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

 

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.

Eternal Life

The resurrection of Jesus clearly established His claim to be the Son of God as being true and delivered His promise of salvation through this incredible act of love.  At this point, Jesus had completed His work here in this world and turned over his mission to the disciples, who have indirectly turned over that work to the entire body of Christ.  Keep in mind, the resurrection of Jesus is not a made up story – this is fact, corroborated by hundreds of witnesses who saw and encountered the resurrected Jesus.  Believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our faith that, by the grace of God, provides us with eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (NIV)

After Jesus had been in His tomb for three days, a woman named Mary Magdalene went to visit the tomb.  She was astonished to discover the stone in front of the tomb had been rolled away and Jesus was no longer inside.  After a few minutes of confusion, Jesus appeared to her fully alive.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  John 20:16-17 (NIV)

Mary did as Jesus instructed and ran to tell the disciples that Jesus was alive.  Later that evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples by miraculously entering a locked room where they were gathered.  The disciples were amazed and overjoyed to see Jesus among them alive.  After His greeting, Jesus delivered on His promise to empower them with the Spirit of Truth.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  John 20:21-22 (NIV)

A week later, Jesus once again appeared to the disciples by miraculously entering the locked room where they were gathered.  This time, the disciple Thomas, who was absent on the first visit, saw the resurrected Jesus for the first time.  Thomas said he would not believe unless he saw Him and touched Him.  Jesus encouraged Thomas to do just that.  Thomas then acknowledged the resurrected Jesus as his Lord.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29 (NIV)

 

READ MORE FROM THE BOOK OF JOHN HERE

 

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.

On the Way to the Cross

Jewish officials were angry with Jesus for claiming to be the Son of God, and one of the chief priests, Caiaphas, believed they should have Jesus killed because the miracles He was performing would only cause Him to become more popular and cause the Romans to step in and try to take over the Jewish people.

“If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”  John 11:48 (NIV)

For this reason, Jesus was captured by a group of soldiers lead by these Jewish officials, and taken to the Jewish high priest to be questioned.  When Jesus responded to their questions by telling them to go and ask the people who heard Him teach, they were insulted and continued on their mission to have Him killed by bringing Him to the Roman governor, Pilate.  Only the Roman governor had the authority to execute a man.

Pilate began his questioning of Jesus by asking Him if he considered Himself to be the king of the Jews as his captors claimed.

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”  John 18:36 (NIV)

Pilate was unable to find anything criminal in Jesus and returned to the Jews to tell them he would release Jesus if they wanted.  The Jews told Pilate they did not want Jesus released, so Pilate expanded his interrogation of Jesus with torture and humiliation.  Still finding no fault in Jesus Pilate once again went back to the gathered Jews and told them he could find no basis to charge Jesus with a crime.  The Jews responded by telling him Jesus broke Jewish law by claiming to be the Son of God.  They wanted him crucified.

Pilate wanted to set Jesus free but the Jewish leaders told him that Jesus claiming to be a king was an insult to Caesar.  To this, Pilate acquiesced to the demands of the Jews and sent Jesus on his way to be crucified.

Jesus is then sent on his way to conquer evil by letting it conquer Him; thereby gaining victory over the world through this ultimate act of love.

“At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”  John 19:41-42 (NIV)

 

READ MORE IN THE BOOK OF JOHN HERE

 

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.

Who is Jesus?

God is our eternal Creator and there is no other like Him; therefore, there was no reason for Him to have a name.  When asked by Moses what he should call God, the response he got was to simply say I am.  There is no reason for God to have a name to differentiate Him from any other because there is no other.

“Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:13-14 (NIV) 

Later in the book of Isaiah God again uses the term “I am” to identify Himself.

 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.”  Isaiah 43:10 (NIV)

Again in the book of Isaiah, God uses “I am” to identify Himself and qualifies His choice of words by stating there is no other God.

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.”  Isaiah 46:9 (NIV)

This is the reason the Jews believed Jesus was claiming to be God, because He frequently used the “I am” phrase to identify Himself.

So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”  John 8:28 (NIV)

In the book of John, Jesus takes the “I am” phrase and uses it to identify Himself in seven distinctly different ways.  Understanding the connection of the “I am” phrase to God Himself is an important distinction and serves as a clear reminder that Jesus is in fact claiming to be God.

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  John 6:35 (NIV)

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12 (NIV)

“Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.”  John 10:7 (NIV)

 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  John 10:11 (NIV)

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”  John 11:25 (NIV)

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6 (NIV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”  John 15:1 (NIV)

In the final moments of the ministry of Jesus, just before He is captured, and about to give up His life, Jesus makes one more pronouncement of His divine name, revealing His power, and His ultimate victory.

When the soldiers, officials, and the traitor Judas, came looking for Jesus, He wanted them to know who He was.  He was ready to fulfill His mission to shed His blood for our sins.  And the power of the words, “I am” knocked the soldiers to the ground.  Jesus is God.

“Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.”  John 18:4-6 (NIV)

 

READ MORE FROM THE BOOK OF JOHN HERE

 

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.

 

A Prayer from Jesus

After Jesus had his final meal with His disciples, He spent a good deal of time summarizing His teaching and promising them the Holy Spirit would join them after He departed.  He then ended His teaching with a prayer which is recorded in John 17.  Jesus praying to God the Father is a direct message to all believers.  There is no question that the prayers of Jesus are always fulfilled as spoken.  He begins by reestablishing our eternal existence.

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  John 17:3 (NIV)

A central theme in this prayer from Jesus is the understanding that God the Father and Jesus are one and that believers are one body united together with Jesus and the Father.

“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”  John 17:11 (NIV)

In this prayer, Jesus is about to leave this world, leaving all believers behind.  Jesus has a mission for us here in this world, and He knows it will not be easy; therefore, He prayed for God to keep us safe from the devil and his demons.

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”  John 17:15 (NIV)

This prayer is delivered in the presence of the disciples and is extended to you and me and all believers in Jesus Christ.  We are all together one with Jesus and the Father.

 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  John 17:20-21 (NIV)

Jesus finished His prayer by acknowledging the love of the Father as the fuel that powers everything we experience in our walk with Jesus.

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”  John 17:26 (NIV)

 

READ MORE FROM THE BOOK OF JOHN HERE

 

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.

Victory in Jesus

Beginning in chapter 14 of the Book of John, after Judas, who is about to betray Jesus, has left the room, Jesus spends a good deal of time giving His disciples their final teaching.  This is really a restatement of many of the things He has taught them already, and it is foundational to our walk with Jesus.  He begins by once again making clear He and God the Father are one.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”  John 14:6-7 (NIV)

We come to know and understand God by knowing and understanding Jesus.  This is why Bible study is so important.  The Word of God is our one true connection to Jesus, and therefore God the Father.  Jesus then told His disciples there is more to come.

 “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.”  John 14:15-17 (NIV)

Jesus and the Father are one and that union is empowered by the “Spirit of truth.”  Jesus tells the disciples that if they keep his commands they too will be filled with the Spirit of truth – the Holy Spirit.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”  John 14:23 (NIV)

The Holy Spirit inside of every follower of Jesus is our direct connection to God.  We maintain our connection to God by continuing to follow the teachings of Jesus.

“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.”  John 15:4 (NIV)

Following Jesus is easily summarized into one simple statement.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”  John 15:12 (NIV)

Jesus warned His disciples that there would be opposition.  The world we live in is filled with the devil’s demons who are actively trying to disrupt God’s ultimate plan.  Followers of Jesus are not of this world.

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”  John 15:19 (NIV)

Finally, Jesus told His disciples He was going away but he would return.  Indeed, we all are waiting for that glorious day!

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”  John 16:16 (NIV)

The world we live in is not a pleasant place.  It was designed this way so that we can learn to overcome evil.  This is our training ground.  In the end we will have victory.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NIV)

 

READ MORE FROM THE BOOK OF JOHN HERE

 

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.

What We’re Here For

“What We’re Here For” by The Afters

 

God’s Plan

I’ve studied the Bible from cover-to-cover several times and I can tell you absolutely that God is real, yet my understanding of Him is greatly limited.  God is allowing me to know everything I need to know and no more. I can’t wait to open the next door He places in my path.  I look forward to the joy and to the pain that will make my life complete.  God is in control.  Wherever He leads I will follow.  If you love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and you love your neighbor as yourself, you have all the answers you need (Luke 10:27).

If you’re like me, you want to move closer to God every single day.  If you’re like me, you are also distracted by this world.  We have to find our way, build our future, support our family and friends, pay our bills, and navigate often turbulent waters.  If you’re like me, you probably need a helping hand now and then.  From my perspective, we all need a helping hand now and then.  In fact, I believe God’s purpose for us is to be that helping hand.  I’m here for you.  You’re here for me.  That’s God’s plan.

Somehow you found your way to this blog, and to this post, and to this paragraph, and to these words. I don’t know if that’s part of God’s plan, but you do.  There is every possibility that God has brought you here for a reason.  You may have been placed right here at this moment in time to fulfill a mission for God.  I’m praying right now that you have been sent by God and that you will reach out and help me and that I will somehow be able to help you.

Take a moment and consider your own walk with God.  Do you feel God’s love in your life?  Do you want to feel God’s love more in your life?  Do you feel God’s power in your life?  Do you want to feel God’s power more in your life?  Have you noticed God nudging you in a certain direction?  Do you wish you had a clearer understanding of God’s purpose for your life?  Are you sharing God’s love with others?  Would you like to have more opportunity to share God’s love with others?  Have you dedicated your life to God?  Would you like to help those who don’t know God find Him and experience Him the way that you do?  I want you to consider a path going forward that will help us all grow in our relationship with God.

Here’s what I’m asking you to do:  I want you to focus your life on serving God by serving others and encouraging others around you to do the same.  The fact that you’ve read this far in this post suggests to me you’re already doing this in some capacity.  What we both need to do is figure out a way to multiply our efforts.  I can do more with your help.  You can do more with my help.  Here on this blog I’ve compiled some resources and suggestions that will help you plan your walk with God going forward.

The post titled, How to Serve God Today, is a long brainstorming list of possible ways to serve God by serving others.  This is a list of sometimes broad categories that are intended to spark more specific ideas in your head that are tailored made for you and your personal talents and resources.  The Stories category is a collection of real life examples of what other Christians have done around the country to serve God by serving others.  The Volunteer category includes several organizations that are dedicated to helping others, which you can take part in or support monetarily.  The Path to Discipleship series is a step-by-step process designed to help you move closer to God and energize your connection to the power of the Holy Spirit.  Finally, the rest of this blog is dedicated to a study of the Bible and lessons learned there, that are meant to inspire you and help you keep the Word of God on the top of your mind and first in your heart.

Using these tools to expand what you’re already doing in your spiritual life, will without question, increase the impact of your efforts.  Many of these tools are designed to be employed in groups that will once again be a benefit multiplier.  The more people we involve in our efforts to serve God by serving others, the more we will see the ordinary explode into the extraordinary.  We’ve all seen the Internet’s ability to take seemingly mundane events and turn them into viral movements that captivate the nation and sometimes the world.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next viral campaign to take over was centered on serving God by serving others?  If enough believers are focused on this effort, it’s only a matter of time before a spark sets off such a fire.

I don’t consider myself to be much of a leader.  I’m more of an organizer than a leader.  I’d like to think of my efforts with this blog as a storage closet for tools that can be used by leaders, like you.  You may be thinking, “I’m not much of a leader either.”  The truth is however, we are all leaders in some capacity.  Indeed, I’m leading the effort to compile the material on this blog and right now I’m attempting to lead you into making good use of what’s available.  Even if you have not been a leader of a group of any size, you are the leader of your own life.  You do make your own decisions.  When you take the tools I have compiled for you on this blog and put them to use with your own resources, I can assure you positive things will begin to happen.  When people around you see what your efforts are accomplishing – they will follow your lead.  You will have become a leader.

Time is ticking away.  Every moment that goes by is gone forever.  Everyone who could have benefited from our efforts yesterday is still waiting for us to take action today.  Read through the resources on this blog and come up with your personal plan to serve God by serving others.  If you’re already doing just that, consider the possibilities presented in this blog as tools to help you expand your efforts.  In all cases, document your success and share it with others so that your victory can be duplicated elsewhere.  Use your own social media accounts or bring your story here and I will be thrilled to share it as a story with pictures, or through a video if you have that ability.  I stand ready to be of help to you in any way I can.

Let’s help each other serve God by serving others.

May you be richly blessed in your efforts!

Sincerely in Christ,

Mike

The Ultimate Teacher

In chapter thirteen of the Book of John, we come to the section commonly known as the last supper.  Jesus returned to Jerusalem to bring his friend Lazarus back from the dead, knowing full well this would be His own death sentence, since the Jewish leaders were plotting to have Him killed.

“Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.”  John 13:1 (NIV)

Knowing His time was short, he gathered His twelve disciples together for a meal.  Jesus never stopped teaching and this evening was no different.  Jesus began by offering a dramatic demonstration of the kind of sacrificial love He wanted to leave behind with His disciples.  Taking on the task of a common servant – something a superior rabbi would never do in this culture – Jesus went around the room and washed the feet of every disciple.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”  John 13:14 (NIV)

Jesus was telling the disciples that we are all the same – there is no superior – we are all here to serve one another.  After this, Jesus began to hint that one of the disciples had an ulterior motive and He made an announcement that shocked the whole group.

“After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”  John 13:21 (NIV)

As they began their meal together, Jesus was talking privately with two of the disciples and revealed that Judas was the one who would betray Him.  At that moment the devil took possession of Judas and he left the group leaving the others alone with Jesus.

With the evil one gone, Jesus provided the remaining eleven with His most profound teaching.  Returning to the servant theme that started the evening, Jesus offered up a one sentence summation of His entire message.  This one tool is the single most important thing Jesus ever said, and it should be the foundation on which we all stand firmly as we seek to follow Jesus.

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  John 13:34 (NIV)

 

READ MORE FROM THE BOOK OF JOHN HERE

 

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