Have you ever had a conversation with someone and then hours or even days latter a response pops into your head that you didn’t think of at the time? I recently experienced just that. I was talking to someone near and dear to me when they mentioned that Paul, after he was saved, went into the dessert for ten plus years in order to study and prepare himself to be used by God and like Paul we too need years of preparation before we will be in a place to be used by God. This wasn’t the first time I heard that sentiment and at the time I didn’t give it much thought. But a few days later, like a light bulb being turned on in my head, I realized the error of that line of reasoning.
Specifically, there are two problems with the view. First, it is factually inaccurate. To see the inaccuracy, one only needs to look at what Paul does after his conversion and after regaining his sight, “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God… But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 9:20-22). Apparently, the three days he spent fasting after he met Jesus but before he regained his sight was all the preparation he needed to confound the Jews and prove that Jesus was the Christ. Secondly, the thought is based more on personal presupposition than the word of God. The ten plus years are often referred to as the silent years for a reason—there is not a lot of information about them, however there are some clues that can be picked up on. For instance, every time we see Paul before he is sent to be an apostle to the Gentiles he is preaching in synagogues, saving souls, and making enemies, which is the identical thing he did after the church of Antioch sent him out. There was no substantive change in Paul’s behavior—his ministry did not begin after he was commissioned but after he was converted.
To be completely frank, we sometimes use Paul’s “preparation period” as an excuse to do nothing significant with our lives. It stands as an unassailable justification for living self-focused, myopic lives. But we need to see it for what it is—a rationalization—and what it does to us—prevents us from doing something eternal for the Lord. Don’t wait to make a difference for the Lord, grab a hold of every opportunity, life is short, make it count! A friend of mine, a Romanian pastor, recounted a story to me that I think is appropriate to close this devotional. After several years of getting equipped my friend went out into the backwoods of Romania and began preaching the gospel in small villages. After preaching in one particular village an elderly man walked up to him and said, “I believe what you said and if what you said is true, that means that all my family members and loved ones are in hell right now. I have only one question, what took you so long to come here and preach? So many people who now have no change could have been saved. Where have you been?”
It’s a sobering story that begs the question, “What am I doing today to make an eternal difference?” It’s a question that only you can answer. It there a coworker that needs to hear the gospel? It is time to take a step of faith into something new? Is God calling you to share his love overseas? Do you need to use your resources to advance God’s kingdom? There are no do overs in life—choose to make an eternal impact today.
Hold open your hands for a moment, I know it sounds weird, go ahead and try it. Ok, now if you are near a kitchen or even have paper, tear off a small piece or grab some sugar, just a few grains of sugar and drop them into the palm of your hand.
———> (I’ll give you a moment to give it a try)
Ok, hopefully if you have done this, you are wondering why, so bear with me and let’s read a passage together (while holding your hand open)…
John 10:28 says (Jesus speaking) “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.No one can snatch them away from me”
You are directly in the hands of our savior, right now, in this moment, even it’s its frightening, fearful, exhausting or just bliss, Jesus promises that NO ONE can snatch us from His hand. He also says something easy to miss, “I give them eternal life”…what are you turning to give you life, to give you joy and to give you strength?
You see although NO ONE can snatch us from His hand, it is possible for us to simply walk away from His hand and care in search for something else, outside of His hand.
I want to encourage you today, don’t look for affirmation from people, because WE are flawed, look for it directly from your heavenly father. All that you need can be found directly IN Christ. Only Jesus can make you feel the way you really long to feel, so don’t go looking for it in people, places or things. Just rest in whom gives us eternal life.
(Now go ahead and close your hand tightly and thank God that He holds your world in His hands)
A friend in The LIFE app www.thelifeapp.us recently brought to my attention an amazing concept out of 1. Chronicles 3:5. It is there and in 2. Sam. 5:14 that we learn of Bathsheba’s four children with David. Not only was Solomon born through this painful relationship, but another son was also born to David and Bathsheba. They named him Nathan. What an amazing thought; yes, most likely they named this little guy after the prophet Nathan, who was the friend who confronted David of his sin. And check out Luke 3:31 where we learn that Nathan and Solomon, as David’s sons, are the two chosen children to fulfill the prophetic lineage to Jesus Christ. David’s lineage splits off to Joseph and to Mary’s family lines from these two brothers.
Through Nathan is Mary’s lineage (Luke’s record) and through Solomon is Joseph’s (Matthew’s record). Grace upon grace! What a great lesson on friendship. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Prov. 27:6 Nathan out of love, hurt David deeply, but he spoke the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Yet it was this wound of honesty that brought David to repentance and forgiveness. As a result, Psalm 51 was written.
We must speak the truth in love to our friends. A friend loves at all times (Prov. 17:17), even when it hurts. I was introduced recently to a business leadership book by Patrick Lencioni entitled “Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty.” It is a fascinating insight into establishing a culture of vulnerability and transparency. Any group would be benefited in seeking to build a community where the fig leaves are removed and where truth and honest conversation can take place in the safe environment of God’s gracious love. Who knows, in such an setting, you may even have a child named after you by a friend.
In Hebrews 12:1,2 we read this “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
I love this passage because it reminds us that God is the one who people see in our daily lives. You might think going to the grocery store isn’t anything that resembles worship or even taking your kids back and forth from school as anything very spiritual but in fact what we can understand from this passage is that if we keep our eyes on Jesus, which is the champion of our faith, we will live of life of faith that a “crowd of witnesses” will take note of.
That’s what serving God is all about, following Christ means being a witness, and allowing Christ to fully dwell and live in us and in so doing, people around us will see him through our lives. OUr church is about lives that are transformed, people who were once “blind” and can now “see”, people who were once “lost” and now “live”, people who were once dead to “sin” and are now alive in “Christ”.
My prayer is that your life is one that the crowds of witnesses around you will say, Jesus lives because I see it in them.
“He who has the Son has the life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” (1. John 5:12) All of life absolutely reduces down to the simple question, “Got Jesus?” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear in Matthew 7 that there is a narrow gate to life and a broad way to destruction. There are two trees, one that bears fruit and one that is cut down and thrown into the fire. There are also two confessions; one that leads to eternal life and one that will hear the words, “I never knew you.” And finally there are two foundations, one of sand and one of rock. When Jesus said, “I am The Way, The Truth and The Life,” in John 14:6 He was not declaring that there are many ways to God.
Jesus alone IS the way to eternal life. No one can come to the Father except through Him. Though we live at a time when the majority embraces pluralism, this ideal is just the voice of the broad, fruitless confession that is founded on shifting sand of opinion, and not on the Rock of Jesus Christ. It is essential to know the truth as declared by God Himself in the Scriptures. And this is the truth that sets people free. Be encouraged to dig into the Word of God to know with assurance that you are holding onto God’s opinion and not your own. And it is this pursuit in life that leads to The LIFE. It is the goal of The LIFE App to encourage people to grow within this LIFE. This is the life of John 3:16 from the Wycliffe Bible Translations Da Jesus Book
www.pidginbible.org “God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da real kine life dat stay to da max foreva.” Be sure to sign up for The LIFE online discipleship tool Just go to: www.thelifeapp.us Be sure to join a group or start a group with your accountability peeps.
Have you ever thought of the aroma that you spread to those around you? Not your aftershave or perfume, but the fragrance of Christ that you carry with you!
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”(v14)
It’s the paradox of being a conquered slave, but at the same time being an emissary of God himself! Then in the next verse, he describes another paradox, that to those who are being saved, we are the aroma of life, but to those who are perishing, we are the aroma of death. The same gospel has opposite effects on people – a beautiful fragrance of life or a pungent, offensive odor of death.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul describes why some people can’t understand the amazing gift of salvation that God is offering to them:
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (v 3-4)
A few years ago, I was at a conference and one of the speakers said that we have three options of how we relate to the world:
- Fortress – we can pull away from the world and protect ourselves and our children from all the bad that is out there
- Force – we can choose activism to try to force change through legislation and political action
- Fragrance – we can live in the world in such a way that others see Christ’s love through us
There is a spiritual battle being waged for the souls of humanity, and our job is to (1) take the gospel – the beautiful fragrance of Christ – with us everywhere we go, and (2) pray for the illumination of the hearts and minds of unbelievers around us.
What kind of fragrance are you spreading?
It’s officially wedding season. That means men and women across the world will spend thousands of dollars on flowers, dresses, cakes and rings. As well as hundreds of hours on making sure the 7 hour extravaganza is absolutely perfect. The challenge with this picture is that in most cases very little time is invested in what’s most important: the lifelong marriage.
The Bible instructs us on our roles as husbands and wives. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. Wives, respect your husbands in all things (Ephesians 5:21-33). How to love God’s way, be patient and kind, as well as what love is not, jealous, boastful, proud or rude (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). It provides us with a Godly perspective on marriage which is very important particularly in our society that views marriage negatively. Marriage is good because God said so (Genesis 2:18). When we face challenges we can conclude that what we are experiencing is not good, but marriage is.
No matter how beautiful the dress, bomb the food, or carats in the rings, it has very little to do with the success of your marriage. What will have the most significant impact on you having a great marriage is you laying a solid foundation before the big day as well as the amount of time, creativity and effort you invest in your marriage. Time; spend time growing in your faith by reading the Bible and praying alone and together. Take the time to become a master of your spouse. Creativity; the God who made the heavens and earth as well as all the creative things in it, created marriage so ask God to hook you up with some creative ways to display your love to each. This will prevent it getting stale or you shifting to auto pilot marriage. Effort; always bring your best to your marriage, and not leftovers. “I promise to love you in sickness or in health, in good times and bad til death do us part, that’s an incredible promise we made but that’s just the beginning. Gods word says “ and whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly as unto the Lord and not unto men (Colossians 3:23). Husbands and wives lets not sit around and wait until we get to the end. God has big plans for married people so don’t settle for anything other Greatness in your marriage! Play hard and have fun. If for any reason its not what you want it to be, fix yourself first.
A spirit of rebellion is a very dangerous and harmful thing. Let me start by saying it was Satan himself that rebelled against God first, he did not desire God’s will nor did he desire to obey God above all he did not desire that God receive all the glory, he rebelled against God and took angels with him. After that it still wasn’t enough, he invaded the Earth and got a humans (perfected) to rebel against God as well. That one act of rebellion sparked our sinful nature which desires to rebel to this day. Don’t believe me? Look at a small child, you never have to teach them to rebel against you no matter how well you treat them, they want THEIR way and will fight as hard as they can to get it. Rebellion is a real and serious thing and it exists in the hearts of many today who call themselves believers.
Listen to what God’s word says in 1 Samuel 15:23 ”Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft (divination), and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.”
Rebellion in essence is desiring a different type of intervention, stubbornness is a heart focused on a different answer and power, other than God.
The easiest time to rebel is when the situation doesn’t benefit you anymore, or when someone has hurt you. Sometimes a person or leader might offend you or even cause you to lose trust in them which leads to pride, resentment, bitterness and among other things, a spirit of rebellion. Why discuss this today? Why does it matter? I believe the spirit of rebellion is completely demonic in nature and highly influences people to make choices they should not, you see even when the situation doesn’t benefit you anymore, you can still trust God to work it out, that is called faith. It also affirms what scripture tells us in the New Testament over and over again, if we live with Christ we must also be willing to suffer for Christ.
IF you don’t like your leader, your boss, your manager- the situation, don’t allow bitterness to grow within you and give birth to a spirit of rebellion, ask God to purify your heart, seek forgiveness and healing so that rebellion will not get a hold of your heart. Remember this:
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
NO CONDEMNATION! Not based on our worthiness or goodness, but based on being “in Christ Jesus.” Jesus death fully paid for every sin, and when a person surrenders to Jesus through faith, they are placed in Christ and become a new creation! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor 5:17)
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18)
Are you in Christ by believing in him? Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ by believing what he said is true about you and rejecting the deceptions of the evil one, who only wants to discourage you and tear you down. Walk in the new life he has given you and reject guilt & condemnation!
Community Group Pastor
Last night as I was preparing for our worship service, I kept reading and memorizing Psalms, I usually do this just to prepare my heart and mind to speak God’s praises and get my natural language to be in the mindset and spirit of worship and praise. As I was reading and uttering some of the Psalms I said, in my mind “God is my Rock and my shield”…which as you know was written by King David many times.
The Holy Spirit, just then whispered something so powerful that had not dawned on me until he said it…He said, “David knew me as a small boy, every time he practiced his sling shot and picked up a rock, he knew me as His rock since then, when he faced Goliath, he picked up three smooth rocks… that’s why he always wrote, God- My ROCK and my shield” As we led worship today I mentioned that David called on the name of the Lord because knew who God was, he knew God was his Rock because God had delivered him many times through small rocks. How well do you know God today? I pray you would know him so that when you are able to call upon him, you can rest upon whom you are calling. He is able and mighty to save those who would call on his name in faith.