32: 50 Days of 3:16

It’s Sunday morning, a man is brought into church into your church in a wheelchair, easily observed this man cannot walk his legs deformed in such way that he may have been like that since birth. During the worship service, the man is rolled up to the front where he cries out for healing. Some come to pray for the man asking Jesus to heal once again. No one truly expecting anything to happen to the man. This attitude is a reality in many of our churches. We know God still heals but not really getting our hopes up as we never see it.

By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

Acts 3:16

 

Take a second look at my story, what would happen if at the prayer moment throughout the building a loud crack is heard. Only seen to those who were faithful to come to pray, they see the man’s legs shoot out and start to gain strength and muscle right before their eyes. What if that man climbed out of his chair and put one foot in front of the other and gaining momentum started walking, no running and jumping around the altar praising God, how would the people in the pews react? There would be many surprise reactions, some disbelief others in shock.

This is what is happening here in Acts 3. Peter and John just met a man in need of a life-changing event. He was asking them for money, but they offered him the power of Jesus to be healed. What amazes me about this story is that they offered it but instead of waiting for the man to decided they took his right hand and pulled him up fully expecting him to be healed. Peter and John filled with the Holy Spirit had no doubt in the power of God to heal this man. They had personally seen Jesus do it, he told them they would do it, so they just did it. They gave all the credit to Jesus and the mans faith. They did not want any glory for this act nor should they. It was in the name of Jesus that the man was healed, and they had no doubt that it was going to happen. How would this world be changed it those who trust Jesus had this kind of faith to heal?

I can’t do that, I am no Peter or John, and I am definitely no Jesus. That was all back then and has no power now it just does not happen in this day and age.  Jesus promised us that the same Holy Spirit that worked with Him is in us and that we can do the same miracles and healings He did and even more. Why would his promise only extend for a generation or two and then disappear? If you google healings you will find that there are healings happening all over the world. Amazing things are happening in places, mainly in places where believers have less comfort and more reliance on God’s provision. Where I am it is very easy to get health care, but in a third world country where hospitals are in short supply trusting that God will heal seems to have more clout. Can God use you to heal someone right where you are? Yes he can, will you let him use you?

 

Father, we want to see people being healed. Not to build ourselves up as the ones doing the healing but to give you glory and draw men and woman to you. Strengthen our faith and destroy our disbelief. For far too long we have been quiet about what you can do, some thinking that it was only for the New Testament time period. Even today Jesus use us to reach this world through love, sharing your salvation and even healings. Give us the wisdom to reach the lost. Amen

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25: 50 Days of 3:16

We often wonder if God actually hears us. I know in my life it feels like the cries of my heart never make it past the ceiling. It takes much faith to pray to a God we cannot physically see, but we can see Him all around us in the creation. Like I mentioned already this week, we are created in God’s image. For us to say we cannot see God may be further from the truth as God’s image is all around us.

 

I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

Habakkuk 3:16

 

The prophet Habakkuk was a prophet of God. The people were tired of being bullied by other nations and just wanted some peace and to restore their home. Habakkuk took the complaints to God in prayer. Not just once but twice. The Lord answered Habakkuk’s prayers both times, each time being very clear that He is God and knows what He is doing. We often believe that God’s ways are roundabout and do not always make sense. But the problem is we here in the situations of life, do not see the bigger picture. For those in the situation, the problem looks unachievable, desperate and all hope is lost. But God knows the full plan and the results in every scenario that may happen. What we choose to do in each situation impacts the big picture as well. God sends the Holy Spirit to prompt us to make the right choices for the best results, that will glorify His name and strengthen your faith.

 

After the Lord had spoken to Habakkuk twice he ensured that he took time to pray and worship the Lord for revealing some of the big picture plans to him. His words here in 3:16 speak of an excitement for God to do mighty things against their enemies. He sang out his prayer for the nation to hear and rejoice with him.

 

Jesus came and turned this thought of praying to God asking for vengeance from oppression on its head. Jesus taught that we need to love our enemies and go the extra mile to turn the other cheek. Instead of asking God to destroy your enemies, Jesus taught us to ask Him for blessings on them. And not just ask for blessings but to bless them ourselves, focus on loving them despite the fact they may not deserve our love. This radical change in how we treat people who persecute, hate and oppress us is so foreign to this world we live in who is bent on revenge when we are hurt.

 

Like Habakkuk, we can still bring our complaints of oppression to God. But we cannot expect him to respond as He did here. He will bring us back to Jesus and his teachings, asking what we are doing to love our enemies? How can we work to bless them in their struggles? He will remind you that they need to recognize Jesus is the answer to what they need and that He sent you to be the one to tell them! We already have a promise from God that all who reject him will be dealt with, but as believers, we need to show the same love that Jesus did on the cross and share it, so they do not have to receive that punishment. Pray not that God will punish those who oppress you but that the will become your friends and believers in Christ.

 

Father, we thank you for what you are doing in our lives. Many times, we pray that you will deal with those who oppress us in hopes that you will smite them with a lightning bolt or something to that effect. We pray for forgiveness for ideas like this. We pray that you will use us to teach them that Jesus died for them and wants to have a relationship with them. Holy Spirit give us wisdom and words to speak that will reveal to them your love. Help us to love our enemies even when they do not deserve it Help us to forgive them for what they have done seeing them not as we do but as You do, a lost child. Use me even today. Amen

35: 50 Days Freed

Paul was a man who knew what it was like to be freed. He was once one of the fiercest opponents of this new Christian faith that in his eyes, and those he associated with, that this was a rough group that must be cut off before they infected the mainstream. He had made it his mission to search out and execute anyone who did not reject this new practice. Yet Jesus saw something in this man that no one else did. He took Saul and offered him a chance to change his ways and follow Him. In that moment Saul accepting what Jesus was offering changing his name to Paul as an outward sign of his inward change.

 

This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.

May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.  All glory to God forever and ever! Amen

Galatians 1: 1-5

 

Paul knew firsthand what it was like to receive an audible calling from Jesus. This type of call to believe is rare but not unheard of these days. There are reports of stories of Muslim men and woman being spoken to by Jesus and then repenting choosing to give up everything to follow Christ.  I believe we are so overwhelmed by entertainment here in the east that we do not know how to block it out and hear his voice. I can attest to this as last night as I was at our churches prayer time I was bombarded with things that distracted me on focusing on prayer. I left feeling discouraged and wondering if I just wasted an hour of my time.

 

I am finding it hard to separate myself from the entertainment of the world. There is always a great new TV show or movie to watch. Maybe it is the latest novels that are enjoyable to you. Yet we avoid or spend minimal time investing in the bible which is written with the intent of us learning the heart of God. We see later in Galatians 1 that Paul writes that he was freed in Christ but did not run headfirst into the ministry, he waited three years to pray and learn, asking God for direction and purpose. He separated himself from the old ways that had put him on a path of destruction. How effective would Paul have been if he had accepted Christ but still hung out with the people who were killing believers?

 

I guess the question I ask myself as well as you, is do we truly want to be rescued from this evil world?  Or are the pleasures so good that they feel like to leave them behind is asking too much? I don’t have the answer for you, but I know this if we trust God and dig into His word asking Him to guide our path He will put our feet on the path of freedom. Only then will we become effective in sharing our faith with others. And that is our ultimate mission is it not?

 

Father, I pray for grace and peace to all who read this message. I ask today that you guide us to the path of freedom. Holy Spirit move in us to dig deep into the bible asking questions and receiving answers. Help us to choose Jesus over the distractions of this world and become effective in sharing our faith with others. If we want to truly escape the evils of the world we need to recognize them, help us to see what is hindering our faith. We pray that we become stronger bearers of the light and shine brighter than ever before. We pray for freedom. Amen

22: 50 Days Freed

An inmate released from jail yet refusing to wear anything, but his old prison grab would probably garner some attention. It will not be the attention he desires because he would be judged based on where he has been. Though the thought of a prisoner who is free roaming around in an orange jumpsuit perplexes us, we as believers sometimes do the same thing. We have been given a freedom in Christ, yet we refuse to act like it. In Ephesians 6 we are called to put on the armor of God, so before we can do that we have to get out of the prison garb that once fit us so comfortably.
 
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT
I wonder if we examine yesterday, and really took some time to break it down, how would it look compared to the example of Christ. I wouldn’t have to look by heard to find times that I either missed an opportunity to share the love of Jesus or find a time where my example was not much of one. We go through life just doing the motions. Not really thinking about what we are doing as they have become ingrained in us.
To imitate God isn’t something that instantaneously happens when we accept Jesus into our lives. We are a work in progress, we still have to live in this sinful world which will daily grind us done in hopes of us throwing aside the new-found freedom we have. The enemy doesn’t want us to be effective in our walk with Jesus. If he has lost you, he will do everything in his power to either get you to relinquish the freedom or make you apathetic to the cause of reaching others. Lazy Christians are effective for the enemy. If he can get you to put on those old dirty prison rags and fit in with all the others, then he is content to let you do so.
But as followers of Jesus, we like children should be looking at him as a role model, father figure, teacher. Someone to look up to, aspire to, work to become like, it is what we are called to. He gave us a mission of sharing the same love, that rescued you from the eternity in hell, and to share it too those around us. Those who are like us, those who live close by and may not be like us, those outside our area and those out in the world. Do not be deceived, we are called to tell others about Jesus. If you are not telling others about Jesus you are not listening to the one who saved you. It is time to burn the prison clothes and replace them with the armor of God.
What is holding you back from sharing Jesus with people?
Jesus, we thank you for rescuing us. We ask your forgiveness if we haven’t been faithful in sharing you live with others. Help us to do this daily. Encourage us to see the moments and grasp them. I want to destroy my prison garb that has that connection to the old way of life and put on the armor of God that you offer me. As we see people come to you it will motivate us, even more, to share your love. Set us on fire. They matter to you, so they matter to me. Amen
 
 
 
 

7: 50 Days Freed

Life outside the relationship of God may seem to be all fine and normal but those who are outside his grace are living for nothing. Those who are living for nothing can and will be caught up by anything that sounds like it gives hope and freedom. But anything other then a relationship with Jesus is false hope. In reality, it can actually add more chains to their bondage and solidify the hold the enemy has on them. There is a reason we must be bold and willing to share our faith with others because they are unaware of their condition, they have either convinced themselves or have been convinced that everything is okay.
 
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2: 1-2
 
The choice that every man has to make is not easily swallowed. Many will argue that it isn’t fair that once choice determines where we spend eternity. Some hold off and make the claim I will wait for another day to make my choice, let me live my life now. Unfortunately, any choice even a delay is a choice not to accept the gift God has given to us; grace in Jesus. Some will say well if they never heard about Jesus how can they be accountable, I ask you this if you don’t take the time to tell them who then is responsible? We have been called to reach all nations with the Good news about Jesus. If every follower of Jesus took the time each day to share the love of Jesus with one person imagine the impact it would have on this world.
 
There are those who have given in to the darkness, either by choice or by their actions. This is a scary thought that someone would choose this, but it happens. The spirit guide, the fortune tellers, those running seances and others dabble in the occult opening their hearts and souls up to be playgrounds for the enemy. Other through acts that alter their minds, with drugs illegal or not, alcohol, entertainments and all sorts of perversions. We don’t know for sure but one might assume that those people we see on the news who choose to do some heinous crimes against women, children and even genocides may be filled with the enemy. Demonic possession and infilling are biblical and still relevant today. The enemy is covert in his operation as not to make a scene but he is using people to do some pretty sick things. I say this not to scare you but remind you that Jesus died for them to, there is freedom for those who the enemy feels he has a solid grip on.
 
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) Ephesians 2: 4-5
 
All mankind is called to be in a relationship with God. It is ingrained in our very being. We work to fill this void with many things and none will truly satisfy expect him. That is why many are easily susceptible to the enemy because they accept anything in hopes of finding something. It is also why Jesus made it clear that if we free someone from being possessed that we need to show them Jesus love to fill up the hole left behind lest the demon return with his buddies find the hole open and jump back in making things much worse. You might be reading this and are like ‘I could never tell a demon to leave a man, that is so weird, or I don’t have that power’. But you do. If Christ lives in you then you have the authority he has given you. He told his disciples that with the Holy Spirit they could do the same things he did and more, they had to trust him. The disciples did cast out demons and we can too. Please don’t take this and run around town looking for people to exorcise. Not my intent for you. But be prepared that if it ever happens you are confident that Jesus has given you an authority in his name to do what must be done.
 
Freedom, you have it lets start sharing it. Like I said earlier if ever believer told one person a day the world would be changed. Will you accept the mission you are called to, reaching the lost at all cost? To sit idly by and expect some else to do the work doesn’t cut it anymore. We need all hands on deck, everyone who calls God their Father stepping up, young and old as there is not retirement in Christ. We who are free need to share the freedom with other.
 
Father, empower us to reach the lost. Prepare us for the unexpected and show us your glory. Let us not be overwhelmed by sin and despair, but encouraged that those we talk to really do desire a relationship with the creator. Motivate your people to stop helping the enemy by being lazy and start scaring him with our evangelism. When the people of God stand up and start working on the mission he will tremble and go into defensive mode. It is time for the children of God to go on the offensive and spread the kingdom to all nations, including our friends, family and coworkers. Use us to show freedom to others. Amen
 

4: 50 Days Freed

The bondage of sin that entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God did not just affect mankind. The whole creation was placed into bondage slowly starting a cycle of decay. Adam was entrusted to take care of the earth, look after all that was in it, that was his to be his main priority in life. When sin entered his priorities changed from looking after the earth to looking after himself and his family.
 
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Romans 8:20-21
 
There is a reason that people are determined to fight for the planet. We have an innate characteristic that binds us to this earth, one to take care of it and protect it. Not because we are bound by it, but because it was our original role. Many have taken this to extremes, worshipping the creation over the creator. The earth was made for us to use and maintain but never to worship. It was meant to point us to the creator God showing us he loves us so much to give us such beauty.
 
The earth worships God, the earth itself is not an entity or being but nature is connected to the creator. If we won’t worship the rocks will cry out. The earth moans in the wake of childbirth. These references may sound human-like, but they resound of an earth trapped in bondage waiting for the day it gets back to the original plan. Revelation promises that when Jesus returns he will set his kingdom here on a new earth. This earth will not be destroyed but reborn. Restoration of the way it was, the return of the Garden, a revival of animals gone extinct. My thoughts anyways, but when freedom comes the natural disasters that plagued us now will be gone. The earth settling down and finally able to rest and spin with peace.
 
How does the freedom we hope for the earth relate to us? This bondage that was put on the earth is put on us. Whether we choose to believe it or not. The earth only has to look forward to its realise from this bondage. It cannot get any relief until that time. We, on the other hand, have been given the answer to our bondage problem. Jesus has provided a way free from the bondage of sin. We no longer have to stand idly by and wait for the freedom we can take hold of it in our lives and start living free. Once we have been set free we must make it our life’s mission to share it with others. If we don’t who will? Don’t expect someone else to do what God is calling you to do. Free people can free people.
 
Father, I pray that today you will rescue others from this bondage of sin that is holding people down. Work in their hearts to accept the freedom Jesus has for them if they would only humble themselves and ask him for the forgiveness of their sin. Motivate those who are believers to share their faith with others. Help us as caretakers of this earth to respect it and keep it healthy as it too is struggling under the weight of sin. Come soon Jesus and set up your new earth. Amen

Day 11: 50 Days All In

My last post stirred up a few people who thought my view on there being only one God was narrow-minded. One of these readers was quick to ensure I knew that they were a believer but didn’t think that Jesus was the only way to God. I have learned that those who must work hard and vigorously to defend what they believe must do so because they don’t truly believe what they are following but they are too stubborn to admit that they are wrong.
 
““Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.””
Matthew 7:21-27 NLT
There are many in our churches who claim to love Jesus but are lost. They have never really made the commitment to Christ, or maybe once in their lives many years ago but for the longest time just have been ‘playing’ church. Many understand what needs to be said to sound “Christianise” but fail to apply those same life principles to their hearts. All too often this talk without action approach will become stumbling blocks for new believers. Their lives may be mimicked as the ‘normal’ producing a new generation of Christians by name only missing out on the importance of an active relationship with Jesus.
 
We as followers of Christ need to have this active relationship with Jesus, which includes following his commands. We are commanded to love our neighbors. Jesus main mission to us was to go to all the world and make disciples. For many our neighbors may be as far into the world as we may get, yet we are to reach them with His love. We are told that we will be known by the world because of our love for those around us. Our actions must match the words we speak, and for this to become reality we must be all in in our faith.
 
My Pastor yesterday speaking from 1 Kings 18 made a statement that connects with this, ‘To have a current relationship with God we have to cut the bull.’ He was referring to the sacrifice Elijah was making to God when demonstrating God’s power over Baal. We need to stop playing around in our faith and start taking it seriously. Lives are at stake, and we can be the difference in the lives of those around us.
 
Where does your relationship with Jesus sit today? Are you taking it seriously, or are you playing games with God? Is there some bull that you need to cut out of your life? Something holding you back from loving your neighbors? What is your foundation built on? Do your actions match your words? I pray today that you live your life all in. If any of this hits home, don’t get defensive, be proactive, grab your bible. Confirm the words spoken by Jesus and the teachings of the apostles. Ask God to speak to you and work in your life so that you may give him your all. Don’t take my word for it, ask him yourself.
 
 
Father, today I pray for those struggling to go all in their relationship with you. Parts of themselves they are holding back, either in fear of what they may lose or because they enjoy that aspect of their lives. Reveal this to them so they may recognize that it is not beneficial to growth. Help us to love our neighbors in action not just words, let us be a light in our world. We want to be all in. Amen