How’s your soul? Are you caught up with the circumstances of your life or are you caught up in the Spirit of God?
How can you make it through dark times of life and still be joyful? The condition of your soul has much to do with how you respond.
A healthy soul has less to do with how perfect people think you are and more with who you rely on. Jesus is the sure foundation for life. If you lean on Jesus, then you will still be joyful even when your emotions and physical body feel pain. Can you keep your eyes on Jesus Christ or are you swamped with the circumstances of life?
Knowing what the Bible says you should do is often times easier than doing what the Bible says you should do. It is all to easy to mistake knowing for applying; where we can know the truth but think that knowing the truth is the same as doing the truth. The irony is that if you don’t apply the truth the right way then you don’t fully know the truth.
In John 1:12, you are told that if you know Jesus as friend and master, then you are a child of God. You “have the right” to be called a child of God. You can know that God says this about you, but do you live like this? Are you often acting as if God doesn’t care about you or if God doesn’t have a purpose for you? If you act this way then you haven’t applied the truth you say you know.
Wake up each morning seeking to always move from knowing to doing.
Last week, Rod encouraged us to not let a known personal problem or sin stop us from pursuing God. God meets you where you are, but calls you to where he is. This week, Rod explains some ways to keep our minds on God.
The pursuit of God is a journey. In the letter to the Romans, Paul wrote of this same topic and encouraged the church at Rome to pursue God. He wrote, “…in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”.
Remember, a living sacrifice will struggle to keep it’s own life. The old life, the old attitudes, the old habits that don’t honor God will want to hold on, but because of God’s mercy you can honor God and let go of the old. It’s not about rules, it’s about the redeeming and transforming work of Jesus Christ. Not about what you do, but what you allow Christ to do in you.
The transformation to be Christ-like, a little Christ, a Christian is a journey. Once you come to Jesus you become a good work in progress.
Long ago in ancient Judah, King Jehoshaphat showed great faith in God when faced with an insurmountable challenge. Enemy armies surrounded Judah and the armies of Judah were not ready to meet the better equipped enemy. Instead of surrendering in fear or trying harder with human strength, the King turned to God first and God moved on behalf of his people.
Yet, a part of the king’s legacy was that he failed to “remove all the pagan shrines” in the land. The people had a great moment of faith but they never fully committed their lives to God. The failure of the king doesn’t outweigh his success but it became a part of his legacy. There was a “however”, a “nevertheless” in his life and there didn’t need to be.
What is the “however” or the “nevertheless” in your life? Some attitude or activity that God has revealed to you and given you the ability to change yet you have decided to keep it Don’t feel guilty and live with it. Rater, be encouraged and continue to give your heart, soul and mind to God today.
On Father’s Day, Rod encouraged us to honor our fathers. This can be difficult for many people due to broken relationships with their fathers. Regardless of past wrongs, God still wants children to honor their father. For the father wanting to instill an attitude of honor in their children, we are reminded that love is spelled T-I-M-E because rules without relationship leads to rebellion. That children and wives want face to face time with their dad and husband. That fathers are to partner with their child’s mother in raising their kids and not abandon child rearing to mom alone.
Whatever your relationship may be with your father or your child, it’s not too late for a child to begin to show honor to their dad. It’s not too late for a father to ask forgiveness and begin to rebuild a relationship. The call to honor doesn’t require that we first have a good feeling about our fathers, it simply starts with obedience and often times the feeling of love and honor will follow some time afterwards.
An encouraging message after Rod returned from a brief rest from preaching. In April, Rod suffered a heart attack and by prayers and God’s grace he is still with us and strong enough to return to preaching with the simple and powerful message of “Trust in the Lord”.
Trust is built on relationship. You cannot have trust in someone or something until you experience a trustworthy outcome from the relationship. As trust builds, it maintains a trusting bond even when disappointments in the relationship occur. In human relationships, trust can be broken but with God he will never break the trust. We may be disappointed by the outcome yet God will never break a word he gives. “God will fulfill every promise that he has ever given you.”
When people gather together, conflict happens. Even a happy group of people with similar ideas will encounter conflict. If we don’t respond to it with Godly wisdom, the conflict can quickly explode into a bigger mess.
The Apostle Paul and his missionary partner Barnabas agreed to go back to the churches they both started and check on the Christians. This was a good plan and both we eager to go. Barnabas also wanted to bring along with them another partner, John Mark. Enter the conflict.
John Mark started with them on the first missionary journey but soon dropped out for unknown reasons. Whatever the reasons were, Paul did not want to John Mark to come along with him and Barnabas. Barnabas did. So great was the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, they parted ways. The good idea of visiting churches was torn apart by a little disagreement between two godly, Spirit-filled men.
Know that conflict will happen and know how to respond to it.
Jesus intended his Church to live by the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. He gave a simple gospel message and didn’t leave us with a long list of rules to modify our behavior. He left us the Holy Spirit to transform our minds and hearts.
Over the centuries of Church history, Christians have made all kinds of rules to modify other people’s behavior. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in our journey, we seem to prefer to make rules to follow to make Christian living less mysterious. Yet, a rule very often becomes an obstacle to a relationship with Jesus.
This is not a problem of modern American Christianity. This same problem sprang up within the first few years after Jesus rose from the dead; good intentions gone wrong. Continuing a study in Acts, Rod explains how the first disciples of Jesus handled these same issues and how we can do the same today.
What is the gospel? The gospel is first and foremost telling anyone who will listen about the salvation found only in Jesus. The product of a healthy church is not the social programs created, not the social hospitality offered, but the quality of disciples made. A church can create good, helpful programs without creating disciples who look and act like Jesus. A church that makes biblical disciples will, by the very nature of discipleship, seek and reach out into the surrounding community with love and mercy. With disciple making in view, the healthy church will also raise up leaders to continue the work of the gospel.
The gospel brings joy and hope and at the same time it attracts opposition. The works of darkness will actively and very intentionally mess with the works of God. The gates of Hell will not prevail against the gates of Heaven, but they certainly make a loud, bloody attempt at trying. Throughout the violent opposition in Iconium and the rest of modern day Turkey, Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel, stayed to teach new disciples and set the foundation for church leadership before they returned to the church that sent them on this trip.