The Food is Easy–Mark 8 Part 1

Providing food was the easy part.  Jesus fed the thousands earlier.  He healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead and shared the message of a God that loved his children personally and completely.  Jesus came to change the world—but, what he sees is a world that was not changing even a little.  Those following were waiting to see the next miracle or receive a free meal.  Those opposing him were more consumed with their checklists and traditions than they were to know the God they served.  The disciples still confused, amazed and enjoying the life of celebrity—not even vaguely aware of their role in meeting Jesus mission. God only wanted to restore fellowship with the folks that separated themselves in an attempt to become like God. 

Today, God still wants the same thing.  He wants us to simply know him and follow him away from the worlds captivity. Today, it is still not about the miracles—even though there are plenty of them.  It is not about provision, even though he provides daily.  It is not about us becoming God, being independent and in control—that is simply an illusion and impossible.  It is still about knowing God for the loving father that he is.  Realizing that while all the miracles, provision and control are his.  We simply get to enjoy them as we follow his lead and seek him with our hearts.  It is a daily journey toward heaven. We think we can control our lives, our fates and our relationship with God—but our plans and checklists do not work any better now than when he walked among us. Like the disciples, we have no idea how we can impact his mission—by simply seeking him and following him.  He said it best, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matt 6:33. Help me,  Lord-to simply seek and follow you.

God Bless You

About this time another large crowd had gathered, and the people ran out of food again. Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way. For some of them have come a long distance.”

His disciples replied, “How are we supposed to find enough food to feed them out here in the wilderness?”

Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”

“Seven loaves,” they replied.

So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to his disciples, who distributed the bread to the crowd. A few small fish were found, too, so Jesus also blessed these and told the disciples to distribute them.

They ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food. There were about 4,000 people in the crowd that day, and Jesus sent them home after they had eaten. 10 Immediately after this, he got into a boat with his disciples and crossed over to the region of Dalmanutha.

Matthew 28 part 1–He Has and Is Risen

I love a happy ending.  In all great stories, there is a point where all seems lost, then, the Hero swoops in and saves the day.  The true story of the Lord’s ministry on earth is no exception.  All was lost for Israel, then he came. All was lost for the disciples, then he rose from the grave. Christ is the ultimate hero.  He lived to show men the heart of God.  He taught the truth and preached a message of freedom.  He confronted the religious leadership and tried to realign them with the God they claimed to represent. He served, healed and taught every man, woman and child he could reach in the brief 3 years of ministry.  He accepted the death and humiliation required to redeem us from eternal separation.  Then it was finished—and yet, it was really just beginning.

Now, Jesus, as a risen savior, was no longer separated or constrained.  He was free to make us free.  He was starting his bid to change the world.  All he asks from us is to surrender and follow him.  When we do, we begin to experience the same freedom he experienced when he was released from the grave.  Jesus still looks forward to welcoming us into the family and ultimately into the kingdom.  We are no longer slaves of death any more than he is.  Go and meet him today.  Seek him out in prayer—he patiently awaits.

God Bless You

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Matthew 22 Part 1–A Feast by Invitation

weddingComing into relationship with Christ is not something to be taken lightly or for granted.  The parable of the wedding feast seems a bit harsh—the message is really one of hope and grace.  In the parable , Jesus talks of the invited guests and then the guests that were gathered afterward.  In the parable the original guests were too busy or made excuses not to come.  Then the King sent the servants to gather anyone that wanted to be a part of the wedding feast. But then the one guest came for the feast but not as a guest. 

In our culture, little has changed—God called his chosen nation Israel to be a part of the family, but they were too busy doing their religion to be bothered to submit to the Lord.  He Moved on and invited us—anyone who would come as a guest of the Lord.  When we receive him we become a part of the family and therefore an invited guest.  But some want to be a part of the feast, but not a part of the family—in our world that is the person that creates God in their image.  They are the ones that say Ï am a good person, I am as good as the next guy, surely God will let me in—Just like in the parable, God says, I love you and want you to be a part—BUT—not on your terms, on my terms.  If we confess with our mouth that he is Lord and believe God has raised him from the dead—you will be saved. On his terms—God gives us a free gift…One would be nuts not to accept!

God Loves us and wants to invite us to the wedding feast—please come, but don’t try to crash!

God Bless You      

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen

Matthew 10 Final–Who Cares What Folks Think?

It really doesn’t matter what the world thinks of you.  At best, as a child of God, the world thinks you are weird and naïve.  Often, as we watch the media they are quick to typecast the followers of Christ backward, opinionated, racist and  intolerant.  While we try to show them a picture of God that is loving, moral, selfless, sharing and kind—the world ignores us and judges us.  Jesus warns—do not be surprised that the world does not praise and accept you…they rejected me first.

This Journey is a spiritual battle.  We have a real enemy that has two goals—Destroy us and hurt God.  He has been at it since the Garden of Eden and has perfected his strategy ever since. We are blessed to have the Spiritual Armor and the Host of Heaven to help fight the battle; but, it is still a battle. We need not walk our days unaware. We stay in his Word, on our knees and forging ahead to become Like Christ.  As we do, he gives us strength to fight, provision to live and the joy of knowing we will be victorious as we remain faithful—Despite what the world and the enemy might tell us. Jesus said it best –John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

God Bless You

24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Matthew 7 part 2–Doing vs Being a Christian

One of the great controversies among believers is the struggle of Doing Christianity vs. Being a Christian.  It is so much easier to do tasks and complete checklists than to surrender and simply follow the Lord.  Many faith traditions started out with the basic principles of loving God and Loving others and through time built formulas, regulations and duties to make objective that which God intended to be inherent.

God does not care as much about what we do as he cares about our willingness to surrender to his leadership.  When we get caught up in the checklist of doing Christianity, we lose the ability to enjoy the freedom of simply being God’s kid.  God wants us to act like his kid—be relaxed to simply look, identify and be like Him. In that mode, actions are still glorifying to him, but, that is not the focus.  His presence in us is what shines through.  When the opposite happens, no matter how much is done, there is no heart change and no identity with Christ.  IN THE END,  IT IS A RELATIONSHIP NOT A RELIGION—A DAILY WALK NOT A ROUTINE. Help me Lord to follow you and be content to BE NOT DO Christianity  

God Bless You

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Don’t Worry–Mattew 6 final

The essence of faith is walking and acting as if we believe God is God and we are not.  God’s plan so often seems like it won’t work. It does not make sense to give when you are poor, to praise God in the midst of tough times, to love and pray for your enemies and to wait patiently when it seems all is falling apart. That is why God calls us to simply follow him and trust him.  He sees the big picture—he knows exactly what your journey looks like.  He loves you and wants to make you free and blessed.  It is difficult to pass through trials and not fret a bit. 

Faith is the continued movement toward God and his plan when all the pressure is to withdraw and move away.  God does not expect us to be perfect.  He is not shocked when we have a bad day and seem less than at peace.  He only wants to take the burden and allow us to function with joy and sanity.  He hates to see us struggle.  He provides for flowers and birds to remind us that such attention to the insignificant is a message that he will greatly care for us his chosen.  Take heart, Don’t worry and follow God—He loves you and has you in his hands

God Bless You

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Treasure– Matt 6 continued

Where is your heart? It is an obvious question and not that difficult to determine. We can often locate our passions by simply looking at our calendar.  Where do we spend our time, where do our thoughts stray to.  How do we spend our free time?  Here is the most telling question…What one thing can you not live without.  As we search our hearts to answer these questions, do not be discouraged. We all have different things that occupy our daily thoughts—bills, kids, work, vacation and even what is for supper.  Jesus is simply reminding us that we need to evaluate our passion from an eternal perspective.  Which of my passions will leave a legacy?  Which will impact friends and family.  Which will honor God and draw me closer to him.

It is great to have interests in life.  Work, bills, kids and life are automatic passions—but then we need to prioritize our lives to use the Lord as a leader, navigator and passion source to refocus us to the eternal side of life.  It is a discipline that requires daily training and commitment. As we train, we begin to release the stuff that does not really benefit us and embrace the stuff that makes and leaves a legacy.  Help me Lord to live in the eternal and not the temporal.

Godd Bless You

 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

 

Matthew 5 Part 4–Counter Culture

Christianity is and will always be COUNTER culture.  And though we are called to be Christ’s ambassadors—that means be in the world but not like the world.  Jesus saw that to be important in how we treat others.  We are to rise above petty arguing and vengeful thought.  We are to treat with respect those our culture would not.  We are to forgive the unforgivable, love the unlovable and be light to those that exude darkness. 

The sad news is that the world will continue to hate us even though we refuse to stoop to their level. So, no matter, how we show God to the world, we cannot expect them to offer that grace back.  That is what makes us like the Lord—he loves unconditionally.  When we live as he lives we walk free of bitterness and hopelessness.  We can be ourselves and know that who we are is not effected by those who are bent on our destruction. It is hard work, but, to walk like that is an incredibly freeing experience.  Make this the week that you love those who failed to love you. That is God’s week every week.

God Bless You

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5 Part 3–Attitude is Everything

During Jesus time, the Jewish leaders transformed the ten commandments into some 600+ separate rules and regulations. The attempt was to close every possible Loophole a sinner might use to avoid holiness, however, the practical result was to make life miserable for those in the faith and have little or no impact upon the real problem—man’s sinful nature.

 Jesus, in his sermon cut to the chase—no matter the actions. If your heart is full of sinful attitudes, then you are guilty. In the church, we live these lives that often look really good on the outside. But on the inside we are full of sinful, miserable attitudes. We travel around defeated and dejected feeling like losers and also feeling alone. The Lord says, work on your heart attitudes. Purify your heart and thoughts and the actions will not be a concern. Jesus was able to boil the entire law down to 2 principles…Love God with all your heart, mind soul and strength and love your neighbors as yourself—both principles require the right heart and attitude—neither are done b a checklist of rules. 

Help me, Lord to have the right heart to serve and follow you.
God Bless You
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[f] 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.[g]

Matthew 5 part 2–Salt and light

Assalt and light Christians, we are called to be salt and light…that is a significant calling.  Salt is both a flavor enhancer and a preservative. Light is the element that both exposes and casts out darkness. We as God’s people are called to bring light to the world.  We are the ones to show the world the reality of its sinful and hopeless state.  We are the ones to enhance life through freedom and preserve the life God intended for his people.  But, this is no easy task.  By stepping out, we expose ourselves to temptation and to criticism. We are rejected or minimized for being weird.  Also if we make a mistake, we are opening ourselves and God up to abuse.

So it is easier to step back, be quiet and let the ones we know quietly go to hell.  That is not acceptable.  We need to enhance and preserve the faith.  We need to shine before the world.  This is accomplished by faith, and is continued as we humbly follow Christ in this amazing journey.  God neither expects nor demands perfection.  He simply requests that we follow and seek his leadership and power.  He will accomplish—through us, more than we could ever hope to accomplish on our own. The Hymn says it best—“Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus…but to trust and obey.”

God Bless You

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.