously delivered from prison. Here's the scene: Believers were praying earnestly. Peter knocks at the door saying, "Rhoda, it's me, Peter." Rhoda doesn't open the door, but runs to tell everyone, "Hey Peter is at the door." Their response, "Have you lost your mind? Peter is in jail. Maybe it's his angel." They couldn't believe God had actually answered their prayer. It was Peter and they were astonished. Often we pray the same way. Pray in fatih - expecting God to answer.
Finally, God deals with our enemies. God is the judge. God is in control. In the passage we see Herod did not give praise to God and he was struck down. You can trust God will do what is right.
Two questions for you: How are you handling your problems? Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Are you praying?
Description The life lesson and advice King Lemuel's mother told him: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Speak up. In other words, take action in defense of others. Who are we to speak up for? Those who cannot speak for themselves. All who are destitute. The poor and the needy.
What should we do based on what we are reading? This charge in Proverbs 31:8-9 is not just found here, but in numberous places throughout Scripture: Proverbs 24:11-12, Isaiah 1:17, Micah 6:8, Zechariah 7:10, Matthew 23:23, Titus 3:14, Hebrews 3:1-3. We need to act. Do. Write letters. Give time. Send cards. Give money. Fire off emails. Speak words. Pray.
You may ask, "Why should I do any of this?" It is simple. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus spoke up for us with His life when we could not speak for ourselves. We were destitute and spiritually poor. God in His vast love is our motivation to speak up and act in defense of others.
Description The text in James is an encouragement to every believer.Let's look at five circumstances and the ways we have to overcome them. When the Heat is on: Guard your Tongue The Jews believe that when you say a word it keeps on speaking throughout time. Our word should be our bond. People should be able to count on us. Guard your tongue!
When You're Sick: PrayPersonal Prayer. Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. When in great emotional, mental and spiritual anguish, we should cry out to God. Notice it says "let him pray." God doesn't promise relief, but implies a promise of strength to endure the suffering. Corporate Prayer. The sick and distressed person is to call upon the elders of the church. Oil was widely used for medicinal purposes. It is also a representation of the Holy Spirit. We pray believing god; not based on what He does, but Who He is.
When You're Happy: Praise We should never feel guilty because we are blessed. We should praise god in good times and what seems like bad times.
When You Sin: Confess and Pray Confess to one another. Confess means to agree with. The church is a hospital for sinners helping to cure one another. Carry one another's burdens. Pray for one another's healing-physical and spiritual. It is a privilege. God is able to to immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine.
When They Fall Away: Find Them If one of you should wander from the truth, bring them back. The word wander means to err or slip away. People need to know that we love them and care about them.Be prepared in season and out to correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.
Overcome whatever circumstance by trusting Jesus to help you through it.
Description Foreigners and Strangers Can Never Be Family The Apostle Paul talks about the bond that's formed through the cross. Through Jesus we have access to the Father by One Spirit. Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone for the house of God. Church is a family of people joined together in worship and in life. Unless we open our hearts and lives to new people, they will always stay foreigners and strangers. In Acts, we see the early church was a family committed to loving Jesus and others so their neighbors, community and world could experience the good news. A church ceases to function as a family when it forgets this mission. If we close our heart to foreigners and strangers, they can never become part of the family of God. Never stop believing that God can transform us.
God's House Is A Continuous Building Project The family of God is composed of living stones. Jesus is the foundation-perfect, solid, crack-free. Ephesians says in God Him we are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to build a temple of unity and praise. We have many more reasons to honor one another than to dishonor one another: Same Father, same Savior, same Spirit within, same destiny when life is over. We are one church, one family.
Description The first step to embracing the new thing God wants to do in your life is to change your focus. Quit looking behind and start looking ahead. You cannot depend on past victories to sustain you. What is God doing in your life right now? Don't allow past failures to possess you. God gives an opportunity to start over. Don't live on yesterday's faith. The children of Israel needed new faith and vision for what God could do. So do we.
Next, clarify your focus. Discover what God wants for you. To do this you must see yourself as God sees you. In God, your life can become a stream of life. See your possibilities as God sees them. God is able to transform the desert areas of your life into fields of blessing.
Finally, commit yourself to God's plan. God has already set in motion a new direction and purpose for your life. Will you follow Him?
Description What do you want? It's quite a question. George Bernard Shaw said, "There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it." One of the signs of our times is misplaced priorities. If our priorities are wrong, what we desire can hurt us. We need to understand what is important to God and evaluate our priorities in light of His priorities for us.
In Matthew 20:32-34 we see Christ's penetrating insight. Jesus is revealing to His disciples the details concerning His crucifixion. He was determined and resolute, even though He knew it would mean certain death.Where did Jesus get this detail? From Scripture, He understood from a supernatural point of view.
It's amazing to see the disciples' personal interests displayed on the heels of Jesus' revelation. They were blind and responded selfishly. They missed the point. Jesus said, "What do you want?" In their response we see basically three things: Prominence, proximity, and power. They were preoccupied with self and didn't understand the implications of their own desires. The cup to which Jesus referred was a common symbol of what life hands you. When He spoke of baptism, He was speaking of being placed into something. Be careful what you ask of God. Jesus stepped in to redirect the disciples' personal interest. Know the wisdom of the world is not the wisdom of God. The path to greatness is service. We must live our lives by the principle of service and sacrifice. Be asking ourselves, "What does God want and what do others need."
What comes next in this section of Scripture is the story of blind Bartimaeus. Mark skips over a number of events to this story which is a pertinent illustration of the disciples' distorted desires. There is an underscoring of Bartimaeus' name, which means "son of honor". Previously James and John were asking for positions of honor. Jesus asks Bartimaeus the same question he asked the disciples, "What do you want?" His response was far different than the disciples. He wanted to see. The symbolic application: Bartimaeus was blind and knew it. The disciples were blind, but didn't know it. Ask God to open our eyes to see the implications of our desires.
Pray this prayer: "Lord I want to regain my sight. I want to see through Your eyes. I want to understand what's really important to you. Lord help me see."
Description FIrst, a few Reminders. We all have access the the Holy Spirit the moment we become a believer. The Holy Spirit was given to believers. Everyone has a unique experience. God does things the way He chooses. When we came to Christ, He gave His Spirit to us. Salvation is the starting point when we are saved by grace. Sanctification is the next and continual process of spiritual growth. Yield to the Holy Spirit. Allow the indwelling. Yielding acknowledges we are not our own. God's Presence is now the everyday experience of every believer! Next time you struggle with sin, remember that you have God's Spirit living inside you. Allow the Spirit to lead. The Holy Spirit is readily available to help us discern, and provide wisdom and guidance. Allow the Spirit to move. It is only by yielding to this power that we will overcome problems of sin and habit. Yielding to the Holy Spirit must be a daily, repeated process, like breathing. The Result of Yielding. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the the same Spirit is the source of them all. Each one will have different gifts to various degrees. The Holy Spirit distributes these gifts as He chooses. 1 Corinthians 12 outlines the gifts of the Spirit. Then there is the fruit of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These gifts must be cultivated in our life. If we are filled with the Spirit, these fruits will be evident in our life. The power of the Spirit gives us strength to do what we never though we could or would do! Be willing to yield all to Him.
Description Jesus has taken the sting of death for us! We can know and live without fear. The resurrection of Jesus has an effect on Christianity. Dont' stop at the cross. Paul proclaimed what he knew to be true, Jesus was risen!
It was impossible for the grip of death to keep hold of Him. Jesus held the power to die and to live again. His love for us was more powerful than the grave. His work of redemption is done. Simply receive what Easter sealed.
If death couldn't hold Him, no other bond can hold Him. If death couldn't hold Jesus, it is just as impossible to keep in bondage anything that belongs to Him. The chains of habit can't hold us. The chains of hell can't hold us. The chains of depression can't hold us. The chains of death can't hold us.
Come alive today. New life is found in Jesus. Receive Him as your personal Savior!
Description In Scripture the Jews were looking for a king. Jesus shows up and proclaims He is the Son of God, but He didn't come as they had expected. His birth was miraculous and had been prophesied, He performed miracles, He taught with power and authority, yet they still could not see. John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.The people didn't even realize that Jesus was the Messiah because the same ones who cried "Hosanna!" in just a few days later cried "Crucify Him."
Jesus used this word picture in John 12:24, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. It is a familiar picture we can all understand. Before a crop can be harvested a seed must first be planted. The seed must be placed in the ground and die before has the potential to bear thousands of new grains. Because Jesus died and is risen from the dead, He has the power to duplicate His life in every single person who places their faith in Him.
Why did this king come? Jesus came to die. Jesus came to take the penalty of sin! He said, "If I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all peoples to myself." The cross of Christ still has the power to move us today. He is patient with us and is not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Do you believe? Have you received the King? Jesus loves you.
Description "He that is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else." ~Benjamin Franklin
An excuse by definition is an attempt to release from obligation or duty by mitigating circumstances. Excuses are as old as humanity itself. We are all experts at it. It's what we do. And Moses was no exception. Moses made excuses before accepting God's calling on his life and we do the same thing at times.
Excuse #1 - Who, me? I'm nobody! Who Am I
Will you let your life go, so God can take control? Jesus said whoever lays down their life to serve me will find it. God says don't worry, I'm going with you. Trust in God.
Excuse #2 - What if I go and they ask who sent me?
God says, I AM WHO I AM! It's not about who you are Moses. We have authority in His name, with His blessing to speak the truth in love.
Excuse #3 - They won't believe me!
God never denied people would doubt - that's life. God never asked Moses to use something he didn't have. What are your gifts? Don't worry about what might happen.
Excuse #4 - I don't speak well!
We have all told God why we're not good enough or ready yet. Moses finally responds in obedience.
NO MORE EXCUSES
When it comes to God our excuses are often a matter of the heart. Look to the cross. Look to Jesus. Look to love. God is sufficient...He is Lord! Do you trust Him with your life? Don't make an excuse for your excuses.
Description What is a parable? Stories that have a hidden or double meaning. They are used to reveal or conceal. Today we'll look at judgment in the context of two parables, The Mote and the Beam and Casting Pearls Before Swine, and hopefully gain a better understanding of the subject.
The Mote and the Beam
Be Cautious in Judging. The Scripture is not saying don't judge, because we all will be judged. But rather judge yourself first before looking at others. We tend to judge out of our own weaknesses. It is a mark of maturity. Don't judge wrongfully. There are some things we can not judge. You will be judged by the manner in which you judge. Never judge to condemn, be critical, find fault, disapprove or be reproachful.
Don't judge until you have the duty and capability to judge.
Duty and Capability. We can't judge matters of the heart. We must have the moral authority to judge. Don't be prejudiced or biased and consider all points of view. Judge with love. Don't communicate your judgment unless prompted by the Holy Spirit.
How Do We Judge? Be the example. Judge in humility and with a loving heart. Be ready and willing to assist others. Judge only after much prayer.
Why Do We Have To Be So Careful? If we judge unjustly we may provoke retaliation. It is unbecoming of Christians and we may condemn ourselves.
Pearls Before Swine
Dont' be blind towards evil. Don't be a hater of truth. The admonition is not to compromise the sacred things of God, not to descerate the truth with irreverence, and not to be cynical about the things of God. To honor this admonition we must be able to judge between truth and lies, good and evil, holy and profane, and right and wrong.
Judge justly, mercifully, and lovingly. Judge with purpose. Realize some things are best left with God. Don't broadcast your judgement. Don't cheapen or trivialize the things of God.
Description What are your expectations and hopes in life? Someone well said, "There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them." To go places in life and to please God, must have expectations and hope of better things.We must live by faith.
One need not lose hope. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have and have it to the full." Life without Christ is a hopeless end, but with Christ, it's an endless hope. Paul had great expectations and hope in life. The expectation of prayer support, spiritual strength, honoring Christ, and good work.
The Expectation of Prayer Support. People need people. Sympathy should never run out with Christians. Be devoted to one another and bear one another's burdens. Always keep praying for all the saints. Expect prayer support from one another.
The Expectation of Spiritual Strength. Expect God's Spirit to work in us and strengthen us.
The Expectation of Honoring Christ. Paul wanted to honor Christ in life and in death. We can pray, "God, help me to honor You."
The Expectation of Good Work. Do you have goals? Have you met those goals? Paul speaks of fruiftul labor. Pray over our work and expect God to bless our work!
Faith in God sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible.
Description The question before us is, can your difficulties advance the Gospel? There are two kinds of difficulties that can be experienced - internal and external. Internal difficulties tend to pull apart or weaken. External difficulties bring together and strengthen. We see this demonstrated in the first century church with the Apostle Paul. Paul was thrown in prison by those hoping to stop the advancement of the Gospel. But the opposite happened. According to Paul this only blazed the trail for the preaching of the Gospel.
God used Paul's circumstances to advance the Gospel. Paul wanted the church to know that because of his imprisonment the Gospel was being proclaimed more. Paul had a divine perspective. He was looking at God's plan, not his own circumstances. Paul wrote to the Philippian church to encourage them. The wicked may plot against God, but God can overrule to make the very plan work to bring Himself glory.
Paul's circumstances were used to bring a great testimony. When people stand for what they believe in Jesus Christ it produces a testimony. How we live and how we react to difficulties makes a difference. Our testimony will be noticed in in difficulties we are able to praise God.
Paul's testimony encouraged others to boldness in Christ. Paul's suffering in prison was causing others to preach with a new boldness. Be bold in your relationship with Jesus Christ. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of boldness. Our difficulties can show how Christ changed our life and inspire boldness.
Your difficulties will advance the Gospel if you are truly living for Jesus Christ. If not, your difficulties will remain simply that, difficulties. When you put your faith and trust in Christ and walk in His ways, then your difficulties will bring glory to God.
Description How will we win our friends, family and neighbors to the Lord? Not by telling them what they need to do differently in their lives, but by doing what Jesus said to do - love others as well as you love yourself! Love is a powerful four letter word!
Unconditional love. This only comes from God and the love God offers. He loves us because of who He is, not because of who we are. He is the only constant we can depend on.
Nothing can seperate. His love is everywhere. God hates sin, but loves the sinner. The religious people sometimes measure out God's love with a teaspon; yet, expect it in their lives by the truck load! No angels or demons can do anything to affect the availability of God's love. Sin is powerless to change His love for us.
Confident in love. Our confidence comes from His love for us. We don't need to fear losing His love. Jesus knows all about us and still loves us. We don't have to change our self before we come to know Him.
Fruitful in love. We need to pray that the blinders would be removed. The world needs to know the truth about God's love.
The extent of God's great love. God gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Description Communion is sharing in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It speaks to the present. It is a symbol of our unity and who we are living for in this life. It reminds us to keep our eyes on Him. It tells us that He is who He said He is. It points to the future - our complete redemption and glorification in heaven before the Great White Throne. We proclaim His death until He comes again.
Luke 24 gives an account of two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus following Jesus' crucifixion. The two diciples gave up on Jesus. Thank God Jesus drew near even though they could not see or recognize Him. Find encouragement in that today. Know there is a God who draws near and travels with us until we can see again! That is good news! That is grace! That is Jesus!
We all must confess that there have been times when we've been blind and distant. Thank God we are not left alone. Jesus is walking right beside us. Jesus said, "Remember me." Communion helps us focus on Jesus instead of ourselves. Notice the change in the disicples' attitude - from despair to hope, from depression to joy, from doubt to belief, from defeat to victory, from dismay to courage, and from disillusionment to enlightment.
Why the change? Jesus drew near...broke bread!" Jesus is here among us today! So take communion often and remember Jesus.