Monday, January 23, 2012

Why these verses?

As a New Year’s Resolution I issued a challenge of memorizing a verse a week from the Word of God. I just posted verse #4 on my Twitter (which is where they will be posted every Monday):

You will probably notice somewhat of a pattern now that we are in week 4:

First, God created everything and everyone…so He makes the rules:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

We cannot breeze by the very first verse of the Word of God; let that soak in for a little bit. GOD, the CREATOR, created ALL!! I don’t care if you are a scientist, philosopher, intellectual, or a skeptic….if your eyes are not opened to this Truth; how can you receive the rest of God’s Word?  The very foundation of knowing God hinges on having the knowledge that He is the giver of Life…every breath you take would NOT be so if it not for the grace of God and His will. You will not breath another breath of life if it is not in God’s will that you do so….WOW!

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The first verse of John is talking about Jesus, the Son of God. When we talk about God we cannot be generic in the way God is shared with the world. We cannot pray in such a generic fashion that could be easily applied to any religion in the world. Unfortunately, the name of God has come to mean “whatever you want it to mean”; but be assured, there is only one God of the Universe, Creator of all things. In addition, God manifest Himself in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is God and if you are wrong about Jesus, it doesn’t matter what you are right about.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Although it is right to say there is only One True God, we also need to be aware that God exists in “three Persons”; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I don’t think there is any doubt that this is hard for anyone to get their mind around. One of the simplest examples I’ve heard that allows us to get a little closer to grasping this is: “The sun exists with three distinct characteristics, heat, light and radiation. The same is true with God, who exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Jesus makes clear who He is in John 14:6.  He also makes it clear how to get to where we want to go. The Father is in Heaven, whereas the Son of God left His Heavenly home to come here, the Father stayed. Jesus is saying in this verse; I know you want to go to Heaven, and I love you so much that I am telling you that there is only One Way, and I am that Way. Jesus is saying without Me, you will not inherit eternal life, without Me you will not know the Truth, without Me you cannot go to Heaven.

If we believe all the above to be True, then obviously there will be a sense of urgency and desire to know what Jesus taught. After all, if He is the only One with the Truth, I want to know how to be saved, and I want to know what He wants from me.  Don’t misunderstand, when I say “what He wants from me” is NOT implying that we can earn our way to Heaven. Eternal Life is a free gift, given by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ. That being said, Jesus gives us plenty of “trail markers” so we can be sure we are on the narrow path, leading to the narrow gate; and staying in His will for our life. He gives us these “trail markers” because there are many things that will keep us on, or drag us back to the broad road that leads to hell.

Matthew 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What will be your legacy?

A couple years ago I became aware of YouTube and I was amazed at the wealth of information and amazing preaching that is out there. A short time after I began this, seemingly obsessive, video watching period I connected with a couple, Jeff and Caroline, from New Orleans that love the Lord and both have been gifted with bringing the Truth in their own unique way. It was about this time that Jeff presented a YouTube challenge, which was, one video a day for the entire year of 2010; reading, preaching, and/or teaching God’s Word. It was an amazing blessing and I became friends with them and a few others involved in the challenge. I know it seems strange that we consider ourselves friends even though we have never met face to face; however, I talk to them via cell phone and email more than  most people I have known my entire life. There is something about a mutual love for Christ that connects people in a deep way.

Jeff was recently diagnosed with some heart problems. Like most people that receive difficult medical, potentially life threatening, news;  he began to contemplate death in a little more “intense” way. Part of that intensity was considering what he wanted his legacy to be; and he sent a request, for all who are willing, to share what legacy they want to leave behind. That is the focus of this post.

Before I get started on the legacy I want to leave behind, I would first like to share a very cool example of the impact of a legacy. In February of 2011 my father-in-law died of cancer. He was more than just my father-in-law; he was one of my best friends. Buck and I would go on golf trips together, just the two of us. Up until I hurt my back, we golf together almost once a week. He was an amazing man; giving, loving, kind…he was one of those guys that make most of us look bad in the way he was always there when someone was in need. Not only was he willing to do anything for anyone; he would do it with a smile on his face and would make you believe there is nothing else he would rather be doing.

Within a few weeks after Buck died, my sister-in-law text my wife to ask if they could use my suburban to drive to Florida (from Minnesota). The fact that she text my wife and not me, and that she text and not called is a testament of the reaction she would have expected from me. It was the day before they were leaving and while they were packing it became apparent that there was no way they would get everything in their vehicle, so it left them no choice but ask for my vehicle. I don’t know who was more stunned:  me, my wife, or them when I immediately said, “yea, no problem.” In those weeks after Buck died I thought about him almost constantly and everything seemed to be filtered through, “what would Buck do”…that’s why I said, “yea, no problem.”  The problem was, my Suburban was way overdue for an oil change, the tank was empty, and it was filthy. The next morning when I was leaving for work (they were going to be leaving that afternoon); I was pulling down the drive way and I could almost hear a voice say, “what else would Buck do.” I can’t explain it, it wasn’t audible but it was clear in my head, more so than before. And I immediately said aloud to myself, “He would get the oil changed, fill it with gas, and wash it”…so that is exactly what I did. It felt great.

That is a legacy worth leaving…Buck was an amazing man that made others better by knowing him.

I understand that getting the oil changed, putting gas in and cleaning my own vehicle isn’t Nobel Peace Prize material, but it is a far cry from the person I used to be. I used to be a polar opposite of legacy I want to leave. It reminds me of Romans 6:

Romans 6:21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

There are SO MANY things of which I am now ashamed. I was selfish, self-centered, arrogant, prideful, mean, violent, unloving, unfriendly, self-seeking, and I was almost completely without joy in my life. Some reading that might be wondering, “why is he using past tense”. I will be the first to admit that I am still not all that I want to be, but He who has started a good work in me will continue it.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

The day I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, He immediately gave me a new heart with new desires:

Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

So in short, what do I want my legacy to be? First and foremost, I want people to say, “he loved Jesus and wanted to glorify Him in his life.” Second, I want people to say, “he always told the truth.”

I was blessed by my son a couple years ago (when he was 7) and he has no idea how much he blessed me. I can’t remember the question, but both my kids asked me a difficult question for a parent to answer. I have always told my kids straight and never assumed they were too young to understand; and in this case, whatever the answer was, Nathan replied, “dad, we always know that you will tell us the truth.” That was so AWESOME!! It gave me a great opportunity weeks later when I talked to Paige about another matter. I won’t get in to the whole story, but ultimately I was able to tell her, “if anything happens to me, above all else, above all the things I have taught you, I only want you to be sure to remember one thing, ‘seek God and the Truth found in His Word, and trust in Jesus.’”

I would also love to leave a legacy of being that guy that would do anything for anyone; loving, giving, and kind. This legacy would glorify God and ironically it is all the virtues I used to think were silly and weak. Praise God that He has changed me, just like He promised He would. He set me free from the wretch I used to be, and above all else, He set me free from sin and death.

1Timothy 2:3-7 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Will the worst sinners of all sinners get in to Heaven, yet you do not?

Will the worst sinners of all sinners get in to Heaven, yet you do not? As I was reading Matthew 21 today it became clear to me that Jesus answered this question, and it is a question we must understand the answer He gave.

The first few weeks I did prison ministry two things became very clear to me. One-inmates are brutally honest when it comes to sharing their opinions about faith, God, and the Bible. Two-inmates need to be convinced they can be forgiven.  Before you breeze past that 2nd point, please stop and consider this:

The average person on the street that leads a fairly “typical” life needs to be convinced they are sinners and deserve condemnation. The average inmate has not doubt that they are sinners deserving of condemnation, but need to be convinced they can be forgiven.

Jesus makes this exact point in Matthew 21. Let’s first take a look in chapter 20. Jesus tells the disciples that they are going to Jerusalem and He, Jesus, will be betrayed, sentenced to death, mocked, scourged, crucified, and on the third day He will be raised from the dead:

Matthew 20:18-19 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again."

In these last days before His crucifixion, He is delivering some powerful, hard-core Truth about those that will, and those that will not enter the Kingdom of God.  The accounts of chapter 21 also demonstrate the silliness of man, thinking they can outsmart God. After the chief priests and elders had their little scheming plan turned upside down, Jesus ask them a question:

Matthew 21:28-31a "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' 29 He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?"

I am fairly certain that our answer would have been exactly the same as these religious leaders; which was:

Matthew 21:31b They said to Him, "The first."

Jesus was all about doing the will of the Father and glorifying Him; and if we desire to walk in His footsteps, take up our cross and follow Him, we should be all about doing the will of God as well. The problem of the religious leaders was, they were NOT all about doing the will of God, they were all about their own selfish interests, believing themselves to be plenty good enough to get to Heaven. In fact, their self-righteousness seemed to be that of, “Heaven would be glad to have such a person as me.” But what did Jesus have to say to them:

Matthew 21:31c Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.

Tax collectors and prostitutes were considered the worst of the worst when it comes to sinners, yet, Jesus said they will enter the Kingdom of God before the religious leaders…why?  Like the average inmate we discussed earlier, they had no illusion of being fit for the Kingdom, they knew they were not fit for the Kingdom of God.  But, when you know you are not worthy of God, that is the beginning of surrender to Jesus Christ. When you know that your bondage to sin will keep you from eternal life, the message of being set free in the Blood of Christ is so liberating that you will feel the weight of the world lifted off your shoulders. On the other hand, if you are like the religious leaders, counting on your own works and righteousness, you will not enter the Kingdom of God.

Jesus gives hope to the one that has spent his enter life in the bondage of religion or any other sin:

Matthew 20:1-15 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day?' 7 They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.' 8 "So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.' 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12 saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' 13 But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?'

Isn’t that glorious!!! Whether you have served Christ since you were a youth; or you have a thief on the cross experience; when the Son sets you free from the law of sin and death, you are free. Freed in the Blood of Christ, accredited with His righteousness, and through faith in Him and nothing else you are glory bound.

It all starts with recognizing our depravity in the eyes of God, and calling out to Him. Do not keep silent, do not be so foolish as to say, “maybe tomorrow”….today is the day of salvation, if you feel His hand of conviction upon you do not harden your heart.

Psalm 32:1-5 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

“Just because they believe differently they are going to hell?”

As I read Genesis 17 today the first thing that jumped out to me was that God told Abram that He is Almighty God and he, Abram, shall walk blameless before Him.

Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.

God being the same yesterday, today and forever; expects the same thing from us. God the Father draws us to His Son, the Holy Spirit convicts us on sin, righteousness, and Judgment, and we either receive Him or reject Him. If we receive Him, we now know who He is, He has made us aware through His Spirit. He basically "introduces" Himself; then He expects us to walk blameless. Don't misunderstand, this doesn’t mean we will be perfect, but He expects us to walk in the Spirit and put to death the deeds of the body. He expects us to war against the flesh; and anyone who seeks first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness will be walking blameless, covered in the Blood of Christ because of our faith in Him and our willingness to repent, showing ourselves to be His disciple.

John 16:8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

1Thessalonians 5:14-23 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Peter 2:11  Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

As we continue on in chapter 17 we see that circumcision of the flesh was symbolic of the covenant between Abram (now Abraham) and all Abraham's decedents. The covenant was to be everlasting. The problem is, the descendants of Abraham broke to covenant because they chased after idols. Now the circumcision of the flesh amounts to nothing, but only the circumcision of the heart is of value:

Galatians 3:5-7  Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 6 just as Abraham "BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS." 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

Romans 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

So then, it is through faith we are decedents of Abraham.

Now there is a New Covenant,

1Corinthians 11:25  In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

2Corinthians 3:6  who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Hebrews 8:13  In that He says, "A NEW COVENANT," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

but it has not been given to all to understand:

Matthew 13:11 He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

Notice how Jesus explains one of the parables in Matthew 13. It seems very clear that there is one of four responses to the Good News of the New Covenant:
1)    A person receives the Word, but does not understand and the devil removes what seed has been planted
2)    Tribulation and persecution because of the Word causes a person to fall away
3)    The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches chokes out the Word
4)    A person receives the Word and is born-again

Matthew 13:18-23 "Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."

Although there seems to be one of four responses to the Good News, only one of these four saves. If we are not redeemed, if we are not born-again that means; in the eyes of God, we are still wicked. Jesus, Himself, said at the end of the age His Holy Angels will separate the wicked from the just and only those who have repented and put their faith in Jesus Christ are justified in His site. This is tough to get our mind around. We may think things like, “just because they believe differently they are going to hell?” Answer: “No, they are going to hell because their sin has not been redeemed in the Blood of Christ.” Jesus says, “Come”, but many would rather do their own thing and run the eternal risk of being separated out with the rest of the wicked:

Matthew 13:49-50 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Week 2 Memory Verse

Last week's verse was the first verse of the Bible:
Genesis 1:1  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

This week's verse is the first verse of John's Gospel:

John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

Jesus is referred to as the Word, and was clearly there in the beginning. God's Word also makes it clear that ALL things were created in and through Him...the ultimate point is, Jesus is God, not just a man.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Teen-Agers and Texting

A couple days ago my daughter bought an IPhone. She asked me later that night if I would help her sync up all her songs from her iPod to her iPhone. Apparently she got tired of standing over my shoulder as I set up the account, etc.; so she went upstairs. As I was finalizing the sync a friend of hers texted her and used profanity. The next day I told her I seen the text and asked if that was the kind of language her friends typically used. She said most high school kids talk like that. I asked if she did, to which she said; "no".

Now, I am not completely stupid. I understand that kids can get pretty profane. In my case, I was very profane. Growing up I swore continually and my mom didn't seem to care; as a matter of fact, the only word that seemed to bother her was the "f" word. I tried to reserve the "f" word for my buddies as to not receive a dirty look from mom for using the word in front of her.

I am not completely na├»ve when it comes to the language of teen-agers, however; my daughter received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior 2 years ago and she needs to know that she is called to walk in a manner worthy of her calling. I am not saying she uses this language, but I wanted to compile some Scripture to show that all those that consider themselves Christians need to repent of the works of the flesh, profanity included.  We can walk in one of two ways, in the flesh or in the Spirit. We will either see the works of the flesh continue in our lives, which indicates that we are not born again; or, we will see the fruit of the Spirit manifest itself in our life, indicating that we are born again and we are being sanctified.

Clearly, Jesus calls all men, everywhere, to repent of the works of the flesh:

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

Before we continue, let's look at the definition of repent; after all, there is much confusion about this. When I was young I thought repentance just meant saying you’re sorry; which will help to explain why I lived, what I call, a sin-sorry-sin-sorry-sin-sorry life.

REPENT', v.i. [L. re and paeniteo, from paena, pain.]
1. To feel pain, sorrow or regret for something done or spoken; as, to repent that we have lost much time in idleness or sensual pleasure; to repent that we have injured or wounded the feelings of a friend. A person repents only of what he himself has done or said.

2. To express sorrow for something past.

Repentance has also been defined as "turning away". I have also heard it said that repentance is turning away from your sin and turning to God.

Putting all this together, we can clearly conclude that to repent is to have sorrow and regret over your sin because you have hurt and offended your Heavenly Father; therefore, you are genuinely brokenhearted because of your sin and have a desire to confess and forsake your sin. Such a brokenness in your heart that you do not want to experience it again.  The desire to continue in the sin is over taken by a desire to walk in a manner worthy of your calling, and please God.

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Ephesians 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

So, back to the original thought; someone could logically ask, is swearing that big of a deal, after all, everyone does it. That would be a typical response from "the world" and the answer is, "no, everyone doesn't do it, and yes, God does consider it a big deal”...take a look:

Colossians 3:5-10 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

Galatians 5:16-21 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul gives us a very clear list in both Colossians and Galatians what the works of the flesh are. If we consider ourselves Christians, and truly consider ourselves born again, these works of the flesh should be disappearing from our everyday life. After all, the Holy Spirit will not allow us to rest if we belong to God and we are practicing these things. The Lord prunes out the garbage and chastens those He loves. If you do not see this “pruning”, “chastening”, and “conviction” you should be concerned.

A commitment on your part to “walk in a manner worthy of your calling” is evidence of your willingness to take up your cross.

Matthew 10:38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

Choosing to live for this world instead of living for Christ amounts to the same thing as denying Christ before men and Jesus had strong words to say about this:

Matthew 10:33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

When we would rather live for the world instead of living for Jesus, many times it is because we fear the reaction people will have if we become, what the world calls, “Jesus freaks”. In many parts of the world it is more severe than the getting a negative reaction from friends; in many countries standing for Jesus will cost you your life. Whether it is because of ridicule or death, Jesus has strong words to say to those that let this fear over take them:

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Yes, Matthew 10:28 are the Words of Jesus, and He is the One that can destroy both soul and body in hell. This reality can give us great anxiety, or great excitement depending on whether we are included in the group Jesus is talking about in verse 32 below:

Matthew 10:32 "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.

Many people have the world view that we should not “rock the boat”, and that we should “just all get along”. Jesus made it clear that His message was, and is, radical and the world will hate you for receiving it, sharing it, and preaching it.

Matthew 10:34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

DO NOT MISS THIS PART! If you have read up to this point and recognize that one or more of the works of the flesh are a part of your everyday life and are concerned as to whether you are right with God; there is GREAT NEWS. Jesus wants to set you free. Whether you are burdened with addiction, anger, bitterness, religion, or anything else….Jesus wants to set you free. He wants to set you free from the lusts of the flesh, but infinitely more amazing, He wants to set you free from the law of sin and death. Without redemption in the Blood of Christ our sin will condemn us forever on the Day of Judgment; on the other hand, when we do receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He sets us free from sin and death. When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed! You are accredited with His Righteousness and you will be blameless on the Day of Judgment.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 6:15-23  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 19:13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous(willful) sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

Praise God if you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you want to belong to Christ, but in truth have not truly repented, you should know this. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for sure, but look who else Jesus rebukes, and why:

Matthew 11:20-22 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: 21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

Jesus did all the miracles, primarily, to demonstrate who He is; yet many people loved their sin too much to repent. Clearly the people He is speaking of in verses 20-22 seen the miracles, heard the message and still refused to repent.

To all the unrepentant then and now, Jesus says “come.” To all those burdened with sin and the lust of the flesh, Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” To all those laden with the guilt of their past, Jesus says, “I’ll give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

If you will come to Him, the wickedness of the flesh will be replaced with the fruit of the Spirit; you will be a new creation in Christ!

Galatians 5:22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.