GOD DESIRES COMMITMENT

As we slip past the Easter weekend, which marks the greatest event in human history — the rising of our Savior, Jesus Christ, from the dead —we are moving toward the next big event on the Christian calendar: Pentecost and the presence of the Holy Spirit. With the ammunition of a risen Savior, a loving Father, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we are well armed to do battle by sharing our faith — the story of forgiveness and redemption, the granting of peace and joy, and the promise of eternal life — with a disbelieving world. We can do this if we’re fired-up for the Lord, not “lukewarm” as are so many so-called Christians.


Daniel 12:3 (NCV): The wise people will shine like the brightness of the sky. Those who teach others to live right will shine like stars forever and ever.

Revelation 3:16 (ESV): So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.


OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST does not like lukewarm, uncommitted, lackadaisical, worldly Christians claiming to represent Him and His message of redemption to the world.

Instead, He wants us to be as committed to the saving power of the Gospel as He was committed to dying on the Cross for our salvation.

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus said to the church in Laodicea that their lack of passion and zeal for the Gospel was annoying. He wanted them fired-up for the Good News! He wanted them to sing His praises!

Instead, He found the Laodiceans to be, like many Christians today, indifferent to the message of salvation. Too many Christians, He is saying, occupy the pews on Sunday morning, then return to their secular lives after the Benediction.

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EVANGELIST WILLIAM FAY calls this indifference “living in the middle.” Here’s what he writes:

“Trying to live in the middle is living a lie. The truth is, either you follow God, or you follow Satan. Either you are in a relationship with Christ, or you’re not. You are either God’s child or God’s enemy. … No one is in the middle. … Those who have chosen to reject Christ are condemned.” (William Fay, Share Jesus Without Fear Workbook, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tenn. 2019, p. 13)

In his book Crazy Love, pastor and author Francis Chan says this about lukewarm Christians:

“As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are ‘lukewarm’ are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven.” (Francis Chan, Crazy Love, Chapter Five, Kindle edit., Loc. 793)

Chan writes that Jesus is clear in His denunciation of indifferent Christianity. He says that Jesus “wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian’ without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.” (Ibid., loc. 820)

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THIS BRING US to our most important question: So What?

Where are we in this equation? Are we sold-out for Jesus Christ or are we indifferent, casual, part-time Christians who neither follow our Lord with passion nor share our faith with those He places in our lives?

If we are committed to following Jesus, really following Him, then how committed are we to sharing the Gospel message with others? 

How often do we pray God will give us an opportunity to share? How prepared are we when given that opportunity to share what we believe to be true, that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? Or that Jesus Christ has forgiven us and transformed our lives?

When we do share the Message, how often do we pray afterward for the people we talked to, give them our names to answer any questions they might have, or follow up with them?

How many of us actually know how to do any of this … or really care to learn?

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POSTSCRIPT: Our Lord has given us both a commandment and an encouragement to do this very thing. 

In Matthew 28, Jesus gives us the commandment, known as the Great Commission, to go into all the world and tell people to do “all that I have commanded you.”

Jesus also has given us encouragement. In our text source today from Daniel 12, He tells us those who teach others the message of salvation “will shine like stars forever and ever.”

He tells us in His Word what He wants from us. It’s this:

“Come, Follow Me.”


PRAYER

Our Heavenly Father, forgive us for our lack of commitment to Your commandment to tell others about Jesus Christ, the Good News of the Gospel and our salvation. Forgive us, please, for our failure to share the story of forgiveness, compassion, and love with those we meet. Our excuses, which seem so real to us in the moment, vanish into thin air when compared with reality, that those who don’t know You or who know of You but have rejected Your offer of grace, are doomed to an eternity of pain. While that should burden our hearts, Lord, somehow we can live without the trouble. Forgive us, Lord, and change our hearts to care for those You call. When You give us that chance, that moment to share, may we call on Your power and speak from our hearts to their hearts. Lord, we pray our words, like seed on rich soil, will fall on open hearts. For this, we thank You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN

AN EASTER MEDITATION

SHINING FAITH

But [the angel] said to [the women], “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here.” — Mark 16:6 (NKJV)

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” — Matt. 5:16 (NASB)


LIGHTING A SINGLE CANDLE in a very dark space makes a difference, but if you light 20 to 30 candles, the difference is amazing! 

Likewise, when we join with others to share our faith story, the results can be profound.

It is easy to remain focused on ourselves. We are busy with our own personal cares, our desires, our things-to-do list, our jobs, our families, even our health, finances, and entertainment. 

But part of love, the real love that Christ calls us to feel, is bearing a concern for the well-being of someone else, especially for that person’s eternal destination. 

If we want to see people in our lives become part of God’s kingdom, then those of us who claim to be God’s followers must be willing to share our faith stories.

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GOD CALLS US to be a witness to the world, a light in the darkness.

He also calls us to be an encouragement to other believers — those we find in our worship, our Bible studies, Christian service, and mens’ and womens’ fellowship groups — to spur them on toward love and good works. 

Consider today how you can be an encouragement to another believer … and a light to a darkened world looking for answers. 

Pray that God will show you what He wants you to do, which is different from asking Him to bless what you’ve decided, on your own, to do for Him. 

As we close our eyes, let us pray God’s plan for our lives; as we open our eyes, let us see where God is working in the world … and then let’s join Him where He’s already at work. AMEN

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May God’s rich blessings be with you.


*Note: This meditation is an adaption from a You Version Bible Plan, “Inspire Others to Share,” Day 2. You can see the original here.

Meditation … LIVING WITH GOD On EARTH Or In HEAVEN

When you accept God’s gracious gift of salvation, offered through His grace and your faith, your eternal life begins at that moment. That should bring you great peace and joy. Each day on earth, we should thank Him for our health and our lives, but we should hunger for the moment He calls us home to be with Him … in Paradise.

When you accept God’s gracious gift of salvation, offered through His grace and your faith, your eternal life begins at that moment. That should bring you great peace and joy. Each day on earth, we should thank Him for our health and our lives, but we should hunger for the moment He calls us home to be with Him … in Paradise.


Psalm 84:2b (NCV): “My whole being wants to be with the living God.”

Philippians 1:21 (CSB): “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 


 THIS SEEMS SO WRONG, YET IT’S SO COMMON — EVEN IN CHURCH.

You go to worship the living God and praise His holy name when there, right in front of you, is an esteemed brother or sister in Christ.

Gathering to worship the King!

You give a hearty greeting, like, “It’s good to see you!” and the person responds, “It’s good to be seen. Sure beats the alternative.” Then he or she chuckles.

“Really?” you say, “and, just what do you think IS the alternative?”

“Death,” the other person replies, looking at you as if a spider is climbing down your cheek. “You know, pushing up daisies. Right? Don’t you get it?”

“Sure, I get it,” you want to say, “but do you?”

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 THIS IS IN CHURCH, mind you, and it happens nearly every week. 

It’s ridiculous. Here’s why: If you are a believer, God promises you an eternity in Paradise with Him. So, if you are done with this world, you’re happily in place in the next.

If you’re a believer. 

The apostle Paul, who testified to having seen the “third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2), said he would rather be in Paradise with Jesus in his glorified body than remain on earth in his “weak, dishonorable” body.

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THIS IS SAD TO ME. Let me explain.

In November 2010, the most amazing event happened to me. Mid-month, on a Wednesday evening, I received the Holy Spirit into my heart.

Immediately, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, went to work on me. One pastor described the transformation process this way: While we think we need a minor tune-up, the Lord is working on a transmission overhaul.

God reaches out for us. We are His special creation.

Big time changes. Heart change, attitude change, habit change. Out with the old; in with the new. 

Scripture backs that up. Check out 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (KJV 2000)

Or read Colossians 3:10 (NLT): “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”

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SINCE MY CONVERSION, my peace and joy come from knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. I take seriously His statement in John 14 that He was going to His Father’s house to prepare a room for me so that where He is, I may be also (John 14:2-3, paraphrase).

Because of that joy, it strikes me as supremely odd and disappointing when those joining me on Sunday morning to praise the Lord and worship His mighty name take the same position regarding their life-and-death cycle as do those who skipped church that day for an outing on the golf course or just to sleep in. 

“Sure beats the alternative!”

True enough if the alternative is that place reserved for the ones who reject the Lord’s saving message; however, no where near true if the alternative is to be with the Lord in His Father’s house.

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THAT BRINGS US back to you, really, the most important person in this message. 

How do you envision your destiny? Do you see yourself enjoying God’s promise of eternal life right now, as you exist in this world, only to see it bump up in glory when the Lord calls you home … or do you see that every day you’re on this side of the ground is a good day because, you know, it beats the alternative? 

As God’s children, we are citizens of Heaven.

There’s nothing wrong with loving the life the Lord has given us and thanking Him daily for His gifts of grace. The problem is when we hold onto this part of eternity because … deep down … we don’t really trust Him to deliver on the post-death part.

Our two text source verses above, Psalm 84:2b and Phil. 1:21, testify to man’s desire to be with His maker. We can lay claim to that desire just as we can lay claim to the Lord’s promise.

It’s in John 10:10 (NASB), the “b” part: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

With Christ, your eternal life starts the day you receive Him into your heart. When this life is over, you’ll join Him immediately in His arms. 

QUESTION: Now do you think this life really beats the alternative?

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PRAYER  

O Blessed Redeemer, how mighty is Your name, how majestic is Your power, how great is Your love. We thank You and bless You for Your goodness and mercy. Empower us, O Lord, to serve You through our lives, then, when our walk is done, please call us home and let us rest in Jesus’ bosom with the other saints. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen

God’s Grace Is Enough

THE BIBLE IS CLEAR that our salvation is not a product of our good works because none of us, except for Jesus Himself, is worthy. Instead of allowing us to be discouraged because of our unworthiness, the Lord gives us a magnificent gift: His grace is sufficient for our salvation.That means our good works come as a result of our salvation, not as a cause of it.
JESUS WILL WORK through our hearts to transform us into the men and women He wants us to be, and as He does a perfect work in us, we will respond more and more to his call.

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“Let us draw near … with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” — Hebrews 10:22 (ESV)

 

OUR GOOD WORKS, then, will be a natural outpouring of our gratitude for his love for us, not an attempt to match an impossible standard.

THE LORD, through his work on the Cross, satisfied our debt.

 

“But may those who love the Lord be like the sun when it rises in all its brightness.”
— Judges 5:31 (GW)

God Gives Us Choices     

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Verses From the Bible to Guide Us Through the Week

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MondayGenesis 2:16-17 (NIV) “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’”

MEDITATION: The Lord provided paradise to Adam, the first man, and gave him a job to do: to tend the garden. He also gave Adam a choice: He could follow God’s commands and remain in the garden, or he could rebel against God and lose paradise. Adam, through Eve, rebelled against God’s law, setting up man’s estrangement from God. To reconcile man, God sent His Son to be our Savior.

PRAYER: O Lord, how grievous it must have been to see how quickly your proudest creation — man, made in your image — rebelled against your beneficial rule. Yet, without free choice, our obedience would be forced. To complete the gift of life, You let us reject You. Yet, in your love and mercy, You provided a way to reconcile the world to yourself, through your Son. Thank you, magnificent Lord. In His Name. Amen

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Tuesday — Matthew 7:13 (NASB) “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.”

MEDITATION: There are two life choices: obey God and enter the narrow gate or disobey God and enter the wide gate. The narrow gate is more difficult, and fewer people will find it, because it requires us to give our lives to God and turn from our natural, worldly ways. But if we do follow God, we will reap the reward of eternal life.

PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, Your Son Jesus Christ taught us to seek the life of eternal reward by entering the narrow gate, yet it can be so difficult to follow You. Our worldly hearts are tugged toward the wide path. By staying in prayer to You (1 Thess. 5:17), we can overcome the world as Jesus has (John 16:33). In Jesus’ Name we lift our prayer. Amen

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WednesdayDeuteronomy 30:19 (ESV) “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”

MEDITATION: Once again, the Lord sets up a choice for man: he can choose God and have the blessings of life and companionship with God or he can reject God and lose the blessings that God offers. God does not compel man to choose Him. God will call to man, but, in the end, He will let man choose his fate.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, You have shown such mercy toward us, when we deserve only punishment. Our hearts are dark, our thoughts are evil, our actions are self-serving and harmful to others. You have been so clear in giving us choices, that obeying your commands leads to life and disobedience leads to death. Thank you for showing us mercy and patience as so often we make the wrong choice. In Him. Amen

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Thursday Romans 6:23 (NLT) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 10:13 (HCSB) “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

MEDITATION: Once again, God gives us a choice. It is a choice between everything and nothing, life and death, obedience and rebellion. The choice and payoff are always the same: If we choose to obey God, we will be blessed and have life; if we choose to reject him, we will lose the blessing and life. What amazing love, to let us choose — even to reject him! But even more amazing is that the Creator of the universe promises to give life to all — everyone — who chooses to obey. 

PRAYER: O Merciful Father, thank you for providing a way out of the dilemma we’ve created for ourselves. You sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin (for my sin). He who was without sin took on my sin and the nails meant for me. When He died on the Cross, He said, “It is finished.” Jesus had overcome the sin of the world. Thank you! Loving Jesus. Amen

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FridayJoshua 24:15 (GW) “If you don’t want to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. … My family and I will still serve the Lord.”

MEDITATION: At some point, we all have to make a choice in relation to those around us — our families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Unfortunately, our closest family members can make an opposite choice from ours. If we choose life, they might choose to reject the free gift. The choice to obey God is an individual choice. It is not made on our behalf by anyone, not even a parent. It is ours, and it is part of our individual reaction to the reality that is Jesus Christ.IMG_0055

PRAYER: O Lord, our human history is filled with rebellion against your commandments. We are grateful that You allowed the Bible to report that sinful history so that we can see our need for a Savior, that only Jesus can save us from the death we deserve. Lord, forgive us when we fail to honor You and bring us back into your fold. In the Good Shepherd’s Name. Amen

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Saturday John 15:16 (MSG) “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.”

MEDITATION: One of the greatest traits of the God we worship is that our God is an active God, one who searches for us, as He demonstrated in the garden after Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden fruit. While He lets us choose whether we want to follow him, He doesn’t sit back and wonder if we’ll find him. He lets us know where He is and makes it very clear He will seek us out.

PRAYER: Dear Father God, thank You that You are a God who comes looking for us. You love us so much that You will forgive us for our sins and take us back to your heart. Send your Holy Spirit to live in our hearts that Your love may shine through the cracks in our lives so that it may illuminate a fallen world in desperate need of Jesus’ love. Amen

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Sunday  Revelations 22:17 (NCV) “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who hears this say, ‘Come!’ Let whoever is thirsty come; whoever wishes may have the water of life as a free gift.”

MEDITATION: God completes the circle of creation. In the beginning of man’s life on earth, God places Adam and Eve in the garden and tells them to multiply and help him govern the planet. He lets them choose their destiny. When He returns, He will gather his own and take them to the New Earth, which will be paradise forever. Those whom He gathers will be those who have chosen to follow him.

PRAYER: O Lord, our Father, there are so many ways You tell us in your Word of your love and your reaching out to us. Build the faith within us to place our trust in You and your promises. Without the assurance of Jesus’ love, our lives are barely more than a flicker of candlelight. With his love, we face a joyful eternity in your embrace. Thank you! In Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen

 

 

 

Finding Strength

 

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“And it shall come to pass, that everything that lives, which moves, wherever the rivers shall come, shall live.” Ezekiel 47:9 (NKJV)

Our Strength Comes From the Lord

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Verses From the Bible to Guide Us Through the Week

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This week, meditate each day on the beauty of the day’s verse. We’ve culled from a variety of Bible versions to give a glimpse into the richness of God’s word. The Western world is blessed to have available God’s word in many translations for daily instruction. You might find a version that you’d like to learn more about, or you might prefer to stay with the version of your personal Bible. God speaks to us in many ways. Our job is to listen … and obey.

MONDAY — Philippians 4:13 (NLT) “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

 TUESDAY — Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV) “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”

WEDNESDAY — John 15:5 (GW) “I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me.”

THURSDAY — Jeremiah 32:27 (NIV) “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

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FRIDAY — Nehemiah 8:10 (NCV) “Don’t be sad, because the joy of the LORD will make you strong.”

SATURDAY — 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NASB) “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

SUNDAY — Isaiah 40:30-31 (MSG) “For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.”

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, as we meditate each day on Your Word, which tells us that You, Lord, and You alone, are our source of strength, we pray that You will lift our hearts. Create within us a desire to soak up Your light and let it shine through our broken lives to illuminate a world hungry for Truth. In Jesus’ Name. Amen