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Posts Tagged ‘Living for Jesus’


A Speeding Ticket Lesson

Jack took a long look at his speedometer before slowing down: 73 in a 55 zone. Fourth time in as many months. How could a guy get caught so often?
When his car had slowed to 10 miles an hour, Jack pulled over, but only partially. Let the cop worry about the potential traffic hazard. Maybe some other car will tweak his backside with a mirror. The cop was stepping out of his car, the big pad in hand.

Bob? Bob from Church? Jack sunk farther into his trench coat. This was worse than the coming ticket. A cop catching a guy from his own church. A guy who happened to be a little eager to get home after a long day at the office. A guy he was about to play golf with tomorrow.

Jumping out of the car, he approached a man he saw every Sunday, a man he’d never seen in uniform.

“Hi, Bob. Fancy meeting you like this.”

“Hello, Jack.” No smile.

“Guess you caught me red-handed in a rush to see my wife and kids.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Bob seemed uncertain. Good.

“I’ve seen some long days at the office lately. I’m afraid I bent the rules a bit – just this once.”

Jack toed at a pebble on the pavement. “Diane said something about roast beef and potatoes tonight. Know what I mean?”

“I know what you mean. I also know that you have a reputation in our precinct.” Ouch. This was not going in the right direction. Time to change tactics.

“What’d you clock me at?”

“Seventy. Would you sit back in your car please?”

“Now wait a minute here, Bob. I checked as soon as I saw you. I was barely nudging 65.” The lie seemed to come easier with every ticket.

“Please, Jack, in the car”

Flustered, Jack hunched himself through the still-open door. Slamming it shut, he stared at the dashboard. He was in no rush to open the window.

The minutes ticked by. Bob scribbled away on the pad.

Why hadn’t he asked for a driver’s license?

Whatever the reason, it would be a month of Sundays before Jack ever sat near this cop again. A tap on the door jerked his head to the left. There was Bob, a folded paper in hand. Jack rolled down the window a mere two inches, just enough room for Bob to pass him the slip.

“Thanks.” Jack could not quite keep the sneer out of his voice.

Bob returned to his police car without a word. Jack watched his retreat in the mirror. Jack unfolded the sheet of paper. How much was this one going to cost?

Wait a minute. What was this? Some kind of joke?

Certainly not a ticket. Jack began to read:

“Dear Jack,

Once upon a time, I had a daughter. She was six when killed by a car. You guessed it – a speeding driver. A fine and three months in jail, and the man was free. Free to hug his daughters, all three of them. I had only one, and I’m going to have to wait until Heaven before I can ever hug her again.

A thousand times I’ve tried to forgive that man. A thousand times I thought I had. Maybe I did, but I need to do it again. Even now. Pray for me. And be careful, Jack, my son is all I have left.

-Bob”

Jack turned around in time to see Bob’s car pull away and head down the road. Jack watched until it disappeared. A full 15 minutes later, he too, pulled away and drove slowly home, praying for forgiveness and hugging a surprised wife and kids when he arrived.

~ Author Unknown ~

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We all know the verse… we’ve heard it so many times.  But…. are we really letting the meaning sink into our hearts and living it out?

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34 


Seek FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness!  This is where we often miss the mark…. we seek everything else first, THEN see if there’s time left over for Jesus. However, the Bible tells us this just won’t do…. not anymore than it would for us. Jesus should come first for us and everything else come in at second. After all, that’s what He gave us when He lived a sinless life for us then was willing to die so we could be forgiven for our sins. He put us and our needs first. 

We are called His bride and surely a bride wouldn’t look at her groom and think… “Yeah, I’ll get to you later… first I need to watch this tv show.”  Or think, “Yeah maybe after I work then I’ll try to see if I feel like spending some time with you.”   No, a bride would never do this to her groom that she loves.  So, why is it that we think it’s okay to do this with Jesus Christ, our Savior?   This is something that is so NOT okay.  Yet it happens all over the world every single day by millions, billions, of people that, if asked, would claim that they are a Christian and love Jesus.  That just should not be so.

Jesus lived a perfect life and died FOR US.  Surely, we can give Him attention and seek Him first in our daily lives.

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Did you know that sin breaks God’s heart?  Jesus dying for our sins did not make sin acceptable to God.  Actually, continuing in known sin, like it’s nothing – not a big deal, after having accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and accepting His death and blood on the cross as payment for your sins, is like stomping all over His cross and saying it was worth little, maybe even nothing to you.

 

You may say, “But D… it’s just so hard on me cause I love to (insert watch that tv show, listen to that music, read that kind of book, talk like that and so on…)______________!!!!!  I just don’t know if I can quit!!!”   God’s Word says differently.  We’re told in 1 Corinthians 10:13  The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.  ❤

 

Choosing your sin over the Lord Jesus breaks His heart.  It’s really that simple.  Jesus Himself tells us in John 14:15 “If you love Me, obey my commandments.”   And in 1 John 5:21 we’re warned – “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.”  Choose Him instead of the world’s sin.  Choose life.

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Backsliding.  We’ve all heard the term.  The dictionary defines it as: to relapse into bad habits, sinful behavior, or undesirable activities.

Bad habits, sinful behavior, undesirable activities….  doesn’t sound so bad really, does it?

The Bible, however, has a different attitude towards it.  Hebrews 2:1-3 tells us that backsliding is indeed VERY SERIOUS and not to be taken lightly, in the least.

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.  For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?  Hebrews 2:1-3

In 2 Peter2:20,21 it’s addressed this way – If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.  It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 

I don’t know about you, but these two verses alone give me such a different view of “backsliding” and a good healthy respect for how truly serious backsliding really is.

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What is your definition of a Christian?    I’m surprised by the various meanings people attach to that one word.  Some people think of a Christian as someone who attends church each Sunday, others think of it as someone whose parents were church goers and therefore they attended church their entire lives, maybe even being baptized as a young child and now going is simply part of what they do; a habit.  Others still, consider a Christian as someone who has prayed the “prayer of salvation” at some point in their life.  But what truly defines a “Christian”?

Wikipedia shares information on the etymology and states that:   The Greek word Χριστιανός (Christianos)—meaning “follower of Christ”—comes from Χριστός (Christos)—meaning “anointed one”[5]—with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership.[6] In the Greek Septuagint, christos was used to translate the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Mašíaḥ,messiah), meaning “[one who is] anointed.”[7] In other European languages, equivalent words to ‘Christian’ are likewise derived from the Greek, such as ‘Chrétien’ in French and ‘Cristiano’ in Spanish.  (Borrowed from Wikipedia.org)

A Christian is a follower of Christ.  What does that mean though?  What does it look like to “follow Christ”?

Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 7:21-24 –  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’   Then I will tell them plainly, ‘ I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!’  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  

Mark 8:34-38  says – “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

In 1 John 2:3-6  We’re told – 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.  

And in 1 Peter 2:21 it says – To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

There are plenty more Scriptures to show us how as a Christian we are called to become more like Jesus Christ and follow in His example each day of our lives.  Not in any effort to “work for our salvation”, because we already know we can’t “earn” that.  Instead it’s to show the world that we ARE indeed followers of Him that first loved us and died in order to pay our own debt for our sins.

James 2:14 – 19 shows us the importance of our actions in day to day life –  What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep arm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.  You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that – and shudder.  

Let’s make it our life’s mission to be sure and follow Christ every single day, giving Him our very best in all that we do, and show the world what Christians really are!

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Following Jesus’ Command to Make Disciples…

 

Let’s Get Practical. – Awesome blog that gives you great ideas on how you can go out and make disciples!

 

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It’s that time of year.  The time when we spend a lot more time thinking of all the reasons we have to be thankful.  When I do stop and really spend some time going over all the blessings I have in my life, I become truly amazed and a whole lot in awe of God’s love for me.  He is so gracious and so good!  My family and I have been so very blessed.

In the midst of all my thankfulness, I keep having these thoughts and feelings rise up in me.  Holy Ghost “suggestions”. Thoughts that tell me that there is no way that God could possibly have chosen for me to be born here in America, with all these truly incredible blessings, for me to just sit around and luxuriate in them.  Not while more than half the world’s population is trying to live off of less than two dollars a day.

Can you stop for a moment and simply think about that?!   Yesterday, I went out and did my Thanksgiving Day food shopping and while doing that I picked up some highlighters for our school work.  After we got home and were putting up our purchases, I was putting away the highlighters and the Holy Spirit stopped me right there and brought to my mind that those highlighters alone cost MORE than what that more than half the world has to totally LIVE ON for an entire day!   Can you imagine?!  That quite simply blew me away.

In American terms my family and I are hardly considered wealthy.  Far from it.  However, when you bring in the entire world and the overall levels of poverty that are out there, we are stinking filthy rich.  That thought totally blows me away!   I can get on Pinterest and it won’t take me long looking at all the gorgeous homes and rooms people post on there in their “Dream Home” boards to start feeling like what we have is pitiable, but when compared to most of the world, we truly are wealthy in our “stuff”.  Mind blowing!

The point, however, is that to be born here in such a wealthy land as America must come with a huge responsibility too, at least when you’ve chosen to give your life to Jesus Christ and follow Him the way He has asked us to in the Bible.  There are way too many Scriptures I could use to show exactly what Jesus thought of earthly riches for me to use them all.  Luke 12:15 tells us simply to “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”  

But isn’t that exactly what we do here in America?  Don’t we measure our lives and our worth in our stuff?  The very idea of the “American Dream” is to grow up, go to the “right” schools”, get the “right” job, marry the “right” person, buy a house in the “right” neighborhood, drive the “right” cars, go on the “right” vacations,  have children, teach them the same things….. and so on.  Once we’ve accomplished all of that we can then look forward to retiring and having the “right” hobbies and enjoying our lives and all we’ve managed to acquire.  

Could this really be what Jesus would consider good though?  Is this what He wants us, His followers, to do with our lives?  Is this what He did during His time on earth?  I don’t know what your Bible says, but mine doesn’t say He did any of those things.  In fact, He did the opposite and warned heavily against doing exactly what I just described.  He tells us in Luke 6:24-25a “What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now for a time of awful hunger awaits you.” 

Yikes.  That doesn’t sound too good.  Sorrow awaits us?  I don’t think I want to only have sorrow to look forward to.  So, I think that what I’m most thankful for this year, is that God loves me enough to bring this to my attention.  That He loves me enough to show me these warnings over and over until I “get it” and begin to live as Jesus Christ asked all of his followers to live.

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I saw this picture posted on Facebook and it really grabbed my attention.

This can be oh so hard… the world, and especially the culture of today, calls for us to compromise, to live in the gray areas we try to create for ourselves.  We try to rationalize our own known sin because we WANT to do it.  Then we attempt to assuage our guilt by getting self righteous and looking at others and their sins to make ourselves feel better. “Well, I’m not so bad cause look at So n So and what they’re doing! At least I’m not doing THAT!”  Doesn’t matter, never did.  God sees absolutely ALL OF IT – even what we may not see for ourselves quite yet. The Bible tells us in James 1:5-8If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure your faith is in God alone.  Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.   You can’t live with one foot in with the “world” and one foot in with God.  It just doesn’t work that way, as the Lord is clearly telling us here in James.

It is of utmost importance that we get something straight and sooner, rather than later.  Jesus didn’t suffer and die so we could continue in our sins, doing whatever pleases us.  Far from it.  Don’t take my word for it though! Please don’t!  God’s own Word, the very book He gave to us in order for us to learn all we can about Him and from Him – The Bible – explains it to us quite well.

In Matthew 18:3 we are told by Jesus Himself – “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.”   Jesus isn’t mincing words here.  Turn from your sins and become like little children (innocent) OR you will NEVER get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  We may not like it, it may seem harsh, but regardless, He’s pretty clear.  Jesus also tells us in Matthew 18:7-9 “So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet.  And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.  It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”   According to Jesus, we are better off if we cut off limbs and gouge out our very eyes, than we are if we sin.  That’s a pretty clear statement regarding sin!  Another statement Jesus made that tells is as plainly as possible is Matthew 7: 21-23 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many  will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord!  We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.”  That folks, is a dramatic and clear statement and no one can deny after reading it that turning from sin and obeying God’s laws is something Jesus wants and expects us to do. 

In Matthew 16:24-27 we’re told – “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?  For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.”  The very definition of a Christian is to be a follower of Christ.  Jesus tells us to be one of His followers we must give up everything for Him. 

It’s heartbreaking, as well as quite terrifying, to me that for so many years I believed various things I was told about Jesus.  Things like:  Jesus is LOVING so He’ll not send me to Hell as long as I believe He’s saved me.  All you need to do is say the “Sinner’s Prayer” and then you’re Heaven bound no matter how you’re living.  You can’t “earn” salvation, so don’t worry about your sins.  Only God can “change” you, so just “believe you’re saved” and don’t try to change anything because that would be “works” and no one can “earn salvation” since it is a gift.  It sure was nice thinking I could say a simple little two minute prayer and then I could carry on living as if nothing happened and will still enter Heaven!  Were I to have died, it wouldn’t have been “nice” at all. My life and the way I lived proved only that Jesus wasn’t Lord of my life at all, thanks, in part, to my believing false teachers, but also thanks to the fact that I enjoyed some of my sins and didn’t want to give them up.

The Bible warns us of false teachings. Matthew 7:15-16“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.   You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.  Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”

Please do not misunderstand me.  I’m not suggesting that we work for our salvation at all.  It is a free gift, no doubt about that.  However, where I messed up for many years, and where many others appear to be messing up, is in taking advantage.  Thinking that since Jesus paid for our sins with His very death, that it was okay to continue in sin – known sin, and to not fully love Him.

To truly love Jesus means to put Him first in our lives, as the Bible clearly tells us to, and I didn’t do that for a long time.  Oh, I had all sorts of convenient excuses…. “I’m busy and don’t have time to read my Bible cause I just have so much going on right now, I don’t like going to church, it’s full of hypocrites, well I’m only human so sure I’m gonna make mistakes, and no one is perfect except Jesus, but it’s okay cause Jesus died for me.”  There were plenty others too, but you get the point.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 23: 37- 38“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment”  Again, Jesus is clear in His teachings.  Put God first in your heart, in your soul, and in your mind. He doesn’t tell us to put God first, but only if it’s not going to interfere with your other plans, wants, or desires.  I can’t find Jesus saying that anywhere in the Bible!  

To truly love Jesus and put Him first in our lives means we’re to turn from sin and to do as God’s Word tells us.   James 1:22- 25 tells us – But don’t just listen to God’s Word.  You must do what it says. Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the Word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.  

To live a Godly life instead of a worldly life can be hard, of that there is no doubt, but God will help us.  In Galatians 5:16-25 we are told: So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.  When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealously, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.  Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against these things!  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.  

Yes, let’s do that.  With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can.  Amen!

I am so thankful that the Lord chose to keep after me until my eyes were opened to what is  real instead of leaving me to die in my sins.  Now, I seek Him daily and am more in love and alive than ever before in my life.  Giving it all up for Him isn’t like losing anything at all, it’s more like gaining everything and then some.  I am thankful to know Him and blessed by His amazing love.

You know what?  He loves YOU too!

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