A devotional challenge – What Foundation Is Your House Built On?

Read this devotional message and then challenge yourself to follow what it’s asking you to do:

Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)

24”Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Insights:      Jesus Christ is the one making this statement.  He presents a truth; an insight into an element of belief that is overlooked many times by believers or not fully understood.

That element is “acting on what you believe”

People make decisions every day in accordance with what they believe, and what they believe is a result of their own processes of acceptance or rejection of presented facts.  A person will assume a posture of a belief that will reflect their understanding of those presented facts as being either true or false.

What is significant for us to note is what does the person do with their beliefs? They can either act on them or not.  Just because someone has a belief in something does not mean they will act on that belief.  When they “act on” their belief it is because they put their trust and reliance on it.  When they “do not act on” their belief it is because their trust and reliance are lacking.

We are told in the Gospel of John 1:14 (NIV) that Jesus is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.  We are also told in Psalm 119:160 (NIV) that all of God’s words are true and eternal.

Therefore, in verse 24 of our devotional scripture passage, Jesus is speaking about those persons whom He calls wise, who hear His words of truth and accept them as truth and act on them out of trust and reliance.

In verse 26 of our devotional scripture passage, Jesus is speaking about those persons whom He calls foolish, who hear His words of truth and accept them as truth but do not act on them because of a lack of trust and reliance.

Jesus is giving us insight into the dynamics of what our faith should be.  The truths of God’s words are what we are to trust and rely on.  If we do what He tells us to do – we are demonstrating the trust we have in Him.  If we do not do what He tells us to do – we are demonstrating a lack of trust in Him.

Jesus is telling us that only by having trust in Him and doing what He asks us to do will ensure that we will overcome the situations, circumstances, trials, and tribulations that come upon us.  We can and will withstand these things because we are anchored on a “rock” foundation that is not moved by any situation, circumstance, trial or tribulation.

On the contrary, if someone has little trust in what Jesus says then they will find themselves not doing what He asks of them and when those situations, circumstances, trials or tribulations come upon them they will suffer great loss.

Application:      Examine yourself over the next thirty days to see how much trust and reliance you are putting in Jesus Christ in the various situations, circumstances, trials, and tribulations you encounter.

Do the following:

  1. Write down what situation, circumstance, trial or tribulation you find yourself confronted with.
  2. Write out the options you have concerning your responses to these areas by drawing a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On one side, label it “My Ideas” to solve the situation. On the other side, label it “Jesus’ Methods” to solve the situation.
  3. Use your Bible to locate various scriptures that speak to your situation. Write those scripture references on the side of your paper labeled “Jesus’ methods.”
  4. Compare your side to Jesus’ side and see what discrepancies exist between the way you would handle your situation and the way Jesus would.  If there are discrepancies you will have to ask yourself how much you believe that Jesus’ methods are true and better than yours. The proof of your faith will be evident with your decision to follow Jesus’ methods.
  5. Record how many times you were successful following your methods’ versus how many times you were successful following Jesus’ methods.

Prayer:        Lord, give me the desire to put into practice the truths of your Word concerning all of the situations, circumstances, trials or tribulations I find myself in.  Strengthen my faith through my obedience in fully trusting and relying on your Word so that I can experience your wisdom of standing in you as my “rock” of deliverance.  Change me, Lord.  Change my habits of reliance on myself so that I can bring glory and honor to you in the way I respond to life’s challenges.

It is in Jesus name I pray.   Amen.

Escape is a deception of the devil

In our lifetime, we will find ourselves engaged in many situations or circumstances that pose a threat to our safety and maybe even to our lives that we can handle by “escaping” from them.  But on the flip side, there may be situations or circumstances that we can’t escape and that we find we need to be “rescued” from instead.  Why?

It is because, in those situations where “escape” can be accomplished, it is due to our own efforts and merit to overcome whatever the threat or danger may be.  But in those situations where rescue is needed, it is due to our inability to overcome the threat or danger on our own efforts or merit.

It is like a person who is trapped in a burning room and who is unable to overcome the power and effects of the flames, heat, and smoke that are overcoming his/her every breath of oxygen. Unable to safely make it to an exit, this person will ultimately die of smoke inhalation and asphyxiation.

In effect, this person was not able to “escape” from the circumstances of the burning room on their own efforts or merit.  They needed to have some form of external help, such as a firefighter or Good Samaritan to come to their assistance.  They needed someone who had the power to overcome the circumstances of the burning room.  If that had happened, we would be able to say that the person was “rescued”  from the burning room by either the firefighter or Good Samaritan; we couldn’t say that they “escaped”.

The person who is trapped in that burning room has a final destiny that awaits them if they are not removed from that situation; it is the loss of their life.  If they cannot do anything on their own to remove themselves, make no mistake about it, they are going to die from smoke inhalation and asphyxiation.  Their self-efforts would be of no avail because they cannot overcome their physical condition.

Mankind (you and I), finds ourselves in a life-threatening situation with respect to our spiritual position and condition with God.  We cannot “escape” the sentence of eternal death that God has pronounced on us as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  It is a fact that mankind is destined to be thrown into the Lake of Fire, to be eternally separated from God, and to be eternally tormented.

The devil wants you to think that you can “escape” from this sentence of eternal death, separation, and torment.  The devil makes you think you are not in any danger with God.  The devil makes you think that all you have to do is to be good throughout your life and that will enable you to “escape” this sentence; that goodness alone will give you eternal fellowship with God.

But God tells us something very different.  God tells us that we cannot “escape” His sentence of eternal damnation and wrath on our own merits or efforts.  God tells us that the only way to have eternal fellowship and union with Him is through having belief and faith in Jesus Christ and thereby being “rescued” from His condemnation and wrath.

We are told in Colossians 1:13

13For He has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and He has brought us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.”

And in John 3:16,17

16For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.”

 God tells us that when we believe in His Son (Jesus Christ) for what He did for us by taking our punishment and dying on the cross; shedding His blood to provide the forgiveness of our sins; and entrusting our entire lives over to His care – only then will we be “rescued” by Jesus Christ from the sentence of eternal judgment and condemnation.

Don’t let Satan continue to deceive you with his lie that you can “escape” the eternal judgment of God by your good works.

Let today be the day you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

Believe that He died on the cross at Calvary to pay your sin debt; that He shed His own blood on the cross for the remission of your sins; that He was raised from the dead on the third day following His crucifixion through the justification of the Father; and that He gives eternal life to all who believe in Him.

Remember that you are in need of “rescue” from the judgment of God of being thrown into the Lake of Fire to be eternally tormented and of being eternally separated from God and experiencing a spiritual eternal death that comes from it.

Again I say, let today be the day you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and let God do what only He can do for you to make your life reconciled back to Him.

 

The Battle Is More Real Than You Think

To forgive someone is an act of your will and a finished work of Christ in your heart.  Literally, it is releasing someone from the penalty of their offense against you.  Though they are guilty of the offense and rightly are indebted to you to meet the punishment connected with the offense, you make the decision from your heart to remit them from the debt.

Now, this all sounds simple, and with the grace of God working in you, it is, but many times we make it more complicated than it has to be because we fail to do what needs to be done to win the battle.

Consider this:  Before one can come to this point of resolve, one must overcome the battle that rages inside of themselves that follows an offense.  The battle is with their flesh; with their soulish realm, for the flesh wants payback, revenge, perverted justice and punishment to come upon the offender for what they did.

One must win the battle over their flesh in order to succeed in the area of forgiveness.

Understand, your flesh “talks” to you very convincingly about keeping alive your resentment and anger.  Even though you may plead the blood of Christ over your mind, thoughts, and emotions, your flesh perseveres to keep alive the perverted desires that come from your self-righteousness, and you can find yourself having a debate with your flesh about what you should and should not do to your offender even when you have made up your mind to forgive.

This debate can go on for days and even years at a time if you have not learned how to crucify your flesh.  And if you ever lose this debate you can find yourself sinning against God by not demonstrating the conduct of heart He commands of those who have been offended.

You see this battle is real and it happens in the mind.  Every one of us steps into this battle the moment we are offended or transgressed against.  No one escapes it, yet there are some who have learned to do what the Lord has commanded us to do with ungodly thoughts and desires.

We are told in 2Corinthians 10:5 that –

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. 

The Lord tells us to be mindful of those self-righteous arguments that we say to ourselves:

“They had no right doing that to me, I’ll get them for that”

or

“I’ll kill you for what you’ve done to me, I hate you”

These thoughts have to be arrested.  They must be brought under the obedience of Christ because they go against the knowledge of God.  That means we must rethink those thoughts and replace them.

We must capture each one and “make it” obedient unto Christ.

“I’ll get them for that” becomes “God will avenge me”.

“I hate you” becomes “I love you because you are my neighbor but I don’t like what you did”. 

If we are going to defeat this flesh we must have faith in the spiritual weaponry we possess.  We must trust in the power that Christ has over the devil to demolish our ungodly patterns of thought.

You see, the battle is won by not allowing the thoughts of revenge, payback, punishment, etc. to run wild inside of your thinking.  The battle is won when you capture every one of those thoughts and make them obedient to what Christ has told you to do toward your offender or your enemy or someone who persecutes you.

Christ will bring those thoughts into submission inside your heart once you have arrested them and you will then find victory over them.  So don’t get frustrated if you find yourself battling with thoughts of whether to forgive or not.

Just follow 2Corinthians 10:5 and watch the Lord fight for you.

Where Can I Find Hope?

Today’s blog is intended for those listeners who are not yet born again believers in Jesus Christ and who are diligently searching for some kind of hope in their current life situation.

I am sure that for most of this group of people, there may be some confusion or ignorance concerning God.  Many of you may have never read the Bible; or even own one for that matter.  Many have never gone to church; have never prayed; sat in on a Bible study; or even have had an opportunity to talk about faith.  For some, they may have parents who brought them up in another religion; or they may have parents who know the Lord but still refuse to follow their faith.

Regardless, you still find that you are searching for some hope.  You have come to a point in your life where you can recognize that you have a deep seated void in your soul.  Your day to day routines and the path of life you find yourself on somehow do not carry any significance anymore.  You cannot seem to find any meaningful direction; you go in and out of temporary lapses of depression and dismay; you cannot seem to find joy in life.

Yes, you have periods of happiness and laughter but there is no joy in your heart.  You keep thinking to yourself “is this all there is to life, I know there has to be something more.”

Well you are correct – there is something more – and that something is faith.  Not just any faith; but specifically, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But before you or anyone else can be expected to have faith in Jesus Christ, you must first have faith in Almighty God.  For we are told in the Scriptures,

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

What this means is that a person must first believe that Almighty God exists.  That Almighty God is.

Now I am sure you have heard one of these following phrases sometime in your life:

  • I don’t believe in God or
  • There is no God

Well let me tell you something about these phrases. They are both proclaiming the same fact – the fact that Almighty God is; the fact that Almighty God exists.

Now I know you may be saying to yourself – how can Elder be getting that understanding from those phrases?

Well, in using these phrases the person does not mean they do not believe that “God” is; what they are saying is they do not believe “in” the God that is; or they “reject” the God that is.

You see, they are really referencing Almighty God when they make these statements because they cannot react to something that does not exist.  Nor can they refuse or reject something that is not there. That would not make any sense.  What they are doing by making these statements is expressing their decisions about a factual piece of evidence.  Either way, they are acknowledging that Almighty God is.

Scripture tells us in Romans 1:18-23

For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images make to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

So you see, as much as you may want to deny the fact that God really does exist, you cannot change the evidence He presents to you.

In line with this, is the evidence God presents concerning Jesus Christ.  Before we can go any further you must first understand the relevance of Jesus Christ, both to the world and most importantly to you.  Here are three things you need to consider:

First consideration is that you must trust in what God says about Jesus Christ.

God says that you have been born with a sinful nature.  That you come into this world separated from Him.  For many, this is a difficult truth to accept; yet it is still a truth.  You come into this world not in fellowship with God.  You come into this world under His condemnation.  Your position of separation and your condition of condemnation is the result of sin that occurred in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.

You are the inheritor of Adam’s sinful nature and only Jesus Christ can change that fact for the better.  Scripture tells us  in Romans 5:18-21 that:

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.  The law was added so that the trespass might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Second consideration is that Jesus Christ did what you could not do.

He paid the penalty for the sin of Adam.  He appeased the wrath of God’s judgment in order to give man the opportunity to be reconciled and reunited with God.  Scripture tells us in the Gospel of John 3:16-18 and verse 36:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

You see, Jesus quieted God’s anger.  Jesus gave God the justice He required for the sin committed against Him.  Jesus put himself in your place and brought reconciliation between you and God by dying on the cross and shedding His blood for the forgiveness of sin.

Third consideration is what are you going to do about Jesus Christ?

If you want to get your life in order, then you need Jesus Christ to become your Lord and Savior.  Jesus explained it this way to Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council in John 3:3, 5-6:

I tell you the truth; no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.  I tell you the truth; no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

If you are sensing that you are being drawn to God then know that the Scriptures are true when they say in John 6:44-45: that

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the Prophets, they will all be taught by God.  Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

So it is imperative that you follow your heart and come to Jesus.  Confess that He is Lord and believe in your heart that he was raised from the dead by the Father.  Call on Him now.  He is standing at the door to your heart and He is knocking.  Let Him in, know that Jesus loves you with an eternal love and that He will forgive you of your sin, and give you the gift of eternal life.  He will cleanse your heart and regenerate your spirit.  He will place God’s Spirit in you the moment you do what Romans 10:9-10, 13 instructs:

That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

So if you have just done what God requires for salvation, know that you serve a risen Lord.  Jesus is alive and well.  He sits at the right Hand of the Father in heaven with all power and authority and He promises you that he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Welcome to the family of God.

What is salvation and why is it so important?

Salvation is the deliverance from God’s condemnation and wrath.  It is a saving or rescuing from eternal damnation in the lake of fire.  It is a saving from being eternally separated from God in this present life and in the life after death.

It is important because man is separated from God.

Now that may not be so important to you, but it is extremely important to God.  It may not matter to you that you are not in fellowship with God, but it matters to Him.  He cares so much about the fact that man is separated from Him that He provided a way for man to get reconnected to Him.

The way is Jesus Christ.  God had Him die on a cross on a hill called Calvary in order to pay the penalty for man’s sin.  Jesus Christ gave His life; Jesus Christ died so that man could be rescued, saved, from God’s condemnation and wrath and eternal separation.

This act of death by Jesus Christ brought appeasement of God’s wrath and condemnation toward mankind.  God justified this act of Jesus Christ by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in heaven bestowing on Him all authority and power in heaven and earth and granting Him the power to give eternal life to all who believe in Him.

This eternal life is re-connection with God.  It is living in eternal fellowship with God.  It is being forgiven for your sins and becoming a part of the family of God as a son or daughter.

Therefore, God has made a way of salvation for those persons who believe in Jesus Christ and put their faith in Him as Lord and Savior of their lives.

God’s way of rescue from His wrath, condemnation and eternal separation is only through faith in Jesus Christ.