Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #007  Growing with Jesus

 

Has this ever happened to you?  You buy something that needs assembly, and you spend an hour or so putting it together, only to discover some extra parts at the end that didn’t get put where they belong.  When you look carefully at the instructions, you discover you need to back up and essentially start over in order to get those parts where they need to go.  If you had only read the instructions completely beforehand you could have saved yourself some major frustration.  I think we all have a tendency to sometimes be a little bit lazy when it comes to managing the details. Of course, occasionally we can get away with taking shortcuts, but in most cases a more thoughtful approach is usually a much better way to go.

Trusting Jesus

Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is a good example of a process that can deliver great value when you carefully manage the details.  Trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is like planting a seed from which your Christian life will grow.  Your proclamation of faith has proven that your roots are planted in good soil.  With a good amount of sunshine and water, you should begin growing, but it’s important to consider the instructions found in the Bible so that you don’t leave anything out.  The Bible offers a list of things that should be added to your basic proclamation of faith in Jesus, “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV)

Goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love are the seven things listed in the Bible that should be added to your faith in Jesus.  These are fairly broad terms, so let’s look closer at how they could be implemented in your life.

Goodness is simply the careful consideration of right from wrong – of good vs. evil.  Every day we have choices to make and we are moving in the right direction when we to do the right thing.
Knowledge is your dedication to understanding the instructions found in the Bible.
Self-control is your ability to avoid the temptation of the devil – your control over selfish desire, lustful desire, and greedy desire.
Perseverance is your ability to develop peaceful patience that willingly waits for the promises of God to materialize.
Godliness is your sincere effort to follow in the footsteps of Jesus by following his teaching.
Mutual affection is your willingness to serve God by serving others.
And finally, Love is the element that needs to be included in every step.  Nothing in the Christian life can grow to maturity without love.

Growing as a Christian

Your growth as a Christian is totally dependent on you.  Your roots will sink deep into the soil, your branches will reach toward the sun, and you will produce good fruit when you diligently pursue the seven traits described here.  There’s nothing easy about being a follower of Jesus Christ.  Our walk with the Lord is a lifetime journey full of difficult moments.  Every day we are challenged to live up to our commitment to focus our life on growing in the Lord.  When we pay careful attention to these instructions, we can be certain that God’s blessings will flow in our direction.

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 celebrates God’s love.
Love Changes Everything” – 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.

Pulling Weeds with Jesus

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #006  Jesus and the Holy Spirit

 

Computers are great – when they work.  Did you ever have a moment with your computer when it wasn’t doing what you wanted it to do?  I’m pretty good with technology, but there are times when I’m in over my head.  When I’m busy trying to get some work done on my computer, I have no patience for troubleshooting and learning new tech skills.  I just want some remote expert to take over my computer and fix it so I can get back to work.  In many ways our lives are as complex as the computers we use.  Sometimes, our lives drift off into disrepair and we need some remote expert to take over and fix it. Knowing Jesus isn’t exactly like this, but there are some similarities.

The Holy Spirit

The first thing that happens to those who have trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – that means the Spirit of God takes up residency inside you, acting as your guide and protector.  For some, this is a profound physical experience that may include anything from tears to vivid visions that seem completely real.  For others, there is nothing more than a calm understanding that the work is done.  No matter what your experience is, if you have a sincere heart when you pray for salvation, you can be certain the work is done and the Holy Spirit is on board as your direct connection to God.  The Bible puts it this way “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”  (Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV)  That’s some colorful language that simply means once you trust Jesus as your Savior, you become a child of God and are connected to the Spirit of God, as a guarantee that Jesus will return for you one day.

Good vs. Evil

From this point forward, the Holy Spirit will be guiding you with a subtle internal voice that will nudge you in the right direction.  Keep in mind, you still have to make all of life’s choices on your own, and God’s enemy the devil will be trying to push you off in the wrong direction. But the Holy Spirit will be with you providing discernment and pointing you toward the light of truth.  The Bible tells us, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”  (1 John 5:19 NIV)  Until Jesus returns, we are on a training mission to learn how to identify and deal with evil.  Every day of your life in this world will include choices between good and evil.  The Bible gives us this warning, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”   (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)  As followers of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit directing us and protecting us from evil; nevertheless, the devil will never stop trying to have his way.

Making the Right Choices

Know this: nothing makes the devil happier than those who say he doesn’t exist.  Flying under the radar is what the devil is all about.  The devil’s primary method of operation is filled with constant lies and deception.  He knows nothing else.  We can all identify times in our lives that were clearly the devil’s manipulation.  We look back on these moments and wonder why we were so inconsiderate, selfish, or disrespectful.  It’s because we fell victim to the devil’s schemes.

The Holy Spirit won’t prevent you from making the wrong choice, but will absolutely provide you with the right way to go.  You are still in control.  As a child of God you are not a robot.  You are an independent follower of Jesus empowered by the Spirit of God to share God’s love with the world.  If you don’t let the enemy of God distract you, great things can be accomplished.

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 celebrates becoming one with God.
Make Us One” – Jesus Culture

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.

Growing with Jesus

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #005  Jesus and Salvation

 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve made a number of mistakes in your life.  Almost every day I’m reminded of some stupid thing I did when I was younger and I wish I could go back and get it right, but that’s never going to happen.  The best I can hope for is to live a more thoughtful life going forward.  As a follower of Jesus, I have two driving forces in my life:  The first is to love God and the second is to love my neighbor.  Jesus taught that those are the two most important aspects of our lives. Beyond this simple teaching, Jesus offers three additional basic ingredients that we are to follow in order to give our lives a deeper meaning:  We are to learn from the teachings of Jesus and follow his example, we are to then take that information and demonstrate our love for God by serving others the way Jesus did, and finally, we are to share this way of life with others so that they too can find God’s deeper meaning in life.

The above process is precisely why I’m sharing this information with you today.  Following Jesus has given my life profound meaning, and freed me from fear, guilt, discouragement, and loneliness by connecting me to the family of God.  I’m on a mission to help you make this same connection.  I’m not here to get you to join any particular church, or to read the Bible from cover to cover, and I have no interest in your money.  My only hope is to start you on a journey toward salvation through Jesus Christ.

What is Salvation

So what exactly is salvation?  To be completely honest, no one is exactly sure why God devised the process of salvation.  Many aspects of God remain a mystery.  Many aspects of God are simply beyond our ability to fully understand.  Here’s what we do know:  God created humans to be eternal beings – that means we were supposed to live forever; however, God also gave us the ability to decide if we want to go our own way or follow God’s instructions.  When the first man and woman decided to go their own way and disobey God’s instruction, he took away our ability to live forever.  Salvation is a gift from God that allows us to retrieve our ability to live forever.

Open Your Heart

There is some debate in the Christian community about whether or not you find salvation or salvation finds you.  The truth is, it’s a little bit of both.  If you have an open heart seeking to know Jesus, chances are he has found you and placed you on the path to salvation.  If you have a closed heart and are skeptical of all things Christian, chances are you are still trapped in the devil’s snares.  Your search for Jesus has to begin with your faith in God and his ability to change your life.  The Bible tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6 NASB)

Salvation through Faith in Jesus

God demonstrated his ability to provide us with eternal life by bringing Jesus back to life after his death on the cross.  Ultimately, it is our faith in that event that triggers our salvation.  If you truly have faith in the resurrection of Jesus, you are on the road to salvation. When you confess to God your understanding that you are a flawed human in need of a salvation, when you humble yourself before God and accept him as the ultimate power in the universe, when you have turned away from your disobedience to God in the pursuit of following Jesus – you will be saved.  The Bible puts it this way, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”   (Romans 10:9 NASB)  “Jesus as Lord,” means God and Jesus are one and the same.  Following Jesus means loving God and loving your neighbor.

Child of God

Once you have trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior you will become a child of God and become instantly connected to the Spirit of God.  This is sort of a short-hand version of the process, but it honestly is all you need to know to receive the free gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus – sincere faith leads to salvation.  A heart-felt commitment to follow the teachings of Jesus is the primary ingredient for salvation.

Salvation is a Prayer Away

Salvation is not something you jump into without some serious thought.  Wait for the right moment.  Genuine faith is a process that plays out over time.  You’ll know when you’re ready.  You can seek out a Christian friend or pastor to guide you through the process or take this step all by yourself.  Your salvation is just a simple prayer away.  Let God know you trust him completely.  Let God know you are nothing without him.  Let God know you regret turning your back on him until this moment.  Let God know you are guilty of making mistakes that you regret.  Let God know you are ready to follow the teachings of Jesus – you are ready to dedicate your life to loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself.  And finally, let God know that you have complete faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus as payment for your misdeeds and as your path to eternal life in the kingdom of God. Thank God from deep in your heart.  Amen.

If you’ve prayed for salvation, let someone know, don’t keep it to yourself, you need to connect with other believers.
In any event, if you prayed for salvation or did not, keep your eyes open for 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 celebrates our Savior Jesus.
My Savior My God” – Aaron Shust

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 Holy Spirit

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #004  Jesus and the Bible

 

Through no fault of her own, my teenage daughter was in a horrific traffic accident, suffering a traumatic brain injury that required emergency surgery.  It was an absolute miracle that she survived.  Praise God!  And praise the doctors and hospital staff that cared for her!  She spent a month in the hospital and it took several more months for her to fully recovery.  During the first couple of weeks in the hospital, we realized she was not going back to work any time soon so we wanted to file a state disability insurance claim.  Not knowing the exact procedure, we asked for help from the hospital social worker.  He directed us to the hospital medical records department and they directed us back to the social worker, who then directed us to the doctor in charge of my daughter’s care, who then directed us back to the hospital medical records department.  In spite of this run-around, we finally figured out how to file our claim and we sent it off to the state, only to be rejected and told we needed to start over.  To make a long story short, we spent months going through a process that should have only taken a couple of weeks.  Have you ever had an experience like this?

Finding Truth

For many, understanding the Bible is a good example of a confusing run-around.  There are so many different points of view, it’s impossible to know who is providing truth and who is only twisting the message for their own personal gain. Everything we know about Jesus is found in the pages of the Bible, so it’s important to have some basic understanding of this astonishing book.  For those who don’t know, the Bible is a collection of 66 smaller books composed by 40 different writers over 1,500 years with a total of over 700,000 words. The fact that all these books fit together perfectly, even though they were written by different authors, sometimes hundreds of years apart, is one example of the Bible’s miraculous nature. In addition, there are many predictions made in several books of the Bible that were fulfilled in detail hundreds of years later. Christians believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Christians believe that the human authors of the Bible were directed by God to write each and every word.

What did Jesus Say

So why would God allow the understanding of the Bible to become so confused?  The truth is God hasn’t allowed confusion.  If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are empowered by the Spirit of God to understand everything written in the Bible.  Some things will be understood immediately and other things will require some Christian maturity to fully understand.  The simple point I’m making is the Bible doesn’t cause confusion – people misinterpreting the Bible cause confusion.  Keep in mind, God has a spiritual enemy, known as the devil, who is actively trying to disrupt God’s message.

So how do you find Bible teachers that are providing the truth?  You compare them to Jesus.  In order to do this, you’ll need to read at least some of the Bible yourself.  Even if you have not yet trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you can get God’s help in reading the Bible by simply asking him in a sincere prayer. The book of Mark is the shortest book about the teachings of Jesus and is a good place for you to develop an understanding of what a sincere follower of Jesus should look like.

God’s Book of Instruction

I want to make one final point about the Bible before I go.  When Jesus walked the earth preaching his message of salvation, he constantly used the Old Testament portion of the Bible as his supporting text.  Jesus believed the Old Testament to be the inspired Word of God – for me that settles the issue.

The Bible is God’s book of instruction, left for us to find our way to the kingdom of God.  We need to know what’s in the Bible.  You can study the book on your own or you can find a trusted teacher who is a sincere follower of Jesus.  Some people live and thrive on a strict vegetarian diet, while others live and thrive on an all fast food diet. Some people love reading a good book, while others would much prefer watching a good movie. Some people insist on studying every word of the Bible, while others are content learning about the Bible from a trusted teacher. The fact that we are all different is one of the beautiful things about God’s creation. Your approach to the Bible is a personal choice and something you should carefully and prayerfully consider. There is no right path that everyone needs to follow.

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 celebrates what it means to know Jesus.
Jesus Is Just Alright” – DC Talk

Jesus and Salvation

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #003  Following Jesus

 

If you’ve been successful in life, you may feel fairly comfortable in this world. If you have a perfect job, a perfect relationship, and live in a perfect place, you probably are quite content with this world. However, I’ve never encountered anyone with a perfect life. Everyone I know goes through periods of joy and periods of despair. Some experience joy more than others. Some experience despair more than others. The world we live in is uneven and full of the unexpected.  Those who are triumphant today may find themselves tragically challenged tomorrow. In this world, we often see good people caught in bad situations. At the same time, we also see bad people living in opulent luxury. Those who work hard may still find themselves struggling to survive; those who hardly work at all may be rich beyond measure. I think it’s safe to say the world we live in has no true sense of fairness. In many ways, the world we live in is somewhat of a gamble that can go either way on any given day

Good vs. Evil

Most people don’t realize that God has allowed the devil to take control of this world. If you know Jesus, you are a child of God and protected from the devil – if not, you are on your own.  The Bible says this about followers of Jesus,  “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”  (1 John 5:19 NASB)  That’s right, God is real and the devil is an evil force in this world trying to upset the work of God.  We see this play out every day in our lives.  Evil forces trying to disrupt the forces of good.

You don’t have to go far to find evil in this world. It’s all around us. This is part of God’s design.  The time we spend in this world is designed to develop our ability to identify and confront evil. This world is an ongoing battle between good and evil. We engage in this battle every day. The only way to ultimately win this battle is to join forces with God.  Those who have connected with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ, will win.

The Spirit of God

If you are going through life without knowing Jesus, there’s a good chance you’ve felt the empty and lost feeling of being disconnected from God. If you’re going through life without knowing Jesus, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced the devil’s manipulation. Without the help of the Spirit of God, the devil can pull and push you in any direction he wants. Without a connection to the power of God, the devil can have his way with you. You may not even know he has taken control over your life. The devil is a master of deception. Money, power, and lust are his favorite tools to work with. Take a moment right now and evaluate your life. Is it possible the devil is at work in your life? Can you identify an event or circumstance that has the fingerprints of evil?

Life as a Christian

Before I go, I want to make one thing perfectly clear.  There is a common myth that once you become a Christian and begin following the teachings of Jesus, your life will suddenly be greatly blessed with every good thing. This is not the case. In some ways your life may become harder once you become a Christian. Keep in mind, our life here in this world has a purpose. That purpose is not to simply have a good time. Our life here is a training period that teaches us how to identify evil and how to deal with evil. You can’t learn these lessons without some difficulty in your life. If you’ve ever trained for any kind of athletic endeavor, you know that hard work is the key to success.  If you want to compete and win, a good coach will challenge you to the maximum of your potential.  There is no better coach than God. God is going to make sure we are trained to our highest capability. God is going to develop our abilities so that we can win.

Overcoming Evil

Finally, while life as a Christian will not be easy, there is one enormous advantage. Followers of Jesus Christ are empowered by the Spirit of God. Unbelievers do not have access to this awesome power. For this reason, unbelievers are far more vulnerable to the trickery of the devil. That doesn’t mean Christians can’t be manipulated by evil – they can be – but the Spirit of God is with all believers to help them overcome all the forces of evil found in this world.

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 celebrates how Jesus is ready to rescue you from this world.
Rescue Story” – Zach Williams

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 Bible

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus?  #002  Connecting with Jesus

 

I occasionally like to treat myself to a BLT. I think most people know, but in case you don’t, that is a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. I was introduced to the BLT many years ago by my mother who made them on toasted white bread with a little mayonnaise. The BLT was one of my favorite sandwiches as a teen and I thought it was perfect in its simplicity with no need for improvement. Then one day my mom brought home a ripe avocado and offered to include that on my BLT. Why? The BLT is a perfect sandwich. Why would you add avocado?  My mom told me it takes the BLT to a new level and of course she was right. To this day, I can’t eat a BLT without avocado.

I know this has happened to you somewhere at some time; you were going along with your life thinking all was well, until you discovered something new that changed everything. From that day forward, you couldn’t live without that new ingredient, or that new tool, or that newly discovered technique that makes your world complete. We can’t know what we don’t know.

We can’t appreciate the experience of something we haven’t experienced. It isn’t until we step out in faith and try something new that we make those kinds of life changing discoveries.

Our Designer and Creator

Before I became a Christian, I didn’t know very much about Jesus; therefore, I discounted stories about God and the Bible as unnecessary information.  It made sense to me that there was a God who created us.  The complexity of planet earth, and our human bodies could not have come about by random chance – there had to be a designer and creator.  But Jesus being crucified in order to pay for our sin and provide us with eternal life seemed like an enormous stretch of reality.  How is that possible?  Why would that even happen?

God is Spirit

Let’s back up to something I talked briefly about in my last message.  The person we look at in the mirror is not who we are.  We were made in the image of God who is spirit.  In the Bible we are told,   “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (John 4:24 NASB)  We are spirit beings living inside these mortal bodies. The Bible tells us, “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”  (1 Corinthians 15:44 NASB)  Our human bodies are merely a vehicle in which we are traveling through this world. When our time in this world is complete, we will return to our spirit body.  This understanding completely changed my way of thinking about Jesus.  Jesus cannot be understood in human terms – Jesus can only be understood in spiritual terms.

The spirit of God, our Creator, is extraordinary beyond imagination.  God is omniscient; meaning he knows all things. God is omnipotent; meaning he is all powerful. God is omnipresent; meaning he is everywhere at all times. The spirit of God surrounds the earth and is watching over us all.

Child of God

The most astonishing part of all of this is the simple fact that God wants to make a spiritual connection with all of us.  When we develop a relationship with Jesus, we become children of God. The Bible tells us, “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”  (1 Corinthians 6:17 NASB)  As children of God, we are connected to God through a spiritual connection called the Holy Spirit.  Once you have made this connection, you will experience life in a completely new way. This connection is one of those things that you don’t know you’re missing until you experience it first-hand. When you are connected to God, you have become part of an eternal spirit existence that will continue far beyond this world.

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 celebrates being a child of God.
Crazy” – Newsboys

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

 

 

Would You Like to Know More About Jesus? #001  Trusting Jesus

 

This message is for those who have not yet trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  This message is also for those who know someone who has not yet trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  This message is for those who are turned off by religion, but want to know God.  This message is for those who are tired of being pointed in the wrong direction.  This message is for those who are looking for a purpose in life, for meaning, for acceptance, for forgiveness.  This message is for those who are looking for freedom from fear, guilt, worry, resentment, discouragement, and loneliness.  In short, this message is for YOU.

Moving Closer to God

Hi, my name is Mike, and my goal is to help you move closer to God.  I’m not going to ask you to attend church anywhere, I’m not going to ask you to read the Bible from cover-to-cover, and I’m not at all interested in your money.  I’m only interested in helping you understand your Creator and the reason he created you.  I want to help you figure out why we are here and where we are going.  I want to help you understand the value of knowing Jesus.  I’m doing this because God wants me to love my neighbor.  You’re my neighbor and love is my primary motivation.

Here is some of what the Bible says about love:

“Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some people in my life who said they loved me and it never measured up to the love the Bible describes; however, God’s love does measure up – God’s love is limitless.  God’s love is the ultimate example of love.  In fact, the Bible tells us that God is love.  God created love and he created us, so that he could love us, and so that we would love him in return.  So the Bible is a love story all about YOU.  As a result, you get to write the ending to the story.  Will you return God’s love or will you walk away?

You are a Spirit Being

Let’s start this journey with a look in the mirror.  The person you see when you look in the mirror is not who you are.  You are a spirit being, living inside that human body.  You know this to be true, because you know you are far more than that human body has been able to achieve.  You know that you have enormous untapped potential.  You’re just waiting for the opportunity to arrive.  What I want you to understand is Jesus Christ is that opportunity.  When you put your faith and trust in Jesus, your spirit being (your true self that lives inside your mortal body), becomes one with God.  You are no longer connected to this world – you are a child of God with an eternal existence.  You will go on forever.  Your time spent in this world is a tiny fraction of all eternity and is designed by God to help you grow in knowledge and wisdom.

So what does this mean?  It means you have an extraordinary opportunity to be mentored by your Creator so that you can reach your absolute full potential.  When you put your faith and trust in Jesus, you are granted access to the spirit of God.  The spirit living inside your mortal body becomes one with the Spirit of God.  You no longer travel through this world on your own; you are forever connected directly to your Creator who becomes your personal guide.

Wisdom, Knowledge, and Strength

Keep in mind, trusting Jesus does not make life easy – it gives life meaning and purpose.  God doesn’t want your life to be easy – and you shouldn’t either.  Nothing is gained from an easy life.  The wisdom, knowledge, strength, and perseverance you will need for all eternity is best developed through experience.  You will also need that wisdom, knowledge, strength, and perseverance to help those you love here in this world.  Every aspect of your life, as a follower of Jesus, is a development process for your eternal life. Every life experience is also a tool to help you guide others toward knowing God the way you do.

Pointing the Way

Finally, I want you to know that there are many people who claim to be followers of Jesus who are not fully committed.  Some that claim to be believers are really just fans and not actual followers.  I only mention this because the Bible has been used by dishonest charlatans and ignorant opportunist for thousands of years.  These people aren’t trying to help you – they are trying to help themselves.  I’m not asking you for anything and never will.  My only goal is to share Jesus with you and point you toward your own personal relationship with him.  I have dedicated my life to pointing others in the right direction.

I hope I’ve sparked your interest 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 celebrates God’s love.
Love has Come” – Mark Schultz

 

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. 

Connecting with Jesus

Why the Bible is all about YOU

 

The Bible should have your name included in the title, because it’s a book about you.  Every book, psalm, proverb, and letter found in the Bible was written for you.  When you read from the Bible or listen to a trusted Bible teacher, it’s important for you to understand this is not an abstract collection of writings – every word of the Bible was written specifically for you.

The Bible is God’s message to YOU

The Bible is the one and only way for you to know God fully and completely.  The only source of honest truth we have is in the pages of the Bible.  Romans 15:4 tells us, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” 

The Bible is all about YOUR Creator. 

You were uniquely made by God your Creator. The Bible is essentially His instruction manual for the care and maintenance of your spiritual well-being.  You are a complex machine, and the best person to take care of any complex machine is the person who designed and built it.  We find this in Psalm 139:13-14, “For You created my innermost parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made.” 

How YOU respond to your Creator determines your future.

Obedience leads to blessing and rebellion leads to discipline.  God wants you to learn and grow in knowledge and wisdom.  The Bible is designed for that purpose.  Reading the Bible, or studying the Bible with a trusted teacher, demonstrates your faith in God’s instruction.  We are told this in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.” 

The teachings of Jesus were specifically written for YOU

The more you follow the teachings of Jesus the closer you are to knowing God intimately.  God sent Jesus to earth to give us the detailed instructions needed to live eternally with Him.  When you study the teachings of Jesus, you are sitting in God’s classroom.  God tells us this in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you.” 

The New Testament is designed to keep YOU spiritually healthy

Every word of instruction in the New Testament, when filtered through your own life, becomes specific information tailored made for you.  The Bible is intended to be a permanent fixture in your life, to be used along-side your everyday experience. You are constantly being guided by God throughout your life, and it is Scripture that keeps you pointed in the right direction.  In 2 Timothy 3:16 we are told, “All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness.” 

The Bible is YOUR personal invitation to eternal life in the kingdom of God

Salvation through Jesus Christ is the only way for you to get into heaven. Your study of the Bible demonstrates your faith in God.  John 5:24 gives us this simple formula from Jesus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life.” 

The Bible is a personal message to YOU

When you read the Bible, God is speaking directly to you and no one else.  Your personal life experience mixed with the Word of God, creates a specific narrative that is only valuable to you.  The Bible is a miraculous book that is able to adapt its message to each individual reading and to the life circumstance of that individual at the specific time of reading.  What you read today may have a completely different effect on you in a future reading.  We find this powerful understanding of the Bible in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” 

YOUR inheritance is found in the Bible

When you focus your life on continuous study of the Bible, through reading or instruction from a trusted Bible teacher, you establish your credentials as a child of God, worthy of your inheritance.  When you serve God by serving others, you demonstrate the wisdom gained from your study of the Word of God.  When you do everything with God in mind, based on your study of the Bible, God is well pleased.  We are reminded of this in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people, knowing that it is from the Lord that you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

God wants you to stay close to him throughout your life.  There is no place closer to God than the pages of the Bible.

 

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 Peace with Jesus

 

Finding Peace with Jesus

 

Jesus was sent into the world by God to bring peace.  When we place our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus as payment for our misconduct, we no longer need to fear death, we are granted eternal life in the kingdom of God.  The mission of Jesus is described this way in the book of Luke, “Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  (Luke 1:78-79)   Jesus is the “Sunrise from on high” that was sent to point the way to the peace derived from knowing we are to live forever in his loving arms.

Our Lord and Savior

What could be more comforting than to know that God has sent his Son to be our Lord and Savior?  What a wonderful blessing it is to know Jesus.  When we study the teachings of Jesus found in the Bible, we develop a personal connection to him like no other.  That relationship is our direct link to God which fuels a deep sense of peace.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)  Without Jesus, finding peace in this world can be extremely difficult.  Only believers are granted this extraordinary resource.

Jesus will Return

Our sense of peace in Jesus is magnified even more when we consider the possibility of his eminent return.  No one knows when Jesus is coming back, but we know for certain that evil will be completely destroyed on that day.  We know for certain our peace will be magnified a hundred times and we will be reunited with all of our loved ones.   Until that day, Jesus has commanded us to love God and love our neighbor.  That is the recipe for peace.  When we follow the teachings of Jesus, we find peace in knowing that we will be ready for Jesus no matter when he makes his triumphant return.

Knowing Jesus

Knowing Jesus, we have nothing to fear.  Knowing Jesus gives us unimagined power over the trouble found in this world.  “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.”  (John 14:27)   As believers, we have been gifted with the peace of Jesus.  Those were his parting words.  When we rest in the knowledge and understanding of Jesus, there is no end to our reservoir of peace.  When we put our faith and trust in Jesus, we are blessed with peace that surpasses all comprehension.

He is coming soon!  Are you ready?

 

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.

Challenges from God

Challenges from God

 

A perfect life without any trouble leaves no room for growth.  We grow when we are challenged.  Consider what it takes to become an exceptional athlete; every day’s training is a series of challenges designed to push you toward your maximum performance.  In many ways, God is our personal trainer.  God uses difficult times, struggles, emotional turmoil, and various other challenges in our lives in order to help us grow to spiritual maturity.  God knows precisely what we need to reach our full potential.  God knows precisely how much of a challenge we can endure.  God knows precisely when to step in and provide the support needed for success in any situation.  “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)  Not every challenge we face in life is from God, but God is with us no matter where the challenge originated.

Warning

God sometimes challenges us with a warning.  This warning comes in the form of a close call, or near miss event.  When we come within inches of making an enormous mistake that could lead to injury or some other kind of catastrophic failure, we have to praise God for allowing us to dodge a bullet.  “Listen to advice and accept discipline, so that you may be wise the rest of your days.”  (Proverbs 19:20)  If we let one of these events go by without acknowledging that it was God’s hand that saved us from destruction, we are far more likely to repeat the dangerous mistake again.  The challenge from God is for us to heed the warning and gain wisdom from the experience.

Look Deep Inside

God sometimes challenges us to look deep inside ourselves to be certain we are moving in the right direction.  The world we live in has a way of pulling us away from God and down a dark road toward destruction.  When we find ourselves disconnected from God; even in what might be considered a trivial matter, we need to take a moment for self-reflection.  “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)  God puts us in situations that challenge us in this way.  How we respond to these challenges will determine our future walk with the Lord.

Changing Course

God sometimes challenges us to consider altering our course.  Even if we’ve been walking with the Lord for a number of years, we may still be carrying with us baggage from before we were saved.  Even if we’ve been walking with the Lord for a number of years, we may still pick up bad habits from our involvement in this world. Anything that is a distraction from our relationship with Jesus needs to be put aside.  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)  As a follower of Jesus Christ we should no longer be tempted by worldly distractions, but it happens.  When it does, God will get our attention in some way and challenge us to make the needed changes.

Walking with the Lord

God is always at work in our lives.  God is working on you right now at this moment.  Don’t let any challenge from God go by without your sincere response.  Look for the warnings, search your inner being for things that are a distraction from God, and make any needed changes to secure your relationship with Jesus.  If you’re living a perfect life, something’s wrong.  Don’t be fooled.  When you’re walking with the Lord, you will be challenged.  Praise God for his instruction.  Praise God for his guidance.  Praise God for his everlasting love.

 

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.

Your New Life in Jesus