Are you walking in faith?


John, the disciple of Jesus, wrote the smallest book in the Bible and yet it is a most profound and humbling book because it convicts us who are not walking in His Truth and shows us where our faith should be placed.

2 John 1

Greeting from the Elder

(3 John 1:1-4)

1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; 2 For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever. 3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Walking in the Truth (John 8:31-41)

4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. 5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

Beware of Deceivers

7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an Antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Final Greetings

12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. 13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

GodsBlessingThe second or third smallest book of the Bible but very profound, in wisdom and truth from the only disciple which died of natural causes also known as old age.

God blessed John with a ministry which spanned the known world around him at the time. Since he was also one of the youngest disciples he was able to go and tell others about his Lord and Savior. He was also the shepherd of a number of churches before his death at the end of the first century.

John wrote and testified that Jesus was the Light of the World, not because of hearsay but because he had lived and walked with Jesus during His ministry. John was a dedicated disciple, fully committed to His Lord and Savior and He walked with Him while His time on Earth was fulfilled and He took the message of the gospel with him wherever he went later in life.

John’s exhortation to the lady and her house is the way that he greeted another worker for the faith and this letter was to encourage her until she should meet her risen Lord. Truly, it is the same with us. We are to stay true to our faith in Him until He comes or until we are called home to be with Him. What does this letter encourage us to do in light of where we are in the history of the world?

Mainly, to be steadfast in our walk with Jesus. Keeping to the faith and taking it and our testimony with us wherever we may go regardless of the time we may have left on this Earth. Because we don’t know how much time we have regardless of our age or health. It could be weeks, months or years until our date comes to meet Jesus or until He comes to call each of us home.

Your life and your testimony are important because your experience in this life is unique, just as your salvation is unique. Nobody else has had your experience or your successes and your failures, and God can use those to bring a specific message to someone, probably someone that only you can possibly reach. Your mission in this life is to serve God in whatever capacity that He asks you to serve in. It could be as a teacher at a high school or a Sunday school teacher. Maybe you are friends with a certain person that God wants to reach and only you can do that.

But…you won’t know for sure if you don’t step out in faith and use your testimony to bring Jesus’ message to at least one person. Then tomorrow see if you can find someone else to talk to about what Jesus has done for you. It doesn’t have to be a daily thing, but considering how much Jesus gave to save you and put you in this place…why not?

What is your experience?


Have you thought about your experience with Jesus? What about your salvation? The reason that I am asking this question is that each of us experiences each one in a different way. Some of us get emotional and nearly fall apart because of the grace that is given to us when we accept Him. Some of us fall down and worship Jesus and walk away from the experience a changed person and one which will do all that they can by telling others about Him.

The experience, especially if it is truly genuine, changes your heart spiritually and your life permanently! Salvation is not an experience which you can go through without the Holy Spirit and choose to turn it on or off when you want to go back where you were. True salvation begins when your heart is broken because of the Holy Spirit showing you through faith that your life is sinful and it needs to change. Sometimes this realization is brought about at a church service other times it is by a night or three or more in a jail cell. God will use whatever is necessary to get your attention and sometimes it is painful.

God loves us but like any Father or Mother, He sometimes has to use tough love to get a stubborn child to listen! Many times…we truly need this tough love and until God has your undivided attention, He will bang your head against whatever is necessary to make you listen. Why do I say this? Because, when God wants you to listen and He has a specific lesson or purpose for you, that only you can fulfill, He will not let go until you come around.

God knows the talents and gifts which He has given to you. You may not be aware of them until you have given your heart and life to Him, most of us aren’t. I never would’ve gotten in front of a group of people to speak for ten minutes or more if I had not been called by Him to be a preacher. I struggled against this calling for years until finally He got my attention enough and didn’t really give me a choice about it.

Some people think that God forces us to salvation, but that isn’t true. He will call to you and prod your heart, sometimes for years, but until you realize that you need Him in your life, it won’t make much difference. If you think that you have an arrangement with God and consider yourself good enough without accepting Him as your Lord and Savior, you may never hear His call on your life because you don’t think you need Him or the salvation that He is offering.

At that point, you are just like those Pharisees in Jesus’ day…too religiously minded to be any Earthly good to themselves or to anyone else! God only uses those who know that they need Him. Truly our Creator doesn’t need us in any way other than what He can see in your heart and your life. He can cause things to work out in His time so that your life or mine will line up with His will and purpose. He has already given you a talent or gift that He can use in His Kingdom but only if you answer the call on your life to change like the disciples did.

Peter denied the Lord three times on the night of His “mock trial” before going to Pilate. Paul was a Pharisee and was doing everything that the priests would give him permission to do in order to get rid of the “Jesus followers” or the Way. Both of these men were changed by the Lord’s actions of redemption and healing toward Peter and by Jesus’ confrontation of Paul on the Damascus road. Both of these men became true witnesses to the Gentile world as well as to the Jews after their redemption and conversion.

So…what about you? Are you willing to give your heart to Jesus as a follower and a disciple? If you have felt His call on your life, don’t put it off or ignore it. God loves you.

 

Be faithful in the little things


Do you pay attention to the little things in life? Some people do, many of us do not. Why could that be? It could be because little things are so commonplace, ordinary even. They aren’t eye-catching like a lime green BMW or Mustang, even though to me that color on a car, especially a sports car, is just nasty. Eye-catching colors are good sometimes, but what about the cars which can get about forty to fifty miles per gallon? I may be stingy but I like those cars. Granted, I would truly love to at least drive a Ferrari just once. I will never be able to afford one, but just driving one would be fun!

You hear about so-called “bucket lists” which list the things which people would like to do before they die, whether from natural causes or from some cancer or terminal illness. Why not work on lists of little things which can bring you more happiness and fulfillment in your life? What do I mean by “little things”? Well, enjoy your children and your grandchildren by taking them fishing or playing in a creek one day. Don’t time it, just enjoy it!

Show them how to make something out of sticks and leaves, if you can craft something like that. Enjoy life as much as possible. Don’t walk around in a pity party over things which can’t be fixed or changed…but if you can do something to change those things then do it! Take a trip for a day and see where it leads you. Don’t plan it or map it out, just wake up one morning and fix a lunch and some cold water in an insulated cooler, get some fuel for the trip, make sure to tell your family unless they are coming along. Then just go!

My title says “Be faithful in the little things”, so do the things which don’t take much. Like read your Bible each morning and before bed at night. Pray to the Lord and thank Him for the day that you have had. Ask Him to go with you and guide you toward the people and places that He needs for you to go. Most of us can’t be missionaries in other countries so seek out people closer to home and tell them about Jesus. Tell them what He has done for you and your family. Make sure that they know that He will do whatever is needed in their life too if they will ask Him to come into their hearts.

People think that being a Christian is hard and that we are required to do something almost every day to help God in our salvation. That is not true of course. God did not need our help to save us from our sins, Jesus did that on the cross all by Himself. It is a gift to each of us who have been called by God to become His child, all that we have to do is answer His call when we feel it in our hearts. Then, enjoy your life as a new creation in Jesus Christ because you are going to have an eternity to get to know all of your brothers and sisters who came before you.

Have you had a “But, God” moment?


I don’t mean the kind of moment where you are asking a question or even feeling like He is in the way of something. I mean one of those times in Scripture where the text says, “But, God….” meaning that He moved in some fashion to do something for a person or a people. Some of them happen in such a way that you really can’t miss it, and some seem to be an afterthought.

So, have you had a moment like this? Many times, I think we actually have moments like this but at the time, God does something in our lives which allow us to skirt danger or miss something which could’ve been dangerous or worse. In those moments He doesn’t ping us with a bat and tell us what He caused to work for His glory and for our good because God is not like that. He is better.

We should know this already but there are times where we need to be reminded Who we actually serve. He is not our servant, we are His. Why is this important? Because God says so that’s why. Seek Him out in this life so that you will have Life abundant and free from sin and the destruction which it brings with it.

I have had at least one of these “but, God” moments, except sometimes I use it more as a question and answer time with Him. Not that I am questioning His Wisdom in any area of my life, but sometimes I do wonder why things work out as they do. Children get sick, parents fall and fail each other for one reason or another. Essentially, life as we have to live it happens. We can’t control the things which happen around us, right?

No, but God can! When we give up or decide that our faith isn’t strong enough to think that God would intervene in our life or in the lives of those that we love…then we give the enemy an opening to attack. While it is true that he can’t touch you if you are a Christian, God can allow things (including Satan and disease) to test you in your resolve. Don’t believe the lie that you won’t get better or that you have to have treatment by the doctors who are only getting rich off of cancer and its treatment.

God can come into your life and change the conditions and the diagnosis into something which will draw more people to Him, like one where cancer just dies and the doctor can’t explain it. It does happen but many times our media just doesn’t know what to do with a miracle so they may not report it at all. Natural treatments work on cancer and other diseases but the pharmaceutical companies don’t want people to know this because they can’t make millions from a natural cure.

Treatments which can go on for years gives them far more leverage over our lives. The news media also spreads their “propaganda” just as it did with cigarettes years ago. Millions of people paid with their lives because of the lies about cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco products and their effect on a person’s body.

Please, seek out God’s way of dealing with disease and other problems in your life. Don’t let the enemy win because you aren’t willing to give something natural a try or to ask for prayer in your situation. God can use your life and your situation to turn more people around if you will give Him a chance to do so.

Believe…


We are asked to do this as little children. Like we are going to do this as easily as a child as adults and it usually doesn’t work that way. Life tends to make us more cautious and cynical as we get older. This one fact of growing up causes us to discount the simple way of becoming a Christian as we get older.

Sometimes it is just easier to believe like a child. Don’t try to analyze and nitpick the decision to become a Christian, like the Nike commercial says “just do it!”. I do realize that there are so many people out there in the world today who are reluctant to give their life and their heart to Jesus. But…what is the alternative? I mean, Jesus is our Savior and the Creator! There is no other “god” who can compete because there are no other gods, period!

Our world has been deceived by Satan and his cohorts for thousands of years and they are getting a bit worried now that the time is getting short for them! Your life does have an expiration date while you are here on Earth and since we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, the time for salvation is today! Please do not put this off. God knows who will come to Him and seek forgiveness and salvation so make it a point to be on His list of folks to listen to and bring to salvation!

The time is today, not tomorrow or next week. You or I could be involved in a car wreck tomorrow and when this life is over, your time to get saved is gone because “now is the accepted time“.

God provides for us each and every day but many people don’t pay attention. They just take it for granted that they have tomorrow and next week and next month too. Hopefully, they do and all the rest of us do too, but if you found yourself standing in front of God tomorrow…what could you say? What would you say about your life? Something like, “I did the best that I could” won’t help you. If you haven’t given your heart to Jesus and asked for His forgiveness of your sins then you are standing on your own righteousness and that is not enough.

Our own righteousness is never enough because if we could be righteous enough to gain entrance into Heaven…then Jesus died for nothing. God doesn’t do things for anything less than His glory and allowing Jesus to die for our sins if we could fulfill the Law perfectly would’ve been useless! God doesn’t do useless!

Consider this: God has known you since you were formed in the womb because He formed you. Whether you have lived your life on your own terms or maybe you have been taken to church as a child, His attention has never been far away from your life. What about your attention? Have you thought about seeking Him out, at least to see if this “Christianity thing” is real? If you haven’t then you are living on a very narrow ledge in this life.

 

 

Do you bear fruit for Him?


John 15:1-8

Jesus the True Vine

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear the fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

VineandBranchesJesus taught this lesson to His disciples during the hours just before His arrest and the mock trial that He was subjected to before being condemned to the cross. There is more to His teaching on this but this began His discourse on being a disciple which produces fruit for God’s Kingdom. Have you considered what you should do in light of the fact that as a Christian, you are a disciple as well?

We are called to be in God’s family to be disciples as well as His voice while we live in this life. Yet, many Christians don’t fulfill their duty to Him in this way. We are content with knowing that we have our salvation and that we will be accepted into Heaven one day. But, God intended for us to have and do so much more than that. His Word shows us that the disciples went out from Jerusalem and spread His gospel and we should do no less.

We have much more available to us and for us to use as platforms and possible routes to spread Jesus’ message into the world than they had. God will use your talent or He will give you the talent and the words to say to spread His message to those who need it so badly in the world today. I don’t have the ability to go on missions overseas, but this forum can get to anyone who has access to the Internet. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t have access to it, which is where actual visits are required if possible.

Some places are in areas where it is not advisable to visit with a Christian message or to bring it to those living there. It is dangerous for Christians to go, as Jesus asked us to do, into many countries in the world today. Prayer for those people and places which are not accepting of Christian ideals and its message. Do what you can with what you have and ask God to bless the outcome of your efforts.

Prayer…


When Jesus said “whatever you ask in my name, and believe it will be given to you“, do you truly believe it? He cannot lie, but do you know what He is speaking of? The “whatever” in this promise is not money or houses or wealth, it is whatever you ask in the will of God. For us, this is a hard concept to learn about our Creator and our Savior. Which is why He is asking us to dig a bit deeper into your relationship with Him.

You didn’t know your wife’s needs and wants from the moment you laid your eyes on her or even after you learned her name or her favorite color. Relationships take time and effort in this world and with God and His Son, Jesus as well. So how can we learn more about them? By reading the Bible! Little snippets of Scripture on Sunday are not enough. One reading of a chapter or two during the week isn’t enough.

To learn about your Savior and God, you have to dig into His Word. Learn how He sees you and the world around you. Get as close to God as He wants you to be. When you get there, you will know it, but don’t back up and run away from Him! Just ask Him to give you some time to adjust to the amount of love that you will feel, that you have never felt before. It does take time actually and it brings tears to your eyes when you get that close to what can only be described as pure love.

That isn’t even enough to describe it but it is as close as we can come to a true description of God’s Person. You can call it liquid joy or living water or even love that feels as if you could drown in it forever. A description of Him is the most elusive of all of man’s thoughts or imaginings because until you are actually in His Presence there is nothing on this Earth which compares or even comes close to Him.

Prayer is talking to God put simply. It doesn’t have to have King James language scattered all through it and you don’t have to be in church or dressed in a suit and tie to pray. God already knows what you need but He wants to hear it from you. If you haven’t become a child of God by asking Him to come into your soul, your heart and change you from the lost person that you are into His child forever…He will hear that prayer if it is sincerely from your heart.

I said those words many times and went through the motions of baptism, but until He touched my heart and drew my soul to Himself none of those “motions” were real. God loves each of us and He knows when your prayer and your heart are in agreement with His Spirit. When that happens, your heart will change and you will be a different person. Your old friends will see it before you say a word. Anyone who knew the “old you” will be able to tell that something happened that can’t be undone, although some will try to take you back to your old haunts. But, you won’t feel just right in those places anymore.

You will feel most at home reading the Bible and asking Him some questions about what happened and what to do now. Seek out a church with a Bible preacher, not a doctrine pusher. Then you will begin to learn Who your Savior is and what the rest of your life will be like. Yes, you will slip up and make some mistakes or say something which you know you shouldn’t, but you can ask forgiveness of them and go on with your life. Because the Author and Finisher of your faith is also the One who is the Living Water.

Foolish


Today is two different days all rolled into one. Most importantly it’s the day that we, as Christmas, celebrate Easter as the day when Jesus rose from the tomb. To others it’s April Fool’s day. In any event, today is a special day. So, will you be celebrating Easter today with family worship or will you be sitting in at home?

I will be preaching about our Lord and Savior this morning, I pray that you will come to know Him as your Lord one day soon. God made a way for you to be saved from an eternity of punishment if you will just believe in Jesus for your salvation. There is no other way to be saved.

This pathway to salvation is very simple but many don’t come to know Him because it seems to be too simple. We want to make it harder so that we can contribute something to our salvation, but we can’t. Our efforts only get in the way and make it unprofitable to others who may think that they can work their way into heaven.

Truly life is busy and confusing at times, but we should try to be more like the apostles were. Taking the message wherever we go in life, that is our job. Telling others about our Savior is our vocation because Jesus gave His disciples a command and we are His disciples as well.

What happened on the Sabbath?


None of the gospels elaborate on this so, other than the Jewish people celebrating the Sabbath of Passover and recounting the ordeal that their forefathers went through to leave Egypt, I don’t think much happened on that day.

The Roman soldiers were likely doing their patrols and those guarding the tomb were very bored and probably hungry…but they could not leave their post. The only place that you can find what may have been happening is in works of fiction today, and some of those are pretty riveting.

Remember that there are some parts of Scripture which say that He descended into Hades where the boundary between Paradise (Abraham’s bosom) is located. The scripture reference is in Ephesians and it is debated whether the Lord did this or if this was just part of Paul’s imagination. Whichever it is, one day we will know the Truth.

Jesus was at work fulfilling the prophecies about Himself during the time that He had between burial and the day of his resurrection. So, should we speculate about Jesus going into Abraham’s bosom and leading those from the Old Testament up to Heaven? I am not a story-teller, at least not of the caliber that it would take to make a coherent dialog about Jesus and His trip to the world where Moses and Abraham were.

Is it necessary for this kind of story to be told? No, but it was an entertaining read.

If you decide to read the book which is linked in the previous sentence, it is very entertaining. Brian Godawa does a great job of imagining the realm where the demons live here on Earth and how they were so giddy with joy when Jesus was on the cross. But, when He showed up in Paradise and then left it to resume His life on Earth and in Heaven it let all of them know exactly Who they were dealing with and they were scared.

That is not the only book which he wrote and I have read them all. They give you an imaginative look at the Scripture and some of the possibilities which may have occurred that weren’t written down. If they had been, the Bible or at least the Old Testament would’ve been a LOT bigger. Why do I bring this up now? Because of this holiday which the Christian churches will celebrate tomorrow is not about bunnies and chocolate and eggs and presents. It is about the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus.

Everything that Jesus did during His ministry was done so that we could have eternal life, the abundant life which God had purposed for humanity in the beginning. Jesus came to “fix” what had been broken by the fall from grace which happened in the Garden so long ago. The fall did break the relationship between God and mankind but it didn’t shatter it completely. But, it also caused many other parts of our universe to be broken, not just in the cosmos but here on Earth as well. As the writer says, “creation groans for everything to be set right again” (my paraphrase), but the point is that not only did Adam’s disobedience have an effect on man’s relationship to God but it also affected everything around him.

God cursed the ground and the animals of the world and everything lost some of its glory from God. It was no longer good from that point on and it will be remade at a later date. God loves you and all of His Creation, so please make sure of which side you are on before your life is over. The life that we live here is the only chance we get to “get right with God”. Once you are standing in front of God, your life will be the witness against you.

The storms of life


There are days that it seems are filled with anguish and pain and sometimes heartache too, but the storms in life are what Jesus helps us get through. Living in this world in its fallen state causes anxiety and fear yet, at times, wonder at the joys and the fate of those around us. Why do I mix this sentence like this? Because during your lifetime and mine, we do experience joy and sorrow, pain and fear and anxiety too. This is just part of our experience in this life and it won’t get any better until our King comes to rule this world.

Yes, storms cause a lot of damage at times. Tornado’s and hurricanes can devastate whole cities and the surrounding area for miles and they both cause a lot of property damage and loss of life too. Yet, storms should not be part of our daily existence. If you live with what could be described as a storm on a daily or weekly basis, if you are a Christian then you may be doing something RIGHT!

Why do I say this? Because those storms and the trouble which is part of your life could be caused by Satan and his spirits and demons. If you are doing something which is bringing glory to God and His Kingdom, then Satan could be bringing these “storms” into your life to buffet you and interfere with your faithful living! Don’t think that just because you are a Christian that Satan will leave you alone. Being a Christian who is trying to live their life according to the example set by Jesus puts a target on your back as surely as being a medic in the Army with a red cross on your arm made them targets of the enemy.

We live in a world where Satan has free reign for a little while longer and he knows that his time is growing shorter. Therefore, he is stepping up his temptations and his working in our minds and in the world by causing all sorts of evil to be done, some of which is in the news and some are not. As the scripture says, “Satan goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour“. So, we are to be sober-minded and steadfast in our living by the Word of God, picking up our burdens every day and seeking to accomplish the work that Jesus set before us.

Don’t be slack in doing the things which God sent His own Son to do because once we have asked Him to come into our hearts then His charge becomes ours as well. We are to go around doing as much as we can, just as He would if He were here in our shoes. That is why the church, the people who profess to know and be known by Him, is supposed to be His hands and His feet and to bring His message to all who will hear it.

God is bigger than all of the storms that this life can throw at us, whether it is from disease or an actual storm or a disability or whatever it may be. He is up to the task of giving you the victory in all things when we depend upon Him for our daily strength. Give Him the glory for your healing and for your blessings because all good things come from God.

God is good in all ways and always God is good! Amen!