The Tough Decision to Follow Jesus

<strong>The Tough Decision to Follow Jesus</strong>

The Scriptures remind us that when we make the decision to follow Jesus, we should “count the cost.”  (Lk 14:27-29)  In other words, Jesus wants us to know what it means to fully follow Him.  This is a serious subject with genuine consequences.

Just as the building of a physical house has a definite cost, so does the decision to follow Jesus have a cost.  We’re told that we must take up a CROSS and deny ourselves, in order to follow Jesus.  Let’s read what the Scriptures have to say:

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  (Mt 10:38 KJV, emphasis added)

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  (Lk 14:27 NASB)

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  (Mt 16:24 NRSV)

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  (Mk 8:34 NKJV)

First, we must deny ourselves!  What does that mean?  It means that we put Jesus and the Holy Spirit in charge of our lives.  We give up the throne that is our life, and ask Jesus to sit on the throne and to direct us by His Spirit.  We cannot follow Jesus and the world’s way at the same time.  Neither can we serve God and money at the same time.

Following Jesus may mean that we lose relationships, dreams, material things, and even our lives.  Our relationship with Jesus must take priority over everything else in our lives and must be of the supreme importance to us. 

We must, in essence, declare:  “I’d rather have Jesus than anything.”

If a day comes when someone threatens us with death if we do not renounce our faith in Jesus Christ, then we should happily choose Jesus and eternal life above staying here in our earthly body.  Pray for God’s blessings and grace in order to live boldly for Jesus.

May God’s grace strengthen you and empower you.

The Gospel Will Bring Division

The Gospel Will Bring Division

With strong language, Jesus clearly explained that He came to bring a sword and division among people.  This dividing sword is described below:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  (Heb 4:12 NKJV, emphasis added)

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’  37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.  (Mt 10:34-39 NIV)

“I came to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to receive, and how distressed I am until it is over! 51 Do you suppose that I came to bring peace to the world? No, not peace, but division.”  (Lk 12:49-51 GNT)

But the people of the city were divided. Some were with the Jews, while others were with the apostles.  (Ac 14:4 ISV)

The worldwide division created by the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we are either saved or lost.  We see this theme repeatedly in the Scriptures.

Jesus speaks about the fact that everyone must enter either the small gate or the wide gate.  Depending upon which gate we choose, we find ourselves upon either a narrow or a broad road. 

These two roads end in two different destinations:  choose the wide gate and travel the broad road that leads to destruction (eternity in hell) or choose the small gate and walk the narrow road that leads to life in heaven for all eternity.

The teachings of Jesus brought divisions:

Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”  But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.  (Joh 9:16 NIV)

Wherever the Gospel is preached, some believe and accept Christ as their Savior and others mock what they hear and reject God.  The Lord designed the Good News to divide people intentionally.

All of this means that our love for Jesus and our commitment to Him must surpass and depose every other relationship, even with our closest family members.  The Bible says:

“If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”  (Lk 14:26 NLT)  The way to have unity with our loved ones is to pray for their salvation and demonstrate God’s love and kindness in our interactions with them.  We can invite them to attend a church service with us and take opportunities to bless them and to help them.  The best way to minister to others is through acts of love and kindness. God bless you.

The Lord Saves His Servants

The Lord Saves His Servants

The Lord is committed to those of us who follow Him and serve Him.  His Word testifies to this truth repeatedly.

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.  (Ps 34:22 NKJV)  This is just one of the Lord’s promises to His people.  NONE who trust in Him shall be condemned.

The poor can run to you because you are a fortress in times of trouble.  10 Everyone who honors your name can trust you, because you are faithful to all who depend on you.  (Ps 9:9-10 CEV)  Our God is a fortress in times of trouble.  He is faithful to ALL who depend upon Him.  God cannot lie.  (Tit 1:2)

. . . who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion . . .  (Ps 103:4 NIV)  Not only does the Lord redeem our lives from hell but He also crowns us with His love and compassion.  Praise the Lord!

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  (Rom 8:31-32 ESV)  If God is on our side, but no one can succeed or gain victory over the Lord.  Since the Lord didn’t spare His own Son, it is certain that along with our salvation He freely gives us all that we need. 

We are blessed to serve a faithful and loving God. 

God Calls Us to Love Our Christian Family, Pt. 2

God Calls Us to Love Our Christian Family, Pt. 2

This is part two on this topic of loving our Christian brothers and sisters.  This is a very important subject to the Lord.  He has included so much information in His Word for us about this very thing.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  (1 Joh 4:11-12 NKJV)

As we demonstrate and live in a helpful, loving way toward our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are revealing to the world, and to anyone who cares to notice, that God abides in us.  It is His life in us that enables and empowers us to serve one another in love.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  (Joh 15:12)  Jesus modeled loving service in His life on earth.  He showed love to His followers and to all those who came to Him for help or for teaching.  The Lord Jesus is completely entitled to tell us to follow His example.

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.  (1 Joh 3:10)  This says it quite baldly:  an unrighteous life and an unloving attitude to a brother is proof that we are NOT ‘of God.’  Wow!  The only alternative to being ‘of God’ is to be a child of the devil, and we absolutely do NOT WANT to be identified as that.

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?  (1 Joh 4:20 NKJV)  How can we possibly say that we love God if we can’t show love and helpfulness to people with whom we can interact, communicate, and see!  God is being completely reasonable here.

Here are some hints on ways to show love to others:

  • Be kind
  • Be open-minded, friendly, and able to make the first move
  • Empathize
  • Be genuine
  • Expect nothing in return
  • Be a good listener
  • Allow others to make their own decisions
  • Love in small ways
  • Keep showing up, and
  • Look for ways that you can be of help to the individual or family.

We can do this because God has said that we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS!  (Rom 8:37)  Hallelujah!

An Established Throne

An Established Throne

As we read the Bible, we can see a consistent theme running throughout:  that God desires ALWAYS to do good to His people.  As we follow Christ obediently, by faith, we are one of God’s people.  Furthermore, He has decreed that His throne and His kingdom shall prevail forever.

Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.  (2 Sam 7:16 NIV)

. . . 10 since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. Also I will subdue all your enemies. Furthermore I tell you that the Lord will build you a house. 11 And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. 14 And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever.”  (1 Chron 17:10-14 NKJV)

The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.  (Ps 103:19 CEB)

A throne will be established in mercy. In the tent of David a judge will sit on the throne in truth, seeking justice, eager to bring righteousness.  (Isa 16:5 EHV)

Why should God’s promise to establish a throne forever be good news to us?  Here are a few points for your meditation and reflection.

  • God, who knows EVERYTHING, is on our side.  (Ps 118:6-7 ESV; Heb 13:5)
  • God, who is ALL POWERFUL, is 100% for us.  (Ps 56:9b; Isa 41:10; Mt 28:20)
  • God is all-wise, and He shares His wisdom with us through His word.  (Ps 111:10; Pro 2:6; Lk 21:15; Jas 1:5)
  • God has good plans for each one of us.  (Jer 29:11; 1 Cor 2:9)
  • God is our healer.  (Ex 15:26; Ps 30:2; Jer 30:17; 1 Pet 2:24)
  • The Lord fights for us.  (Deu 3:22; 20:14; Josh 23:10)
  • The Lord has given us the victory.  (Deu 20:4; Rom 8:37; 1 Cor 15:57; Col 2:15; 1 Joh 5:4)

God’s plans for us are good.  He not only fights on our side, but He has already given us the victory! Hallelujah!

Peace Must Rule

Peace Must Rule

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  (Col 3:15)

Synonyms of RULE:  govern, administrate, lead or control. 

Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace.”  (Isa 9:6)  He is our Savior and Lord, and we must follow Him in all that we do.  We must allow His peace to control and lead everything that we do and everything that we pursue in life and in ministry. 

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  (Ps 100:4)

Praise, thankfulness and blessing work in beautiful harmony with peace.  As we exalt, praise and bless the Lord, thankfulness arises in our hearts.  The overflow of that thankfulness will result in our being a blessing and a joy to other people as we minister God’s love to them.  And peace will be the result.

. . . and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  (Phil 4:7)

God’s peace exceeds and transcends any other definition of the word.  His peace goes so far beyond and is so much better than any human concept of peace that it will always outperform the human version of peace! 

Therefore, allow yourself to be ruled by God’s peace, so that your life will be blessed and others will be blessed in your presence.  Glory to God!

Imparted Power

Imparted Power

Most of us who follow Jesus Christ don’t realize how much power the Lord has imparted to us, His people.  The word imparted means transferred, taught, or revealed. 

When we read the Bible, we need to think deeply about each and every passage that we read.  We should ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us, and to give us revelations into the Scriptures.

Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ . . .  (2 Cor 2:10 ESV) 

We have authority to forgive others on behalf of the kingdom of God!  Think about the significance of this, and don’t take it lightly. 

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.  (Joh 20:23 ESV) 

Jesus has given us the example, along with our Heavenly Father, of forgiving mankind of all sin through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.  It is our responsibility to follow His good example and His teachings.  Let’s advance the kingdom of God by being just like Him by extending merciful, and generous forgiveness to others.

And I tell you this—whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever you free on earth will be freed in heaven.  (Mt 18:18 TL B) 

We have power to bind on earth: 

  • to truss up or tie up;
  • to hinder or inhibit people, demons, or calamitous events; and
  • to deter or prevent situations—as God directs.  

We have authority to set free on earth:

  • to liberate (unshackle) people from bondage;
  • to emancipate human beings from every shame;
  • to release all those imprisoned by sickness, fear, pain, and the consequences of sin; and
  • to unshackle hurting ones from unhealthy situations and relationships.

The Lord Jesus has said clearly that He has given His followers power and authority.  This is an important truth upon which to meditate, and ask God to give us insight and wisdom into it.

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  (Lk 10:19) 

Later, in the book of Luke, Jesus talks again about our being given power from heaven.

I am sending to you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. (Lk 24:49 ISV) Recognize who you are and what you have been given.  Believers are children of the Kingdom, and we have been given the message of the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.    It’s our job to bind or to set free the right things for the right reasons.  It’s time for us to listen to and obey the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Praise God!

Obedience to God’s Will

Obedience to God’s Will

The Bible says that all those who obey God’s will (which is His Word) live forever and are members of His family. 

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.  (1 Joh 2:17)

For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.  (Mk 3:35)

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”  (Mt 7:21)

Clearly this an important subject to the Lord, and it should be important to us, as well.  The Lord says that obedience is better than sacrifice.  (1 Sam 15:22)  Jesus obeyed His Father by coming to earth to become the Savior of the world.  And we are all the beneficiaries of Jesus’ obedience.

Let’s look at the Bible again:

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.  (Pro 21:3 ESV)

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him . . .   (1 Joh 2:4 ESV)

There is no way to follow Jesus without obedience to the Word of God.  This is an ongoing choice that we make daily—even moment by moment—as we continue to live by faith.  Blessings upon you.

The Beatitudes

The Beatitudes

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Mt 5:3-12)

In this passage of verses from the Bible, Jesus describes the categories of people that He says enjoy special favor with God. 

These are desirable attributes and personality traits in God’s sight, so we would do well to consider them.

  • The poor in spirit,
  • Those who mourn,
  • The meek,
  • Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
  • The merciful,
  • The pure in heart,
  • The peacemakers,
  • Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and
  • Those who are reviled and persecuted for Jesus’ sake.

Jesus said that if any of us see ourselves in this list that we should rejoice and be extraordinarily happy because we will receive a huge reward in heaven.  People who are described by this list are those who truly follow Jesus Christ, honor Him and respect Him as their example of faith and holiness. 

As we see Christianity more and more under attack around the world, we do well to nurture and build up our faith while we still have the time and opportunity to do so.  Draw near to the Lord with all of your heart and soul, mind and strength, in Jesus’ name.

Prosperity, Wealth, Abundance

Prosperity, Wealth, Abundance

God has given us promises to bless us with prosperity and abundance—even wealth.  But we need to trust in God’s faithfulness, and trust that He will bring these promises to pass in our own lives.

“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (Deu 8:18 NKJV)

This Scripture passage says that God gives us power to get wealth in order to establish His covenant with us.  This is an important concept to hold onto:  that God gives us the competence, aptitude, and capacity for receiving and acquiring wealth.

But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.  (Ps 37:11 NIV)

The meek are all those who follow Jesus Christ.  Jesus even said that the meek would inherit the earth.  That would include inheriting prosperity and wealth.  (Mt 5:5; Col 3:2) 

Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.  (Isa 60:5 NKJV)

Isaiah 60:5 informs us that abundance and wealth shall come to God’s people.  Furthermore, it says that our hearts with swell with joy and that our faces will glow joyously because of this truth.

The secret of knowing the Scriptures is to realize that every promise and every blessing is ours NOW—before we see it and before we experience it in the natural.  This is why we are called people of faith.  Faith is trusting God to bring unseen things into the place where we can see them and experience them!  (Heb 11:1)  Hallelujah!

Trust God’s Word more than you trust your senses!  He is a God of signs, wonders, and miracles.  (Ac 2:22; 1 Cor 12:28; Heb 2:4) 

God will never allow your faith in Him to be put to shame.  (Rom 9:33; 10:11)