Setting The Bar High

Acts 15:7-11

“7And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

        As Christians we sometimes tend to forget what the Lord has given us grace on and saved us from.  We begin to think that this walk is easy and hold others to extremely high standards.  For some of us we forget that this walk we now have with Christ, like any any relationship, took time to build.  There are times of feeling disconnected, lazy and doubtful.  Yet, we expect others to be able to achieve this relationship with Christ at the snap of OUR fingers.  The fact is that God doesn’t move at the sound of our voice or when we feel it is necessary.  We move at the sound of His voice, at the time He deems appropriate.

        Many tend to turn into a person who becomes resentful at the things others do because they can no longer do them.  A bitterness sets in and the grace and mercy God shed on us, we cannot shed on others, which in return takes that covering of grace and mercy off of our own lives.  There were two commandments that Jesus gave during His time on earth: 1. Love the the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.  Have you ever heard someone say ” Well I love God, I just think that some of the people around me are idiots.”  I can’t help but laugh when I hear comments like this, or with somewhat of the same meaning, because if you love God those who act foolish should be receiving more of your love than those closest to you.  Jesus said that He came for the lost, yet we feel that the lost having nothing to live for and should just be wiped off the face of the earth.

        In the passage above the people were exclaiming to the Apostles and Elders that the gentiles were not baptized therefore they should cannot be saved.  I love the response of Peter when he says why should we place a yoke on the disciples that not even our fathers were able to bear.  In other words, why are we requiring others to be holy before coming to the Father, when even when we were circumcised we acted worse then them.  Why are we setting standards for others, that we were never able to attain?  Why do we not show the grace and mercy that the Father showed to us?

        Don’t hold others to standards that we were once not able to reach ourselves.  Shower others with love and encouragement and allow God to be in charge of the increase.  I urge you to shower people with love and encouragement today, let the love of God flow out of you.  I’m going to end today’s post with a prayer, be open to the spirit and receive it. God Bless!

“Heavenly Father we come before you Lord with longing hearts,desperately seeking grace, mercy and favor in your eyes. We ask Lord that you would forgive us of the standards we hold others to, when we ourselves cannot attain these standards. We ask Lord that your hand would be among us today, that as we pour out love and encouragement on others today, they would receive it and fell YOUR touch. Their hearts would turn to YOU and YOU would begin to lead them in righteousness. I ask that YOU watch over us and continue to guide our footsteps and make clear the path YOU have set before us.  In the name of YOUR SON JESUS, AMEN!”

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Disaster Prevention

Proverbs 1:28-33 (ESV)

28 “ Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
      They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
       29 Because they hated knowledge
      And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
       30 They would have none of my counsel
      And despised my every rebuke.
       31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
      And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
       32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
      And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
       33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
      And will be secure, without fear of evil.”

        Have you ever known or met a person who just denies any existence of God?  Or worse, maybe they claim to know God and believe in Jesus, yet they believe they can live life in which ever manner they please.  On top of this they seem to be taken care of, they never seem to be out of money, have nice cars, always on vacation and seem to have a peaceful family.  This facade just makes us cringe, doesn’t it?  Well it shouldn’t!

        The fact is that while these people may be thinking they are living the good life, in fact they are living a very shallow life, a life that if all these materialistic components were taken away, they would no longer have a meaning for life.  Sure the fruit of their labor looks good for the time being, but when tragedy strikes, as God promises it will, where will they go?  Many extremely wealthy families have been broken up over the past few years because of the economic depression our country is in.  People are divorcing, turning to drugs and alcohol, and taking their own lives.  This happens because the image the devils paints in our head is one that shows us that money is all we need to live at peace and we believe this.  However, the devil doesn’t tell us that one day we will be left with nothing but our heart and soul, which is to be examined and judged.

        Verse 33 says those that listen will dwell securely  and will be at EASE, without dread of disaster.  Ever notice how all these rich men put their money into stocks to attempt to capitalize on the money they already have earned and then they sit there and constantly watch what the stock market is doing because if their stock crashes they could lose everything.  This raises their stress level and blood pressure and also takes their attention away from their family.  This is why God urges us to take our safety out of our money and lay it into His hands.

        The ONLY way to fully be happy and safe is to invest in the Lord.  Invest with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, because HE is the only disaster protection we need.  He will watch over your family and lead them to the Promised Land.  God Bless!

The Face of an Angel

Acts 6:8-15

“8And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

        Standing up for what you believe in can be a trying duty.  There are many people and organizations out there that do not mind hearing others talk about God, but once the name of Jesus is brought up, it is almost as if they have been called a profound name.  Jesus is to us, what the Dark Knight is to Gotham City.  At the end of the movie, The Dark Knight, the officer’s son asks why Batman is running away, the officer replies because we have to chase him.  The son then says, but he has done nothing wrong and the officer says “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.”

        Jesus is the savior we need to get through our daily lives, we just are not always willing to stand up and contest for Him the same way He does for us.  If the police officers would have defended Batman, sure there would have been a group of people who believed against them, but the officers’ integrity would not have been challenged.  When it comes to us there are many times when we would rather not say we believe in Jesus because it will cause a ruckus with others around us, but when we deny Jesus we say that we believe He is the Savior we need, just not the Savior we want to share with others.  Then our own integrity is being challenged because we are turning into cowards.

       Matthew 5:10 reads, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Jesus tells us not to fret because although we may be laughed and persecuted for our trust in the Lord, our true home is waiting for us in Heaven.  Luke tells us in Acts 5:15, that when Stephen was sitting before the council, his face was like the face of an angel.  This absolutely blows my mind, that although he was being persecuted, he was also being comforted and lifted up by the Lord.  I don’t know about you but if being persecuted results in the Lord making my face like the face of an angel, I think it is worth it.

        If there is only one thing you take from this post, I hope it is that the next time you think about shying away from sharing your faith in Jesus, you remember that the Lord is watching and is with you. God Bless

He is With You

Psalm 9:9-10 (NKJV):

“9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
         A refuge in times of trouble.
 10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
         For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

        Often times when we are in the middle of a bad situation, or a storm, the first question that comes to mind is what did I do to deserve this?  Which many times seems like a reasonable question to ask, however we have a God that is by our side saying, “Don’t panic I haven’t gone anywhere.”  That feeling of panic is exactly what the enemy wants us to feel, because when we are in a moment of vulnerability is when we become more prone to act out in a way that is ungodly.  Like a mother bear that will mind her own business until she feels that someone is getting too close to her cubs.  When the mother bear feels that her cubs are being put in danger she becomes defensive, angry and has a heightened possibility of attacking.  When we as humans get put into a situation where we feel out of control, we feel that our family is in danger, we think there is an easy solution to the problem, we put ourselves into attack mode.  It could be as innocent as finding a lost purse and not returning it or seeing a person who has stabbed us in the back and wanting to start a fight with that person.  Both cases are cases in which sin seems excused.  However, it is at these times that God wants to see your true colors, are you really live a life set our for Him or when times get toughest, do you look to your own strength to get you thorough the storm.

We have a ROCK that we can hold on to during these tough times, He is the Cornerstone Rock that knows us better than we know ourselves.  It is through these dark Storms that He tests us to see our true colors.  They are tests to get us prepared for the blessings He has coming for us.  He has to put us through fire so we become shiny and durable, like refined gold.  The Lord is always looking to promote us, to take us to the next level, it is up to us LEAN ON HIM during the most vulnerable times in our life.  It is during these times that God becomes the most real in our lives.  As He told Paul in 2 Corinthians, His Power is perfected through our Weakness.  It is His sovereign love and justice that makes the impossible, possible in our lives.

Today, when situations, relationships, financial needs, become overwhelming cast your worries upon Jesus, because He cares for you!  Remember, the test is preparing you for the BLESSING!!!

Stand In Faith

Acts 4:13-22
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying “what shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than 40 years old.”

Do you ever get scared or embarrassed to thank God in front of others when a blessing is placed upon your life? A couple years back I was watching a Super Bowl game with some unbelieving friends. At the end of the game one of the players said that he first and foremost wanted to thank God for the accomplishment. Then one of my friends, angrily said “Why do they always have to do that?” I responded, “Do what?” He ignorantly responded “That thanking God crap.” I was amazed. First of all because I did not know one of my friends had such a strong opinion against thanking God and secondly because I had never heard anyone say something so negative against an athlete for believing in God. Athletes usually say whatever they feel like in interviews with criticism only coming if they use foul language.

This is the vibe I get from the passage above. Peter and John had just healed a man who had been crippled for his entire life. When they began to give Jesus the credit for it they then become persecuted for doing so. Had they said they had done it by there own power they most likely would have been praised for doing such a great deed. However, because they rightfully gave the credit to Jesus, those who refuse to believe It opposes their own power become defensive. You see as humans we like to feel in control, we like to believe that we have the power to overcome evil, to abstain from temptation through our own power, and to believe that we have enough knowledge to overcome all kinds of diseases. But as followers of Christ we know that we can do nothing without Christ. So we should never feel embarrassed to give God the credit. He is the reason we are able to lay our heads down to sleep and wake in the morning. It is because of Him that we do not have to wrestle with the torment of our past mistakes. He lays a white garment upon us and gives us access to the Father.

The world will try to keep you from talking about Christ, but it our responsibility to STAND FIRM in our faith. Through this others lives will be blessed, as even though Peter and John were thrown in jail the message of the Messiah was spreading and the people were praising God. That is the ultimate goal, to lead others to Christ. Even when others condemn you, continue to rejoice in the name of Jesus Christ! God Bless