More than Miracles

The second chapter of the Book of Acts recounts what happened when the apostles were dramatically filled with the Holy Spirit in a display of fire and with the sound of a violent wind.  As a result, the apostles were suddenly able to speak in many different languages and able to share the gospel with anyone, no matter what language they spoke.

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”  Acts 2:4 (NIV)

Those people watching the apostles speak in various languages thought they had gone crazy.  They had to be reminded of the extraordinary miracle that many had recently witnessed – that is the death and resurrection of Jesus.

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”  Acts 2:24 (NIV)

If God can raise Jesus from the dead, he can certainly provide the apostles with the ability to speak in foreign languages.  Once you are connected to God through the gift of the Holy Spirit, you are in a position to be used by God in a miraculous way as well.

Peter replied, “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.”  Acts 2:38 (NIV)

Witnessing miracles was a large component to the growth of the early Christian church.  Another important element to their growth was their devotion to each other.  Not only did they worship together and have meals together, they also actively took part in supporting one another.

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”  Acts 2:44-45 (NIV)

Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sins is the greatest gift of love ever given.  His resurrection demonstrated His power as the Son of God and His ability to deliver on his promise to supply us with the Holy Spirit.  That awesome miracle is made real to unbelievers when they see Christians willing to offer support in the same way as the early church.  Jesus Christ has done his part to build the church and now it is up to believers to demonstrate the value of the Holy Spirit by serving others with the love God has provided.

“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”  Acts 2:47 (NIV)

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.

Saved by Grace

Tragedy can push us into making irrational choices that we regret years later.  Lives can be turned around and destroyed by tragedy.  Such is the case with a police officer named Rick, who is the victim of a home invasion that ends the life of his much-loved wife and leaves him on disability when a bullet destroys his knee.  Rick ends up leaving his 10 year-old-son with his mother while he recuperates, but a deep depression drives him into a reclusive life that keeps him separated from his son for five years.

On Thanksgiving, the five year anniversary of his wife’s tragic death, Rick is lost and alone ready to end his misery with a bullet to the head, but God has other plans.  On his trip to a secluded place to end his life, Rick encounters a young woman looking for a ride to see her family on Thanksgiving.  Rick tries to brush her off but in the end realizes he’s the only one who can help her.  The young woman’s name is Grace, and it becomes clear as they travel across town that she has been placed in Rick’s life at this moment for a reason.

On their way to visit her family, Grace has Rick stop at the local high school, at an abandoned dance studio, and at a local church.  At each location they both share memories.  It turns out Grace has some tragedy of her own but her faith in God has carried her through.  Rick has given up on God and Grace makes it her mission to bring him back to the Lord and back to his son who should not be growing up without a father.

Saved by Grace is a beautifully made film with a gentle meandering pace. As we travel across town toward their ultimate destination, we also travel through their lives and watch their spirits grow closer together.  Grace has learned to trust God and seek a deeper meaning to the terrible things that have happened in her life.  Rick has closed the door in the face of God.  Fortunately, God has sent Grace to take him by the hand and bring him home.

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The Masked Saint

The Masked Saint was adapted from a book of the same name that is loosely based on the life of a pro wrestler who left a ten year career to become a pastor. I have not read the book, nor do I know how much of the story is true and how much is fictionalized.  What I do know is this is a unique twist on the faith-based movie genre that taps into a desire many have to fight the bad guys and come out victorious.

In this film version, successful wrestler Chris Samuels, who fights under the title The Saint, leaves his wrestling career behind to become a pastor at a small town church with lots of problems.  The neighborhood is on the other side of the tracks and many unsaintly characters are hanging out on the streets.  The church congregation has diminished down to a handful and most of the finances are being donated by one man, Judd Lumpkin, who believes that gives him the right to control everything.  And to top it all off, Pastor Chris has a hard time delivering a good sermon and the church choir is tone deaf.

This story has a subtle sense of humor that pushes the characterization over the top creating a light-hearted look at otherwise difficult situations.  Pastor Chris first has to do battle with the pompous and controlling big donor, Judd Lumpkin.  Then, in a case of being in the right place at the right time, Pastor Chris rescues a prostitute from a beating being delivered by her pimp.  Later, Pastor Chris comes to the rescue at a robbery in a diner.

When it comes to fighting for the survival of his church, Pastor Chris is coached by an elderly church member they call Ms. Edna, played by veteran actress Diahann Carroll.  Ms. Edna convinces Pastor Chris to get back in the wrestling ring to earn the money needed to keep the church alive.  What we end up with is a pastor who is a wrestler on the side and a vigilante being investigated by the police in his spare time.

The Masked Saint is a well-made film, with good cinematography, quality directing, and some top-notch acting.  The wrestling scenes, like much of this film, are a little over the top, but nicely designed and photographed.  This is a fanciful story about a pastor becoming a part-time crime fighter.  Rather than trying to pass this off as a plausible true life story, a decision was made to develop this concept as a fantasy with a thin line of truth.  Much of the exaggerated circumstances that drive this story have enough realism in them to create a spark of possibility.  In the end, what really comes to life is the idea that complaining accomplishes nothing.  Problems are solved by those who take action.

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Until Forever

It’s not easy to make an upbeat film about tragedy.  It’s not easy to drive home a positive faith message in the face of difficult life challenges; Until Forever accomplishes both.  Faith-based films are at their best when they are willing to confront the hard questions of faith head-on.  Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?  While the answer to this question isn’t expressly provided in this film, it is considered and dealt with in an honest way.

This is the true story of Michael and Michelle who are devoted high school sweethearts.  Their relationship is full of fun and honest emotion.  This looks like a romance that will last forever.  Then without warning, Michael develops a rare form of leukemia and begins living his life in the hospital.  Michelle stays by his side along with his whole family.  A Bible believing Christian, Michael hears a voice from God calling him to minister to others in the hospital.  He begins using his upbeat personality to bring some moments of cheer to his fellow patients.  One patient, an older man named Fenton, rejects Michael’s devotion to God but still becomes his friend with the understanding that he wants nothing to do with the Bible.

In time, Michael’s cancer goes into remission and he is released from the hospital.  Michael’s slightly younger brother, Matt, has been recruited as a bone marrow donor should Michael’s cancer return.  Matt loves his brother and is more than willing to make this sacrifice; however, he is suffering depression issues of his own and the thought of him supplying bone marrow without positive results haunts him.  In the end, Michael’s cancer does come back and Matt’s bone marrow donation is not able to save him.  Coupled with his growing depression, Matt becomes suicidal and it is Michael who has to help him gain control over his despair.

As Michael’s cancer gets worse, Michelle doesn’t want to see her one true love go away.  She makes a suggestion to Michael that they should get married.  At first Michael is reluctant, not knowing if he will live or die; regardless, he follows through with a formal marriage proposal and the two are married even though it is clear he will die soon after.

Until Forever is the story of a man who will not allow his circumstance to shake his faith in God.  He will not allow a bitter old man named Fenton to destroy his faith with his difficult questions.  And he will not give up on ministering to others in the face of his own fatal destiny.  This is also the story of a young woman, Michelle, who never lets go of her love, even when all hope is lost.  It may be difficult to see how this film can deliver anything but tears, but I can tell you sincerely, you will find joy in your tears in the celebration of a life well lived.

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The Fight Within

It’s always refreshing when you find a faith-based film that travels in a unique direction.  “The Fight Within” mixes the tough and gritty world of MMA fighting with the everyday struggle we all face, overcoming our demons.  Some of us are more in a fight with ourselves than anyone else, and those who have not yet found God are often in a fight with God.

Logan Chandler, a young college student, works as a trainer at an MMA gym that he and his brother inherited from his now deceased father.  Before his father’s death, Logan trained with his father who was once a champion.  Because his father believed Logan had that same talent, he pushed him hard to become a champion himself.  Tragically, Logan’s father died during a training session with Logan.  Faced with always wondering if he was somehow to blame for his father’s death, Logan battles inner voices of doubt.

After a good deal of success in the octagon, winning all of his fights, Logan makes a decision not to fight anymore and stick to training other fighters.  This becomes a problem when the current champion, Hayden Dressler, who happens to train with Logan’s brother at their gym, is offered big money if he can get a fight with the previous champion, Logan. The gym is not a large money maker and the prize money from the fight can help his brother pay the bills, but Logan is adamant about not fighting.  This disappoints his brother who needs the money, and only serves to encourage Hayden to constantly taunt Logan at every opportunity.

The story becomes more complicated and interesting when Logan meets an energetic young girl at his college, Emma Jones.  There is instant chemistry between the two that quickly turns to confusion for Logan when he learns Emma is a devoted Christian with a determination to become a missionary in Africa.  Logan is an unbeliever and now has to wrestle with God to understand why he has been sent down this road.  Emma patiently walks Logan in the direction of Christ and over time he gives his life to the Lord in an alter call at Emma’s church.

This budding romance seems to be pushing Logan in a completely new direction, until Hayden shows up again, this time taunting Emma to try to force Logan to fight for the big money prize.  Going after Emma is the last straw for Logan and he finally agrees to the fight.  Logan’s brother goes to work training him for the big fight and the inevitable victory.  Logan has conquered his battle with God and with himself, punctuating the transformation with a decisive victory over his worldly nemesis Hayden.

The Fight Within is an innovative bit of storytelling that looks at faith from a totally new perspective.  I could quibble with some of the story elements that tended to abbreviate deeper character development, often with a music montage.  Nevertheless, the overall narrative held my attention and triggered honest emotions.  Some of the best scenes were the well-choreographed fight segments.  That bit of realism served as a conduit to pull me deeper into the story. This film has a nice mix of faith, romance, and action.

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Lifetime Cruise

Imagine you’re on an enormous cruise ship filled with thousands of people ready to depart on a trip across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to the UK.  Now imagine your mom knows the ship’s captain and has arranged for him to give you a private tour before the ship departs.  Because you have a special mechanical interest, the tour will be of the engine room – you want to see what makes the ship work.  When the tour is over, the captain disappears up an elevator on his way to the bridge and you return to the deck of the ship to watch as it pulls away from the dock.  As the massive floating city makes its way out of the channel, you rest assured that the captain, with whom you have a personal relationship, is in control and will safely guide the ship to its destination.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth to show and teach us how His kingdom will come about.  His ministry was a complete tour of the engine room.  He showed us how things work.  His death on the cross as payment for our sin, and subsequent resurrection from the dead, established Him as king of God’s restored kingdom, which is to come upon His return.  For now, Jesus has ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God; just like the captain who went to the bridge to guide the cruise ship across the ocean.  Jesus is now guiding His followers from His position next to God.  Those followers are connected to Him through the working of the Holy Spirit inside every believer.

Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke, was a close companion and fellow worker with the Apostle Paul.  After he finished his gospel account, he continued writing the history of the first 30 years of the Christian church in the Book of Acts.  Luke addressed both books to someone named Theophilus; and while there is no record of exactly who Theophilus was, we do know that it is a Greek word meaning “loved by god.”

“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.”  Acts 1:1-2 (NIV)

When you read the Gospel of Luke or any of the other three gospels, you quickly discover Jesus was not simply a preacher of words – He was a man of action.  Luke tells us he wrote about all that Jesus began to “do and teach” and now in the book of Acts he tells us how Jesus continues to operate from heaven by empowering all his followers with the Holy Spirit.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8 (NIV)

As followers of Jesus, we are to “do and teach” in the same manner that He demonstrated throughout His ministry here on earth.  We are to be “witnesses” to his death and resurrection.  Jesus conquered death!  Jesus is not a past tense teacher – He is alive and in control.  And we are to spend our time serving others as He did every day of His life here on earth.

Like the enormous cruise ship, we are traveling across a vast ocean to another world known as the Kingdom of God.  When we arrive, Jesus will be our king and all will be well.  Until that day, we are to trust that Jesus is in control and follow his continued direction via the nudging of the Holy Spirit.  We are not supposed to stand around waiting for Jesus – we are to take action on His behalf and complete His mission to spread the gospel to the world through word and more importantly, deed.

 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:11 (NIV)

 

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.

 

If You’re Gone

Lillian White, a teenager in an American small town, has fallen in love with Brad Lee, a boy a year older, that she didn’t care much for initially.  In his younger years, Brad was hanging out with the wrong crowd, but once he found Lillian things changed.  On the night Brad graduates from high school, he pronounces his love for Lillian and she reciprocates.  However, what looks like a beautiful young love blooming, suddenly becomes a nightmare when Brad turns up missing the next day.

As it turns out, the police are not too concerned with an 18 year old boy who doesn’t return home, especially one with a juvenile criminal record – something Lillian was unaware of before a detective shared the information.  As the days go by with no word from Brad, Lillian becomes frantic and joins in the search that involves the whole town.  In Lillian’s mind, the number one suspect in Brad’s disappearance is his old troublemaker friend known as Lizard.  When questioned by Lillian, Lizard claims he doesn’t know what happened to Brad, and maintains his story when questioned by the police.

Months pass and Lillian’s fixation with finding Brad puts a strain on her relationship with her best friend, Anna, and threatens to disrupt her faith in God who seems to be ignoring her prayers.  Eventually, after several months of unresolved emotions, Lillian makes a decision to let go of Brad and simply treasure the time they had together.  A mysterious stranger in town, a teenage boy named Chris, has befriended her and helps her see beyond her grief.  Her friend Anna also convinces her life must go on.

This story concludes with a complete explanation of the circumstances around Brad’s disappearance and I’m going to leave those details a mystery in this review.  This is really a story about the choices people make and what are the convoluted reasons for those choices.  In the end, Lillian comes to grips with all that’s transpired and moves on with her life with a renewed understanding of life and how unpredictable it can be.

If You’re Gone is a compelling mystery, that moves through a broad range of emotions.  The small town setting tends to magnify the personal stories in a way that draws the viewer deeper into the story.  As the characters work through their reaction to Brad’s disappearance, it’s hard not to look inside yourself and consider how you might respond.  While this story centers on a teenage romance, the impact of these events takes a toll on mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends.  All of these relationships are dealt with in this story, generating a complex web of pain, sorrow, and hope.  Throughout this ordeal, faith is the thread that holds the participants together and helps them keep going.

 

As yet unreleased COMING SOON

 

 

Travel to Another World

Our journey through this world is difficult, confusing, and somewhat of a mystery.  We all have questions.  How can the many ugly things we see every day be allowed by God?  Why does God make understanding the Bible so difficult?  Why is it not crystal clear how to follow God and absolutely established how to please Him?  Why are there so many conflicting points of view?

Unambiguous answers to all those questions are on the way, but they won’t arrive in this world.  They will arrive in the world that is to come.

“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”  Hebrews 13:14 (NIV)

Simply put, your ticket to that city is to follow the teachings of Jesus.  At the heart of His teaching is the command that we love God with all our heart and we love our neighbor as ourselves.  There’s nothing complicated about that.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  Hebrews 13:16 (NIV)

Throughout the centuries the Christian church has changed and fragmented into thousands of denominations.  There are hundreds of different translations of the Bible.  There have been hundreds of thousands, if not millions of different Bible teachers each with their own point of view.  Regardless of all the bickering back and forth, one thing remains the same:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

Jesus Christ has not changed.  The truth Jesus preached when he walked the earth is the same today as it was then.  If you want a complete understanding of why you are traveling through this crazy world, get behind Jesus and He will take you to the new world where everything will be revealed.  His simple unchanging instructions are very clear.  Love God and love your neighbor.

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)

 

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.

Revival

In the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, heaven and earth were together.  Earth was a beautiful garden where God and humans existed together.  Then sin entered the picture.  Because Adam and Eve decided they wanted to do things their own way rather than following God’s instructions, heaven and earth were separated. This was not a surprise to God.  God knew this would happen.  God designed humans in a way that requires us to learn to trust God.  All of history, since the Garden of Eden, has been designed by God as a teaching tool to help us understand the importance of trusting God.  This enormous learning experience will end when Jesus returns and heaven and earth are once again united.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”  Revelation 21:1 (NIV)

The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly when this will happen.  We do know that we need to prepare for this event by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  By placing our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are granted eternal life in the new heaven and earth.  Those of us who are followers of Jesus are waiting patiently for His return.  As we wait, we continue to follow His command to love one another and to spread the gospel message around the world.  But is that all there is for us to do?  Or is there something more that Jesus is waiting for?  Are we waiting for Jesus to return or is He waiting for us to complete our mission?

 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

The world we live in has so disguised the gospel message there are still many who do not believe. There are many who have not yet “come to repentance.”  Is Jesus waiting for a great revival where millions turn to Him for salvation?  If so, how might that come about?  We are in a battle here in this world for the hearts of “everyone.”  Our enemy has become so sophisticated, our efforts to overcome his distraction have grown weak and ineffective.

“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)

I believe revival is possible when we all stand together against the “powers of this dark world.”  But we can’t go into battle without first being properly equipped.  We need tools and strategies that will work in today’s world.  Handing out Bible tracts and knocking on people’s doors is not going to bring revival in today’s world. We need church leaders who are dedicated to a bold vision to overcome the deception of the enemy.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)

Jesus wants your church to “equip his people for works of service.”  Is your church doing that or are you just there to worship God?  Revival can come when we all get equipped and go to work serving others.  Churches need to do a better job equipping and providing opportunities to serve – not opportunities to serve at church – but opportunities to serve unbelievers so that they may come to know Christ.  When the Christian church as a whole focuses on equipping and serving on a grand scale – that’s when revival will take hold.

 

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.

Steps of Faith

Faith Huston is a young woman working as an accountant and still living at home along with one younger sister.  Faith’s mother, father, and younger sister are all regular church goers, but Faith is a once-a-month participant.  For that reason, they are surprised when she announces she has received a message from God to move to another town and begin working on a horse ranch that helps disabled children.  Faith has never been good with animals or children, so her revelation from God doesn’t seem to make sense.

Against her parent’s wishes, but with the blessing of her church pastor, Faith takes off on her adventure.    She has to apply a good measure of persistence to even get a job at the horse ranch but eventually ends up cleaning out horse stalls.  Over time she develops some horse care skills with the help of her co-worker Marshall.  The problem is the ranch boss, an older woman named Bell, is not very impressed with Faith, and is especially concerned when Faith shies away from working with the disabled children – the most important work done on the ranch.  Faith has a fear of hurting the children because of her inexperience with the horses.

When she finally confronts her fear and takes part in helping a young girl, her worst nightmare comes true and the little girl is almost thrown from the horse.  Feeling defeated, Faith leaves the ranch and is followed by her now close friend Marshall.  Faith and Marshall have become more than friends and he doesn’t want to see her run away after one mistake.  But Faith believes she has been fooling herself into believing God spoke to her because she can’t understand why God would allow her to fail. Faith decides to go back home.

After a talk with her father, Faith decides to return to the horse ranch and give it another try.  Much to Marshall’s delight, Faith returns to her job at the ranch with a renewed determination to make it work.  Faith is surprised to learn that Marshall is not just another worker, but the owner of the ranch.  Soon after returning, Faith and Marshall are married and over time she becomes a fully certified therapist working closely with the children at the ranch.

Steps of Faith is a light-hearted drama that mixes comedy with a serious story about a young woman trying to find herself and God’s plan for her life.  Faith, played by Chrystee Pharris, is a likable character with an infectious personality.  Honestly, this story could have been told with a little more character development; nevertheless, the more-or-less abbreviated plot development is enjoyable to watch.  The romance between Faith and Marshall is believable and a fun aspect of the overall story.  Following the voice of God is not always easy and this story makes the point that God does not always send us down the easiest road.  Watching Faith overcome her fear and climb the mountain God has put before her, is a powerful message and makes this film worth watching.

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Reap what you Sow

The Bible provides us with a simple process for making our lives complete.  This process has nothing to do with material gain – it’s not about a bigger house, a new car, or a better job.  Those things should not be your ultimate goal.  The ultimate goal is far more fulfilling than any material gain.  It all starts by reading and taking to heart everything you’ve learned in the Bible.

“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”  Matthew 13:23 (NIV)

The crop you will produce from diligent Bible study is the fruit that will reveal to everyone that you are a true believer; and it will be the fruit that makes your life complete.

“By their fruit you will recognize them… every good tree bears good fruit… Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”  Matthew 7:16-20 (NIV)

This good fruit is actually what many believe they will gain from accumulating material objects.  The truth is these fruits cannot be bought.  We have to plant and cultivate this fruit on our own.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Love is cultivated by loving others.  Peace is cultivated by bringing peace to others.  Forbearance is cultivated by being patient with others.  Kindness is cultivated by being kind to others.  Goodness is cultivated by being good to others.  Faithfulness is cultivated by being faithful to God and others.  Gentleness is cultivated by being gentle to others.  Self-control is cultivated by your efforts to bring forth all of these fruits.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  Galatians 6:7-8 (NIV)

God makes the equation very simple.  You get what you give.  You also will receive these fruits in the same proportion that you give.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”  2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV)

If you want more all you have to do is give more.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”  Luke 6:38 (NIV)

Careful study of the Bible will reveal that everything needed to make your life complete can be acquired through this simple process of reaping what you sow.

“Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  James 3:17 (NIV)

 

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.

Following Jesus

In the final chapter of the Book of John, the resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples for the third time. This encounter contains an important lesson for all of us.  The disciples were in a boat fishing about a hundred yards off shore and were having no luck catching anything.  They were about ready to quit when Jesus called to them from the shore, telling them to cast their net on the right side of the boat.  The disciples didn’t realize this was Jesus offering them this advice until their net was full with over a hundred fish.

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  John 21:7 (NIV)

As followers of Jesus, we need to be ever vigilant and carefully consider where the Lord is working in our lives.  We are most effective when we stay focused on Jesus and follow his commands; His most important command being to love one another (John 13:34).

The gospel of John is a personal eyewitness account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, written by the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20).  John’s account paints a clear picture of the divine nature of Jesus establishing, without question, that He is indeed the Son of God and the provider of our salvation.  This is not a story that someone made up; this is history as recorded by someone who was by the side of Jesus throughout His ministry.

“This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.”  John 21:24 (NIV)

The three other gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell this story from three different perspectives and often include details that are not found in the Book of John.  If you have not read the other three accounts of the life of Jesus, I urge you to consider doing that now.  There is nothing more important than knowing Jesus and understanding his teaching.  Reading all four gospels will put you on a firm foundation and is a good starting point for your further study of the Bible.

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”  John 21:25 (NIV)

 

READ MORE FROM THE BOOK OF JOHN HERE

 

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