God gives us grace to live the Christian life. This, is through the gift given to us by Jesus Christ. In this episode we talk about Philippians 1:1-2. This is the beginning of a series of teachings through the book of Philippians.
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God wants you. God always wants your attention, so that you may live a life that is obedient to Him. And in obedience with Him, is a life full of hope. Let us make our relationship with God the highest priority in our lives.
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The most important verse in the whole Bible is John 3:16; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
In the beginning there was Adam and Eve. They had a perfect relationship with God. But this was broken the day they ate from the forbidden tree. This was the day that they broke their complete trust in God and entertained their own curiosity and desire for control. As a result their perfect union with God was broken.
For many years man did not have a way to reconcile with God. God wanted to give man a chance so He decided to send His only son to earth to walk among the people. His name was Jesus. During His time on earth He performed miracles and healed people to show the world that He truly was the Son of God. Some people believed Him and some did not. The ones who did not believe Him grew angry with Him and wanted to kill Him. They did not understand that Jesus was God’s sovereign plan.
God sent Jesus down to earth to live a perfect life. A life without sin. He was perfect in every way…His spirit was pure and unstained. Never did sin have a chance at Him. There was a reason for this…
God is all good. God cannot have a relationship with anything bad. In other words, you cannot relate bad with good. They are complete opposites. God resides in Heaven and Heaven is perfect. God cannot allow anything tainted with sin in Heaven; If He did then it would not be Heaven.
So, the only way man can be reconciled with God is if our sins are washed away. This means that we need to be emptied of sin. Jesus made a way for us to be able to do this. As a perfect sacrifice, he was the only sacrifice God could take as a replacement for our sins. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, He died for our sins. This means that God took all our sins and placed them on Jesus. This made a way for man to be pure again so that we could be reconciled with God and enter Heaven after death.
The important thing to understand though is that for something to be real in someone’s life, they have to first believe it. God said if you believe that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you will be saved. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins and was resurrected from the grave, you will be saved. If you repent of your sins and ask Jesus for forgiveness, you will be saved. Believe in your heart that Jesus is who He is and you will be reconciled to God.
Life is hard, but life after death can be even harder without God. This is a place called Hell. It is somewhere everlasting just like Heaven, but it is quite the opposite of Heaven. Most importantly Hell does not have God, and God is our creator, the one who loves us; so Heaven is where we should want to be.
Friend, please accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. He is knocking on the door of your heart. He is wanting to take your hand. He is wanting to cleanse you of all your sins, guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, hopelessness. He wants a better life for you, and a better life means a life with Him.
If you want to accept His invitation all you have to do is ask for forgiveness. You can say something similar to this: Jesus forgive me for my sins. I do not want to sin anymore. I want to give my life to you. I believe that you are my Lord and Savior. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins and that you rose from the grave.
It may seem like a simple prayer, but what really matters is what is in your heart. If you sincerely want to give your life to Jesus, He will take it. He will make your life beautiful because of the hope that He gives us who believe in Him. If you were sincere and your heart yearns for a relationship with God, take heart, be encouraged, because He promises this, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). This is the start of a new life for you…
Yes, the virus is still around. We are still in shelter-in-place. I am still not working. We are still getting our groceries delivered through Instacart. Life is still in a state of uncertainty. After my jog this morning I stood still for a few minutes to listen to the Lord. I felt Him say, “You do not need corporate worship to worship me”.
Some of us are thinking, “I can’t wait for church to open up again so that I can worship God”, or, “I wonder which church has the best online teaching this Sunday?”. We have relied too much on our local church to motivate us to worship the one true living God. I am not saying that having a local church is a bad thing, but what I am saying is, “we do not need people or programs to feel closer to God”.
During my reading this morning, I highlighted Acts 17:27, “…that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him”. As I read commentary on this verse, it referenced Romans 1:20, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made”. These verses tell me that I am to seek God and that God wants to be found. So, we do not need to be in a crowd of worshipers to feel close to God. We do not need the wonderful band and the talented preacher to seek God. All we need is a genuine heart for God. Let us ask God to reveal himself to us daily. Seek Him.
The “Great Pause”, as my wife calls the current situation that we are in, is an opportunity given to us to spend time with the Lord without distractions. All sports have been taken away; movie theaters are closed; most parks are closed; almost all forms of entertainment have been removed. What is left is an opportunity for silence with God. A time to find out what kind of Christian you want to be during this time and what kind of Christian you want to be coming out of this. We can take this opportunity to strengthen our faith through the Word, prayer, and surrendering everything to Him. I believe that this is a time to seriously live biblical lives so that when we are out of this nightmare, the body of Christ will be a refined body, stronger than ever to share the gospel to the ends of the world! Think about the lives that Jesus can change through his church. He surely changed my life; He gave me the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippains 4:7).
So, please, Christian, take every day as a divine opportunity to spend time with the Lord. Read and study the scriptures; speak and listen to God. Worship Him the way He deserves to be worshiped; He deserves your whole heart. “Draw near to Him; and God will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
After I heard the Lord speak this morning, I worshiped Him on my knees. It was just me outside, in a corner where I could not be seen, but I felt God’s presence with me. He brought tears to my eyes; tears of brokenness and tears of comfort. God will strengthen us (Isaiah 41:10); He will bring us peace (Philippians 4:7); He, alone, is our refuge (Psalm 91:2).
We have something to rejoice about, at all times!! We have God’s salvation; we have Jesus!
Lord, you are our wonderful rescuer. Please strengthen us through this difficult time, so that you may use us to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The world needs you;let yourself be known. Open eyes to see and ears to hear. In the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
“…Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Happy Thanksgiving! This year has gone by too fast, and here we are, it’s now Thanksgiving, and it will soon be Christmas and New Years. I love that Thanksgiving is the first holiday that kicks starts the season. It is always good to start with being thankful in everything that we do, so that our hearts and minds are focused on gratitude and humility. Even when we pray we are taught by Jesus to be be thankful and praise God before asking for our needs (see the Lord’s Prayer). Even Philippians 4 teaches us, “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with “thanksgiving”, let your requests be made known to God…”. Really, the reason why is, so we may be humbled before the LORD.
I am thankful for many things this year. I am thankful that the Lord has never left me nor forsaken me through the trials that this year has brought in. I am thankful that trials, no matter how small or big, have been instrumental in strengthening my faith in Him. He has taught me the true meaning of “…God alone is my refuge” (Psalm 91).
I am thankful for the family that He gave me. I am thankful for my wife who has displayed in action the description of a Proverbs 31 woman. If you want to know what a strong woman is, watch my wife serve her family with love. I am thankful for having two sons who are healthy and thriving. They both enjoy each other; mama and papa love watching them grow together.
Yes, I am very thankful for the grace and mercy that the Lord has shown me through my life and family, but I need to remind myself of the most important thing that I should be thankful for all the days of my life. Jesus granted me the gift of salvation 7 years ago. That, I am thankful for and will never be able to pay Him back.
In Luke 10, the disciples came back after being sent out. They were rejoicing because they were able to cast out demons in the name of Jesus. Jesus turned to them and said, yes, that is great, but do not rejoice in this. Rejoice that your names are written in the book of Heaven. I rejoice because Jesus has written my name Himself in the book of heaven. I rejoice because if I were to die today I get to rest my soul beside the Creator. I get to rest in my room that He has prepared in His house. I get to be in the “full” presence of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I imagine being filled with joy that I cannot describe; I imagine being in a perfect body, one with a healthy heart and one that can breathe normally. But I am most excited to be right there, right next to Him that calls me His son.
So if you are a Christian, a follower of The Way, rejoice! Be thankful! That this life is not eternity, and that your eternal life will be spent in the most glorious place you can ever imagine. And you will be where you rightly belong, next to our Abba Father.
And if you do not know Jesus. I urge you to do so. Heaven and hell are real places. They are not just made up by men. It is written about and described in the Bible, which is the book given to us by God. Believing in Jesus is not a bad thing, it is quite the opposite. It is a good thing in which He makes your life better. He makes it better because He gives you hope and that He grants you entrance into His Kingdom. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). There is no other way to Heaven, knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior is the only way.
I pray that you are asking, “How do I get saved?”. It is easy, “Ask and you shall receive” (Matthew 7:7). Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins. Repent from your sins; what this really means is that you are tired of being a sinner and want to turn away from it. Proclaim with your lips that Jesus is Christ and believe in your heart that He died for your sins and has risen so that you may be reconciled with God.
If you are still a skeptic, I pray that you ask God to show you who He is. I pray that you open a Bible up to the book of John and read it with an open mind. Try to understand it and ask Jesus for help. The Lord is at hand! I urge you not to wait. God loves you, I believe that, because it is written all over the Bible. The whole theme of this book is about His love for you. Jesus came to serve, and He did this by sacrificing his life for you.
I’ve been listening to the song “Refiner” this whole week. It has been playing on and on, on my laptop, in my car, in my head. It’s by Chandler Moore and Steffany Gretzinger. It has made tears flow out of my eyes and it has humbled my heart.
“You’re a fire
I wanna be consumed
I wanna be tried by fire
You take whatever you desire
Lord, here’s my life”
Wow. Yes, God is the Fire that refines us through Jesus Christ. But guess what? The only way He can fully do this is if we bow down to Him and let Him take complete control over us. And if we let Him do this, we will surely be tried by fire, and purified. “Purified”, that’s what it’s all about. Sanctification, that’s what it’s all about. And you know why? Because God knows what is best for us, but it is really all for His glory. So that we may shine to the world and show the light of Jesus.
So …do we dare say, “Lord, here’s my life”? I mean, do we really dare to mean these words? Not just say it because it’s part of the lyrics of the songs that we sing at church on Sunday, but to actually live it. Live it like our ancestors did in Acts. Our fellow saints who were martyrs and lived the words, “Lord, here’s my life”. Honestly, for me, yes, I want to give Jesus all my life. And the reason why…it’s because He created me, He is my salvation, and He is King. In the words of Kanye West, “Jesus is King”. Yes, I said it, Kanye is right.
Go…spread the word! Or, in this case The Word. Jesus is to be shared to the ends of the world.
Matthew 28:19 (AMP) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
The above verse is not a suggestion, it is a commandment. I have struggled with this for a long time, and honestly, I still do. Am I bold enough? Do I have enough faith? Do I know what to say? I did not go to seminary school, what could I possibly have to say? All this doubting has kept me from obeying this command in the past, but by God’s grace He kept on convicting me and He built up my courage.
The Christian faith is not based on works; you cannot possibly earn your way to Heaven. It would be impossible. When would you know you have done enough? This is why Jesus had to die on the cross. He was the only way we could meetthe requirement for entering God’s Kingdom. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…(John 14:6).” And that is the requirement there, my friends.
Now on the other hand, works are very important to our faith because they are a reflection of our faith (James 2:14-26; Matthew 17:15-20). If we love Jesus then we will follow His commandments (John 14:15). I believe what this means is that if we really believe in God and that Jesus is in fact LORD (someone having power, authority, or influence; a master or ruler), then we will follow Him. This also means because of what Jesus (God) did on the cross for us this should be enough of a motive for us to obey His commandments. I recently had a conversation with a good friend who asked the same question I have had myself before,“How do I know if what I am doing is out of my own motivation instead of love for Christ?” God gave me the revelation not too long ago that what we do for Christ should be a reflection of how much God’s love has impacted our lives. It is always about what is going on in our hearts. Are we doing things to promote ourselves or are we doing things to promote Christ?
So now that God helped me figure all that out I started asking Him what is my ministry? How do I share Jesus with the world? God is so good….ask and you shall receive. Through a series of confirmations He told me to evangelize. Scary? Yes, definitely. But the feeling that you get when you know you are doing what God wants you to do? Priceless. So now I walk around with my fanny pack (yes, they are coming back in style, and I’m on that train) full of gospel tracts constantly praying for the Holy Spirit to give me boldness and faith to share Jesus with complete strangers. I have had amazing conversations with people and I have been rejected as well, but man…it is exciting being out there sharing God’s love with His people!
So I would encourage you, Christian, to ask God for a ministry and GO! Do it afraid, do it even if you do not feel credible, all God is looking for is a willing soul and He will provide you with the Holy Spirit to empower you. God gave us the gifts of the Spirit, so let’s use them! Cheeyahoo!!
“Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” Psalm 147:1-2
Worshipper. That is who I am. Who do I worship? Well, it used to be that I worshipped basketball; this was my life. I worshipped the Lakers (Kobe and Shaq). My mood would go up when the Lakers would be winning and it would drastically change when they would lose. I thank God that He has convicted me of this idolatry, and that He has given me grace to walk away from it.
You see, human beings are made to worship. We worship something, someone, some place, whether it be our career, spouse, kids, cars, celebrities, experiences, there is always something that we idolize. The reason why we were made to worship is because we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), but without believing in the gospel our worship is misdirected towards the wrong gods.
So who do I worship now? I worship the one true living God, Jesus Christ! Why do I worship Him and Him alone? Well, because on a cold winter morning of December 2012 He became real in my life. I could not see Him, but His presence was undoubtedly real as any physical being in my life. And after that day I realized that I could not ever go back to my old life. Jesus started working in my life to sanctify me. He walked me through my repentance and forgave me for my past, present, and future sins, and made me a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This is why I worship Him. He loves me so much that He only sees the good in me and forgives me for my failures. Which is quite different from how I view myself. Imagine being in a relationship where the person loves you no matter what. You do not need to hide who you are, he wants to know everything about you. Now, I do not mean that God will be okay with our sins, He is not. He will always love the person, but hate the sin, and there are consequences for sin. But this is why God sacrificed His only son. So that we may be perfected through the grace and mercy that Jesus gives us by dying on the cross for our sins.
What does this actually mean? What does it mean when someone says, “Jesus died on the cross for your sins”. Remember the game, Super Mario Brothers? In the game, I think you get about three lives to start with. Imagine you have an infinite amount of lives, then you have a better chance of getting to the last stage and winning the game. It’s the same thing for when you are in Christ. Because Jesus, the perfect sacrifice died on the cross for you, He is able to give you an abundance of grace to be able to push on towards sanctification (holiness).
Another reason why I worship Jesus is because He paved the way for me to enter Heaven. There is no other way to Heaven, but through Jesus (John 14:6). Heaven is perfect, and it is real. Hell is the opposite, and it is also real. I thank God that He provided us a way to be reconciled to Him through His Son. Without Jesus, then we would not have a way to eternal life with the Creator who loves us unconditionally.
Now how does one start a relationship with Jesus and get into Heaven? Simple, ask and you shall receive (Matthew 7:7). Ask Jesus to come into your life; confess your sins and turn away from them; receive Him as your Lord and Savior, and accept the love that He offers you. But the most important thing is that you mean it in your heart, mind, and soul. A simple prayer does not do it, it’s what you truly feel in your heart, mind, and soul that matters. I’m not in a happy marriage with my wife just because I tell her I love her…it’s because I really mean it with my heart, mind, and soul that I Love Her.
I pray friend, family, reader that you receive Jesus Christ today. There is no other relationship that is as exciting, fulfilling, and assuring than what you can have with Jesus. He is always running after you, wanting you; now it’s time that you run towards Him and enter into His kingdom. Receive the truth that you are a child of the King!
Psalm 46:1 GOD is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
He is our very present help in times of trouble. We’re in trouble right now. Luke can’t breathe. I watch him struggle and strain, with shallow, tight breaths. I watch him run out of breath mid-sentence, be unable to roughhouse with our boys, get quiet and withdrawn with suffering.
I pray for him, I lay my hands on him and ask Jesus to touch him, I tell him how proud I am of the oh-so brave man he is. I post scriptures around the house about God’s ability and willingness to heal; about GOD’s history of healing and desire to heal. I do all that I can but we are still in trouble.
This is the kind of trouble that you can’t reason away, buy your way out of, or call your doctor to fix, because, in this case, we seem to have come nearly to the end of what medical science can offer us. We could get angry, we could get bitter, we could fall into despair, we could blame GOD. Instead, we run to Him as our only hope in this trouble. We are drowning but just as the water covers our airways we realize that He is the living water around us and we breathe him in.
I have been here before with my own breathing struggles but watching my Luke endure such suffering is brutal on my heart, in such a different way. It is salty tears mingled with desperation for his healing and pride at his courage and worry for our future and anxiety about if and when and how. But then I raise my voice or my hands in supplication and down rains peace and joy and triumph even in suffering.
You see, with all my heart and life, I am convinced that I serve the Living and Victorious One, the one who overcame sin and death (including all sickness). So just as overwhelming uncertainty crashes down, in comes peace and assurance that “He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands…He’s got Luke’s lungs in His hands.” A very present help. He has us engraved on His palms. He has not forgotten our crisis for a moment and He is going to work in this situation mightily and everyone watching will witness a miracle. I believe it.
I love that the verse says “VERY present help”. He’s not just saying, ‘I’m here to help” but he’s yelling, “I’M HERE TO HELP!!!!”. He’s also offering a covering or refuge for the duration of the onslaught and His strength throughout. While it is true that we are in deep trouble and Luke is suffering and I am hurting, what is just as true is that Jesus is a “very present help”, right here, right now. When I think about that truth, I am no longer bothered about “if and when and how” because i know WHO and WHERE; Jesus here, very ready to help.
Give me Jesus. He is all I need. Just as the song goes…”You can have all this world, just give me Jesus”.
I did not have Jesus in my life for 28 years and during that time life was empty. I tried to fill my life with friends, sports, fashion, and school, but none of these fulfilled what was missing inside of me.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:!5 KJV)”. I searched for happiness through loving the things of the world and the more I did, the less I felt God’s presence in my life. I grew up in a Christian family; my Mom is one of the strongest believers that I know and she prayed for my salvation from the time I was born until I got saved. She watched me go through my “darker days”, trying to stay current with the crowd around me, knowing that I was just hurting myself by growing further away from the Lord instead of closer to Him.
It was a long six months during my “darker days” that brought me to Jesus. Depression and anxiety plagued my life, but this is what brought me down on my knees in surrender to the Lord. It was December of 2012 that I specifically remember saying to Him, “Okay God, I’m done, take control of the steering wheel. You are in charge.”
I have been a Christian for seven years now. I have seen how the Lord has brought me from darkness to light. He has molded me like clay as He is the Potter. There were many times that I resisted, but I thank God that His will is stronger than mine. I have learned that the only way I can truly achieve closeness with Him is complete surrender.
In the last year God has brought me even closer to Him. I have felt the Spirit increase my appetite for His presence. Whether it be through reading of the word, prayer, worship, or through witnessing. I have been pressing on with Him trying to seek Him with all my heart, mind, and soul. I have been relying on the truth of James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
During this time God reminded me that “it is not about how good of a Christian I am, it is about what Jesus has done on the cross”. I have always wondered what Christianity is really about. Is it about how well I pray, worship, read my Bible, or how well I keep God’s commandments? Then one day it clicked; God showed me that what He did for me on the cross and that the joy this brought in my life needed to be shared with the world. Christianity is about getting the good news of the gospel to all the world. We are commanded to do this in Matthew 28:19, “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.” Christianity was not meant to be kept to ourselves for our own benefit, it was meant to be shared with our neighbor for their benefit. Jesus died on the cross for “our” sins, not just “my” sins.
See, Jesus is life and life can be found only in Him. All that a person needs in life is fulfilled in Jesus. The hope and joy that one experiences in God’s presence is something that cannot be explained (Philippians 4:7), but it is so awesome. I call it the “Jesus high”. So here I am at a point in my life where I can say, “Just give me Jesus.”