A Call to Love

If there was ever a time when we are called to show an extraordinary display of love for God and each other, it is now. I’ve been questioning what we as Christians are doing to show love during these hectic times.

Reading the following scripture, I tried to put a filter in place to determine whether modern-day Christianity actually survives the test of Jesus’ definition of love. Let’s read this together and ask the Holy Spirit to help us answer that question.

The Great Commandment

 Matthew 22 (English Standard Version)

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 

This is the great and first commandment. 

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 

40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Along with these scriptures, we would be remiss not to read and understand God’s further definition of love.

1 John 4:20 (English Standard Version)

20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

So, let’s ask ourselves:

  1. Do we treat everyone with this kind of love? Does it matter whether they have the same color of skin as ours, speak with the same language that we use?

2. Are we prejudiced in any way?

3. Do we encourage hate of any person?

4. Do we support bullying?

5. Do we reach out and pick up the peaceful person that was just beaten down–by fists or guns–or words? Or do we join in?

6. Do we judge a person by whether they are poor, or not?

7. Do we act out, in any way, with disdain, judgmental thoughts or actions, or do we try to understand a person who is different from us? who may have a different religious affiliation? a different way in describing their belief system? Or do we think that we are the only people who have all the answers?

8. Do we agree that requiring servitude by anyone is ok? is loving? is the way Jesus would treat people?

I think this is a somber time in all of our lives when we should quietly sit and reflect on these questions. If we fall short of the definition of love as Jesus describes it, we have an imperative to go to Him and ask forgiveness, turn away from that wrongful attitude, and humble ourselves as we seek God’s guidance in remedying our actions. That way He will be glorified rather than being ashamed of us.

Are we really Christians?

If we don’t display the love and light from our Lord, then we should stop using His name–in vain!

Your sister in Christ,

Sharon

We are the World! Happy New Year!

Praying for blessings to all of you around the world. May we all come together to find what is best in each of us. Love surely is better than hate. Working together, standing together, loving together will make the difference. If you are upset about something, find your voice. Go on Twitter, Facebook, start a Website, care and share positive ideas and progressive thinking instead of crying in a corner. We can all light the place where we stand and that light will shine enough to change things.

Be blessed with much love, joy, and happiness!

Sharon & Erick

We are the world!

There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And its time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

We can’t go on pretending day by day
That someone, somehow will soon make a change
We are all a part of Gods great big family
And the truth, you know,
Love is all we need

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So lets start giving

Why I love Christmas

When Christ was born, so was our hope! This is why I love Christmas. The event invites us to believe the wildest of promises! He did away with every barrier, fence, sin, bent, debt, and grave. Anything that might keep us from him was demolished.

He only awaits our word to walk through the door. Invite him in. Escort him to the seat of honor, and pull out his chair. Clear the table; clear the calendar. Call the kids and neighbors. Christmas is here. Christ is here. One request from you, and God will do again what he did then. He’ll scatter the night with everlasting light. He’ll be born in you.

Let “Silent Night” be sung! Every heart can be a manger. Every day can be a Christmas.  The Christmas miracle—a yearlong celebration! ~Max Lucado

Worried Enough to Pray?

by Max Lucado
Last week’s blog struck a nerve. I wrote a piece entitled “Decency for President.” The premise was a simple one. Shouldn’t a presidential candidate who claims to be Christian talk like one? When a candidate waves a Bible in one speech and calls a reporter “bimbo” in the next, isn’t something awry? Specifically, when Donald Trump insists that he is a Christian (“a good Christian” to use his descriptor) and then blasts, belittles, and denigrates everyone from Barbara Bush to John McCain to Megyn Kelly, shouldn’t we speak up?

If the candidate is not a Christian, then I have no right to speak. But if the candidate does what Trump has done, wave a Bible and attempt to quote from it, then we, his fellow Christians need to call him to at least a modicum of Christian behavior, right?

Again, I struck a nerve. More than three million of you read the article in the first 36 hours! Thousands of you weighed in with your comments. They were fascinating to read. (Not all of them pleasant to read, mind you. The dozens of you who told me to stick to the pulpit and stop meddling in politics– I get it. By the way, I’d like to invite you to attend our services. My upcoming message is “Kindness”.) Detractors notwithstanding, your comments were heartfelt and passionate.

I detected a few themes.

You have a deep sense of love for our country. Patriotism oozed through your words. You cherish the uniqueness and wonder of the USA. You have varying opinions regarding leadership style, role of government, and political strategy. But when it comes to loving the country, you are unanimously off the charts.

You have an allergy to “convenient” Christians. You resist people who don the Christian title at convenient opportunities (i.e., presidential campaigns). You would prefer the candidate make no mention of faith rather than leave the appearance of a borrowed faith that will be returned to the lender after the election.

You are concerned, profoundly concerned, about the future of our country. The debt. Immorality. National security. The role of the Supreme Court. Immigration. Religious liberty. The list is as long as the worries are deep.

So where does this leave us? When a person treasures the country, but has trepidation about its future, what is the best course of action?

Elijah can weigh in on this question.

He lived during one of the darkest days in the history of Israel. The Northern Kingdom had 19 kings, each one of whom was evil. Hope had boarded the last train and optimism the final flight. The leaders were corrupt and the hearts of the people were cold. But comets are most visible against the black sky. And in the midst of the darkness, a fiery comet by the name of Elijah appeared.

The name Elijah means, “My God is Jehovah.” And he lived up to his name. He appeared in the throne room of evil King Ahab with a weather report. “‘As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word’” (1 Kings 17:1).

Elijah’s attack was calibrated. Baal was the fertility god of the pagans, the god to whom they looked for rain and fertile fields. Elijah called for a showdown: the true God of Israel against the false god of the pagans. How could Elijah be so confident of the impending drought? Because he had prayed.

Eight centuries later the prayers of Elijah were used as a model.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:16-18).

James was impressed that a prayer of such power came from a person so common. Elijah was “a human being” but his prayers were heard because he prayed earnestly. This was no casual prayer, comfortable prayer, but a radical prayer. “Do whatever it takes, Lord,” Elijah begged, “even if that means no water.”

What happened next is one of the greatest stories in the Bible. Elijah told the 450 prophets of Baal: You get a bull, I’ll get a bull. You build an altar, I’ll build an altar. You ask your god to send fire; I’ll ask my God to send fire. The God who answers by fire is the true God.

The prophets of Baal agreed and went first.

“At noon Elijah began to taunt them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’

“So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention” (1 Kings 18:27-29).

(Elijah would have flunked a course in diplomacy.) Though the prophets cut themselves and raved all afternoon, nothing happened. Finally Elijah asked for his turn.

“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, ‘Your name shall be Israel’” (1 Kings 18:30-31).

Elijah poured four jugs of water (remember, this was a time of drought) over the altar three times. Then Elijah prayed.

“LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.   Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (1 Kings 18:36-37).

Note how quickly and dramatically God answered.

“Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!’” (1 Kings 18:38-39).

“Pow!” the altar was ablaze. God delighted in and answered Elijah’s prayer. God delights in and answers our prayers as well.

Let’s start a fire, shall we?

If your responses to my blog are any indication, you are anxious. You love this country, yet you are troubled about the future. You wonder what the future holds and what we can do. Elijah’s story provides the answer. We can pray. We can offer earnest, passionate prayers.

It’s time to turn our concerns into a unified prayer. Let’s join our hearts and invite God to do again what he did then; demonstrate His power. Super Tuesday, March 1, is the perfect day for us to step into the presence of God.

Dear Lord,

You outrank any leader. You hold sway over every office. Greater is the occupant of Heaven’s throne than the occupant of the White House.

You have been good to this country. You have blessed us in spite of our sin and guarded us in spite of our rebellion.

We unite our hearts in one prayer. Let your kingdom come. Let your will be done. Please, speak through the electoral process to reveal your leader.

This we pray in the name of Jesus,

Amen

© Max Lucado
February 29, 2016

A Huge Asset

As followers of God, you and I have a huge asset.  We know everything is going to turn out all right!

Christ has not budged from His throne, and Romans 8:28 has not evaporated from the Bible.  Our problems have always been His possibilities.

The kidnapping of Joseph resulted in the preservation of his family.  The persecution of Daniel led to a cabinet position.  Christ entered the world by a surprise pregnancy and redeemed it though His unjust murder.

Dare we believe what the Bible teaches?  That no disaster is ultimately fatal?

In 2nd Timothy 4:18 the apostle Paul wrote his final words from a Roman prison, chained to a guard, within earshot of his executioner’s footsteps.   Worst-case scenario?  Not from Paul’s perspective.

He wrote: “God is looking after me, keeping me safe in the kingdom of heaven.  All praise to Him, praise forever!”

Paul chose to trust his Father.  May we do the same.

 

~Max Lucado

Those who trust in God are no longer guilty

The worst sin

What is the worst sin we can commit?

And when he comes, he will convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.

John 16:8 NLT

What would you consider the worst sin you could commit? Adultery? Stealing? Murder? You might be surprised by the answer the Bible gives.

The worst sin — and the one with the most far-reaching consequences — is this: to refuse to believe in Jesus Christ.

Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit convicts guilty men and women of sin “because they do not believe in Me.” (John 16:9) On that final day, it will not so much be the sin question as it will be the Son in question. All sins can be dealt with and forgiven if we believe in Jesus.

We must not forget that knowledge brings responsibility. It is a grave thing to shake off the conviction of the Spirit.

Jesus said the Spirit came to convict us “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11). The ruler or prince of this world, Satan, was judged at Calvary. When Jesus went to the cross and died in our place, Satan lost his death grip on humanity.

The spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment, but He wants most of all to give us assurance of forgiven sin. Why not let Him do what He really desires to do? Why not come to Jesus? Or if you have already done that, help someone else to follow your example.

Adapted from Breakfast with Jesus by Greg Laurie (Tyndale House), pp 222-24

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

A Biblical View Of The End Times

by Alan Carr

Sermon #1

1 Cor. 15:51-57

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God!He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 1 Thes. 4:13-17

13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

WHEN TRUMPETS FADE

Intro: These verses that we have read this morning give us a little insight into a future event known as “The Rapture”. While this word itself does not appear in the Bible, the event is real nonetheless. We get the word “Rapture” from the Latin translation of the Greek word arpazw (harpazo). It means just what the King James Bible says it does, “caught up“. The Rapture is that future event when the Lord Jesus Himself will return in the clouds above this earth and will catch away all the saved people of the world. It is a time that is known in the Bible as “The Blessed Hope Of The Believer“, Titus 2:13. This future event will be the focus of our preaching this morning.

While the return of our Lord is spoken of many times in the New Testament, there are only three passages which deal with the Rapture in any detail. I have read two of them this morning. The other is found in Revelation 4:1-2a, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit:…” I want to draw your attention to one common theme that punctuates each of these references. That common theme is the mention of the “trumpet”. We are told in clear language that the Rapture will be a time that will be heralded with the sound of trumpets.

When the writers of the New Testament used the imagery of trumpets, the people to whom they were writing were well acquainted with what they were saying. However, we modern readers need to be educated about the significance of the trumpet.

In the Bible, trumpets were used for four specific purposes.

1. To Proclaim Victory

2. To Call An Assembly

3. To Announce A Warning

4. To Call The Troops To Battle

It is clear to see how the trumpets fit with the idea of the Rapture. All four of these events will take place when the Rapture comes about.

1. Victory over the world will be announced by the church.

2. The saints will be called to assemble themselves in the presence of the Lord.

3. The trumpets will announce a warning of judgment to the world.

4. The angelic troops will be summoned to battle.

Also, in the society of that day, trumpets were heard on a daily basis. The Roman army, which occupied most of the civilized world at that time used trumpets to carry out the movement of their troops. Typically, when a Roman legion moved, there would be three blasts from the trumpets. The first would tell the troop to strike their tents and to prepare to move. The second would alert them to fall in and line up. The last trumpet would be the signal to move out. Notice what Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:52. He tells us that we are leaving at the “last trump”. When the trumpet sounds, it will be the signal to move up to glory!

Folks, when the trumpet sounds, all those who are saved by grace will be leaving this world. It is that event that I want to preach about today. I want you to know that before the sound of that trumpet blast fades from our ears, several great and precious events will take place. Allow me to share them with you this morning as we think on the thought, “When Trumpets Fade.”


I. OUR LORD WILL HAVE RETURNED1 Thes. 4:17

A. In Fulfillment Of His Promise – Before the Lord Jesus went to the cross, He promised His disciples that He would return for them one day, John 14:1-3. He later reaffirmed this promise to the Apostle John, Rev. 22:20. Just as sure as there is a blue sky above us He will return as He promised He would! Even as He was ascending back into Heaven, angelic messengers were dispatched to tell the Apostles of the Lord’s impending return, Acts 1:9-11, “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

B. In Fulfillment Of His Purpose – While the Lord was making His promise to return some day, He also stated His purpose, John 14:3. The Lord desires to receive His bride unto Himself, Eph. 5:25-27. After all, He paid the ultimate price to redeem her from her sins and to cleanse her from her filthiness! He died on the cross to purchase His Bride and He wants her to be with Him in His heavenly home.

II. ALL DEPARTED SAINTS WILL HAVE BEEN RESURRECTED 1 Thes. 4:13-16; 1 Cor. 15:52b

A. Their Present Condition – 1 Thes, 4:13 tells us that those saints who have departed are “asleep“. This does not refer to “soul sleep“. It refers to the fact that their bodies are asleep. When a saint of God leaves this world, they are immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord. This was the conviction Paul Held, 2 Cor. 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.“; Phil. 1:23, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” Presently, all those who left this world in a saved condition are in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Ill. The question may arise as to what manner of body they possess. Certainly they do not have their glorified bodies yet. However, it would seem that they possess some sort of a spiritual body. When Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, they possessed bodies that could be seen and recognized, Matt. 17:3. Whatever form they are in this morning, they are certainly in a place free from the cares, pains and burdens of this world. The Bible is clear when it teaches us that “nothing that defileth shall enter” Heaven, Rev. 21:27.)

B. Their Promised Completion1 Cor. 15:52b tells us that the departed saints will be raised “incorruptible“. That is, they will be changed! When they left their body, it was destined for the ground from which it came. However, when the Lord Jesus returns, He will bring their spirits back with Him, He will raise their bodies and glorify them. He will then place the spirits back into those newly glorified bodies!

(Ill. There will be more said about that future body in just a moment!)

(Ill. How will all this happen? Certainly, to our mortal minds it is a great mystery. However, if you take the time to look back at the times our Lord shouted while He was on this earth, you will discover that each time He did so, dead folks got out of their graves.

1. He shouted in Bethany and Lazarus lived! – John 11:43-44

2. He shouted at Calvary and some lived! – Matt. 27:50-52

3. He will shout from the clouds and all the departed saints will live – 1 Thes. 4:16.

There is power is the Word of our Lord!)

III. ALL LIVING SAINTS WILL HAVE BEEN RAPTURED – 1 Thes. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:51-52a

A. The Church Will Leave Instantaneously – Notice the use of words that imply speed and swiftness, 1 Cor. 15:52, “moment” – This word speaks of an “indivisible point in time. A span of time so short that there is none shorter.“; “twinkling of an eye” – Scientists have determined that the blink of an eye is 1/30th of a second in duration. That is fast! However, a twinkling is event faster than that, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000th of a second! Then in 1 Thes. 4:17, Paul uses the term “caught up“. This phrase means “to snatch away, to seize with force, to claim for oneself.” It refers to a sudden event when the saints of God will be “snatched from this world with force and claimed for the glory of God.“)

(Ill. The whole idea here is one of speed! There will be no forewarning. There will be no announcements on TV, on radio, or in the papers. There will be no announcements from the pulpits. God will not proclaim in a booming, Charlton Heston voice that the end is nearing. It will just happen! My friend, if you have ever listened to anything in your life, then listen to this. You need to be ready! Jesus Himself said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”, Matt. 24:44.

If He were to come today, would He find you ready? Oh friend, do not be deceived, it could happen! Today could be that glorious day when the Lord returns for His people. Will you be in that number that hears the shout, that hears the trumpets and that leaves this world in an instant? Only if you are born again! Be ready, He is coming!)

(Ill. Can you imagine the chaos that will ensue when this event takes place? All babies missing! Most children gone! Some husbands and wives missing. Many Cars, planes, trains, etc without drivers. Television personalities taken right off the air. It will be a time of great hysteria and mayhem. Some of you had better prepare for it, because you may experience it first hand! Why not come to Jesus before that happens?)

B. The Church Will Leave Intact – In 1 Cor. 15:51, Paul tells us that “all” will be changed. The Rapture will not be an event enjoyed by a select few. But, every born again believer will have a part in the Rapture of the church! The body of Christ will not be fragmented! Part will not be taken and part left behind to endure the Tribulation. When the Rapture comes ALL the saints will go together!

(Ill. Because of the lives they have lived, some will not deserve to go, but they will go nonetheless. All the redeemed of all the ages will leave this world as one when the trumpet sounds. There are no second class citizens in the Kingdom of God! Saved is saved and lost is lost! All the saved will go, all the lost will stay behind!)

IV. ALL SAINTS WILL HAVE BEEN RECONSTRUCTED – 1 Cor. 15:52b-57

A. Changed Physically – At the moment of the Rapture, all the saints will experience a radical change. These mortal bodies will be changed to immortal ones. The bodies that are destined to perish will be made like the body of our Lord. A body that cannot experience death, decay or disease. A body that will shine with the brilliance of 10,000 suns. What a day that will be!

B. Changed Perfectly – When this change comes, it will remake us into the image of our glorified Lord. 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” We do not know a lot about our Lord’s glorified body, but we do know:

1. It is a body not bound by time or spaceJohn 20:19.

2. It is a body that can enjoy food and fellowshipLuke 24:36-43.

3. It is a body that can never dieHeb. 7:25.

4. It is a body that shines with a heavenly brillianceRev. 21:23; Matt. 17:2

All of this is enough to let me know that I want one of these bodies some day. All the saints will wear a glorified body when we arrive in that Heavenly home!)

C. Changed Permanently – The language of our texts tells us that we will no longer be mortal. These new bodies will never wear down or wear out, but they will last throughout eternity. They will be a perfect in 10,000,000 years as they were the day we received them! Notice what Paul says about this body in 2 Cor. 5:1, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

V. ALL SAINTS WILL BE ENJOYING A REUNION – 1 Thes. 4:17

A. With Our Loved Ones – Notice the phrase “together with them in the clouds“. This indicates that all the children of God will be together forever in Heaven. Imagine being reunited with spouses, parents, children and grandparents. Imagine seeing your departed loved ones in their new glorified bodies in the presence of the Lord Jesus! What a glorious privilege has been given to all the saints of God!

B. With Our Lord – As great as that reunion with our loved ones will be, it will be eclipsed by another reunion. This same verse tells us that “so shall we ever be with the Lord.” My friends, one day, we will see Him Who died for us on the cross! We will look at His face. We will be able to bow before Him in adoration and worship. We will be in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ! I can imagine no thrill any greater in this universe than to see the One Who loved me enough to lay down His life in payment for my own. Hallelujah! Just the thought of that is enough to make a Baptist shout! Glory! Glory!

Conc: Well, I’ve done a lot of preaching this morning and I have tried to describe several events that will happen when the Lord returns for His church. But please remember, all this will take place before the sound of the trumpet fades away. Are you ready for that event? Have you been washed in the blood of the Lamb? If Jesus came back for His church today, and He could, would you go, or would you be left behind? What I am asking is this: Have you ever come to the place where you knew you were lost? Have you confessed your sins to God? Have you placed your faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you received Christ as your personal Savior? Are you saved? If you are, then you have a reason to rejoice this morning! There are exciting things ahead for the children of God! If you are not saved, I beg you to come to Jesus right now! This is the only time you have to be saved! If the Lord is tugging at your heart and is calling you to come to Him, then please come! Don’t delay another minute. It is too dangerous! Jesus may come at any time and you really need to be ready when He does. Will you come to Him right now while there is still time? Will you be saved so that you too can be ready for that meeting in the air? Jesus is coming! Don’t be caught unprepared!

Joy in Sharing

by Billy Graham

We . . . offer our sacrifice of praise to God by telling others of the glory of his name.
–Hebrews 13:15 (TLB)

Jesus knew that one of the real tests of our yieldedness to God is our willingness to share with others.

If we have no mercy toward others, that is one proof that we have never experienced God’s mercy.

Emerson must have been reading the gauge of human mercy when he said, “What you are speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

Satan does not care how much you theorize about Christianity, or how much you profess to know Christ.

What he opposes vigorously is the way you live Christ.

Some time ago a lady wrote and said, “I am 65 years old. My children are all married, my husband is dead, and I am one of the loneliest people in all the world.” It was suggested to her that she find a way of sharing her religious faith and her material goods with those around her. She wrote a few weeks later and said, “I am the happiest woman in town. I have found a new joy and happiness in sharing with others.” That’s exactly what Jesus promised!

Prayer for the day

There is no greater joy, Father, than sharing Your love. Help me to convey this in all my dealings with others.

When we learn to trust the Lord

When we learn to trust the Lord,

we will begin to have a sense of rest in the Lord

knowing that He has everything under control

even when life seems to be out of control.

Trusting God will get us to the point where we make a decision to trust in Him

and NOT in our own understanding.

God wants to give us a full and abundant life,

but He only asks for us to believe in Him.

“Trust in the LORD forever,

for the LORD, the LORD,

is the Rock eternal.”

– Isaiah 26:4 NIV

THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17b

Scripture is God’s Word to us. Get to know it. It is the source of truth, assurance and comfort. Learn its lessons. Let God use it to speak to your heart. Look to it to cut through the enemy’s lies and spiritual deception, and to reveal the truth. Use it to persuade others about God’s love and forgiveness.

When God’s Spirit impresses us with a verse or a passage of Scripture to use in our battle against the enemy in a particular conflict, we are able to defeat our enemy. The Bible calls this taking the sword of the Spirit.

Jesus defeated Satan the three times he was tempted in the wilderness by using the sword of the Spirit. (see Matthew 4).

Ruth’s world changed when she chanced to find a Bible. She was fifteen when she was rummaging through her Muslim family’s library. She found it hidden behind the other books. She says, “I quickly read a few pages and the message immediately touched my heart, even though I understood practically nothing of it. Secretly I began to read the Bible regularly in my room. I knew that I had to do more with this. I wanted to get to know Jesus better.”

She adds, “I don’t remember how it happened, but my family realized that I was showing too much interest in Christianity. My whole family was against me, especially my mother.”

“You’re a Muslim,” she said. “Why are you throwing your life away? Why aren’t you like other girls? You’ll soon be going to university and then you’re going to marry a respected Muslim!”

Ruth’s voice falters and for a moment, she doesn’t say anything. “I suffered a lot,” she continues. “But still I kept reading the Bible in secret. The Lord Jesus keeps drawing me closer to Him.”

RESPONSE: Today I take the sword of the Spirit so I can expose the tempting words of Satan.

PRAYER: Lord may the two-edged sword of Your Word be ready in my hands today and in the hands of those reading it for the first time.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

We are called to obey “The Great Commission”

Matthew 28:19-20

New International Version (NIV)

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20

Amplified Bible (AMP)

19Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them

[a]into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

    20Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you,

and behold, I am with you [b]all the days ([c]perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion),

to the [very] close and consummation of the age.

[d]Amen (so let it be).

What is “The Great Commission (commandment, instruction)?
It is the instruction and last words Jesus spoke before He ascended to heaven. He commanded that we are to go into “all the world” and:
  • Make disciples
  • Baptize those who become disciples, and
  • teach them to obey everything Jesus has commanded

These words are called “The Great Commission” (commandment, instruction) and were given not only to the 11 disciples who were with Him at the time, but to all believers from then on.

At first glance, this instruction would seem to be straight-forward and easy to follow. But let’s go a little further and analyze these verses so that we have the tools and understanding that we need.

When Jesus instructed His disciples to go and make other disciples of all the nations, He included  “Gentiles” as well as Jews.

Notice Jesus instructs them to baptize other disciples into the name (singular tense) of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We can see clearly that the concept of the “trinity” comes directly from Jesus Himself.  However, the word trinity well describes the three-in-one nature of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. In researching the word trinity, no results were found in the following version(s) of the Bible: Amplified Bible, New International Version, American Standard Version, King James Version or New American Standard Bible. This one verse emphasizes both the unity and plurality of God (Greek singular).  Many passages show that the work of one involves the work of one or both of the other two Persons. There is no hierarchy of persons here. We must be careful that we do not lose either the unity or the diversity in the nature of God. (Part of this exegesis was derived from The New International Version and The New Living Version of the Bible.)

Why is baptism important?

Baptism unites a believer with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection as a symbol of death to sin and resurrection to new life. Baptism shows submission to Christ and a willingness to live God’s way.

How is Jesus present with us?

  • He was present physically from His birth until He ascended into heaven.
  • He is present spiritually with us through the Holy Spirit.

Practical Applications and Understanding our Task

regarding “The Great Commission”

  1. The Great Commission is not an option, but a command given to us by Jesus, so we should obey.
  2. If we don’t obey, then we have failed, or omitted to follow His instruction.
  3. We don’t have to be preachers, or evangelists to teach.
  4. We all have gifts given to us by God that can be used by Him to enable us to fulfill these commandments.

We can:

  • smile,
  • love,
  • give words of encouragement,
  • or do a service for someone in need like giving them a ride, cleaning their house, mowing their lawn, etc.

The most important part of “The Great Commission” comes from loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and our neighbors as ourselves.

For further study, go to http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2028:19-20&version=AMP#en-AMP-24215

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 28:19 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.
  2. Matthew 28:20 John Wycliffe, The Wycliffe Bible.
  3. Matthew 28:20 Webster’s New International Dictionary offers this phrase as a definition of “always.”

I hope you have enjoyed this Bible Study.  Hopefully, it will be only the first of others that I do. Writing doesn’t come easy to me, but I felt led to write anyway.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions. We’ll work through any answers together.

Blessings,

Sharon

Why we’re less likely to try great things for God

By Jon Walker

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

God pours his power into your life, giving you his strength to do what he’s called to do.

Faith is acting in confidence that God’s power is active in and through your life; faith is trusting God’s power will be your strength to do everything through him.

He’s not asking you to live life under your own power or through your own strength. That would limit what you can do while God’s power and strength are unlimited.

When you say, “There’s something I’d really like to do for God, but I don’t think that I can do it,” God may reply, “Great! I’m glad you’ve figured it out. You can’t do it by yourself, but with my power working through you, you can do anything I ask you to do.”

If you stay at “I can’t” and never move power to “God can,” then you’re less likely to even try great things for God. It’s like having a car with the most powerful engine ever built, but saying, “I don’t think it can get me past the first intersection.” So you leave it in your garage, never taking it onto the road.

God’s power is available to you: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).