Posts Tagged ‘faith’

What “sells”

August 25th, 2009 Comments off

“Another Jesus…a different spirit…a different gospel.” – 2 Corinthians 11:4

It’s quite easy to teach/preach what people want to hear.  Think about these statements: “You only need to be a good person to be saved”,  “God is a loving God and he doesn’t allow good people to go to hell,” or how about: “Everyone will go to heaven.”  If any of those statements sound great to you, then clear them out of your head right now, because ALL three of those statements are FALSE.  Salvation comes by grace, through FAITH (Ephesians 2:8).  Being good just doesn’t cut it because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Therefore, pretty much everyone will go to hell and not heaven.  I’m not making this stuff up, this is the absolute TRUTH, BUT the silver lining – that glimmer of hope – comes from THE most well known verse of the Holy Bible: 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.”  That verse says it plainly, you MUST place your FAITH in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to have eternal life in Heaven.   And when it says God gave his Son, that means he sacrificed his Son (his ONLY one) on the cross to pay the penalty we all deserve (hell), but God loves the world too much…to see everyone perish.  That right there is the gospel, and if any part of that struck you it is time for you to place your faith in Jesus Christ.  I’m pretty sure I know most of you who read these little blogs, and I urge you to talk to me if any of this struck a chord in your heart.

There may be many other teachings that you may have heard but isn’t the truth.  So how do we know what is true and what is not true?  It begins with us reading the Holy Bible, which I view as God’s direct Word to us.  If you want to know God and what He has to offer you, the best place to start is reading His Word for yourself, not listen to preachers all day and tell your what his Word means.  Which would you rather trust to be more accurate, an autobiography, or a biography written by someone else?  The Holy Bible IS God’s autobiography, because it gives us a very clear picture of who God is and what He desires.  This isn’t just a book of history, it is His story.  It is inerrant, and the prophesies explained in the Bible actually did come true.  There is one prophesy that has not been fulfilled and that is Jesus Christ’s return to this earth, and that is not a time that you want to be on the wrong side.  I’m not trying to scare you, but the end times aren’t going to be pretty…  We (Christians) don’t know when that time is and it could very well happen tomorrow…  Make sure you ARE on the right side…

I deviated a lot from today’s devotional, but I really felt that I should proclaim the gospel in today’s post and most of my posts from now on for that matter because there’s always a sense of urgency since we do not know when the end times are coming.  I guess today’s devotion made sure that I will continue to hold His Word close to my heart so that I may guard myself against false teachings as well as not be a false teacher myself.  The Word has a way of producing a Christ-like character in me that others will be drawn to!  So let’s take Apostle Paul’s advice when he warns us against anyone who preaches “another Jesus…a different spirit…or a different gospel.”

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When your faith feels shaky (Part 1 and 2)

August 19th, 2009 Comments off

“If you…believe in your heart…you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9
“Reach out…stop doubting and believe.” – John 20-25-27

Have you ever questioned your faith?  Maybe you don’t feel like your faith is strong enough or maybe you wonder why God doesn’t talk to you or answer your prayers.  Doubt is something all Christians will face at one point or another.  Sometimes we can see God in a tangible way, and sometimes we can’t, but seeing God in tangible ways doesn’t save us, it is still faith…  Let’s say you happened to be dying of cancer, and prayer warriors prayed for complete healing, and God answers their prayer.  You’ve just received God’s love in a tangible way and while you are not saved because of healing, it causes you to believe in a greater power, because you begin to realize how BIG He really is. 

In fact, let’s think about the Israelites for a moment.  God rescued them and delivered them out of slavery in Egypt, parted the Red Sea (that would have been some sight to see), gave them just enough manna each day in the desert, delivered their enemies into their hands, won battles that seemed impossible, and so many more miracles!  But most importantly, they knew when God was with them because His presence came in a form of a cloud that rested over the tabernacle and fire as well, so He WAS somewhat visible in a tangible way…  Even after God practically did miracle after miracle, and His presence was among His chosen people…many didn’t truly believe that He was really God.  They turned their backs on Him multiple times, and it’s no wonder God became angry at them and punished them so many times….because of their unbelief.  I mean think about it, they just witnessed the Red Sea split into two…and right after they began to complain and said they would rather be slaves than out in the desert… 

Another example would be the disciple Thomas, who wouldn’t believe that Jesus had risen unless He saw Jesus for himself with his own eyes… (Thus nick-named “doubting Thomas”).  Just like the Israelites saw God perform all those miracles, and Thomas had seen Jesus throughout His entire ministry (many miracles), he still didn’t quite believe Jesus rose from the dead (like Jesus said He would), and wanted to see Him with his own eyes…  He doubted his faith

So even IF God chooses to heal cancer, or reveal Himself in any other forms of miracles, it won’t necessarily cause us to believe in Him (but it certainly does help).  And sometimes we are like doubting Thomas, where we won’t believe unless we see it for ourselves.  That’s why faith is sooooooo important, because if we wait for miracles to happen in our lives, or want to see it with our own eyes, faith will never be built up.  In fact why should we even question God’s will… He thinks on such a BIGGER picture, and we think we can really know what God’s will is?!?!  The bottom line is, that you only need to have faith in one person and that is God.  If you truly believe Jesus is your savior, and that He died for your sins and rose again, know for SURE that you are saved.  So stop doubting and believe!

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When you feel anxious (Part 2 and 3)

August 14th, 2009 Comments off

Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything”

As we looked at anxiety two days ago, these next two devotionals focused yet again on anxiety.  Tomorrow’s devotion is also on anxiety.  I think they spend so much time on anxiety for good reason, because it has such an enormous impact on many of our lives, and simply put, we can live a better life without anxiety.  That is much easier said than done, but the fact is we must choose to have anxiety, or to have faith. 

All situations can be viewed two ways, we can or we cannot.  Sometimes we feel we cannot because we don’t have faith that we can, or more importantly – God can!  Here’s what the Bible says: “The righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).  That tells us that courage has a lot to do with facing anxiety.  Courage doesn’t eliminate anxiety, it rises above it!  I took a quote from the “Do Hard Things” book I read recently and it was: “True courage is not the absence of fear.  It is refusing to allow fear to control your actions.”  It has been on my AOL Instant Messenger profile since I read it, and the reason why I was so drawn to that quote is because sometimes we believe that courage wipes out all fear and anxiety, but the truth is, courage actually only overshadows them.  Fear and anxiety that we cannot do it are still there, but they seem insignificant compared to our courage.

So if we take up courage and not let our actions be controlled by fear, we won’t ever retreat to this “safe zone” that we always go to when we fee anxiety and fear, but we take steps forward and begin to “Do Hard Things” (Shameless plug…).  Sometimes all you can do is leave it in the capable and loving hands of God!

Anxiety also affects our health.  John writes: “I pray that…you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2 NAS).  It’s interesting how there is a correlation to what John said about our physical and soul.  Studies even show that when you are anxious, you immune system drops, blood pressure rises, and cholesterol levels begin to build up and block arteries.  No wonder we are most vulnerable when we are super stress because of work, school, etc.  I can pin point exact moments when I became ill, and they were always times of high stress because of school.  Thankfully, my job has not stressed me out and I’ve been prospering in good health the past year.  I can credit not stressing over anything for my good health!

Are you anxious about your health?  Here are four verses that will guide you

  1. “Worship the Lord your God and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you…I will give you a full life span” (Exodus 23:25-26 NIV)
  2. “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 30:17 NIV)
  3. “Listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body” (Proverbs 4:20-22 NIV)
  4. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24 NIV)

There is no reason to be anxious about anything.  There is no reason to stress over situations in your life.  There is no reason to fear.  The bottom line is God can, and “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27)

BTW – This is really only for my personal gain and God’s glory:  Henry, I know you are out there!  Be ready to be touched by the finger of God!  He wants to show you how much He loves you and there is nothing he wouldn’t do for His child. :wink:

Don’t keep your love in a box!

August 7th, 2009 Comments off

Mark 14:3 – “She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.”

Imagine…someone who went out of his or her way to do something for you that you can never repay them back.  How would you feel?  Would you try to repay them in some way or another, even though you know anything you do will never be equal the thing that that person did for you?  That is, in fact, what Jesus did for Mary (the sister of Martha and Lazarus).  We know in Luke 10:38-42 that Mary was captivated by Jesus’ teaching and cared deeply for him.  But the thing that Jesus did for both Mary and Martha was He rose their brother from the back from the dead!  How awesome that must have been especially for Mary who loved Jesus and her brother, because that is certainly something we do not have the power to do by our own strength.  How could she repay Jesus, or show Him her appreciation and love?  It was through her deep devotion that led her to take expensive perfume and anoint Jesus with it.  It was pretty much all that she could do! (Mark 14:8)

Jesus did something even greater than raising Lazarus for you and me.  He took the punishment for OUR sins on the cross, and there made atonement between us and God.  He tore down the curtain separating us and God, and now, we get to worship God freely, because we are made righteous in His eyes through the blood of the perfect Lamb, Jesus Christ.  Not only that, we receive the gift of salvation if we believe in what Jesus did, acknowledge how sinful we were, and place your faith in God.  If you don’t understand what that means, I think it is time that you understand that God loves you so much that “he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  He did all this for you and me.  What can we do to repay him?  How can we repay him?  Simple (even though it is quite hard…) – we must follow Jesus’ greatest two commandments that he gave us in Matthew 22:37-39 ” ‘Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”  It is quite interesting how we can repay God for what he has done for us out of his great love for us, by loving him and others…

Actually, I feel I’m using the wrong word here, the word repay…  repay means something we do out of obligation…  We have to repay back all the money we took out from a loan from a bank, or repay damages done from our own accidents, or repay borrowed money from a friend.  Those are all obligations that we don’t do out of love, but a sense of guilt almost, because we are indebted to them.  If you understand that we don’t NEED to repay God back for what he has done for us, then you understand grace, something we’ve been given but do not deserve! (Not to be confused with mercy – NOT getting what we DO deserve…punishment for our sins.)  Once you understand grace, you’ll have this sense of love within you and devotion like Mary had when she poured out perfume on the Jesus.  Our actions are a result from devotion, and NOT obligation, and that is the type of love Jesus commands us to love our God and our neighbors with!  It’s the type of love that builds a deeper and stronger relationship with God and others.  It is the type of love that causes conviction and change in people’s hearts.  It is the type of love that cannot die… so don’t keep THAT type of love in a box!

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When it comes to giant-problems

August 6th, 2009 Comments off

1 Samuel 17:4 – “A champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath.”

When we face giant-problems they can intimidate us and cause us to doubt, but there is hope, and God will give us an “opening” to overcome our giants.

When we are intimidated, we need to remember the victories that God accomplished like the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of Jericho, and the defeat of Goliath.  If God helped His people with matters like those, can’t our BIG God help us through the giants we face today?!

We doubt because the words we hear about giant-problems are discouraging, disheartening, and destructive to our faith in God.  It’s times like these that we do not dwell on those words, but turn to God’s word, which has account after account of times God did great things in situations probably bigger than the problems we face today.  Isaiah 40:8 says: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”  God’s word is endless!

Lastly, God always provides an opening to overcome our giant-problems.  The interesting thing is that these openings that God provide can be so small, that it seems like it can’t be done.  For the story of David and Goliath, Goliath could throw a spear half the length of a football field and wore armor that protected him from head to toe, except for one small opening between his eyes and forehead…and that is where David hit him with a rock!

Sometimes we may be so blinded by our intimidation and doubt that we don’t see that small opening that God has provided, but when we remember our God is a BIG God and can do BIG things, and start to draw and hold close His word in our Hearts we will see that small opening.  And if we are discouraged on how small the opening is, GOOD!, because you need to realize that you will only overcome giant-problems by the strength of God alone!  God will use those times to build your confidence in Him so you don’t rely on your own strength.

If you really think about it, if God allows you or I to overcome giant-problems by our own strength, we will say to ourselves: “I overcame that!  I persevered and endured and become victorious! I can face anything now!  What happens when you face a problem that you cannot overcome by your own strength…  Notice the contrast when we begin to rely on God’s strength: “It was TOTALLY GOD who helped me overcome that!  GOD gave me the strength to persevere and endure, and become victorious!  I KNOW GOD will help me through anything that comes my way!  Yes, the glory belongs to God when we overcome situations, so praise Him…always…

So what are your giant-problems today?  Maybe you do feel intimidated, doubtful, and discouraged…  Maybe it’s time for you to start relying on God.