Do you doubt?


Where does doubt come from?

This is a question which most people ask at some point in their lives. Christians ask it of themselves more often, than other people do. The answer will likely surprise you. Remember when Jesus asked Peter to come to Him on the water? Would you have stepped out in faith onto the surface of a turbulent ocean? I would guess that very few people would do it. But…it was Jesus asking him to do it and since Peter usually acted or said something before he thought about it, he stepped out of the boat and began walking.

What many people don’t read into the story is that Peter was a fisherman, he knew the water shouldn’t be able to hold him like solid ground. But it was Jesus that made the request of him. Peter had seen Him heal a blind man and feed five thousand men and their families from a child’s lunch basket. So, of course, he jumped out of the boat and landed on the water, not in the water. And, as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus and walking toward Him he was able to keep walking on top of the water. But…when he took his eyes off of Jesus then he began to sink into the water.

As Christians, we do this all the time! We feel His touch in our lives and we may even hear or get the feeling that there is something which He is calling us to do. As long as we keep our eyes on Jesus and keep our faith focused on the task which He is asking us to do, then we will be fine. But in the world which we live in it isn’t so easy. Peter had the luxury of being able to see Jesus, so keeping his eyes focused on Him shouldn’t have been a problem. We don’t have that luxury and we can and do get side-tracked and distracted from the One Who called us in the first place.

The account of this miracle is found in this text:

Matthew 14: 25-33

25 Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

We doubt in our faith because we cannot see Jesus or the possibilities that are all around us. We look at the bills to be paid and the oil which needs changing or how much food we have left until our next paycheck. We live and move on the physical plane of the Earth and much of what we read about in the Bible happened on the spiritual plane which God lives in and inhabits. We can’t feel it with our hands or touch it physically but according to God’s Word, it is there.

And it is just as real or even more real than the world in which we live. Consider how Jesus could move and live after His resurrection. He could enter a locked room and speak with the disciples there and then just as easily vanish from their sight. Then at His ascension to Heaven He just rose from the ground and went up into the sky, no airplane or fiery chariot required or needed! Can you imagine having a body which will be able to do those things? When we are “caught up to be with Him in the air” we will be in bodies like His forever! No more aching and creaky knees and stiff joints. Praise God that is going to feel wonderful!

Our God is an AWESOME God!

The shed blood of Jesus Christ


1 Peter 1:13-21
13 Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

17 And if you address as Father, the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

john_3_16_17_scripture_memory_card-raf7013e639264b87b918bea9971565b3_vgbaq_8byvr_540Sin deceives you because its roots are from the deceiver, Satan. Sinful actions can and will destroy your life in many ways and in the end of this life, it will bring eternal death which is eternal banishment from the presence of God.

The only way to save yourself from sin and the consequences of it is to believe in Jesus and the blood which He shed for us, each of us, on the cross. The Son of God gave His life for you and for me…He didn’t have to but He wanted to do it. Because He loved each of us far more and deeper than we can know or comprehend.

He redeemed us from sin through His blood shed on the cross for you! The only action needed on your part is belief in Him and the atonement bought by His blood.

Colossians 1:19-22 King James Version (KJV)

19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Do you understand what God has done for us? For you and for me? Each person who has ever lived in this world, before the Flood and up until now, is born with a natural bent toward sin! I mean you don’t have to teach anyone to lie and you know it as well as I do.

Tell a toddler not to do something or eat something and you can see their wheels turning trying to figure out how they can get away with doing exactly that! If you are able to catch them right after doing it, whatever it may be, ask them if they did what you told them not to do. Even with crumbs from those cookies on their clothes they will tell you no, they didn’t do that.

In life you see many people behaving exactly the same way, even if they are supposed to be grown-ups. Why is that? It is because until you have a changed heart through the Spirit of God living within you, you are a sinner from the day you are able to decide to do something which you were told not to do! God’s will for your life is to glorify Him in all that you do and the only way for us to do that is to believe in Jesus and the atonement that He bought for us and ask God’s forgiveness based upon that belief.

Now, many religions teach that you can work out your salvation by yourself but that is not true. If that were possible, Jesus died for nothing! No amount of gold or silver or any amount of good works that you or I do in this world can bring salvation to your soul, only belief in Jesus can do that and accepting His atonement for your sins. If you can’t or won’t do that, then you have condemned yourself to hell.

Please, don’t go there, because hell was not made for humanity at all. It was made to punish angels who rebelled against God’s rule and authority including Satan or Lucifer if you know him by that name. Because of deception and our own stubbornness, many people are going to hell and it won’t be a party or a friendly place to be for eternity at all.

Make sure of your salvation in Jesus soon before the church is taken from this Earth, because it is going to happen soon. Plan on being part of that company.

 

Reflections


Are you reflecting Jesus or are you reflecting your idea of Jesus? Many people today seem to create their own version of Jesus or God. Not so much as an idol outright, but they don’t like the way that either is portrayed in the Bible or the obedience that is required of them that is also part of God’s Word. These people want to pick and choose which verses in the Bible that they will believe.

are-you-a-reflectionIf you wish to do that, its fine with me, but…what about your eternity? You can choose to believe or not believe that there is a hell even though Jesus says that people will got there. God doesn’t lie, it is not in His nature. So when the Bible says that there is a place where people will be punished for not believing in Jesus and giving their lives to Him, I would take that as the Truth.

When you are the first-born son, genetics usually plays a role in which of your parent’s you look most like. Sometimes you will look like your Dad but have your Mother’s temperament or complexion. Sometimes genetics will skip a generation and you will look like your Dad but have some characteristics of your grandfather, like hair and eye color. God’s Son has His Character in that He can’t lie about anything and He is part of the Trinity so He has the same ability as God the Father, in all things.

Your life and mine, whether you are talking about this life or eternity, are in God’s Hands. He is in control but He allows us the freedom to choose our own fate. You can refuse to give your life to Him and follow Him in your daily life, but your eternity would be most unpleasant. Or you could give your heart to Him, learn everything there is to know about Him from His Word and live daily in His Presence and your eternity is assured to be in Heaven with other believers and with Jesus Himself.

God loves you enough to give you that choice because you can’t force someone to love you, no matter if you are the richest man in the world or if you are God! Love cannot be forced it can only be given freely. Seek out the One Who loves you and Who is Love, perfectly and completely, then you will know real freedom.

An experience


trinity2Worship in a church setting is an experience. In some churches it may be more of an experience than in others, but an experience nonetheless. Some churches are very laid back and, for lack of better words, they are bland and dull. Some are downright giddy with the worship of God and His Spirit. Then there are some who fall a bit in the middle. A little more alive than dull but not running around shouting “Praise God!!”

How we experience God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost (Spirit), regardless of the church we attend, should be a personal and intimate relationship. It doesn’t have to be shouting unintelligible babble-talk and it doesn’t have to be sitting there looking like you died last week but haven’t had the good grace to get yourself buried yet either!

Living daily with Jesus as your Savior is enough for me, yet there are times when I would like more. Then there are those days or nights where His Spirit fills me to the point that I weep because I can’t take anymore. The joy and the blessedness that I feel at those times are even more than when my son was born. I can’t describe it to you unless you have felt it too, then I know that you know what I am talking about.

Life with God in Three Persons is part of the experience when you believe in Him and ask Him to come into your life and change you. It isn’t about how much you shout and dance in church or if you sit quietly and meditate on His promises and His love for you. He is nearer to you than your skin because if you have given your life and heart to Him, then He lives within you and through you and to experience His Life, we need to live our daily lives knowing that and living that way!

For some people a “Holy Ghost church”, whether it is Pentecostal or Church of God, is just too much. When you have been raised in a church like a Methodist or Baptist one, it can be an experience to say the least. The point that I am making here is that when we are open and free to experience our life and His Life through us and inside us, it doesn’t matter what other people think. If you sit and soak in His Love, that is fine. If you can’t sit still and you have to get up and shout and dance, that’s fine too.

God loves you no matter which way that you choose to worship, as long as you don’t turn the worship experience into something which represents God but isn’t really Him or His Spirit. If your performance or speaking in tongues or shouting is not from Him but is emotionally bringing out your own personality just to bring attention to yourself, then you are acting like those Pharisees which Jesus condemned.

If it really is from the Spirit, it will be known and real, not just babbling incoherently. God knows the language of your Spirit and it is between you and Him. If you feel inclined to let it be known to others, then by all means do it. But make sure that it is not for your benefit only but for the whole congregation and their enjoyment of the moment and the worship itself.

Consumption


This word is what our entire economy is based upon these days. We do not produce anything which is exported to other countries, except for printing money. So, what is our country good for? Even the value of our money is suspect and dropping in the eyes of the world, so why do we live this way?

Mostly because of the culture that we live in today, but it started about fifty years ago and it has only gotten worse. When fast food became popular in the fifties, actually that was the start of “instant gratification”, so my estimate is off by about ten or more years. My point is this…when we got to the point of getting something fast or for free, things really started going downhill from there.

Our world was not designed by God to be based on consumption in this manner. We are supposed to produce our food, eat it and work to produce more. In today’s society, this has been replaced with our governments providing for us without even the need to work at all! The Bible says that “if you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat”, but we ignore that and go right along with all of the consumer driven economies and businesses that are available. The chart below shows that the number of structures (buildings) in each area have crossed over, so that now we have more retail structures than production facilities.

My ideas don’t really go along with our economy because we have more electronic consumer abilities today than we have ever had before. I use them as well, so I am not trying to get rid of it entirely. But, when I was growing up, my grandparents grew their own vegetables and we had a herd of cattle which we could choose to have at least one butchered each year for our own use. So our trips to the grocery store usually had to do with getting things which we did not grow or produce like coffee, flour, corn meal, cooking oil, and bacon (although we did have a few hogs which we could use at times too).

Our country and the people in it would be more healthy in every way if we went back to at least a partial agrarian economy where there were more local farmers who produced wholesome, organic foods. The problem is that we don’t have anyone to teach us how to do this anymore! Big farms and the regulations from the FDA have pushed small farms like this out of business.

We were meant to live this way, but we have allowed so much regulation and rules to interfere with our daily lives until the freedoms which our grandfathers and great grandfathers fought for don’t really exist like they once did. It is nobody’s fault but our own, so we can’t blame anyone but ourselves.

God’s Word says that we should live on and work the land that we have and eat the produce of it. Are we doing this? No, we are not and have not been for quite a while. We need to learn God’s way of living and working so that we can be more productive for Him and for us. His advice for this is in His Word, all we need to do and should do is to read it and learn from it.

 

How much more?


We are thankful and we were thankful yesterday, so how much more thankful will we be today? I have seen shoppers at stores who are waiting all night to get in when the door opens and some of them are pushing and shoving so they can be first in getting what they want and getting out of the store.

What happened between being thankful for God’s blessings and bounty and getting more stuff? How much more will we choose to get so we can be fashionable or in step with our neighbors? Do we really HAVE to have that new doodad that came out a few weeks ago? What about paying off your credit cards as a gift to yourself or your spouse? What about giving to your church or to the homeless shelter in town instead of spending over five hundred dollars on something that will be gathering dust in a couple of months? Does 4K resolution really matter that much when you are watching the Super Bowl in February? Does the price you pay for that resolution really bring you more satisfaction while watching any TV show?

All of these questions are the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves long before we wake up at three am in order to be close to the front of the line this morning! What really is more important to you and your family? That is an even better question. Have you considered your relationship to Jesus in all of this too? I am a pastor and these questions do go through my mind about myself and about those who attend my church. I pray for all of the people out there who are traveling today and for those who are working today because they need God’s protection and His blessing, whether they realize it or not.

During the holiday season, which seems to have gotten off to a running start yesterday afternoon. Yes, many stores opened early, around four or five yesterday, just to get people out of the house and into the stores shopping. I don’t think I will ever get out there and into the thick of the lines and the crowds. It’s just too much!

God needs your energy and your presence in His family too and if more people would spend even ten percent of their time and money for His work, out world would be so much better than it is now! How is that possible? Because ten percent of the billions spent on gifts during this weekend could go a LONG way toward helping the homeless, both Veterans and non-veterans alike! It would also go a long way toward helping the hungry in the world too.

God can use your blessings in any number of different ways, but if you spend all of your cash on “stuff” and not on helping others, then what are you really doing? You are showing others that “stuff” is more important to you than serving God. During the holidays it seems that many people do just that and it makes me wonder what is keeping them from helping the church? What is keeping them from coming to church when they can get up before sunrise to get to a store and be one of the first through the doors?

Something to ponder during this Christmas season when we are supposed to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus! He didn’t tell us to go and spend, Jesus said go and TELL others about Him!

When life gets too hard….


Kneel and pray to your Father in Heaven. Some might say that this is a cop-out or just a crutch that we Christians use to get through the tough times. It is NOT a cop out or a crutch but God does give us the strength from His Spirit for our struggles and our hard times. It doesn’t make them any easier nor does it make them go away, but His Strength and His Spirit give us a boost…a little more ooomph to get through those tough patches.

When the burdens of life get so frustrating and demoralizing that we just feel like it is too much to bear, that is when we should cry out to God and ask for His Wisdom and His Strength to carry us through. He will give those things to each of us to get through these times and these problems, no matter how big they may seem to us…He is BIGGER!

There is no problem too small or too great for God to help you with if you will give it to Him. Don’t take it back after an hour or two, let God have it and then you need to rest in His provision and grace that it will be taken care of, by Him and in His way and time. In the political climate that we have today, we can’t turn away from prayer. Because it is necessary!

I urge all of you, not to vote because I am sure you have likely done that already if possible, to pray and to do so earnestly for the remainder of the day today. Why? Because, our country needs God influence in this election. Many times we live and work without God’s influence or His wisdom leading us and guiding us and we are using our own wisdom in all of our life’s problems. Why is that bad? Because, God knows the outcome before we could possibly see it come to pass.

Is He in control? Yes! We may get the person that we want in office or we may not. The office of our President is not the One that will save our country or this world from chaos, only Jesus as our Lord and our King will do that. God is on His throne and He will decide who sits in the Oval office, whether we like it and the outcome or not.

Do you truly KNOW God?


I know that none of us have met Him in person. We won’t do that until we die and stand before Him. But, did you know that you could know God? Yes, we all can if we will seek Him out in the Bible.

I can almost hear people saying “I have read the Bible through many times and I am not going to claim that I know God!”. Why not? He reveals Himself in many ways, not just through His Word but by all of nature that you see around you every day. In the Old Testament God reveals Himself as a loving and patient God Who loves His Creation which includes you and me and all other people in this world.

Yes, there are parts of the Old Testament where God tells Israel as a group to slaughter all of those in the Promised Land where they are going to live. How does this show His love and compassion? Because, those that He told them to kill worshiped demons and idols and they sacrifice their children to their “gods”! God wants that influence taken out of the land that they are to live in because it will influence their children. This is why He tells us to teach our children from the Bible. We are to teach our children its wisdom so that they will know God and not be influenced to “try” some other religion.

Can you know God by reading His Word? I would say so. If you read some letters from your Dad or your grandfather who loved your mother or grandmother, even if you had never met them, you would know that they loved her and wanted to be with her! That is what many of the books in the Old Testament are like, they are like love letters to Israel and its people from God. They are also meant for us as Gentiles too. When Jesus referred to the Scriptures He was speaking of the Old Testament because that was all they had at the time.

The most important thing to remember about God’s Word is that it is True. The entire book from Genesis to Revelation, but especially the Old Testament. Why do I say it like this? Because, in the Old Testament, God was trying to get Israel to worship Him and Him only, not some piece of wood carved in the image of a cow or a snake, or even a man.

God caused all of the miracles which freed the nation of Israel from Egypt, and they still questioned Him. The still couldn’t or wouldn’t believe in Him, even with water from a rock, walking on dry ground through the sea, the supply of enough food for all of them during 40 years in the wilderness. Would it take all of that for us to believe in Him today?

Possibly. We are just as stiff-necked as they were and we don’t believe in Him today, at least much of the world doesn’t. Most of the population worships their ancestors or the stars or a moon-god, some even believe that when they die they will become a god. It isn’t hard to see that even with miracles for proof, many people today would still choose to not believe in Him. What a shame.

It takes a small amount of something called faith to believe in a God Who truly loves us. One Who cares for each of us, whether we know Him yet or not. He has used fishermen, murderers, thieves, and a shepherd boy to fulfill His work in times past. I think that He could use us too.

Separate but equal in His eyes


In the centuries since Jesus, our Savior, ascended to His Father, YHWH, and He sent the Holy Spirit to be with the early church so that they could get started. Why? Because there were many thousands of people in Jerusalem that day when Peter spoke and the only way that many would understand him was through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God Himself. Many people think that Peter was speaking in many languages that day and he may have been, but it wasn’t coming directly from his mouth that way. This is just my belief and you are welcome to disagree with me, but the Spirit was giving them utterances to be heard by all of the people and it was Spiritually done.

What I mean by that is that even if Peter was speaking in Aramaic, the Spirit was working through him so that all of those who did not speak Aramaic heard his words in their native tongue. So to be understood, to be heard by many people who needed salvation and so that they would believe in the power of God through the Holy Spirit. Do we, as Christians, still have that spirit with us today? In a sense, yes we do. Wherever it is needed and necessary, the Holy Spirit will make it evident to those around that God is alive and well and working through us to bring the knowledge of Jesus to them.

Are these spiritual gifts necessary for salvation? No, they are not. They are manifestations, proof of salvation and validation of ministry if and when it is necessary to spread the gospel to others. There is an article which shows some of the differences between churches and I am giving the link to it here, and although I believe that we are all serving the same God our ideas about Him are very different which is what has separated us all along.

There are many names given to God by mankind over the years and many of them can be found in this article which is a good reference for exactly Who He is because these names are all in God’s Word so there is no dissension. God loves each of us, not just a few and not just those whom He calls to Himself, but many people in the world today don’t look at Him that way or think of Him that way.

Some people treat God like a genie or a grandfather. He is our CREATOR! He is GOD! There are and always have been three persons in the Trinity of God. There is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and it is the spirit which we have when we open our hearts to become Christians. No amount of speaking in tongues which can’t be understood will make your salvation more real. God still heals people today, maybe not in the most dramatic way but He does it just the same. Is there prophecy today? Yes, in the Word of God and in those who are preachers of that Word and no other!

How can we turn away from God and His nature of being a Triune Godhead? At Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and lighted on Him, God spoke saying “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased”. You have the Trinity in that one place at the same time. David said that he needed the Spirit of God to give him strength, the Angel of the Lord has been identified as the pre-incarnate Christ and God the Father, our Creator, was present with Israel in numerous ways throughout their history and He is with us today!

The church shouldn’t be splintered and fractured, but it has been for hundreds of years and in the last one hundred years it has fractured even worse. Why? Because of the influence of Satan, in my opinion. He has infiltrated the church in the congregation and in the pulpit. Inserting his ideas and lies so that men will consider them to be their ideas and they sound just close enough to the truth until it becomes doctrine, yet it is not from God’s Word exactly…it just sounds like it. I pray that we will wake up and open our eyes spiritually before our Lord appears and many are left wondering what happened.

Are you satisfied..with God?


You know, it sounds like a very silly question doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about His satisfaction with us? Actually, it really is a give and take relationship…a two-way relationship between you and God! Why wouldn’t we be satisfied with Him? Maybe He didn’t answer your prayer the way you thought He should or maybe something happened to you or a family member and you prayed to Him about it and got no peace about it or no answer at all.

God is not a genie! He is the Creator of the entire universe from the largest galaxy to the smallest particles of matter! He doesn’t have to answer your prayers the way that you want Him to! Especially, if your ideas and your wants conflict with what He has waiting for you! God loves you more than you know, but you need to realize that He is in control and learn to be satisfied with Him!

Satisfaction with God is not something which is automatic because we are not satisfied with out own lives most of the time. Being satisfied with God is knowing that He has your best interests in mind and knowing that He can see the future of this action or this prayer and He is going to work in your life for the best outcome, no matter what! Granted, there are times when the best outcome may be to bring you home to Heaven rather than allowing you to suffer here on Earth. We may not have the ability to heal your problems, but God can.

Although, sometimes His way of healing happens to include your travel to Heaven to stay. The connection between believers and God has to do with your Spirit which changed you into a born-again, sanctified Christian is always in communication with God, even if you are not. The Spirit living inside you is part of the Trinity and it is that part which is always in touch with God, as long as you haven’t quenched the Spirit’s influence or grieved the Spirit in any way.

The question about those two things weighed on my heart for a long time until recently, so I will give you the definition that I received. Quenching the Spirit is concerning something that God wants us to do and we don’t do it, grieving the Spirit is when you do something that is against God’s command or purpose in your life, like drinking a beer or smoking a joint especially when someone else may see you do it. You have grieved God’s Spirit in your life and you have ruined your testimony in front of someone else who knows that you claim to be a Christian.

We are complicated beings made in God’s image with a physical body, an immortal soul and if you are a Christian you have the Holy Spirit residing inside you to teach you, comfort you, strengthen you and guide you through whatever life throws your way. In order to live that kind of life, you need to learn about Him and His ways so you can listen to His voice and recognize it as God. The only way to do this is by reading God’s Word so you will know what His voice, His Word sounds like. It will always involve a relationship to either Himself or Jesus and it will never seek to do something which is against a command in the Bible.

Learn His ways by reading His Word and praying about what you read. Go to a Bible teaching church, regardless of the denomination, so that you will hear from His Word and not just someone’s ideas about God. Being satisfied with God and His provision for your life is something which we all need to do, even though it isn’t easy sometimes. It is a learning process just as being a Christian is. Yes, you can become a Christian by giving your heart to Jesus, but you have to learn to walk with Him on a daily basis and learn from Him and the Word so that you can be an effective witness to others.

When you give your heart to Him and truly ask Him to forgive you and make you His, you are a babe in Christ and just like babies we all have to grow and learn. Being a Christian is not automatic and it isn’t the easiest job to learn either, but it is well worth it! Satisfaction with Him will come as you learn more about Him and mature in your faith. Put your trust…your faith in Him like you see children trusting their parents or like your dog trusts you and you will learn quickly that it is the best relationship that you have ever had!