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.

Evangelize vs Witness

Today, it is extremely critical that every born again believer in Jesus Christ be literate of the distinction between evangelism and giving personal testimony (better known as witnessing).

The definition of witnessing is to testify to one’s religious convictions.  This usually takes the form of explaining to someone what the Lord Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit or the Father have done in one’s life or in one’s circumstances.  This is witnessing to the goodness of the Lord or the deliverance one experienced from the hand of the Lord.  It is testimony that affirms the presence of the Lord in one’s life and how that has caused changes in one’s behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, etc.  It acts as an “advertisement” so to speak to the one hearing the testimony.  It sturs awe, amazement, hope, anticipation, and desire in the hearer to seek the Lord for themselves.  “If He can do it for me, He will surely do it for you”.

The definition of evangelizing is to preach the gospel to.  This pertains to telling someone specifically about Jesus Christ – not you;  His mission, purpose, life, death, burial, resurrection and provision of eternal salvation.  It is the gospel message that convicts, soften hearts, brings contrition and repentance.  It is through the gospel message that one understands how to secure eternal forgiveness and eternal life.  So remember to ask yourself the next time you are having a discussion with an unbeliever if you are witnessing or evangelizing.  Both are beneficial but they are not synonymous.  Remember that it is only through Jesus Christ that one is saved – not through your personal testimony.

A Point to Ponder…

A born again believer in Jesus Christ is anyone who puts their faith totally in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.  It is someone who is said to have “entrusted” Jesus Christ with their entire life; to have committed themselves to Him because of what He has done for them and what He has promised them.

He has paid the penalty for their sinful nature by dying on the cross at Calvary which satisfied the righteous requirement of the law and as a result paved the way for all who believe in Him to be eternally forgiven of their sin and to be resurrected with Him unto eternal life with the Godhead at the end of the age.

This is the foundation of the Christian faith;  the rock of truth that every born again believer stands on with expectant hope.

Now, people don’t usually put their trust in something or someone who cannot deliver the “goods” so to speak; especially if it involves their very life.  If the person or thing falters on what was promised, they usually will disconnect themselves from them; move away from them; give up on them; or disown them, just to name of few of the possible responses.  They do this because they have lost “faith” in that person’s ability or the ability of the thing they relied on to deliver what was promised.

Though this behavior of giving up on someone or something for not fulfilling a promise is consistent with being human, it is not a behavior that is consistent with God.  Though people may fail to fulfill their promises to one another, God never fails to fulfill His promises to those who love Him and who receive Him as their personal Savior and Lord.

Ponder these verses of Scripture:

Numbers 23:19 (NIV):  God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind.  Does He speak and then not act?  Does He promise and not fulfill?

2Timothy 2:11-13 (NIV):  Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him.  If we disown Him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.

Why not then, consider giving your life to the One who can save you from eternal damnation.  To the One who promises and always fulfills His promises. To the One who did for you what you couldn’t do for yourself.  To the One who promises you an eternal life, free of sin and corruption and defilement.  An eternal life of fellowship with the One who created you and loved you to the point of dying for you so you could be reconciled and made holy.

In the climate of today’s relativism, it behooves you to ponder this thought; this piece of truth that can bring you to hope with an expectant joy that the world cannot give you, or promise you.

Give your life to Jesus Christ, the only one who can save you from eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire and eternal separation from the one who loved you enough to die for you…

If you want to learn more about salvation, go to this link: “What Is Salvation” 

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.

Repentance is still required in our daily lives…

This message might conflict with your theology but it is on point biblically.  Here’s the point:  Forgiveness rides on the heels of rebuke and repentance.

There is an interplay that has to happen in the life of the offender if he/she is ever going to be forgiven of an offense.  That interplay is between being rebuked and responding in repentance.

Rebuking someone is a “taboo” nowadays.  Many people feel it is a form of judging and therefore shy away from it.  Well, this only shows the extent of their illiteracy as it pertains to kingdom dynamics.

To rebuke is to criticize adversely or sharply.  It brings the person face to face with the wrongness of their words, actions or motivations and opens the door to conviction.

Without conviction concerning the wrongness of one’s actions there can be no desire to change.  No desire to repent.  Without conviction an offender could believe that their wrongful actions are fine and acceptable behaviors.

Conviction of conscience, mind and heart are what brings about change or repentance in the life of an offender.

Going a little further, this rebuking process happens on three different levels.

  1. Within the person’s conscience
  2. From the presence of the Holy Spirit residing in the person
  3. From another person.

Regardless of where it originates from, it does go on, everyday, in every person.  Most people just don’t want to admit to it.

So, if rebuking has been done in the proper manner, the offender should be at a point of conviction that they have offend God first, and not the person, for their  wrongful actions. Why? Because any and all sins against our neighbors are violations of God’s commandment.

That being said, the offender repents to God initially.  What does that mean?  It means they have changed their understanding and comprehension of their wrong doing.  That they have realized, accepted and replaced their sinful motivation for a godly motivation toward the one they have offended.   He/she confesses their waywardness in this situation and asks to be forgiven of God.

According to 1John 1:9 we know that God will forgive the offender and purify him of all unrighteousness.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  (NIV)

The next thing for the offender to do is to address the person he/she has offended.  This is where the command in Luke 17:3 comes into play:

…if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (KJV)

The last point that needs to be made is that man can only affirm what has already happened in heaven.  Forgiveness happens there first by God and then through the authority He has given to man (John 20:23) it is carried out here on earth.

“If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (NIV)

So you see forgiveness happens only after repentance has occurred in the life of the offender; and that repentance is the change in moral reorientation of the soul where the offender acknowledges the error of his/her ways and turns toward the divinely prescribed way of truth and righteousness of God.

God’s commands are still alive and powerful.  They still move the believer in the path of righteousness for His name sake.

Don’t be deceived by the world’s philosophies or pattern of thinking.  Listen to what the Holy Spirit says to you in your heart; do what He tells you to do and honor your Father in heaven as a result of your obedience.

Repentance is still a requirement of the Lord; even today.