Do you remember when you first gave your heart to Jesus? You gave him it all even though you most likely did not know what that meant at the time. Maybe you followed him for a couple of years learning what He was all about, but one day it just felt like he left you, or something you heard made you question why you were even involved with him. You are not alone in this, almost all believers have this time in their lives. It was the same for the disciples.
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting their nets into the sea; for they were fisherman. Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ The immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Matt 4:18-20
We see here the moment Peter and Andrew left their lively hood. The reason the word their is italicized I believe is to emphasise the fact that these men owned the nets, they were not just some workers who left their job owned by someone else. They left everything they owned behind to follow this man who, like most new believers, didn’t know a lot about. Over the next three years they learned much about who Jesus was, they say incredible miracles and were personally taught by Him. Peter even confessed Jesus to be the Son of God; “He said to them ’But who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” Matt 16:15-16. So here we see that Peter knew who Jesus was and loved Him, yet when things got tough Peter like all the other disciples ran away from God. When Jesus was arrested in the garden we read that they fled and we hear nothing more from them until after the resurrection. We, however, hear of Peter who denies Jesus three times when asked if he knew or was an associate of Jesus.
As we read about what happened to Peter we see that he like many believers went back to his old way of living. He returned back to what he thought he knew which was fishing, defeated and wonder why he had wasted his last three years. Jesus found Peter here in John 21, I encourage you to read the full story. In this second experience Peter became a different man then He was the first time he met Jesus. His confidence and knowledge of Jesus had changed. He was ready to become the man who God was calling Him to be, he was ready to change.
So today Jesus wants to invite you to see Him for who he truly is. The resurrected saviour who love you no matter if you decide that you no longer believe in Him. He is calling you back to do amazing things, you are important to God. If God can change a fisherman into a founder of the church what does He have in store for you? I can tell you from experience that God has called me from serving my country to serving as a Pastor, and it is scary the amount of work involved in this transition yet each step forward I fell confident in the calling. Not everyone is called to this path but you are called to something. Have you taken the time to ask him what it is? If not lets change that and ask him today.
Father, Peter is a beautiful example of your love and grace. He could have been easily dismissed for his actions yet you used him to build the early church. We cannot ignore that you use people to do amazing things if they would only submit to you and trust that your ways are much better then our ideas. I pray that if anyone reading this today asks for the direction that you will guide them to your plan for them. I know it may not be the full plan but get them started on a journey where they feel purpose and hope. Use your people to reach the lost, Holy Spirit provide us with the wisdom that only comes from you. We trust you, God, that you are in control so it is time for a change where your faithful step up to their callings. Use us. Amen
“I was pretty angry towards God and pretty bitter towards his world. How could a loving God blind me? Why? Anyway, [he said] God’s plan is like a beautiful tapestry, and the tragedy of being human is that we only get to see it from the back, with all the ragged threads and the muddy colours. We only get a hint at the true beauty of what would be revealed if we could see the whole pattern on the other side as God does.” (Daredevil, S3E15, Matt Murdock)
How many would read this and understand the feeling? Maybe you’re not blind as the character in the show, but you lost a child, parent, or a host of other things that cannot be explained.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
I have been looking into the problem of evil in this world for my schooling and it is startling how many people will run into this wall and easily walk away from God. I have this thought that in this day and age we have so much information that one might think that we would be able to answer life’s questions, yet we have so many people focusing on disproving God’s existence that the information is so muddled that it is hard to know the truth anymore. That’s the issue with lies, when you peel off a layer there is another right there that has to be disproven. What makes it even more difficult is we have been neglecting to teach and discipline our fellow believes on what truth is so that when the lies come, they can protect themselves from them. But they get distracted and many falls to them. This responsibility is not the Pastors, he or she has an hour each week to instil wisdom and truth. The adage goes it takes a community to raise a child, well it takes a church family to raise up strong believers. If we want to see the next generation avoiding the pitfalls that have plagued believers for years, then we need to teach them the truth.
Here is the problem, how can we teach what many of us just do not know? If we do not know how to defend our faith basics and just use ‘because the bible says so’ we will fall flat. It takes a motivated person to take some time studying what the Bible and solid Christian scholars use to defend the faith. We have a plethora of solid teachers who have been sharing their knowledge through books, talks online and teachings. C.S. Lewis, James Taylor, William Lane Craig and many others have worked to defend the faith against others who want to tear it down. We need foundations, Jesus reminded us of that himself when he told us to build our house on a foundation so when the winds and storms come, we will not fall.
Can you answer any of these three questions that might shake a believer’s faith?
- Why would a God who is all loving let bad things happen to good people?
- Wasn’t the bible written long after the events after years of storytelling? How do we know it wasn’t written in that Jesus was resurrected and it never really happened?
- Why follow Christianity, don’t all religions end up in the same place?
Small groups of believers who meet weekly and work through these types of foundational truths, investing the time will become the leaders of tomorrow. The church needs to change from just one man or a small segment of the church doing all the work. If we follow Jesus example, he trained up a group of people and sent them out to do the work. It took a few years but when it was all said and done, they were ready to lead and became the first generation of Christian leaders. In those preparation years, we see them making mistakes, misunderstanding what they were being taught, and more. Yet what the learned and the experience made them so much stronger.
It is time for a change.
Father, we need to build our foundations. Many have been swept away by little theories and questions when they couldn’t get the answers they needed. The church family needs to be ready to help answer the questions or even better prepare them to defend against them before they happen. Give us the fortitude to start preparing believers for this, Holy Spirit give us the wisdom to mentor our brothers and sisters in the faith. We pray for a revival in the hearts of believers to defend their faith, with knowledge and love. Use us God to reach the lost all around us. Amen
In the journey to change it is time to recognize who we are in Christ. Are observers of the faith, watching and hoping someone else will do something? Are we senders expecting others to do the work while we throw money at them, so we can feel like we have contributed? Are we bench warmers hoping one day to be called into the forefront, but until we get the audible call we just sit and wait? No, we are called to be much stronger than that, we are called to be so much more than that. We are called to be ambassadors of our faith.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as through, God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
Ambassadors do not sit idly by and expect someone else to do the work. They do the work, they put in the hours the effort and the preparation. Jesus gave us the job description himself;
“As you go, preach, saying ‘the kingdom of God is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:7-8
This isn’t just a suggestion, Jesus was not giving this as a one of speech to the disciples, he said it again in Matthew 20:18-20. We are to reach out to this world as if this world is not our home. Ambassadors belong somewhere else, as believers in Jesus and those who have a relationship with God we no longer are citizens of the earth but are citizens of heaven living on earth. As such we need to be reaching those who are still clinging to the hope this world offers. So as ambassadors we had better start learning where our strength comes and start applying it in our lives.
We need to be reminded that God made the plan, Jesus fulfilled the plan and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to live within the plan. We often forget about the power the Holy Spirit has for us. We think God and Jesus and leave the breath of God as some sort of lower part of Him. But it isn’t like that, Jesus himself understood who the Holy Spirit was and how important he would be for the believers as they traversed in this world. In Jon 12: 15-18 hear Jesus promise about the Holy Spirit;
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray to the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in You. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
What a promise we have that we are not alone in this mission. Yet I know personally I feel overwhelmed and afraid at times to share my faith. Why is this, why if I have the Holy Spirit empowering me am I afraid and timid? I believe it is because I don’t spend enough time talking to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We pray and ask and ask, yet there are times we just need to embrace and listen. Work through the situations with God and let Him show us the truth. We need to trust that the Holy Spirit has our back, He will help us in our faithfulness. What is it going to take for you to stand up and be an ambassador for the kingdom of heaven?
Father, for far too long have I been sitting hoping others will rise up and reach the lost in my place. I can’t expect others to learn about you from just seeing me being good but they need to hear the hope I have in you. There are lots of good people in this world who they can follow, but they will lead them down paths that lead to nowhere. Holy Spirit gives me strength and wisdom to step out of my fear and into the role you are leading me into. Use me to be the man of God you need me to be. Let me be a strong witness to my friends, neighbours and family. Amen
Today we pray for Tunisia. Looking at just 17 years back when the number of Christians would have been listed in the hundreds, this is an improvement for this nation. Yet extremists target those converting and making a stand for Christ.
For more information, Open Doors USA has some details. They estimate just under 23,500 Christians in the population of 11.5 million people.
Please pray with me and add your prayers in the comments.
Father, we pray Tunisia. Holy Spirit move among your people in this nation, give them strength and wisdom to reach their families and neighbors. Give them boldness to reach out in places they would have never thought reachable. We pray that government officials will experience your love. That extremists will encounter you in real ways and through dreams and visions, ones so vivid that they have no valid alternative but to convert as a result. Work throughout this country blessing the land and its people. Amen
‘I remember it like it was yesterday, the minister had his altar call and before I knew it I was at the altar, crying and accepted Christ as my savior’, ‘Oh it was a the best day of my spiritual life, the day I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit.’, If you grew up in church do you remember hearing testimonies like this, accounts of peoples lives? I know I did, but the fact was the same people would get up and recount the same story every couple of months. I feel like I should have gotten up and asked ‘but what has he been doing lately?’ Their lives were lit with only a pilot light just waiting to be ignited if only they would step out in faith.
“Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!””
1 Samuel 7:12 NLT
Samuel had just lead the army of Israel in the defeat of the Philistines. God had supernaturally confused the army to the point they were easily overcome. Samuel then took the time to set up a reminder to the people of Israel of what God had done for them.
We all need to put reminders in our lives of what God has done for us and in us. These reminders aren’t there to look back on and live in, but are there to remind us that what God has done in the past and that he is still doing amazing things today and tomorrow. To many people set up reminders and then base their whole lives on what happened in that moment in time. These believers become closed to the new things that God is doing around them, wishing that the good old days where things were happening.
The phrase Samuel stated was ” up to this point” which tells me that there is hope for more as the future for Samuel and the Israelite’s was just beginning and they had many more events to live through.
Now some people ignore the reminders as seen not one chapter later when the people of Israel cry out to Samuel for a king. They started believing that a human king would be better suited to watch out for them then the God who was protecting them and giving them victories in battles.
So today I pray you examine your heart and answer this question. What are you doing with your reminders? Living in the past, forgetting them, or looking back reminding yourself that what happened then is just a hint of what can happen today. Are we living in the experiences we had or are we seeking for new ones? The Holy Spirit will ignite your passion if only you will humble yourself and ask for renewal. Let your testimony be fresh and exciting so others will want to hear of what God is doing with you and through you.
Jesus, let us not get lost in the memories of what happened yesterday, we thank you for it, but we ask for more today. We want to see you move in awesome power in our communities. Let us be great witnesses to those around us. Give us vision to reach the lost, knowing that you love them, they matter to you and they matter to us. Amen
All to often we see young singers who are very talented decide to follow the popular music scene and become something that is copying what is trendy at the moment. We see how they are influenced by those who they are hanging around with all in the name of being popular and selling records. They may have had a large following before they made the change, and many will follow what he or she is now doing with their music. Influence can corrupt, listening to bad advice will take you places you never should have gone. Innocence will be lost. But they can be restored, we hear tales of one young singer trying to change, but when your caught up in the industry change isn’t always easy. Lets pray for those who want to change, pray that Godly influence will be available to them. Not just for the celebrity but for your family and your friends.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 NLT
We as people tend to mimic those around us. Hang around someone with a strong accent for to long and we begin to use it as well. Put your self in an environment where people are speaking another language and it won’t be long before you are picking up words and maybe even speaking some. It’s just the way we are built.
Picture a turkey farm, now put an eagle egg in the midst. When that eagle hatches, it most likely will adapt to its environment and will become a ground bird like those it knows. But an eagle is meant to fly. It isn’t meant to walk with the turkeys,
We are meant to do so much more with our lives then hanging out with the turkeys who aren’t interested in the ways of Jesus. I am not saying you can’t hang out with your friends who don’t know Jesus. What I am asking is who is influencing who in the relationship? Being yoked to an unbeliever will more times then not drag you down. I pray you are the influence in their lives.
If we let God transform our lives through the Holy Spirit he will create in us a light for our unbelieving friends to be attracted to. We need to continue to ask for opportunities to reach them, share with them and show the love of Jesus to them. When was the last time you told your non-Christian friends that Jesus loves them, or have you given up on them?
Dear Jesus, we want to be a people who shares your love to all men. We want to focus of the mission of saving the world, and those around us are part of the world. Let us not get complacent when it comes to our close friends forgetting they need you too. Let us not write them off as lost causes, or expect our actions alone to draw them to you. For we do not know what word we may say that will trigger a reaction and a heart change. Guide our words today that we may share about you. Amen
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”Romans 12:2 NLT
I would say this is the hardest thing for any believer to do, new or weathered. To fall into the patterns of thinking like those around us is so easy. Party, drink, sleep around, cheat on taxes, wanting what your neighbour has, revenge, and the like.
We are called to be better then that. We are called to avoid copying the ways of our old life. It isn’t easy to stop the things you did before, but it can be done. If you want a meaningful relationship with Jesus it is something you need to strive for.
When you work at breaking the old ways patterns then we become more like Jesus, we become more effective in our faith. Others will see us as changed and become interested in what has changed us. If we don’t change outwards but our words change what will people think of our witness. All talk, nothing else. Don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes, we all will stumble, pick yourself up wipe off the dirt ask for forgiveness and keep pushing forward. Even Peter, a faithful disciple, told Jesus he would never eject him nor leave him, ran away when he was arrested and denied knowing him three times. Yet he was forgiven and did amazing things for Jesus sharing the faith its thousands of people.
Let’s work at changing inside and out. Let’s love them because God loves them. Let us not be a reason they don’t accept Jesus, but be a reason they do .It is time to change.
Jesus, I pray we will be changed. Help us to walk away a from the things that will lead us away or lead others away from you. We must make this choice individually, but those who do I pray you will give strength, joy and wisdom. Thank you Father for loving us. Help us to remember that they matter to you so they should matter to us. Amen
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
We are a people who like to try to control our own lives. We would rather live our lives as we are reading a ‘choose your own adventure book’ then to submit to someone else’s plans for our lives. We believe that we know what is best for our lives, our families and everything that we are in contact with.
Have you ever owned a gps? A navigation tool that helps you get to where you need to go. I have had one and when you enter your destination it expects you to follow it. But as stuburn humanity I believe that the gps is wrong and doesn’t want to take me the most effective route, so I take turns that go against what it tells me. The machine itself gets frustrated and recalculates, it keeps redirecting me as I get lost by trying to control how I get to me destination.
Do we sometimes do this with God? We ask him for a path to take and when he shows us we then decide to make our own way. We see an alternative that should get us to the same desired result, but n the end it cause us much pain, discomfort and detours. We are called to trust the Lord, not just a little but with al our hearts. To submit to him is to know him, then to press in and seek his will for your life will reveal which path to take.
So are you following his lead or are you trying to forge your own path? Maybe just maybe it is time to trust him and see where he will lead you.
Father, all to often we try to guide our own lives down roads that ultimatly lead to nothing. Sometimes the end is harmless but other times they can cause much pain. I pray that we start trusting you more in our descisions and life choices. Holy Spirit reveal to us the path to follow and choices we must make. We want to reach people for you, we want to build the kingdom, they matter to you so the matter to me. Amen