Time for an spiritual EKG?

Have you ever wondered after seeing Jesus perform so many miracles in front of their eyes and giving them the ability to do the same, the disciples could  still doubt His ability to do more? In the book of Mark we see Jesus sending out the twelve men in pairs after giving them power over unclean spirits. They were told to take nothing for their journey, as God would provide. They obeyed and did as He commanded. Mark 6:12,13 NKJV12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them. They saw multiple people saved, delivered and healed before their very eyes. They were witnessing first hand the miraculous power of the Spirit of God!

Yet as we continue in the same chapter when faced with the need for another miracle, they seem to have forgotten that with God all things are possible! Mark 6:31-44 NKJV31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him.34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.  

So soon after witnessing miracles with their own eyes, they forgot that Jesus was more than capable of a task such as feeding a huge crowd. As we continue through the chapter we see their belief in His supernatural ability tested yet again.

Mark 6:45-51 NKJV 45 Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. 46 And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. 47 Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. 48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. 49 And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.

Jesus gave them yet another opportunity to witness His power!

So how is it that after witnessing people being saved, delivered and healed before their very eyes that they didn’t consider His power to multiply food to feed the crowd or walk on water?  Mark 6:52 gives us our answer.52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.   Wow! That is the explanation in a nutshell. Before we get too critical of the Apostles we must take a good look at our own hearts. How many times have we seen God answer prayer, move mountains, save, deliver and heal others and yet find ourselves in a place where we doubt His ability? We too forget that He is the King of King and Lord of Lords, He is our Healer, Deliverer, Savior, Counselor, Friend and more than capable of handling any situation we may find ourselves in! We have only to put our trust in Him to come through. Without faith it is impossible to please Him and therefore we MUST believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him!

Lord please forgive us for having a hard heart. Forgive us for not believing that with You all things are possible, as Your Word tells us! Forgive us for doubting Your love for us and Your ability to work all things out for good in our lives. Give us a tender, trusting heart that relies solely on You for the impossible in our lives. Help us step out if faith and believe that You are who Your Word says You are! We ask this in your beautiful name,

Amen

 

 

Don’t neglect to replenish!

Our bodies and our spirits are both created with a need for replenishing. In order to function properly physically we must find time to feed ourselves and also find time to rest from activity. In order to function properly spiritually we must find time to feed our spirits and also find time to rest from activity. Both are essential. As the body needs food so the spirit needs spiritual food, the Word of God. Jeremiah 15:16 NIV   16 When your words came, I ate them;  they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.

Matthew 4:4 NIVJesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

 It is an essential ingredient in our walk with Christ if we want to remain sound. It is through the Word that we are able to receive God’s message of love, mercy, grace reproof  and encouragement. It must be a mainstay in our spiritual diet if we want to walk in peace and joy. It doesn’t do us good to gorge on the Word one day and then neglect it for weeks. It must be a daily meal.  When we neglect to feed our spirits with the Word of God, it doesn’t take long before we are basing our joy and peace on the temporal. This leaves us vulnerable to living on an emotional roller coaster and virtually makes us unfit for service.

If we are living based on our emotions we will not be able to carry out the things God has called us to do. Instead we will always be waiting for a better time to do things. A time when we feel happier, more generous, kinder, more giving etc. As followers of Christ we are not called to live by our emotions but to live by the truth of the Word of God. A truth that never changes, unlike our emotions. Can you imagine Apostle Paul dealing with shipwrecks, beatings and all the persecutions he suffered for Christ if he lived by his emotions? I think we can safely say he would never have reached the world with the gospel the way he did!

Just as we need to replenish our spirits with a daily meal of the Word of God, we also need to know when to rest. By rest, I don’t mean avoid doing anything but instead rest in the presence of Christ. Rest in His arms as we lean into Him with our prayer requests. We can turn to Him and lay before Him all our needs, the needs of others and whatever burdens we may be carrying. We can lay them at His feet and rest knowing He is more than capable of taking care of them all!

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

1Peter 5:6,7 NIV Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Phillipians 4:6,7 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, defeated, discouraged or far from God, we need to replenish our spirit with both the Word of God and time resting in His presence. Neglecting both will cause us to stumble very quickly. Both must be part of our daily routine. If you are not in the habit of reading the Word, start today. Pick a time to spend at least 10 minutes reading your Bible. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to receive the Word into your spirit. Ask Him to help you hide His Word in your heart! The same with spending time in prayer. I have found Monday to Friday, I can spend wonderful time in prayer in my car as I drive into work in the morning. It’s quiet and I don’t have any interruptions. I don’t recommend closing your eyes however! :)  Just make sure that you do  find some time every day  in the presence of God. Once you get into the habit of doing both daily, you will begin to find yourself growing spiritually and will not become easily depleted! You will have the energy to carry out whatever service Christ has called you to do!

Father God, I pray that You will give me the discipline and desire to both spend time in Your Word and in Your presence daily. Forgive my neglecting both Lord. Keep me close to You and keep my spirit sensitive to Your Holy Spirit so that I may accomplish great things for Your Kingdom in my daily walk.

I ask it all in the precious name of Jesus Christ,

Amen

 

Our beautiful compassionate King!

In our world we see people doing all kinds of evil things in the name of their religion. On a daily basis we hear of people being beheaded, persecuted and murdered by all kinds of vile methods for not converting to radical Islam. People trying to force another by violence to adhere to their twisted ideology. Amid all of this, I am so grateful that we who are followers of Jesus Christ serve a Savior and Lord that does not require that we use violence to draw people to Him. He requires love! How awesome is He! He tells us to let our light shine, He tells us to let the world see His love for them through us! He tells us that when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick and give water to the thirsty we are doing it to Him!  Matthew 25:31-40 NIV 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

In the book of Mark we see our beautiful Lord and King healing the leper after being moved with compassion. Mark 1:39-42 NKJV 39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 4Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

Jesus, the Son of God, the Holy One, the King of Kings was moved with compassion! What a beautiful picture of our Jesus! A King who feels for the cast offs of society and is moved to save, heal and deliver them! A King who does not see class distinction. A King who does not wish any should spiritually perish! A King that is moved with compassion!

Today let the reality of the character of Jesus sink into your heart. Ask Him to give you a heart of compassion for those who are lost, sick and bound. Ask Him to guide you in reaching out and sharing the good news with those who so desperately need to hear it! Let His love and compassion shine through you this Christmas season!

There is a cost!

 

In my personal bible reading, I have once again worked my way through the Old Testament and am currently in the book of Matthew. Instead of reading through each chapter in my usual full speed ahead mode, this time I am savoring  my time reading and sometimes rereading several times, the words and actions of Jesus. There are just so many details I have missed in the past. This time through, I am going to take my time and enjoy learning the details of the ONE who died for me.

This morning I was dwelling on some verses in Matthew 16.  Verses 24 to 27 are powerful, serious words! 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done.  I have heard these verses throughout my Christian life so many times yet the weight of the message has never hit me harder than it did today. This is a message  for the double minded. It is a message for the fence sitters. It is a message for the luke warm Sunday Christians. It is a message those who are trying to get their life worked out before they get serious about their commitment to Christ.  This is a message for every person who claims to be a Christian. As a Christian we are to be a  follower of Christ. To follow Him we must walk in His footsteps on the path that He leads us. We must be willing to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. Denying ourselves is not easy but it is required. Taking up our cross is living a life of sacrifice but it is required. Losing our life and self interests for those of the Kingdom of God is not natural in the flesh, but is required.

Some  have the idea that those who willingly give up the comfort and ease of a selfish life to serve God with abandon are the “super spiritual” people. A little too radical. A little too zealous. However, this is what Jesus requires of all His followers.  He requires we live a life of obedience and service to Him, our High Priest! This will require sacrifice of all types. This will require doing things we don’t always like to do. This will require pouring ourselves out to others, even when we don’t feel like it. We serve a radical Savior. Nothing He did or commands comes natural to us. It is by His Spirit we are able to accomplish all that He has for us to do. John 16:12-15 NIV 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that He will receive what He will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what He will make known to you.”

Christ  didn’t just call us to Himself and than leave us with the difficult task of trying to figure out how we are to follow Him, He has equipped us! With the Holy Spirit living within us and the Word of God to guide us we are able to fulfill His purposes if we are willing. But in order to do so we must be willing to deny ourselves our own ambitions and take up our cross and follow Him, walking each day with the Holy Spirit guiding and teaching us how and where to serve. He may lead us into some dark places where He wants us to show the light and love of Himself to others. He may lead us to some very uncomfortable situations where we are to be His hands and feet. North American Christians have been blessed with inordinate amounts of freedom in following Christ.  Denying  ourselves is a difficult task because we are not used to denying ourselves much of anything when we have been blessed with so much. When it comes to taking up our cross, it is a decision that seldom results in our death. There are brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the globe that understand the high cost of both denying themselves and taking up their cross as they are living in countries where they may not only face persecution but death to do so. Many are  martyred on a daily basis because they are willing to deny themselves and take up their cross! They understand the cost of being a disciple. For those of us in North America, things are changing. There is a rising rebellion and bitterness towards the church.  One day we too may be called to give our lives for Christ. If so, we must do so willingly, knowing one day He will reward us for what we have suffered and done for His Kingdom.

If we have made the decision to follow Christ, follow is what we must do. My prayer is that each one of us will lay aside those things that are holding us back and willingly say, “Lord I am ready to follow you completely! I am ready to deny myself, my selfish ambitions and comfort and am willing to take up my cross and follow you wherever You will lead me!” This is the heart cry of a disciple, this is to be the heart cry of every one of us who has made Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessings!

“He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian’ without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.”~Francis Chan

 

 

Say NO to fear and dread!

When we follow Christ we can be assured that NOTHING that happens in our life happens in vain but instead we can be certain that God will use it for our good and His glory! That is an amazing and freeing bit of knowledge to be armed with. We are called for a purpose and the things He allows to touch our lives have purpose! Often these experiences are the  training ground for Christ working out His character in our lives. We need NOT fear anything. We have been bought with the blood of Christ into His family and He will never leave us or forsake us, regardless of how we may feel or think at times. It is a promise from the Word of God and it doesn’t lie! Hebrews 13:5 NIV Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

We can look around at this world we live in and see miles and miles of hot mess! Evil abounds! Men murdering men, women and children in the name of their god. Selfishness, corruption, hatred, every type of sin imaginable just about everywhere you look. Though this saddens us and should motivate us to pray and  do what we can to help, it should not and must not discourage us! God warned us. The Old and New Testament are full of prophetic words about the very days we are living in. He isn’t surprised and neither should we be.  We must use these days as opportunities to draw nearer to the lover of our soul, Jesus! We must use these days to let our lights shine by living a life pleasing to God, a life of service, a life of reaching out and helping others, a life of being bold in who Christ is and what He offers each and every person alive if they are willing to choose Him!

We can trust Him in these days! We can trust Him regardless of what circumstance we may be walking through or facing. He loves us with an everlasting love! He will never leave us or forsake us! He extends His arms to us and at times will carry us through dark days. Trust Him and allow Him to minister life to you as you lean into Him. Do not be afraid of tomorrow, but instead know that when you awake, His love is no less for you than it is today!  Proverbs 3:25-26 NIV 25 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,26 for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.  If there ever was a word for today this is it!  Have NO fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked! Why not, because the LORD will be at your side and keep your foot from being snared! That’s a promise!

It’s time to set aside fear, dread and any other emotion that may be holding you bound! Begin to trust in the God of the universe, the God that formed you in your mother’s womb, the God that called you and has a purpose for your life! You can put BIG trust in our BIG GOD!

Father, help us to put aside all fear and dread, knowing these are not from you for You have said in Your Word that You have not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind! Increase our faith and trust in You so that we may trust You in all things, knowing You loved us enough to send Jesus to save us. That’s incredible love! Increase our love for the lost and give us a boldness to share the good news of Jesus with all those that need to hear! Give us a heart to help the broken and needy. Let us use every opportunity in these dark days to bring His light to our world.  We ask it all in the precious and beautiful name of Jesus, our Lord and King.  Amen

How’s your fruit?

As followers of Christ we are called to bear fruit. The fruit we bear is a direct result of being firmly attached to the vine, thereby able to receive nourishment. In our walk with Christ, if we wish to produce good fruit we must stay firmly attached to Jesus, our true vine and continue to receive the nourishment of the Holy Spirit. Both are necessary for us to produce fruit that is pleasing to God.  Acts 2:38,39 NIV “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Without the Spirit of God within us we are unable to produce fruit that will please our Father.  Regardless of what good works we do, they will be done in the flesh and will have no spiritual benefit whatsoever. However, when the Spirit of God lives within us we have the ability to produce fruit that will have long lasting spiritual affects! He has equipped us to produce good fruit that will draw others to Him and enable us to fulfill the purposes He has for our lives.  Galatians 5:16-26 NIV 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Jesus told us that we will be known by our fruit. Matthew 12:33-37 NIV 33 Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 3A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

The good fruit we produce is a direct result of being led by the Spirit of God and not by good deeds done in the flesh. Our flesh is incapable of doing anything that will please God. Our flesh, no matter how well intended it may be, will never be able to please God. It is only those things done as we abide in Christ and are led by the Spirit that please God as we see in the book of John.  John 15:1-17 NIV 15 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

In order to produce good fruit for the Kingdom of God we MUST remain close to the true vine (Jesus) and the gardener (God the Father). This can only be done by spending time with them in prayer, after all  how is it possible to maintain a close relationship with someone when you refuse to spend time with them? It is also vital that we spend time in the Word of God. Our Bible is God’s Word to us! It is God breathed and essential for our growth as we see in 2 Timothy 3:14-17 NIV 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Just as any fruit that has been cut off the vine will eventually wither, so will we wither spiritually when we are apart our true vine, Jesus!  Without our attachment to the vine, our fruit will not only wither but eventually rot! Jesus warned us of the importance of producing good fruit. One day each of us will have to give an account for the fruit that we did or didn’t bear. It is a stern warning that each of us should take very seriously!

Matthew 7:16-23 NIV 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

If you find yourself drifting from your intimacy with Christ, our true vine, ask Him to forgive you and get back into spending time with Him in prayer and in studying His Word. He longs for you to spend  time with Him. He longs for you to produce good fruit for the Kingdom! He has called you and equipped you to do just that! Don’t allow anything or anyone to sever your branch from the vine!

Blessings!

There are periods that we forget that in the pursuit of fruit, that if we just abide in Him, then fruitfulness is a guarantee.~Francis Chan

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