Sunday, November 30, 2014

Romans 13:3

Romans 13:3 - For rulers and authorities hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

When you are driving and you see a police officer does your heart skip a beat? If you are driving next to one does it make you nervous? I have to be honest, there are many times when this is my reaction as well.
Why do we feel this way? Because we are afraid we will get caught doing something, such as speeding, that we are not supposed to. If we get into the habit of going the speed limit and obeying the law we would have nothing to worry about.
Police officers have a job to do and that job is to encourage people to obey the law and to punish those who do not. If you feel like the cops are out to get you it is probably because you are a law breaker and they are doing their job.
This is just one example of this verse in action. There are many other things that could have you ‘looking over your shoulder.’ How about downloading music or movies off the internet illegally? Many have accepted this as OK because it ‘doesn't hurt anyone,’ but it  is still breaking the law and will hurt you if you get caught.
Really it comes down to you. Is there anything in your life that has you worried that you will get caught? If you are obeying the law then you will have nothing to worry about. That is what Paul is talking about here.
If you want to be free from those in authority do what is right. Then, instead of getting punished you may get rewarded. Plus you won’t have to constantly worry when you are around someone who is in authority. Just being free from that stress will be reward enough.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Romans 12:2

Romans 12:2 - Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Our minds have been conditioned to think a certain way. From the moment we are born the world is trying to dictate what we think and how we live. It’s gotten to the point where they are not only suggesting a certain lifestyle, but they are doing their best to influence you sub-consciously as well, where your defenses are low.
Society wants to tell you what you need to wear, to eat, to drive, you name it, they want to control it. It is played off that if we have the latest and greatest of something we will be accepted; and we buy into it. In reality there is no possible way to maintain this lifestyle and it will only leave you frustrated and wanting more.
God calls us to something different; He calls us to something better. He says, “focus on me and seek first my kingdom and I will take care of your needs.” If that is true why are so many Christians still being influenced by the world? It comes down to our minds.
We have been in this world so long, unaware of how it has been conditioning us to think. Half the time we don’t even recognize how it influences us. That is why Paul tells us to renew our minds. Renewing your mind will transform your life because you act according to what you believe.
If you believe what the world is telling you, it will show in your actions and vice-versa, if you believe God it will be reflected in what you do.
So in answer on how to combat the influence of the world, seek God. Ultimately that is it; that is the answer. Beyond that, make sure you are putting more of the Word in your mind than the influences of the world.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Romans 11:36

Romans 11:36 - For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

In our men’s group right now we are reading a book called ‘Man in the Mirror,’ written by Patrick Morley. In the first chapter it discusses how most people are caught up in what he calls ‘The Rat Race.’ The Rat Race as he describes it is the pursuit of the perfect, wrinkle free life. It’s the thought that the more we have and the better stuff that we have the happier we will be.
We have been convinced that we need the latest and greatest thing. Our world is filled with technology, and every time you buy a new thing, it is only the best for a short time. It doesn't take long for something better to come along and then we think we need the upgrade.
Living this way is stressful. It is living with the idea that all we have is ours because we worked hard for it. “I worked hard, therefore I deserve this new thing,” we might say. Soon, to keep up with the advances and the world around us we find ourselves as Patrick Morley describes, “Buying things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.” It is a vicious cycle and one that we need to escape from.
This verse in Romans holds the key to freeing ourselves from the rat race. As we read this verse we see that everything comes from God. What you have He has blessed you with. And what you do with what you have shows whether you respect Him or not.
Your attitude towards things should be glorifying to God, since it came from Him. It really comes down to stewardship and being a good steward of what God has entrusted you with. If we can adopt this way of thinking we will begin to see a release from the stress of the rat race.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Romans 10:9

Romans 10:9 - That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Confess and believe. This is where our journey with Christ begins. It is a simple start to an amazing life. I made this step many years ago as a child. The exact date is foggy, but I remember the night clearly. I was about 9 or 10.
It was a Saturday. My family and I had just returned home from a Christmas shopping trip with our church. I don’t remember what sparked the conversation, but my step father, John, began sharing with me the path to salvation.
I grew up in what you would more or less call a Christian home. We went to church regularly and reading the Bible was a common occurrence. I knew about Jesus, but this was the night I officially made a commitment to Him. At church the next morning I answered the altar call and confessed Christ in front of our church body.
Since then it has not been easy. There have been highs and lows. To be honest, there have been times when I didn't know how I would continue on. Giving your life to God does not mean it will get easier, in fact, there are times when it will be harder. But through those times you will always have someone to lean on.
Some call Jesus a crutch. I couldn't agree more. There are times when I might even call Him a stretcher, because without Him carrying me there is no way I would have made it through.
So, is following Jesus hard? Yes, but the alternative is even worse. God changed my life for the better and serving Him is definitely worth it. If you choose Him, you will never regret it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Romans 9:8

Romans 9:8 - In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

God does not care about your lineage or where you came from. He cares about your heart and where you are going. Even in the Old Testament it took more than just being Abraham’s offspring to be God’s children. You had to be part of the promise.
See, Abraham had two children, but it was only through the promised child that God’s people came. Now today, it is the same. We don’t have to be of natural descent to be God’s children. He accepts anyone who will turn and put their faith in Him.
In our minds we get caught up thinking that social standing has a part in who you are. Things like if you come from a good family, or if you have a good job. We think that these things matter. In the eternal perspective they do not.
God looks at each one of us the same and His desire is that each of us come to know Him and live as children of the promise. This is the view we should have towards people as well.
Whether you are talking to a homeless person, or the president of the United States, you should treat them the same. Both people have the same value and should warrant the same response. Don’t let social standing cloud your thinking.
Treat everyone the same and live your life to influence everyone that you come in contact with for the better. In Christ we are all equal. We are all recipients of the same promise and God’s promises are always fulfilled.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Romans 8:32

Romans 8:32 - He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?

        It is hard for me to understand people that think God wants us to suffer through life. They think God would inflict pain and suffering on us to teach us something. That is not the God I know. I know a God that Loves us beyond measure and, as this verse reminds us, did not even spare His own Son.
       God wanted to live in fellowship with you so bad that He gave up His Son Jesus so that our relationship with Him could be restored. Now, with that in mind, who are we to think that God does not want us to live blessed lives?
       Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not saying that your life will be problem free. In fact I can guarantee that you will face trouble and hardship. There will be times when life is not great and bad things will happen. You must understand, though, that God is not the one doing it to you.
       Most of the time the bad comes because we are reaping the consequences of our own actions, and then other times it is just because we live in a fallen world, but it is not God. God will use our hardship to teach us, but He is not the one causing it.
       Think about your own children if you have them. Would you make them sick to teach them a lesson? Would you break their leg to train them? No, that would not be Love. Love teaches through hardship, but ultimately desires to teach to avoid hardship.
       “If you then know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.”(Matthew 7:11) So how do you think that you know better about raising children than God? The Love you have for your children comes from God. His desire is to see you succeed and be blessed, just as you desire the same for your children.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Romans 7:24-25

Romans 7:24-25 - “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

“What a wretched man I am!” Paul has come to the end of himself. He sees what he is without God and it does not look good. It is the same for us as we get a glimpse of our sinful nature and realize that in our own ability we have no power over it. Sin separates us from God and brings death and if we look within ourselves there is no hope.
We find ourselves crying out to God and Paul did, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Thankfully we have an answer; thankfully we have Jesus.
Jesus takes our sin and brings us back to God. It is more than any of us deserve or could even ask for, but God made it possible because He loves us. He also gives us the ability to resist sin and temptation. All it takes is for us to recognize that we cannot do it on our own.
There is no way we could do it on our own. That is why we need Jesus, and Jesus will not disappoint. When we cry out as Paul does in this verse Jesus rescues us. Because He died on the cross and took our sin we are set free from it. He took it all upon Himself.
Now we don’t have to live in sin any longer. We are free to live according to the Spirit of God which we now find inside us. Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Romans 5:18

Romans 5:18 - Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.

God created this world so that He could walk in fellowship with man. That’s how it was in the beginning. God and Adam walked together. They Loved each other. Life was how it should be. Then Adam was lured away from perfection with a lie from the enemy. 
Adam made a choice and sin entered into the world. Then man could no longer stand in the presence of God and the fellowship was lost. God lost the relationship that He wanted and so He made a plan to restore it. He wanted this relationship so bad that he chose to let His innocent Son die. With the death of His Son, Jesus, life could be restored to mankind.
Just as death came through the one sin of Adam, so life came by the one act of righteous act of Jesus. Now our relationship with God is restored and we can walk with Him again. Jesus bridges the gap that separated us and makes it possible.
So often we see our own life as insignificant. We get lost in ourselves and our screw ups and don’t see how anyone could ever Love us. If that is you right now think about what God was willing to give up for you. The Bible reminds us that ‘while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.’
God Loves you so much. He didn’t wait for you to get your life in order and come to Him. He came for you and made it possible for you to come to Him. God chose you even though He had no guarantee that you would choose Him. He wants to have a relationship with you. You are significant; you are Loved, more than you know.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Romans 6:11-12

Romans 6:11-12 - In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

         Do not let sin reign in your body. Until Christ returns and we are all made perfect in Him we will have a sinful nature. This nature used to control us and we would follow its every desire. Then Christ came in and set us free from sin.
        Now we have a choice. We are no longer bound to follow the sinful nature, but unfortunately it is still there. It desires the things that are not of God and will try to lead you away from Him, but you don’t have to obey it.
        As Paul talks about it here he says, “Count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God.” Then again, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” The more we let sin into our lives the harder it becomes to resist it. Even though we have been set free from it, we can still be following it.
        So the more you do things that satisfy your sinful nature the more it will reign in you. In the same way the more you do to satisfy the spiritual nature, the more it will reign in you. What nature are you feeding? What are you focusing on?

        If you want to rid yourself of sin don’t focus on the sin. It is not going to help if you just think about trying not to sin. It may work for a short time, but your focus is still on the sin. If you want to rid yourself of sin, focus on God. Get more of God in you and feed your spirit. Then it will reign in you and your dominating desires will be good.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Romans 4:18

Romans 4:18 - Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Abraham was called the father of faith. He lived in a day and age where the people had all but forgotten or turned their backs on God. There was so much sin in the world that it was nearly hopeless for anyone who wanted to do what was right.
In the midst of all this darkness stood one man who served God. Against all hope Abraham believed and God saw him. When God told him to gather his family and all he owned and leave his home Abraham did not hesitate, but quickly obeyed. He trusted that God would take care of him and his family no matter where they were, and God did just that.
Later in his life when Abraham and his wife were too old to have children, God told him that they would have a son. Again Abraham believed and did not doubt. Even though the odds did not look good he trusted God and received his son, Isaac.
Faith is powerful. ‘If you believe you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer,” we are promised in God’s word. God is the one who promised and you can rest assured that He will keep His promise.
Whatever hardship or struggle you are going through may seem big, but God is bigger. I want to encourage you today, even though your situation may seem hopeless, God will help you through. 
Look at Abraham. He was in a place where many had lost hope and turned away, but he remained faithful. Despite all that came against him, his faith never failed, and everything God said came to pass. Put your faith in what God has told you and trust that it will happen.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Romans 3:22-24

Romans 3:22-24 - This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.

‘For all have sinned.’ This is the first step in realizing we need Jesus. If you don’t understand the gravity of your situation, you will never understand your need for a Savior. As we recognize the sin in our lives we must also understand that sin brings death.
Sin separates you from God and if you are apart from God you cannot live. “The penalty of sin is death.” Due to our sin we all deserve to die, but God intervened on our behalf.
As I mentioned the first step is recognizing the sin in your life, but you don’t stay there. Verse 24 brings us the hope that will keep us going, ‘[All] are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.’
We are saved from our sin by the grace of God! It takes faith on our part , but that’s it. Christ did the rest. He came and took our sin upon Himself. Our sin deserved death and He took that penalty from us. He died so that we can live. And since He was innocent He was resurrected so now we can live in Him! 
We must recognize our sin so we can understand the magnitude of what God did for us. Now we live our life in Christ to bring glory to God!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Romans 2:1

Romans 2:1 - You, therefore, have no excuses, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.

How easy it is to judge others. We do it everyday, and our judgments are so trivial. Most of the time our opinions of people are based on things like clothes, or hair, or something else stupid like that.
Then there are the judgments that are based on actions. These, at least, are a little more justified because our actions should reflect who we are inside, but we still must be careful. Everybody messes up from time to time. We cannot base our opinions of people on a time the they messed up.
Look at your own life. How many times have you screwed up? For me, I have screwed up more times than I can count. I know I don’t want to be known for the times that I have messed up.
Beyond that, never think that you are above someone because you have ‘never done’ what they did. You may not have, but you did something entirely different! And on top of that you are passing judgement. Knock it off!
We must also remember that just because you haven’t physically done something doesn't mean that you are not guilty of it. Jesus told us that if we think it, we have done it. So don’t get all high and mighty because you think you are doing ‘good.’ Without God you could do nothing.
It is only by coming humbly before God that we will ever truly be lifted up. So, don’t judge others. Instead, look at them in Love and if they are struggling in an area, help them up. Offer Love and guidance, not judgement.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Romans 1:17

Romans 1:17 - For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

I am not ashamed of the gospel!! How many of us can actually say that truthfully? So often in our lives we view the gospel as something that is good for us, but we are afraid it will make people uncomfortable if we talk about it.
I say let them be uncomfortable. How are they are going to feel if they never accept Christ in their lives. Talk about a lack of comfort.
Part of our problem is that we don’t truly understand the power that is in the gospel. What exactly is the message of the gospel? Gospel means ‘good news.’ For us it is the good news of Jesus Christ to all who will listen.
This verse in Romans explains why the good news of Jesus is so amazing. Through Him we find righteousness. Our message explains how Christ came from heaven to earth, earth to the cross, the cross to the grave and then from the grave back to heaven.
In the process He took all of our sin upon Himself and gave us the ability to become righteous through faith in Him. Faith brings the promise to us. Just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” We have to live by faith because without faith we could never be righteous.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Acts 28:31

Acts 28:31 - Boldly and without hindrance Paul preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you want said in your epitaph? How do you want people to view your life after it is over? Paul lived his life on earth in a way that glorified God. After he came to know the truth on the road to Damascus he never looked back. Everything he did was to further the kingdom of God.
Now, to fast forward to the end of Acts we see what was probably the last thing written about him by those who knew him. “Boldly and without hindrance Paul preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” That is what they said; that is how he was known. What a legacy to leave behind.
I’m not saying that you should live concerned with what people think about you, but your actions should direct people to God. You should be living to glorify Him and people should be able to see it.
We are told to ‘be an example of God’ and to ‘live a life of Love, just as Christ Jesus.’ As you are living your life for God you are also creating a reputation. For some it is good, for others it will not be, but your life is a witness to what you truly believe. You will either live different and it will show, or you will live the same and it also will show.
There are opinions being formed about you, whether you like it or not. People are listening to what you say and watching to see if it matches what you do. Our lives need to reflect God. It is only through Him that we can truly live.
I challenge you to think about what you want to be known for when you die. Will it be that you were a successful business man, a nice guy, or maybe on the other side of the spectrum, maybe you are lazy and don’t do anything.
Now that you know where you are currently at, think about what you would like people to know you for. Are you ok with being known as an average Joe, or do want to be known as someone who was committed to living for God.
You may not be where you want to be now, but I have good news for you. It’s not too late. As long as you are still breathing you can change your legacy. At one point in Paul’s life he was known as a murder and persecutor of Christians, but he changed that. You can change too. Make a decision to live your life to leave the legacy that you want. With God it is possible.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Acts 27:25

Acts 27:25 - So keep up your courage, man, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.

On his journey to Rome Paul went through a lot. First off, he was being escorted as a prisoner. Now, in this leg of their journey Paul had advised the Centurion that they should winter in a place called Fair Haven. It was late in the year and sailing was getting dangerous. In an attempt to get to a better port, the Centurion made the decision to press on towards Phoenix and try to winter there. This decision proved disastrous.
As they sailed along it seemed at first that the weather turned favorable, but before long they found themselves in a storm of unimaginable proportions. It quickly became clear that their lives were in danger. They started throwing cargo overboard in an attempt to lighten the load they were carrying. It did not look good.
In the midst of the storm God spoke to Paul and told him that he would still stand before Caesar. God also told him that He would spare all the lives of those on board, but that they would lose the ship. As Paul relayed this message to the men he assured them that he had full confidence that all God said would come to be.
There are a couple of things that we can learn from this story. First, we see Paul hearing from God. Notice it was not before, but during the storm. Sometimes if God spoke to us before the storm it would not do any good, because we aren’t listening. When times get hard, though, we start looking for other options. We must listen during the storm. God will encourage and speak to you, but you have to be listening.
Next, we have to believe all that God tells us. God’s words are truth and you can count on every one of them to come to pass. Put your faith in God’s words and know that whatever He says will happen, just as He says it will.
In life you will have storms. Make sure you are listening during them, because God will be speaking to you.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Acts 26:20b

Acts 26:20b - I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

When you receive salvation from God it starts with believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth, but it should not stop there. Romans 10:9-10 we see Paul break it down for salvation, but we must realize that that is the base and not the completion. God asks for repentance. To repent from something means that you turn away from it and walk away.
We must understand that our belief must be backed up by action. James say’ “You believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Good, even the demons believe that, and shudder!” What sets us apart is what we do with our belief. We must act on it. James also explains that faith without works is dead. That means our actions need to reflect what we believe.
Let me give you an example of how this works. If you believe you won a million dollars you will go to collect it. Then, when you get it your lifestyle will change. In the same way, salvation should be reflected in your lifestyle. You need to turn away from sin.
As this verse tells us, ‘repent and turn to God’ and your actions will prove your repentance. When you are born again into the kingdom of heaven you have to change. Some of the change will take place immediately, and other things will change over time. Ultimately you need to realize that your new life requires new behavior. The old has passed away, the new has come.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Acts 25:11

Acts 25:11 - If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by those Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!

Paul was not afraid of death. In fact, there were times when he talked about how much better death would be than life. He said that if he ‘departed’ he would be with Christ, which would be better by far. Paul knew, though, that his work on earth was not yet complete. God had told him that he would stand before Caesar and now he was going to get that opportunity.
In looking at Paul’s life we can see that he was just an ordinary man that was sold out to Jesus. He understood that when he died he would be with Jesus and what he did while still on earth would affect eternity. Having this attitude allowed him to become one of the most influential Christians who ever lived.
Many people don’t think that they could ever live like Paul lived. They somehow think that he was some kind of ‘super-apostle’. In reality, though, he was just an ordinary man who was sold out for Jesus. He had made a decision that he would spend his life on earth glorifying God and doing His will.
You can do that too! First you need to understand as Paul did, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” Don’t fear death, but trust God that it will come at the right time. And know that when it does come it will be glorious. Until then, do everything you can to bring others with you, not to death, but to eternal life. Be eternity minded.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Acts 24:14-16

Acts 24:14-16 - However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

         Paul was on trial. They were trying to figure out why he was causing so much excitement and controversy among the people. As he started his explanation he found a way of relating his message to those he was speaking too. He knew that if he found some common ground where they could relate to each other it would make it easier for them to hear the rest of his message.
       This isn't the first time we see Paul doing this either. In chapter 17 we saw him relating to the people of Athens by explaining God as the god they already worshiped as the ‘unknown god.’ Now he does it again saying, “I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets.”
       In order to reach people we need to adopt this way of thinking and learn how to relate to people. Paul wasn't waiting for the people to come to him either, he was going to them. God will bring people into the church to hear of Him, but most times they are brought by somebody.
       We need to get out among the people and start building relationships. That is how they will be won over. It is said that people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show them you care. Love on them and be relatable.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Acts 23:11

Acts 23:11 - The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Take Courage! That is a message that we all need to hear from time to time. Life is hard and we all need encouragement. In this story Paul was in prison. There were also men outside of the prison that wanted him dead, which was part of the reason he had to stay there.
Normally Paul would be surrounded by people that could encourage him, but now, since he was in prison, he was all alone. It did not look good. God knew that he was struggling and came and encouraged him in what may have been his darkest hour.
In our lives we often need encouragement as well. Times are hard and the days are getting darker, but we have to stand strong in the midst of it all. There are times when God will encourage you directly. He will speak to your heart or mind and let you know that He is with you, but there are times when He calls others to do the encouraging.
We, as Christians, are called to encourage each other. In this story Paul is alone, so God came directly. Many times, however, He will speak through those that are around you. That is part of the reason it is so important to surround yourself with believers.
It is also important to be an encourager yourself. You never know who might be going through a hard time. Just as God will use someone to encourage you when you need it, He will also use you to encourage others when they need it. Be open and willing to encourage those around you. Speak life into them and build them up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Acts 22:14-15

Acts 22:14-15 - “Then Ananias said, “The God of our fathers has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from His mouth. You will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.”

As you read the Bible and see some of the stories of men such as Paul you may think they were special. That they were God’s ‘chosen’ and you could never do the things that they did. It is so easy to get stuck in that mindset. And to be sure, they are special and they are God’s chosen, but so are you.
God has called you just like He called Paul. He wants to use you, just like He used Paul. Those ‘great’ men of the Bible are no different than you and me. They are not extraordinary on their own, rather it is God in them who is extraordinary. And you have God in you as well.
God has called you to be His witness to the people in your life. It doesn't mean you have to be a great preacher or evangelist. In fact, people don’t get discipled by preaching or evangelism anyway, they get discipled by relationship. It is through Loving them everyday and letting your lifestyle show the goodness of God.
Do this, then, when the opportunity presents itself: share your story. Tell people what God has done for you. A witness is only responsible to tell what they have seen or heard. That is all God requests of you. Be His witness, tell others what you have seen and heard.
So remember, you are chosen by God. Be His witness and let others come to know Him through you.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Acts 21:13

Acts 21:13 - Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

What are you willing to go through for Jesus? Paul was willing to do whatever it took to spread the gospel. The Holy Spirit had told him that when he went to Jerusalem he would be bound and imprisoned. It didn't matter to him, he knew he was supposed to go. His friends, however, were trying to persuade him otherwise. They thought that there had to be another way, but Paul was going to be obedient to God.
If you know that God wanted you to do something and you knew that by doing it persecution was inevitable, would you still do it? Are you willing to face opposition for the gospel? God wants to know that you are willing to go all in for Him.
We must realize that God has called each one of us and it is time for us to answer. Salvation comes free to us, the bible says ‘believe in your heart and confess with your mouth and you will be saved’, but being sold out for Jesus will cost you everything. It will take sacrifice, but it will be worth it.
Anytime you do something for God you are storing up treasures in heaven. If you give something up the bible says you will receive it back with more. As hard as it is we must give ourselves completely over to God, just as Paul did.
When you reach the point of doing whatever it takes for God you will experience true freedom because you will sold out to Christ. Fear will no longer hold you.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Acts 20:24

Acts 20:24 - However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. We’ve all experienced it. God’s grace is evident in each of our lives. From the moment we realize we are sinners and deserve death we see God’s grace at work for us. It is what brings forgiveness of sins and allows us to walk with God as righteous and holy.
Now that we have it, God wants us to tell others about it as well. That is the task we have been given. Really, if you think about it, God is not asking that much. All He wants is for you to tell others what He has done for you. Just tell your story and share your hope.
Paul committed his life to the point of saying, “my life is worth nothing to me” compared to sharing God’s grace in his life with others.
We need to take a look at our own lives and put things in perspective. There is so much ‘stuff’ that we fill our days with: work, TV, video games and the list goes on. Most of these things have no eternal significance. I’m not saying these are all bad, but if it is all we are doing we need to change.
People’s lives are what really matter. Sharing Jesus with people and bringing them into the kingdom of God is eternal. Most people are won over by relationships. It is said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. If you want to make an eternal difference in life start Loving people.
It is time for us to refocus our priorities. Don’t let meaningless ‘stuff’ fill all your time. Put your primary focus on God and Loving people as number two. It is fulfilling and you will not regret it.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Acts 19:13

Acts 19:13 - Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.”

As we continue on in this story we see that these men were not always successful in driving out evil spirits. In fact their situation got really bad, really quick, when one of the spirits answered them. It said, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” After saying that the possessed man proceeded to beat them until they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
These men saw the power of God flowing through Paul and they wanted to take part of it. Basically they bypassed getting to know God and went straight to doing miracles. This was their mistake. They were able to cast some evil spirits out, but eventually it caught up with them.
In their mind it was ‘Paul’s’ God and not their own. They never got to know God and therefore God did not know them. Jesus warns us that on ‘that’ day there will be many who come and say, “Did we not do miracles in your name? Did we not cast out demons?” And Jesus will answer, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
Don’t let that be you. Get to know Jesus. Spend time with Him and spend time in the Word. It’s not about ‘the Jesus Paul preaches.’ You must know Jesus yourself, then when you do miracles in His name it is personal and powerful.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Acts 18:9-10

Acts 18:9-10 - One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid, keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack you and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

Fear can be a powerful thing. I've heard it described as False Evidence Appearing Real. Basically it is putting your focus and faith on a negative aspect of something. Then, when your focus is on that ‘fear’ it becomes larger in your mind than it actually is.
Take spiders for instance. Not many people particularly like spiders. They can bite, which is annoying and don’t get me started on their webs. Walking through those is less than desirable, but that is where it stops for me. Spiders are an annoyance, not a fear. I know I am bigger than they are and can kill them if necessary.
For some people, however, spiders are a terrifying thing. If they see a spider they will scream and run to get away from it. Even though they physically have the ability to smash and kill the spider, it has become huge in their mind and they are unable to function.
This is just one example of fear, but it can come in many different forms. Here in Paul’s situation we see him in prison, awaiting trial and for all he knew, death. It is apparent that he was getting discouraged. He had probably even thought about the fact that if he just conformed to what the leaders wanted he would probably be able to go free. He was maybe even questioning what he was doing as the fears rose inside of him. That is when God stepped in and spoke to him, “Do not be afraid.”
God has not given a spirit of fear, but of power, Love and a sound mind. When we keep our focus on God fear will not have an opportunity to sneak into our lives. If there is an area where you have fear take it to God and ask Him to show you the reality of the situation. When you have the truth of a situation, your fear will not seem nearly as scary.