Knowing Jesus Completely

Everything you need to know about Jesus is found in these 13  video messages.  Click on #001 to start your journey or click on the video message that’s speaking to your heart.  Each message is only a few minutes long.

#001 Trusting Jesus

When you put your faith and trust in Jesus, you are granted access to the spirit of God.

#002 Connecting with Jesus

When we develop a relationship with Jesus, we become children of God.

#003 Following Jesus

Those who have connected with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ will win.

#004 Jesus and the Bible

Everything we know about Jesus is found in the pages of the Bible.

#005 Jesus and Salvation

Salvation is a gift from God that allows us to retrieve our ability to live forever.

#006 Jesus and the Holy Spirit

Knowing Jesus is a connection to the Spirit of God known as the Holy Spirit.

#007 Growing with Jesus

Trusting Jesus as your Lord and Savior is like planting a seed from which your Christian life will grow.

#008 Pulling Weeds with Jesus

God has determined that mingling good and evil will be to our overall advantage.

#009 Jesus and the Devil

Those who are followers of Jesus are protected from the devil by the spirit of God.

#010 Jesus and Fellowship

Christian fellowship includes a shared inheritance in the kingdom of heaven and it begins with Jesus.

#011 Jesus and the Body of Christ

As a follower of Jesus, you become an important part of God’s complex creation – you are part of the body of Christ.

#012 Jesus and Religion

True religion – or true worship of God – is played out in service to others.

#013 Finding Jesus

Becoming a follower of Jesus is not an intellectual experience – it is a spiritual experience.

Jesus Points the Way

 

Christians and unbelievers alike are both seeking contentment.  We are all trying to find a peaceful existence that is fulfilling, meaningful, and void of discouragement, loneliness, and fear.  Jesus came to earth to help us achieve this goal.  Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is where we want to be in order to find the ultimate contentment that we all seek.  So how do we get there?  In a recent Bible study, I came across seven truths that will help us all focus on our journey.  When we pay attention to these guiding principles, we can be certain we are moving in the right direction, and we can share this advice with others who are also seeking the kingdom of God.

We Have to Start as Infants

Anyone who has cared for a newly-born baby knows all too well that they are totally dependent on their caregiver.  Babies trust their caregiver for food, clothing, and a safe place to live.  This dependency carries on for many years for most children.  Jesus wants us to know that the first step toward finding the kingdom of God is to let go of our self-control and willingly accept a total dependence on our Father in heaven.  “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”  (Luke 18:17)  When we truly trust God for all of our needs and desires, we are moving in the right direction.

Become one with God

We demonstrate our trust for God by placing our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as payment for our misdeeds and a guaranteed reward of eternal life.  Our salvation through Jesus establishes our status as children of God.  “The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me.”  (John 17:22-23)  Our salvation is a grand demonstration of God’s love and His desire for us to be one with Him.

Don’t Let the Influences of this World Control You

As a follower of Jesus, we need to separate ourselves from the darkness of this world.  When we study the teachings of Jesus, we are transformed into a new understanding of what it means to love God and love our neighbor.  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2)  Seeking God’s perfection in our interactions with others is our ultimate goal; and if we stay focused on our relationship with Jesus, we will reach this goal when he returns to destroy evil forever.

Use Your Connection with this World to Help Others

Until Jesus returns, we have to continue to exist in a world that is often hostile toward followers of Jesus.  This is by design.  We are to be a light pointing the way for others to find Jesus and pursue their journey toward the kingdom of God.  Our mission is to present our spiritual self to the world in a way that is compelling and not judgmental.  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”  (Matthew 5:6)  When we continue to seek the righteousness of God, we will be supported in that effort by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and thereby able to help others along the way.

Be the Eyes, Hands, and Feet of God

Following in the footsteps of Jesus is our daily calling.  We need to see the world as Jesus sees it.  We need to reach out to others as Jesus did during His ministry here on earth.   And we need to take action to help anyone that we have the ability to help.  When we follow this prescription, we are on the right road.   “By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says that he remains in Him ought, himself also, walk just as He walked.”  (1 John 2:5-6)  Our desire to be more like Jesus every day is the energy that will carry us into the kingdom of God.

Embrace Your New Self

Knowing God brings peace.  Letting go of worldly expectations that only bring anxiety, fear, and discouragement, in order to pursue a relationship with Jesus, is the key to our total transformation into the kingdom of God.  “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 5:1)  God sent His Son to earth as a guide for us to follow.  This is a very simple process.  The Word of God paints a clear picture and a detailed road map into the kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God is Closer than you might Imagine

As a follower of Jesus, you are a member of the kingdom of God waiting for king Jesus to return and establish his kingdom here on earth.  Until that glorious day, don’t allow the enemy to disrupt your progress.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and stay in contact with your Father in heaven through constant prayer.   “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”  (Luke 17:20-21)  Jesus is pointing the way.  Keep moving in that direction and you will be there sooner than you think.

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Moving Toward God’s Perfection

 

Moving toward God’s Perfection

Our Weakness and Need

When we placed our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we became travelers on the road toward God’s perfection.  Only through the power of the Holy Spirit are we able to even consider such a lofty destination; however, with God’s help every day can bring us one step closer.  Of course, we will never attain perfection in this life.  Perfection will be our state of being in our new life with Jesus, but this life is how we get there.  Everything about this life is designed to bring us closer to God’s perfection.

Our Desire

We all want to be more like Jesus and the apostle Paul gives us this clear guidance in the book of Philippians, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”  (Philippians 2:3-4)  This seemingly simple advice can be more difficult to follow than it sounds.

Our Opponent

We have an enemy in this world pushing us off in the wrong direction. Everything about this world is designed to distract us from our pursuit of God’s perfection.  Our enemy believes if he can make our journey difficult or confusing, we will become frustrated and turn back.  For most of us, life is a series of ups and downs.  One day we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus and the next we are distracted by the enemy’s manipulation.  Keep in mind, learning to avoid the enemy’s distractions is our primary mission.  The enemy is a tool that God is using to help us grow to perfection.  Without struggle, there would be no growth.

Our Plan

When we stay connected to the instruction found in the Bible, we can be certain God is with us and we will eventually find our way to perfection.  We find this in the book of James, “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  (James 1:2-4)

Our Battle

Every day we have choices to make in pursuit of the fruits of the Spirit.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the goals we seek in our quest for perfection (Galatians 5:22-23).   Every day there are road blocks that we need to overcome to make our joy complete, demonstrate our sincere love for others, and move all the other fruits of the Spirit closer to God’s perfection.

Finding Ourselves

We are not traveling this road on our own – far from it.  As a child of God, we are not part of this world.  We are one with each other and one with God.  Jesus made this clear statement in the book of John when speaking to His Father in heaven, “The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me.”  (John 17:22-23)  We are “perfected in unity” with our Christian brothers and sisters and with God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Our New Life in Jesus 

Every challenge in our lives is designed to move us closer to God’s perfection.  We each have different weaknesses that we need to work through and God has a personalized plan for all those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ.  In Colossians chapter three we find this encouragement:  “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so must you do also. In addition to all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ, to which you were indeed called in one body, rule in your hearts; and be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:12-15)  Achieving God’s perfection is not easy, but as followers of Jesus Christ we are given all the tools necessary to reach this awesome goal.  When we follow the teachings of Jesus and make every effort to respond in all circumstances with love, we can be certain of our final destination.

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Standing on the Rock of Jesus

 

 

 

Standing on the Rock of Jesus

Are you trusting God or money?

How much money do you need to have in the bank to feel safe and secure?   I think we all have a natural tendency to feel better when our bank account is full; but as Christians, our safety and security should come from God.  Rather than a life focused on monetary gain, Christians should live a life focused on spiritual gain.  Of course, we all need money to survive in this world; however, the ultimate supplier of that income is God.  When our lives are dedicated to money rather than God, we are following a path to destruction rather than a path to prosperity.  Keep in mind, it’s possible to have billions of dollars in the bank and still be spiritually empty.

How to feel safe and secure with an empty bank account.

When we place our trust in God, we can feel safe and secure regardless of how much money we have in the bank.  When we rest in the knowledge that God will provide, we can stop worrying about financial gain and spend our time seeking spiritual gain.  We generate our spiritual gain by following the teachings of Jesus.  There isn’t any place in the Bible that Jesus instructs us to get a high paying job and build up a large bank account.  Generating wealth is not part of the teachings of Jesus.

The financial needs of this world.

Even when we trust Jesus and find safety and security in knowing God, we still have an enemy dedicated to destroying our spiritual foundation.  The world we live in is designed to push us away from God by making money our number one priority.  If we don’t have money, we won’t have a place to live, food to eat, or the resources needed to handle any of our everyday needs.  Money is the driving force in this world and if we aren’t paying attention to our finances, we can end up in deep trouble.    The enemy wants us to believe it’s impossible to survive without dedicating our lives to earning more money.

God’s ultimate control.

As followers of Jesus, we have dedicated our lives to following the teachings of Jesus; the foundation of which is to love God and love your neighbor.  Love earning money is not on the list.  When we love God and love our neighbor, everything else will fall into place. That’s the simple solution to surviving in this world.  Obviously there is a need to seek some kind of employment in order to earn an income of some sort; however, that is secondary to loving God and loving your neighbor.  The enemy wants us to put money first; God wants us to put Him first.  We will never earn any income without the help of God.

You are not in control!

The enemy wants us to believe we are in control of our own lives.  In fact, this is a popular point of view among many people these days; however, it’s a misguided distraction.  God is in complete control.  When we fully embrace God’s control in our lives, the lies of the enemy become evident.  If we don’t acknowledge God’s control, the enemy will manipulate every aspect of our lives and lead us down a dark road to destruction.  The battle between light and darkness is going on all around us and our safety and security are fully dependent on which side we choose to follow.

We are nothing without God.

God is our Creator.  Who our parents were, where we live, what our abilities are, and what the future holds are all in the hands of God.  Absolutely nothing happens outside of the control of God.  Every life challenge we face is in the hands of God.  The enemy wants us to turn our back on God when life becomes difficult, but God wants us to reach out to Him so that He can guide us through any problem times we might face.  Trying to go through life without God is a big mistake. When we travel though life with God by our side, we can be certain that whatever we are going through, ultimately it will be for our benefit.

Stand firm and secure on the rock of your salvation.

Safety and security is God’s domain; don’t let the enemy tell you money is the answer.  When we place our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are placed on a road to an eternal life in the kingdom of God.  Following the teachings of Jesus is how we get there.  There will be difficult times along the way designed to build up our spiritual strength and prepare us for our eternal existence with God, but ultimately we will have the victory.  In the book of Matthew Jesus tells us, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”  Jesus is our rock foundation.  Nothing is more safe and secure.

 

Trusting Jesus

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #013  Finding Jesus

 

Before I became a follower of Jesus, I didn’t trust the Bible to be the true Word of God.  I thought attending church was a boring religious ritual.  I felt uncomfortable around Christians that treated me like an outsider.  And I was fascinated by the willingness of so many to constantly donate money to religious organizations that didn’t appear to be doing anything worthwhile.  From my point of view, the Bible, church, religion, and Jesus were unnecessary distractions from real life.  So what happened?

Finding Meaning

I was in a period of deep depression.  My life had become empty and meaningless.  I was searching for a new direction.  I felt like there had to be more to life than the day-to-day struggle of making it through the day, avoiding negative outcomes, and earning enough money to survive.  I was looking for a solution which I was unable to conjure up in my own mind, or with my clever talent, or my worldly experience.  I wanted my life to have meaning.

Finding Jesus

I was in my late twenties, and over the years many people had tried to tell me about Jesus.  I politely entertained their evangelistic efforts, and dismissed them as not for me.  But at this low point in my life, I was ready to listen to the message of salvation through Jesus with an open mind.  I was flipping through the channels on my television when I came across a preacher starting his televised Sunday message.  I stopped flipping and started listening.  I listened to the whole message.  The preacher talked about how Jesus died for my sins and came back to life demonstrating how he could provide me with eternal life if I put my faith in him. By the end of the message I was on my knees in tears, confessing my sins to Jesus, and trusting Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

A Spiritual Experience

I didn’t become a follower of Jesus because I intellectually figured out the Bible is the true Word of God, or because I was able to figure out who the real Christians were and who the false Christians were.  Becoming a follower of Jesus was not an intellectual experience – it was a spiritual experience.  I felt the presence of God in my life.  I felt the door open and I walked through it.  I believe there were other times in my life that Jesus opened the door for me, but I turned my back and walked away.  This time I stepped over the threshold and started a journey that brought me to this day – the day that I am encouraging you, if you have not already trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Now is the perfect time.

One Prayer Away

Here’s a simple prayer for those who are ready to step through the door:

Father God, forgive me for turning my back on you for so long.  As I look back on my life, I can clearly see that you and you alone are responsible for everything good in my life.  Luck and coincidence are words made up to describe the work of God.  I want to thank you now for all of the times luck and coincidence brought me good fortune.  From this day forward I will humble myself before you Lord and trust you completely.  Thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross for my misdeeds.  Today I place my faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus to supply me with Salvation from death, and to grant me eternal life in the kingdom of God.  I pledge my life going forward to be a sincere effort to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, serving you Father God by serving others.  I pray this all in the precious name of Jesus.  Amen!

Your Journey with Jesus

If you’ve prayed this prayer for the first time right now, tell someone, don’t keep it to yourself.  Share the news with one of your Christian friends or family members and let me know so that I can pray for you as well.  I’ll just say again, I’m not looking to sign you up for anything, and I have nothing to sell you, I’m only interested in helping you start a life-long relationship with Jesus.

A good place to start your journey with Jesus would be in my series on the teachings of Jesus.  This will get you pointed in the right direction.  Of course, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have going forward.  You’ll also find a wealth of information throughout this blog and on my YouTube channel, Pointing the Way.  Thank you for sharing this time with me.  May you be greatly blessed by God for your effort.

 

Here’s some fun music about knowing Jesus.
Shake” – MercyMe

Knowing Jesus     

                           

The Teachings of Jesus

     

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #012  Jesus and Religion

 

Whenever I think about religion, my brain fills up with an endless list of denominations:  Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Latter Day Saints, Seventh Day Adventist, Judaism, Islam, Scientology, and the list goes on to infinity.  My mind instantly becomes jam-packed with a conglomeration of religious doctrine that spans the gap between spiritual truth and pure insanity.  God could not have possibly intended for his story to be so misconstrued as to produce this ocean of fact and fiction all mixed together in such a way that it’s nearly impossible to identify where the misdirection ends and the truth begins.

Knowing God

All I want, is to know God, and clearly understand what he wants me to do with my life.  I have to believe that’s what God wants as well.  So why is religion getting in the way?  In my mind the answer is simple:  the devil.  We want to know God.  God wants us to know him.  The devil wants to keep us all running around in circles going nowhere.  We can’t make the mistake of discounting the devil as just a literary tool used to keep us focused on God.  God is real.  The devil is real.  From the very beginning of Christianity, the devil has been subverting the message through a devious manipulation of the minds of religious leaders.  The devil’s tactic is to divide and conquer.  He’s winning.

Jesus and Religion

When I read the New Testament of the Bible, I’m struck by the fact that those who cheered to have Jesus crucified were the religious leaders known as the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The devil so clouded their minds, they could not see God standing right in front of them.  The devil so clouded their minds, they elected to kill the human incarnation of God.

I don’t think anyone can deny that during his time spent here on this earth Jesus had a problem with religion.  It is for that reason that I feel comfortable saying I have a problem with religion in today’s world.  Is there more good than bad in today’s Christian religions?  I don’t know how you do that math.  I will tell you that I attend a Christian church just about every Sunday, but there were several years in my Christian walk that I did not.  I still maintained a close connection to God during that time.  I was still a Christian.  I just wasn’t attending church.  Being part of any organized religion is not a necessary component of being a Christian.

Corporate Worship

It also should be noted here that Jesus frequently went to the Jewish temple to preach the gospel – he didn’t avoid church.  I think it’s obvious there is value whenever people gather to worship God.  People getting together to worship God is a good thing.  Jesus believed in corporate worship of God.  Jesus also believed religion would be a focal point of the devil’s attack on Christianity.  “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”   (Matthew 7:15 NIV)  Jesus carried out his religion – or his worship of God, in service to others.  Jesus was the ultimate servant going all the way to the cross to die for our sins.  As followers of Jesus, our mission is to have that same servant’s spirit.  Our mission should be to have the same religion that Jesus had – that is the religion of worshiping God by serving others.

Serve God by Serving Others

It appears to me that Jesus had a love/hate relationship with religion.  He warned us there will be those who use religion to take advantage of us.  True religion – or true worship of God – is played out in service to others.  Jesus demonstrated this kind of worship with his life.  Jesus also spent time worshiping together with others the way we do in church today.  Corporate worship is, in fact, a means of serving others through mutual support and fellowship. We need to find a balance of true religion – the religion of serving others – and corporate worship without falling victim to the devil’s schemes.  Make no mistake about it, the battle between good and evil is real and is being played out in the halls of organized religion.  It’s time for true followers of Jesus Christ to rise up and return Christianity to its foundational principle of serving others.

I hope I’ve sparked your interest further and you’ll be looking forward to my next message.
There is much more to this story…
Don’t keep this to yourself.  Share it with a friend.

 

Here’s some great music that worships the love of Jesus.
Fill This Place” – Red Rocks Worship

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Finding Jesus

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #011  Jesus and the Body of Christ

 

This is message eleven out of thirteen, and if you’ve been following along I greatly appreciate your willingness to hear my whole story.  And if this is your first message or you’ve only seen a few, thank you for taking the time to consider what I have to share.  As I’ve said previously, I have no ulterior motive – I’m not trying to get you to join any specific church, or read the Bible from cover to cover, and I have absolutely no interest in your money – my mission is to help you develop a relationship with Jesus.  God has instructed us to love one another and I therefore sincerely care about your well-being and want you to feel God’s presence in your life the way I do.

Serve God by Serving Others

True followers of Jesus are dedicated to the understanding that we serve God by serving others.  This is the most important instruction found in the Bible, and it typically rings true for unbelievers as well, because we all feel God’s presence when we offer help to others.  Whenever anyone reaches out to offer assistance to someone who is struggling, there is always a warm feeling of satisfaction when the service rendered is well received.  It feels good to help someone in need!  I’m suggesting to you that the good feeling we all experience is the Spirit of God pleased by our effort to share his love unselfishly.

The Body of Christ

If you’ve trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, the Spirit of God has an undeniable presence in your life.  All followers of Jesus are connected together by the Spirit of God.  In the Bible, believers are called the body of Christ, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”  (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV)  As a follower of Jesus, you become an important part of God’s complex creation – you are part of the body of Christ, with Jesus at the head controlling all the connecting members.  Each of us has a specific role to play.  As a believer, God has placed you where you need to be and has given you the tools to accomplish your mission.  Your service to God is solely dependent on your devotion to him and your adherence to following his instructions.

Love God and Love Your Neighbor

God’s primary instruction for all believers is to love God and love your neighbor.  Jesus identified these two elements of his teaching as being the most important.  In fact, Jesus said that everything else we do hinges on these two fundamental commitments.  True love for God means a dedication to becoming more like Jesus; it also means we are dedicated to serving God by serving others.  Finally it means we are dedicated to helping others develop a relationship with God.  When we follow these simple steps our lives take on a much deeper meaning.

Working Together

Of course, as a follower of Jesus, we don’t have to accomplish any of these tasks on our own.  As a part of the body of Christ, we always have plenty of additional hands, feet, eyes, and minds to help fulfill our mission.  When we reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ and work together through the power of the Holy Spirit, there’s no limit to what can be accomplished. In God’s infinite wisdom, he created us all to be different. As a member of the body of Christ, everyone has a unique role to play, just like the parts in your own body.  There is no other believer who shares your life experience, your personal contacts, or your spiritual connection to God.  All of these things will factor into how God chooses to use you.

Your Place in the Body of Christ

As a new Christian, finding your place in the body of Christ may take some time as you grow and mature in the Lord.  Initially, your place may be to simply receive instruction.  Over time, you will discover God’s plan for your participation in his mission and begin to take on a more essential role.  As you grow in your walk with Jesus, your place in the body of Christ will change and adapt to your talents and experiences.  As a believer, those people you come into contact with every day are not there by accident.  They are there for you to guide or be guided by – all in an effort to reach spiritual maturity.

Finding your place in the body of Christ has enormous benefits – spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically, and financially.  In other words, knowing Jesus changes everything.

I hope I’ve sparked your interest further and you’ll be looking forward to my next message.
There is much more to this story…
Don’t keep this to yourself.  Share it with a friend.

 

Here’s some great music about why God placed us here.
What We’re Here For” – The Afters

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Jesus and Religion

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #010  Jesus and Fellowship

 

Did you ever have a profound experience with a group of friends that has bonded you together forever?  Those in the military who go off to war together come back with this kind of bond.  First responders that are often caught in life and death situations together frequently share this kind of bond.  Experiencing a natural disaster with a group of friends and family is another bonding experience.  Of course, it’s not always extreme danger that bonds us together.  Many of us are bonded together with those we went to high school or college with.  Or we may be bonded together with a group we worked with at a particular job.  In any case, when we get together with these people with whom we share a special bond, the comradery is profoundly different than other groups that don’t share our mutual experience.  We call this connection fellowship – and it’s always a delight when we have fellowship with like-minded friends and family.

Christian Fellowship

Followers of Jesus enjoy a fellowship like no other.  Christian fellowship includes a shared inheritance in the kingdom of heaven and it begins with our association with Jesus.  “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV) Trusting Jesus is the foundation of our fellowship with other believers, and it is compounded by our reverence for the Word of God, and our connection to the Spirit of God.  “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  (2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV)  Jesus wants us to have fellowship with him and with other believers.  Believers need to spend time cultivating their relationship with Jesus and with other believers.  Christian faith is not something you do in isolation; Christian faith is dependent on fellowship.  “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.”  (1 John 1:7 NIV)

The Body of Christ

Followers of Jesus are connected together as one body with Jesus Christ as the head.  In the Bible, Christians are called the “body of Christ”.  A common purpose and vision is essential for followers of Jesus Christ to achieve the work of God.  When everyone is moving in a different direction, the body of Christ is disjointed and rendered ineffective.  Together, we can accomplish great things in the name of God.  Together, our power is magnified many-fold.  God designed us to work together.

Faith in Jesus

All believers stand united on the one foundational miracle that provides for our salvation – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Our faith in Jesus is the starting point for our coming together.  We all agree that by the grace of God, through our faith in Jesus Christ, we have been forgiven of our misdeeds and granted the gift of eternal life.  We were all sentenced to die as a result of our indiscretions and thanks to God, we have been provided with a redeemer – the penalty for our misdeeds has been erased.  On the other side of our salvation, is a duty to God to do good work in unity and harmony.  Our assurance of eternal life provides us a firm foundation from which to carry out God’s work.  Jesus provided us with simple-to-understand instructions – love one another.  If we are working together for that purpose, we are absolutely on the right path.

United with Christ

Individual believers should be working together with other believers.  Small groups of believers should be working together with other small groups.  Churches should be working together with other churches.  The best way to spread the gospel is by serving others with the love the Holy Spirit provides.  Working together, we can overwhelm the world with God’s love.  We find this encouragement in the Bible, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”   (Philippians 2:1-2 NIV)

One in Spirit

The only way we can be “one in spirit and of one mind” is to spend time together in Christian fellowship, working together to accomplish God’s will.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the watchful eye of God the Father, and through the awesome sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we have been tasked with fulfilling God’s desire for us to spread the gospel by serving others with love.

I hope I’ve sparked your interest further and you’ll be looking forward to my next message.
There is much more to this story…
Don’t keep this to yourself.  Share it with a friend.

 

Here’s some great music about the joy we all share knowing Jesus.
All The People Said Amen” – Matt Maher

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Jesus and the Body of Christ

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #009  Jesus and the Devil

 

So why is this world that God created filled with all sorts of evil?  Why is there war, famine, poverty, murder, and all manner of physical violence? What kind of creation is this?

I’m going to try to answer these questions, but I want you to know up front that I don’t know what I’m talking about – I’m only guessing.  The Bible is the only source we have for the explanation of God’s plan and it does not cover this topic in detail.

God is in Control

Here’s my understanding, based on many years of study:  God is in control.  As followers of Jesus, our human bodies may suffer but our spirit is protected by God.  This protection is available to anyone who puts their faith in Jesus.  God allows evil, perpetrated by the devil, to exist so that we can develop the skills to identify and avoid evil, and in some cases confront and overcome evil.  These skills are essential to our eternal existence, and in God’s ultimate wisdom, this world situation is the best training ground for our total spiritual awareness. Our time spent in this world is only a tiny fraction of our eternal existence with God.  The best is yet to come, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be greatly blessed in this life – we can, and I have been on many occasions – but we have to take the good with the bad.

The Devil

So let’s take a closer look at the devil described in the Bible. The number one thing you need to know about the devil, also known as Satan, is the simple fact that he wants you to believe he doesn’t exist.  He has been largely successful in this regard.  Much of the world believes the devil is a work of fiction.  Even many Christians, who should be well aware of Satan’s reputation and place in God’s grand plan, often discount him as a fantasy figure designed to represent the evil in the world.  Any casual reading of the Bible should convince you that Satan is real and actively at work in our world.

Your Choice

According to the Bible, those who are followers of Jesus are protected from the devil by the spirit of God, and those who have turned their back on God are in fact being controlled by the devil. The Bible says, “Once you were under God’s curse, doomed forever for your sins. You went along with the crowd and were just like all the others, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air, who is at work right now in the hearts of those who are against the Lord.”  (Ephesians 2:1-2 LB)  Essentially, this world is a battle between good and evil and you are either on one side or the other – it’s your choice.  If you’re not a follower of Jesus, you are a follower of Satan.  Even if you hold no overt allegiance to him, Satan is in the background of your life guiding you away from God and on the road to destruction.  The devil’s mission is to prevent as many people as possible from going on to eternity with God.

The Kingdom of God

Jesus followers don’t need to fear the devil.  The battle has already been won for those who have put their faith and trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Christians are guaranteed eternal life in the kingdom of God – there’s nothing the devil can do to change that.  The Bible gives us this warning,  “Rejoice, O heavens! You citizens of heaven, rejoice! Be glad! But woe to you people of the world, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”  (Revelation 12:12 LB)  The devil knows he will be destroyed when Jesus returns and he wants to take as many people with him as he can.

False Teachers

While followers of Jesus are protected from the devil by the Spirit of God, that doesn’t mean Christians are trouble free.  Satan wants believers to look bad in order to prevent others from seeking to know God.  The devil will try to disrupt the plans of believers, by causing doubt, developing conflict, perpetuating misdirection, or by supporting false teachers that are teaching something other than the truth found in the Bible.  The devil is happy to help false teachers grow their church.  Anyone teaching something other than the gospel will have lots of help from Satan.

Devil’s Distractions

The devil also tries to misdirect unbelievers by perpetuating the notion that God is an authoritative task-master who just wants to control your life.  He will paint a picture of Christians as judgmental and offensive to distract unbelievers from befriending them.  The devil’s skill at distraction will keep unbelievers away from anything that might open their eyes to the Lord.  Finally, the devil uses the fear of death to scare people into pursuing their selfish desires before the grim reaper arrives.  This is one of the great advantages of being a Christian – we no longer need to fear death.

Eternal Life

The Bible teaches us that the devil had power over our death until Jesus died on the cross on our behalf, thereby returning to us our ability to live forever in the kingdom of God.  The Bible offers this brief explanation,  “Since we, God’s children, are human beings—made of flesh and blood—he became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could he die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could he deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.”  (Hebrews 2:14-15 LB)  Praise God for sending his Son to die on our behalf!  Precisely how our salvation from death works is a great mystery, but that is the teaching of the Bible.

I hope I’ve sparked your interest further and you’ll be looking forward to my next message.
There is much more to this story…
Don’t keep this to yourself.  Share it with a friend.
Here’s some great music about turning your back on the devil and walking toward Jesus.
Turn Around” – Matt Maher

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Jesus and Fellowship

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #008  Pulling Weeds with Jesus

 

Did you ever meet someone who professed to be a Christian but nothing about their life resembled anything at all found in the teachings of Jesus?  This is often cited as the reason many unbelievers shy away from Christianity – hypocrites in the church.  This is one of the main reasons it took me so long to take Christianity seriously.  I came to Christ later in life largely as a result of seeing so-called “Christians” acting in a very non-Christian manner and also encountering Christian pastors on television that seemed completely disingenuous.  I had heard the phrase “growing in the Lord” but from my perspective, the Christian garden was full of weeds.

Weeds in God’s Garden

It may surprise you to learn that a garden filled with weeds was precisely what God had in mind.  Jesus said this, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.”  (Matthew 13:24-25 NIV)  In this parable, the field owner elects to let the bad seed remain and grow along with the good seed because trying to remove the bad seeds before they are grown will only make things worse for the good seed.  The solution is to let the good seed and the weeds grow together and separate them at harvest time.  This is God’s plan for us as well.  Believers and unbelievers will grow together until Jesus returns.  Why would God prefer this arrangement?

Good vs. Evil

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that our time spent in this world is largely a battle between good and evil.  Our mission in this life is to learn the difference between good and evil in all its forms.  We can’t truly know good unless we truly know evil.  When we live in a garden filled with weeds, we will be sorting through good and evil on a daily basis.  Followers of Jesus should not be intimidated by this challenge.  Followers of Jesus are supported by the Spirit of God living inside of them as a guide and protector.  In his ultimate wisdom, God has determined that the experience of mingling good and evil will be to our overall advantage, bringing us into the kingdom of God as experts in dealing with weeds.

Learning Experiences

So called “Christians” that say one thing and do another, are weeds that are placed in the path of true believers as a learning tool.  Preachers that are only sharing the gospel for their own personal financial gain are weeds placed in the path of true believers as a learning tool.  Without these weeds, we would be lacking all the necessary learning experiences that will make our relationship with Jesus whole and complete.  It’s important for us to also understand that these weeds are not our enemy.  The Bible tells us this, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)  The devil uses these weeds as a distraction from his more sinister plan.  If we ignore the devil’s bait and move on with our pursuit of moving closer to Jesus, in spite of these weeds – we win!

A Deeper Meaning

On the surface, Christianity seems simple and easily understood, and in many ways that is true; however, once you become a believer, the complexity of Christianity reveals itself and your overall experience takes on a deeper and deeper meaning each day.  Simply put, Christianity is about loving God and loving your neighbor – how that is accomplished in a world filled with weeds, is the complex journey that stimulates the life of a true believer every day.

I hope I’ve sparked your interest further and you’ll be looking forward to my next message.
There is much more to this story…
Don’t keep this to yourself.  Share it with a friend.

 

Here’s some great music that looks forward to our life with Jesus.
Where I Belong” – Bulding 429

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Jesus and the Devil