“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” – Acts 7:56
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!
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.
I am thrilled to know and experience the grace of God. It’s absolutely life changing once you know what God has done for us.
It’s the work we do so it doesn’t look like it took any effort at all to do it. It’s mastery of a skill. Archers shoot hundreds of arrows at a target until they are able to hit the center with precision. Gymnasts practice hours each day to make impossible feats of gymnastics seem effortless.
Practice makes a hack at the piano a master musician who draws thousands to hear him play. When we say, “I wish I could do that.” He would reply, “You can if you practice eight hours a day for about 20 years.” Practice. It’s the disciple we use to master something and become proficient at it.
My wife recently had surgery. She didn’t look for a doctor who was new to this type of surgery. She looked for someone who had done thousands of them. Why? His practice had made him a master at this difficult procedure.
You get the idea, don’t you, but I’m sure you’re wondering where I’m going with all this. I’m setting the stage for these amazing and often overlooked words from Jesus,
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” -Jesus, Matthew 6
What he didn’t say is “don’t practice…” He said be careful how and where you practice. Then, for the rest of the chapter he deals with the things he wants any disciple to master by practice- prayer, giving, fasting, etc. What we often miss in the words of Jesus is this- you will be practicing these things to master them, just be careful where and how you do it.
Today some are revisiting the very idea of practice and it has many confused. What this whole discussion is about is simply this- sanctification. All of these things Jesus talks about in Matthew 6 are simply the disciplines of sanctification. They are things we do to grow into Christlikeness. And, clearly Jesus knew we needed practice so he gives us guidance to perfect our practice.
What’s the goal? Hebrews 10:14- “He has made perfect forever those who are becoming holy.” The goal of practice is to become like the one who has saved us. It’s the practice of perfecting godliness (2 Cor. 7:1) and doing it intentionally that produces Christlikeness.* Then, one day, after all your practice, you will hear these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
*A comment that will arise is this- “But what about the Holy Spirit’s work in us. You left that out.” Yes, I left it out for brevity. I am very aware that godliness and Christlikeness must happen as the Holy Spirit works in us and with us, but for brevity and focus on the topic I left this portion of sanctification for another day.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. -1 John 2:16
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with my flesh constantly. The battle between what I know God wants in my life and what I want is always being waged. Sadly my flesh often wins, but the truth is that the finish line for the deeds of my flesh is the dump. The things I want, the stuff I must have, the accomplishments I think are so important all end up on the trash heap of failed flesh.
All that the world aspires to, all that I aspire to apart from God, is destined for the dump, to be thrown away, abandoned, forgotten. The great monuments to Stalin…at the dump. The amazing car I “had to have”…trash. The titles we must have to find worth and importance…forgotten. All that the world offers, all that we want in the flesh is destined for the dump. (I’ve said this several times for emphasis. Maybe you don’t need to be reminded of it, but I do.)
I have to admit I often set my desires, my passions on things that will not last….things that cannot satisfy….fame that will quickly fade….things destined to be thrown away when we realize they don’t fulfill. The finish line for the flesh is the dump…..it’s where we take the things we no longer want. And soon this pile of trash…forgotten passions, failed fame, tarnished desires becomes a mountain and monument to the failures of the flesh.
I so long to make choices that please God. I want to want what God wants. I want to desire what he wants in my life, but I must admit I too often fall short. The monument to the failures of our fleshly desires should remind us that the flesh will never satisfy, it simply can’t.
I long to follow Paul’s advice as he speaks to the Colossian church and writes,
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.”
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.
1 And God spoke all these words, saying:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that isin heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God,am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that isin them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
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!
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…
The movie “Toy Story” has some wonderful imagery in it that fascinates both children and adults. One of the key elements of the movie is the idea of identity, belonging. It’s a big deal to the toys that they belong to Andy and are part of his life.
This idea of identity and belonging is big in the bible as well. It’s key to the story of the gospel that because of Christ I now belong. I have found my identity in Christ and my belonging in the family of God. We all want identity and belonging, we all long for it and God knows we need it. The last book of the bible talks about this in an interesting way,
Rev. 3:12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.
Clearly, when Christ is done and we have been claimed by him he will mark us as his own. All will know who is our Lord, what is our Location and who has given us Life. Ownership, identity, belonging will finally be settled once for all. We will eternally be His.
“Who are you?” someone might ask. You can now answer with clarity from Jesus, “I belong to God, my home is in the new Jerusalem and my relationship is with Jesus himself.” If that doesn’t give you an identity, a belonging then nothing will!
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.
Heb 4:1 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. 2 For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. 3 For only we who believe can enter his rest.
There is a rest for this weary race of man. There is a rest from the unceasing quest for peace, for calm, for a feeling of being good with God. Most religions of the world offer a never ending treadmill of works to attain heaven with no assurance of ever having done enough. These are brutal faiths. Faiths based on our works, our efforts to be good enough, to push all the right buttons, to look just right so our eternity will be a good one. These are religions that offer no rest.
But there is one faith, only one, that offers a place of rest. It’s a rest from the works of man to please God. In this faith, and this one alone, there is a place of rest….a rest based on the works of someone else. It comes only to those who put their faith in the works of another, Jesus Christ, to have done all that’s asked of God for us to be accepted. It brings those who believe to a place of rest where all self-efforts are done. Finally, for those who trust rest is available. Finally all efforts are finished, there’s nothing more for us to do, it’s all been done.
Imagine all of mankind standing on one side of the grand canyon with God on the other. Our quest is to reach God and with our best efforts we jump to bridge the chasm. The fate of all who do this in their own strength is inevitable and is found at the bottom of the canyon. But imagine that spanning this grand chasm is a moving bridge. All you have to do is step on it and it will carry you to the other side. Most around you would say it’s too easy, you have to do something, you can’t please God without doing something! And yet, this bridge is the only way to the other side.
While all around you men and women are trying to jump the chasm and falling to their death you can simply take a step of faith and, like the moving walkways in the airports and malls, you find yourself being moved to the other side…effortlessly! It’s a result based on a step of faith and a rest in the God’s only provision to bridge the chasm. “It can’t be that easy!” some would say. “You’re just not trying hard enough.” others declare. And they’re right. It’s a rest, a rest in the work done by another to accomplish something none of us can do on our own.
Why do so many refuse to take the bridge (faith in Jesus Christ) and choose to try to jump the chasm on their own? For some reason many think their salvation depends on their own works, but the chasm is much too wide for us to bridge by our own works, in our own strength. We need help!
As the author of Hebrews writes, “only those who believe can enter his rest.” Are you resting in him or trying to work your way to God? Only one will bring you to your desired destination.
Only one choice will give you rest from the quest for God’s acceptance.
All others find their end at the bottom of the chasm.
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.
We seek happiness, love, peace, companionship, friendship, security.
We are born seekers.
But it’s easy to get confused about what is really important to seek after. Our search for the things that satisfy the heart and meet our real needs is often unfulfilled. Our search for meaning and happiness often ends in frustration.
As I read this morning I came to these words in the book of Zephaniah, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, Seek humility;” I was struck by the invitation to seek and the direction in which way to look. It’s natural to be a seeker, but we don’t always know where to look.
As children we all played “hide and seek”. We are seekers by nature. There is a natural thrill in the hunt, the quest, as we seek out that hidden treasure.
It was interesting to notice that God is not only inviting us to seek, but he helps us with where to look. And so I thought, is this seeker invitation in other places? Does God invite our search and does he help us with clues to the quest? If seeking is part of who we are and invited by the God who made us, does he also help us with our quest? Here are just a few of the clues that I found,
God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
As I went on my own quest for this theme of a seeker it was all through the bible! To be a seeker is natural, to be invited by God to be a seeker fits well with how we are made, but to help us he gave us clues about what to seek.
We are, by nature, seekers of things. God invites us to be seekers of relationship. We search out external happiness. God invites us to seek internal happiness. We make our search about US.
God invites us to seek HIM.
Seek Him. In our quest for happiness, peace, comfort, joy, and a hundred other things we find ourselves exhausted with our quest. It’s simply not enough to fill our empty hearts, but God invites a much simpler search…a search for him, and in that quest for him we find everything else we were seeking after. It is, finally and ultimately, all about him.
Seek Him, and in that quest you will find everything else as well.
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.
It’s often hard for me to see God’s work in my life. I’m living moment by moment and I can’t see what he is doing in my moments. The light that shows me what God is doing sometimes comes much later. Most of the time I only get a glimpse, a stream of light through the clouds, a smile from heaven as it were. Finding my way is the challenge of life. How to navigate the road ahead when I only see a little bit in front of me.
I remember, years ago, while driving late at night in my 1937 Plymouth Road King that I accidentally hit the light switch and turned off the lights. What a panic! Going down the road in pitch blackness at 60 miles per hour. I quickly fumbled for the lights and the fear that overwhelmed me from the experience took hours to wane. It’s that feeling we often live with…the feeling of living in the dark. How to find the way? How to know what God is doing. It’s often a matter of trust when we see nothing at all.
Finding my way….I’m still working on it. But what I know is that God has promised to lead me, to help me, just as a guide would lead a blind man, holding my hand and leading me around the things I can’t even see. Paul wrote these words in Philippians, “My God will supply all your needs in Christ Jesus…” My greatest need is a guide to show me the way. I’m so glad he is that tender hand leading me along…even when I can’t see the way to go.
Romans 3 v 23
“For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God”
As much as we hate to admit it, there are no exceptions. I am a sinner, and so are you. Even though we do our best, we fall short.
We aim to reach a certain standard, if we set the standard ourselves we may even succeed in achieving it, but Paul tells us what the standard is. It is God’s glory. God is perfectly Holy, perfectly Good, perfectly Just, perfectly … Perfect. And we are not. We can never be “good enough” on our own to satisfy God. We fall short, often a long way short. We don’t make the grade.
Romans 5 v 12
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned”
Sin has consequences – death. But worse than death – death apart from God, heaven and all the glorious things there. When the first man who ever lived decided to disobey God’s instructions and live his life his own way, the result was death. From there on death is everybody’s end in this life. Why? Because all have sinned.
Romans 6 v 23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
Death means our bodies will die. But it means much more than that. It also means separation from God forever and spending eternity in Hell. That is the wage of sin. By being sinners it is what we have earned, what we deserve, what we have chosen.
But – did you see the Good News in this verse? God wants to give us a gift – the gift of eternal life. We do not need to be separated from God forever in Hell, we can spend eternity with Him.
Notice these things…
How much does God love us…
Romans 5 v 8
“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”
Jesus died for us. God loved us so much that He sent His only son to take our place. The wages of sin is death. Someone has to die for my sin, someone has to die for your sin. We can either do it ourselves and be separated from God forever in Hell or we can accept that Jesus died for us. God sent Jesus to die on a cross for sins that He (Jesus) had never committed, but for your sins and for mine. This is the proof that God loves us. (see John 3 v 16-17)
How do I get this gift …
Romans 10 v 9-10
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justifed, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved”.
He says ‘Confess and Believe’, or, ‘Believe and Confess’. The order is not important, the two things go together.
But Paul also says Confess it! Believing in our hearts should lead to action. To saying ‘Jesus is Lord’, speaking it out to ourselves and to others, living on the outside – by what we say and do – what we believe on the inside.Confess it!
When we believe we are justified – put right with God, acquitted of our sin – when we confess we are saved – from the consequences of our sin.
Romans 10 v 13
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”
Notice who this includes – everyone!
But, what does ‘call on the name of the Lord’ mean? In Bible times (perhaps more so than today, at least in some parts of the world) names were given to show a person’s character, what they were really like. The name Jesus means ‘Saviour – one who saves’. To call on His name then is to ask him (call to him) to save us (his name). That’s God’s promise to you and me – if you will accept (believe) Jesus as your saviour (his name), He will accept and save you.
How can you call?
There is no special words you have to pray to be saved. God knows your heart. He knows if you truly believe that Jesus died for you and if you really accept His way of being saved.
Romans 8 v 1-2
“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.”
We saw earlier that sin has consequences – being saved also has consequences. The first is that we are no longer condemned. Because of sin we were condemned to death – separation form God forever in Hell. But when we believe, accept, trust what Jesus did for us on the cross this verse tells us that there is no condemnation because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Now that is Good News!
God’s promise is that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. If you have just prayed a prayer along the lines suggested above then you have ‘called on the Lord’ and now you are saved! Welcome to the family of God!
Elsewhere in the Bible this is called being ‘born again’ (see John 3 v 1-21). What has happened to you is not just a single event but the beginning of a whole new life. Now you need to go on living the life of a member of God’s family.
If you have just been ‘born again’ you need to grow up, to learn, to understand who you are, to get to know God more than you do so far, to discover the future He has prepared for you. Here are a few suggestions to get you going…
If you have read this page and have come to accept Jesus as your Saviour, please contact us and let us know. We will pray for you and ask God to guide you in your new life so that you continue to live for Him!
For more information, check out our links free e-books and more on our Christian Resources page.
Marie is @spreadingJOY on twitter and through her Non Profit Spreading Joy, she is encouraging everyone to do what they can, where they are – with what they have. Making a difference has never been easier. May the JOY of the Lord be your strength and your heart be encouraged as you consider this passage of scripture today.
And the LORD said unto satan, hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth…. Job 2:3
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or what financial status you achieve – YOU are going to have problems. I realize I’m not being little Miss Sunshine with that statement nor am I spreading joy, but let’s face it, it is the truth.
The question then becomes, what are you going to do with your troubles?
When we are looking at our troubles, our hearts are tired, weak and weary. We aren’t thinking straight because we are desperately searching for a way to escape, a way to fix what is broken or a new path because the old one is nothing more than a huge sink hole, waiting to swallow us into the belly of the earth. Desperation is not fun. Then the horror really sets in when you think your friends will be there to help you and they decide to tell you why you are deserving of what you are receiving. You were simply looking for some comfort, some support or even just some company and that just never happened as your friends decided to explore the possibilities of how you brought your trials upon yourself.
Troubles come at us for so many reasons. Here are just a few.
What I really want to get through to you is, maybe JUST MAYBE the reason your troubles are mounting up one right after the other, the mountain is getting bigger by the minute and you’ve been beat down time and time again very well could be because God said…. “have you considered my servant………………?” and you may as well insert YOUR name there.
Out of everyone on the earth at that time, God PERSONALLY picked out Job and asks satan if he had considered him. I know Job probably didn’t realize what an honor this was nor did he consider it an honor at the time, but have you ever really thought about that statement? I don’t know how many people were on the earth at that time, but God named JOB. Can you imagine with me the kind of love Job had to have for the Lord for him to be singled out by God in that fashion? Do you wonder what Job must have done day in and day out to grab the heartstrings of the Lord so that he would call him by name, saying there is none like him on the earth?
If you feel like you are enduring the worst times of your life and you know you’ve been faithfully serving the Lord. Stay faithful, keep trusting in the One that holds your soul in His hands. Allow him to carry you through. Just as His grace was enough for Job, it will be enough for you. Look around and see what you can learn, see what you can carry with you and rest safe in your Father’s arms. I Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that He will not give us more than we can handle. Please do consider that the trials you are going through could be because God said to satan “have you considered……..?”
If things are going good for you right now and you are faithfully serving your redeemer, consider this – is it enough to grab His attention the way Job did? Would you be willing to endure the trials if the Lord said your name instead of Job’s?
I don’t know about you, but I want the Lord elbowing the angels….pointing down at me and saying…hey – there she is – THERE’S my girl!!! Essentially, that is EXACTLY what he did in Job’s case.
Have you considered……..?