Tag Archives: disciples

Hell’s Best Kept Secret

Hells Best Kept Secret by Ray Comfort This message was first preached in August 1982.

Use this for inspiration and equipping you to be a Christian who is fulfilling the Great Commission!

Matt 28:16-20

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

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Desperate Days

My soft-hearted receptionist came back to tell me there was a lady in real need in our reception area and she didn’t want to just send her away empty handed.

I met with Nancy.  It’s hard to know how best to help at times. Is this person just begging for a living or is this a real need?  It’s sad, but I have to deal with these questions and make difficult choices at times.

Nancy had a very sad story.  No place to live, no money, mental illness and a 16 year old daughter. The only way I can imagine it worse is if she had cancer!  She was desperate for help of some kind.  This is happening more often than we want to admit.  These are desperate days.

In case you’re wondering, yes I helped Nancy and her daughter.  It’s what we do as Christ followers, isn’t it?  It’s why people come to us for help because they know that Christians are supposed to help and we are, we should, we must.  In desperate times like these there is nothing more important than showing the love God extends us by extending it to others.

This spirit of caring comes because God has cared for us.  It’s a response to God’s love for us that makes us reach out to others.  Some are selling their homes, moving into smaller homes and using the extra money to help others.  Others are looking for different ways to help those in need. The love of Christ is motivating them to share what God has given them with those in need.

This is how Jesus fed the multitudes.  He gave the bread and fish to the disciples who then gave it to the crowds.  He made them “middle men” for his provision.  He does the same with us in our day.  We are his “middle men and women” sharing what God has given us with those in need, both spiritually and physically.  
In desperate days like these the love of Christ in us is revealed most clearly as we help those who have nowhere else to go.  The love of God moves us to action just as it did God when he gave to us,  “For God so loved the world he gave….”

Giving out of love is the very nature of our Father.  As his children we have this same heart, a heart of love that gives.  Pray for an opportunity to share the love of God with those in need around you.   Desperate days give us opportunities to show how glorious the love of God is for those in need of both food and faith.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

His Blessings

Recently, we have come to realize just how much the Lord has blessed us. This, of course, rouses the curiosity about how many verses there are in the Bible about His blessings.

Here’s just the beginning…

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:3
  • Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:2
  • Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers. Psalm 1:1
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matt 5:9
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matt 5:7
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matt 5:8
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matt 5:6
  • Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed are those who heed wisdom’s instruction.  Prov 29:18
  • Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20
  • Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Rev 1:3
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Matt 5:5
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matt 5:10
  • “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Matt 5:11
  • Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed are those who take refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:10
  • Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Psalm 32:1
  • Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29
  • Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.  Rev 20:6
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matt 5:4
  • “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.” Jer 17:7
  • When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed are those who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Luke 14:15
  • Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. Psalm 33:12
  • Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Psalm 119:1
  • Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:17
  • Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding. Prov 3:13
  • But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matt 13:16
  • “Blessed are those whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Rom 4:8
  • Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” Luke 10:23
  • Those who give heed to instruction prosper, and blessed are those who trust in the LORD. Prov 16:20
  • Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Luke 6:21
  • It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed are those who are kind to the needy. Prov 14:21
  • “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Luke 7:23

 

There are so many more. We are richly blessed by our heavenly Father. In turn, we are so blessed to be a blessing to others!

A Promise Kept

Because of this single promise found in Luke 18:33 “And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again”  we can stand strong in His strength.

Because Jesus rose again….

We don’t have to fear tomorrow or face it alone

We have peace that surpasses all understanding

We are sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords

We can sing praises of your matchless love, grace and mercy

We can sleep knowing that should we never wake, the splendors of Heaven await us

We have hope that never ends, regardless of the darkness chasing us

We can take our greatest treasures with us to Heaven…our family and friends

We enjoy the majesty of this gift of life and the beauty you’ve filled it with

We can live an abundant life experiencing joy as only you can give

We can smile through tears, knowing that all things work together for good

We can stand strong in His strength and work though His power, not our own

We are refreshed by the daily renewing of His mercies

We are encouraged by His faithfulness

We know that every tear will be wiped away

We know that His love reaches us…..regardless

We know true, honest and pure love

We know that our God is greater

 

AND because a single promise was kept….

We are looking for the promised return, knowing it could be any moment… a twinkling of an eye

 

Marie Wikle

@spreadingJOY

John 2:19-22 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

 

 

1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

 

 

Acts 2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Are You A Fan Or A Follower?

Not too long ago, we watched an amazing dvd series, now a movie, Not A Fan, produced by City On A Hill Studio. This movie takes you into the life, or rather death, of a man who finds himself confronting what was his life as a nominal Christian.

When Jesus said to ‘Follow Me‘, he was looking for completely committed followers, not just fans. He wants us to be all in, not just with our toes in the water at the edge of the pool. Meditate on these awesome verses and join in following the King of Kings!

  • “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  Matthew 4:19
  • But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”  Matthew 8:22
  • As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.  Matthew 9:9
  • Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.   Matthew 10:38
  • Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
  • Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  Matthew 19:21
  • Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.   Matthew 19:28
  • “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  Matthew 1:17
  • As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.  Mark 2:14
  • Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  Mark 10:21
  • After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him,  Luke 5:27
  • Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”  Luke 9:23
  • He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  Luke 9:59
  • Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”  Luke 9:61
  • And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:27
  • When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  Luke 18:22
  • The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”  John 1:43
  • When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever followme will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12
  • My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  John 10:27
  • Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.  John 12:26
  • Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”  John 21:19
  • Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”  John 21:22

Watch this interview with Kyle Idleman, Teaching Pastor at Southeast Christian Church, talk about what it means to go from being an enthusiastic admirer of Jesus to a completely and utterly, committed follower.

 

 

Visit their website for more testimonies at not a fan.

 

Interested in reading more what this means? Check out the book on Amazon…

 

 

 

 

 

Sowing Seed, Seeing Fruit

There is an interesting parable that Jesus told about a farmer and his field. It was really a story about the word of God and our lives. Here’s the story explained to the disciples,

Mark 4:13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.  Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Any farmer worth his pay will know that if you don’t put seed in the ground you will never see a harvest. Somehow, in our day, many Christians I meet don’t believe this is true. They have the strange idea that somehow God should just make fruit grow in their lives without any attempt on their part to, 1. put some seed in the ground or, 2. to be a field that can grow something.

The story Jesus told speaks to an interesting reality- it’s easy to get distracted and end up without any fruit in your life. There’s a lot that catches a life and makes it unproductive. If you know that you will realize how important this sowing seed thing really is.

Here’s another thing to note- all this soil, these different kinds of soil, are all in the same field….in the same life. I have times when nothing grows and other times and places in my life that are wonderfully fruitful. It’s all part of a life lived with distractions. A life lived in a fallen world.

But the key for me is this- I have to throw some seed in my field! If I don’t do that then nothing can grow. In other words I have to get into God’s word and read it! If I don’t put his word in my mind, in my heart then the world will put it’s seeds there. My life is like that field, ready to grow whatever I throw on the soil. It doesn’t care what kind of seed it is, it’s job is to produce fruit. And so, each life will see a harvest. Some rich with produce and other lives full of thorns and loss.

The key for me is this- that I get God’s word into my life, my field. If I do that then God can make something grow….there’s a harvest coming. There will be a harvest IF I plant good seed.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Thoughts On A Day With The Disciples

This last week I have been thinking about the disciples and their time with Jesus. Their heads had to be spinning most of the time as they lived with him. What an experience, one that would be hard to describe or commentary. They spent three years with God in flesh and yet, like me, they didn’t get it. Here is a portion of their dialogue in Mark 8,

“…the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus overheard and said, “Why are you fussing because you forgot bread? Don’t you see the point of all this? Don’t you get it at all? Remember the five loaves I broke for the five thousand? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

They said, “Twelve.”

“And the seven loaves for the four thousand—how many bags full of leftovers did you get?”

“Seven.”

He said, “Do you still not get it?”

What an interesting question from Jesus, “Do you still not get it?” In other versions the wording is, “are your hearts hardened?” It’s clear, from these miracles, they were supposed to understand something but they had completely missed it. They were right there in the middle of miracles and missed the purpose of it all!

A little earlier in Mark, as they struggled with the oars on the lake, Jesus came to them walking on the water and said to them, “Courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” In that brief statement is the thing they were supposed to get. It’s right there in the middle of three short statements. Between his admonition to take courage and “don’t be afraid” is the “secret” they (and we) are to get. Here it is- “It’s me!” In the English we miss it entirely, but in the Greek it’s once more a declaration of who he is, the very thing they were to learn from all the miracles.

“It’s me.” The two Greek words are ??? ????. In English Jesus is saying “I am”. It’s the same claim he made in John 8:58 and was nearly stoned for. It’s the same name God told Moses to use to describe himself in Exodus 3. It’s a claim to deity. As he walked on the water to these weary fishermen Jesus encouraged them. Between their lack of courage and their fears he reassured them with this- “I am” is here.

Some say that Jesus never claimed to be God, but standing on the sea of Galilee he proclaims it loud and clear, “Take courage, I’m God, don’t be afraid.” It’s the same thing he says to us, the same thing he wants us to know, because he’s God we can be courageous and abandon our fears. God is in our midst.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Hard Hearts And Stiff Necks

There are two things I see in scripture that cause us problems- hard hearts and stiff necks.
Hard hearts describe people who are insensitive to God’s voice and untouched by his work in their lives. They simply don’t see or sense him, his voice, or his conviction.

Stiff necks describe people who are, even knowing what God wants from them, unwilling to change directions, unwilling to repent. They have set their course and will not “turn their necks,” change their minds or direction.

I’m thinking about this because I’m reading a passage, studying a portion of scripture where I see the disciples witnessing some of the most amazing miracles of all history and seems untouched, unaffected by them. They had hardened their hearts. They had become insensitive to God’s amazing work in their midst.
I wonder….I wonder how hard my heart is. I wonder what God is doing in my life, around me, speaking to me and I simply don’t hear it, sense it, feel his presence. This is a dangerous place to be because we don’t realize that a hardness has developed in our lives and our relationship with God. I wonder if my stiff neck, my unwillingness to change my course is made worse by my hard heart?

These are my challenges. These are your challenges. I pray that my heart will be soft to God, sensitive to his touch, responsive to his voice. I pray that I will not be so stubborn that I can’t change, can’t turn my neck to God’s directions in my life. I’m thinking about this because 12 men who lived for three years in the very presence of God on earth struggled with it. I know I do to.

Lord, soften my heart, massage my stiff neck. Help me to respond quickly, to hear well your voice and respond to your leading in my life.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Don’t you care?

Mark 4:35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Continue reading Don’t you care?

Public vs. Private

This morning I read an article by an atheist writer. I like to read his thoughts because he makes me think. Of course I have to sort through the anger, harsh words and bitterness that comes from his past, but he has a lot to say. This morning his topic was public prayer. His arguments were compelling to argue that we should not be busy about public prayer, but pray privately. So, I began to think about the broader picture. What about me should be public? What should be private? Should all of my life be lived for the public square or should some of my life of faith be private for only God to see?

Those questions began to rumble about in me this morning after a time of rest from the long trip to Kenya and back. We all live in cultures where we become numb to the cultural nuances of our faith lived in a society. Not everything we believe is correct. Not everything we do is right, so how should I live? What about me should be private? What should the world see? Continue reading Public vs. Private