Inspirational Spoken Word

“The Gate” by Chris Webb

“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.” Matthew 7:21; NIV

On Sunday, we asked you the question: Are you doing the will of God? It requires a simple answer—yes or no—but according to Matthew 7:21, that answer bears so much weight. It can determine whether or not you will be welcomed into God’s kingdom once you die.

For those who think that after you’re saved that’s it, there’s so much more you could be doing. James 2:17 says faith without works is useless. We must be like the one in Jesus’ parable of the sower, who’s heart was good soil, able to receive the seed and produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, and thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:23). Likewise, in Jesus’ parable of the talents, a master who goes on a journey leaves his three servants in charge of his property according to their abilities. To one he gives five talents, and that servant goes out and works it and gained five more. To the second he gives two talents, and that servant goes out and works and gains two more. Upon his return, he tells these two, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . . Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:19-23).

However, the third servant, to whom the master gives just one talent, goes out and buries his, producing nothing. This is what we tend to do. As my pastor often says, we sit on our rusty dusties, content with being saved, but we do no work to promote the kingdom of heaven. What use does God have for us? In the parable, the master calls this servant “wicked” and “lazy.” He says this “worthless” servant should be thrown outside, “into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:26, 30), which could be a direct correlation for where we’ll end up if we don’t do the will of God.

“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew  you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” Matthew 7:22-23; NKJV

We can’t just be hearers of the word, but doers also (James 1:22). What’s the point of going to church every Sunday, praying daily, and studying the word if you’re not applying anything that you learn to your own life? And when applying the works of our faith to our lives, we must make sure that we are always aligned with the will of God and not our own mission. This is the issue Jesus had with the Pharisees of His day. They made a practice of religion for their own selfish purposes. They did works to be seen and to receive the praises of men. They held themselves up on pedestals and did nothing to serve the people in need.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13; NLT

We must be the complete opposite. Look to Jesus as our example, who did nothing on his own, but everything according to the will of the Father. John 4:34 says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” And again in John 6:38 Jesus says, “For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Even the Holy Spirit doesn’t speak on His own authority, but only what He hears (John 16:13). In the same way, we too should act only on what we hear from God so that we don’t become self-righteous like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

Remember, we didn’t choose God, but He chose us, and He chose us for a purpose. To go out and bear good fruit that will last (John 15:16). Jesus said in Matthew 7:16 that you will know those who are true by their fruit, for a good tree will only produce good fruit, but a bad tree can only produce bad fruit and so should be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 7:16-20). How can we ensure that we are always producing good fruit so that we will receive our eternal reward in heaven and avoid the fire and the darkness and the gnashing of teeth? By staying aligned with God’s will and His word.

God Bless.

“Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5; NKJV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for focusing on our own desires instead of what you will for our lives. Forgive us for doing works in your name for our own selfish purposes. Forgive us for not doing what you’ve called us to do, for burying our assignments to collect dust. We desire to be your faithful servants in whom your are well pleased, producing a harvest in our hearts thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold, because that is what you ask of us. We desire after your heart, Lord. Help us to be doers of your word and not our own. Help us to do your will and do it cheerfully, without complaining or arguments, so that when the day comes, we will be welcomed with open arms into your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Inspirational Spoken Word

“Fee Fi Fo Fum” by Kevin Perry

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 1 Samuel 17:32-33; NIV

It’s time we finally face our fears. It’s time we stare those giants directly in the eyes and shout, “We are not afraid!” This week has been all about triumphing over fears—the fear of dying, my personal fear of bugs—keeping the faith and trusting in God’s promise that victory is ours, no matter how fierce the foe.

What is something that you are afraid of? Maybe you’re not necessarily afraid of it, but this particular test has caused you to doubt yourself. You are not as confident in your walk with Christ as you once were. You once had a steadfast prance, but now it’s a wobbly gait. You thought you received God’s calling over your life, but now you’re not so sure. You wonder if it was even God you heard at all, or if the devil has been playing mind games on you.

You meet a giant named Goliath, and he intimidates you. You’re a mere child in comparison. You fear he is more capable of doing your assignment than you. He’s more articulate than you. He presents better arguments. Others admire him for his anointing. He knows the Bible front to back while it still takes you a little extra time to find the verse you’re after. He can ramble off a quick prayer, speaking in tongues a mile a minute, while you still struggle to find the right words in your own language. He’s confident, some would even call him conceited, arrogant. He boasts in his own strength and knowledge. He takes pride in belittling you. He makes fun of your faith.

How can you ever gather up enough strength and courage to battle such a giant?

Well, there is one thing that you have that this Goliath doesn’t. And that one thing, miniscule as it may be to him, is the only thing you need to bring him down to his knees in defeat.

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Yes, with God all things are possible, even when facing “giant” obstacles. Stand firm, don’t run away in fear and defeat. Just look to the young boy David as your example and inspiration. When he volunteered to fight the mighty Philistine warrior, Goliath, there was no doubt in his mind that he would win, for he had the Lord God Almighty on his side, and he trusted that God would deliver the fallen giant into his hands. He refused to let his own size, youth, and inexperience deter him from confronting Goliath in God’s name, because he understood that despite his own human weaknesses and short comings, the power of God, which had given him the strength to kill bears and lions, would surely give him the strength to beat the giant as well.

“Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:36-37

Romans 8:31 asks this question: If God is for us, who can be against us? When God is on your side, nothing on this earth, above this earth, or beneath this earth can ever defeat you. In Isaiah 54:16-17, God says that He created the blacksmith who forges his sword, and He also created the devil, and He has determined that “no weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.” How powerless will these created things be against the Creator when He is fighting our battles for us.

And are they really even our battles? 2 Chronicles 20:15 says that the battle isn’t ours, but God’s. Looking back at David, he doesn’t fight Goliath because they’re measuring egos. He doesn’t fight him because he wants to win a bet, or because Goliath stole his girlfriend or talked bad about his mom. He fights him because Goliath “defied the armies of the living God.”

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands . . . and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47

The giants we face in life won’t always be school yard bullies stealing our lunch money. Sometimes they are blasphemy, unbelief, temptations to sin, “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”  (Ephesians 6:12). However, when have on the full armor of God, we are able to withstand any evil threat that comes our way.

Understand that in this life, troubles will come. Jesus said as much. But He also instructed us not to be afraid, for He has already overcome the world (John 16:33), and through our faith in Him we too have overcome this world (1 John 5:4-5). David had only his faith, a couple of rocks, and a sling shot, and he killed the Philistine warrior with one strike. Don’t kid yourself by saying he just got lucky. That was all God.

So why then are we running scared? Stand up to that giant! Tell him commandingly, “You won’t defeat me!” Because you have someone much greater living inside of you.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10; NKJV

God Bless.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we put our trust and faith in you, in your strength, and in your power. We know that we can accomplish nothing without you, but with you giants fall. So we cast out the spirits of fear and doubt. We will not be dismayed or discouraged. We stand tall against these giants because we know you will deliver us. You said in your word that you will never leave or forsake us, that you are with us even to the very end of the age. So we hold onto that confidence, that if God be for us nothing can be against us, that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, that no weapon formed against us will prosper, that all things are possible to them that believe. We believe, Lord, and we thank you for always giving us the victory, even against the greatest giants— nothing is greater than you. We give you all the glory and honor and praise. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.

Inspirational Spoken Word

“Jesus Is God” by Preston Perry

“I and the Father are one.” Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:30-33; NIV

Is Jesus God? The short answer: YES. In our post on understanding the Holy Trinity, we learned that Christians do not worship three different Gods as pagans, but that our God is in fact ONE, and He has manifested Himself in three different ways—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

This concept doesn’t always make sense to us, as many things of God are beyond our level of understanding. To simplify it, people often use the example of a man being a son, a husband, and a father all in one. However, for some, that explanation just isn’t enough. I think the best way to understand how God can be three persons in one is by reading Exodus 3:14.

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14; NKJV

In Exodus 3, Moses has an encounter with God at the burning bush, and He instructs Moses to go back to Egypt to free the children of Israel from slavery and lead them to the promised land. When Moses asks who will he say has sent him, God responds, “I AM WHO I AM.” Another version says, “I AM THAT I AM.” God is the Great I AM. He is anything, and He is everything. He can be whatever we need Him to be; a provider, a way maker, a miracle worker, a redeemer, a savior. God is all-powerful, His knowledge is vast, His ways are pure. We’ve seen the magnificent sites His hands have created. Why then do we continue to doubt that He can split Himself up into three different versions all in an effort to get closer to us? That would contradict everything we understand about God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life and that life was the light of men . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, and the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-4, 14; NIV

Knowing that God can do anything He puts His mind to, is it so hard to understand that Jesus IS God? John 1 calls Him the Word of God, the revelation of God’s will in the flesh. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says that He has come to fulfill the Law. In other words, He has to fulfill the will of God. What is God’s will? His sovereign decree, His spoken word, and it never changes (Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35; Hebrews 13:8). Psalm 138:2 says the God has put His word above His name. If you don’t believe anything else, believe His word. Genesis 1 tells us that when God speaks, things happen. “Through [His Word] all things were made; without [His Word] nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). This is reaffirmed in Colossians 1:16; “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”

Consistently the Bible tells us that Jesus and God are one, but I think the best example comes in John 8:58, when Jesus brings it all together full circle back to when God first revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3: Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

Jesus IS God. Jesus IS I AM. Jesus IS.

God Bless.

“For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7; NKJV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing to us who you are. You are our everything, Father, and we praise you for being all of that and more. Thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, who came to fulfill everything you have said and to save us. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, whom you’ve sent to guide us into all truth. Thank you for being all that we need in this life, for you are the Great I Am, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, who was and is and is to come. We put our trust and hope in you always. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Inspirational Spoken Word

“Counterfeit Gods” by Jefferson Bethke

“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:3-6; NIV

Do you have any counterfeit gods in your life? Have you unconsciously put something or someone above God and now it has turned your life upside down? Believe it or not, we’ve all had a golden calf incident (Exodus 32) happen in our lives. Maybe not as blatant, but at some point or another we’ve all forgotten God and made things our idols, whether those things be money, material possessions like a phone or car or shoes, or another person like a boyfriend or girlfriend or a harmless crush that has dangerously turned obsessive.

Why is it that we are so easily lead astray by powerless things that can’t save us? I think it has a lot to do with our need for short-term resolutions. We don’t always look at the “big picture” because the “big picture” takes time. We ask God for answers, and when He doesn’t answer our prayers right away, we panic and look for quick fixes on our own. However, God is not a God of quick fixes. Abraham and Sarah didn’t have a child until they were both very old—Abraham 100 and Sarah around 90, well past child-bearing age. The children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years before God sent Moses to free them, and then they had to wander in the wilderness another 40 years before they could finally enter the Promised Land. The coming of Jesus was prophesied as early as Genesis 3:15, but the world still had to wait 42 generations before he was born, and we are again waiting for His return.

When it comes to answered prayers, the key is patience. As the song says, “He may not come when you want Him, But He’ll be there right on time.” God exists outside of time as we understand it; He created time, after all. While we wither like the grass (Isaiah 40:8), to God one day is like a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8-9). It may seem like He’s being slow in keeping His promise, but we must remember the God is in heaven (Proverbs 5:21; Ecclesiastes 5:2); He has a much different view than us. He knows the way out of the maze while we run to the first opening we see, unaware that it leads to a dead end. We have to learn to wait on God, just as He waited on us while we were still in sin. The answers will come, but we get in our own way when we try to take God out of the picture.

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:14; KJV

Another and probably the most common reason why we bring idols into our lives is because we’re looking for love and satisfaction in all the wrong places. We feel alone so we think we need a romantic partner. We’re bored so we scroll through meaningless posts on social media. We’re not fulfilled so we spend our money recklessly on things that would make us feel like we have “arrived” like jewelry, a new high-priced wardrobe, expensive cars. Despite having all these things, there’s still something missing. Nothing can quench that thirst we have like the love of Jesus.

In John 4:13-14, Jesus tells the woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). So why do we continue to seek abundant life in things when we already have it in Jesus Christ? Instead of pursuing people and objects, pursue God. The Bible says draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8). The Lord is near to all who call on Him in truth, and He will fulfill their desires (Psalm 145:18-19). In comparison, what can a store-bought item or a short-term lover give you other than temporary satisfaction that you will have to come back for again and again?

So make God your only God, put away your counterfeit idols, and see if His love does not flow through you more than it ever has.

God bless.

“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.” Psalm 24:3-6; NIV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for putting counterfeit gods above you, the only true and living God. Forgive us for thinking that we could find satisfaction, salvation, promise, fulfillment in things made by man rather than in you, the creator of all, the one who gives life. We seek your face now Lord, knowing that those you seek you first will receive all they need and more. Continue to lead our paths, Lord, that we may never again stray away from you. And we will worship you in spirit and in truth because we know now that you alone are our everything. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Inspirational Spoken Word

“A Crucifixion Type Love” by Brent Rice

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27; NIV

The greatest example of love we have on this earth is Jesus Christ. This week we’ve been talking about Christ’s love for us. How do we know that Jesus loves us? Through His sacrifice. Jesus said that no greater love exists than one where you are willing to lay down your life for a friend (John 15:13). Jesus was the only man on earth who laid down His life not only for His friends the twelve disciples, but for the whole world— past, present, and still to come—who may turn to be His friends by simply believing in Him. And He didn’t just lay down His life, but He was also the only man on earth who had the power to take it back.

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18

No one killed Jesus. Not Satan, not Pontius Pilate, not the Jews. The Bible says He came to “give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45), knowing that the only way to eradicate sin from the world, was for Him to die (Romans 6:23). But it didn’t end with His death; on the third day, He rose. Luke 24:46 says, “The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations.” This is the confidence we have in Jesus: that because he was resurrected from the dead, those of us who believe in Him will be forgiven and cleansed of our sins (Matthew 28:26; 1 John 1:9), and we will also be resurrected from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16; NKJV

Jesus’ love is a crucifixion type love, for He did not come to condemn the world, but to save it (Luke 19:10; John 3:17). Remember, it was never God’s intention that we all perish (2 Peter 3:9), but He wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth (1 Timothy 2:4), and He was willing to die to make that happen. Now it’s our turn.

Jesus left us with two of the most important commandments. 1: To love God. 2: To love others (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus said that this is how the world will know that we are His disciples: That we love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34-35). We’ve seen what Jesus will do out of love for His friends. So are you willing to give your life in order to save the one you love? A sibling? A parent? A spouse? An ex-friend? A stranger on the street? Giving your life doesn’t necessarily mean dying, although it could.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

Lose your life to Jesus. We’ve talked about putting to death our old selves and setting our hearts on things above (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:1-5). These aspirations above include living holy and blameless, a life dedicated to doing the will of the Father, but they also include giving others the opportunity to know Christ and be saved. Be that city on the hill that shines light in a dark world (Matthew 5:14-16), go out and preach the gospel, making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in your daily lives, showing love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, compassion, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-24), be imitators of God and follow Christ’s example (1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1), and soon others, who never knew Jesus, may learn of the crucifixion type love He has for them too and give their lives for Him as well.

God Bless.

“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 justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10; NIV

Prayer of Salvation: Heavenly Father, I need your crucifixion type love. I realize I can’t continue to live this life without you and your love in it. Lord, please forgive me of all my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I am willing to deny myself, even my very life, to make Jesus my Lord. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe that He was buried. And I believe on the third day, He rose from the grave. And because of that, according to your word, I am saved. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for laying down your life just for me. Now send your Holy Spirit to continuously reveal to me how true and perfect your love is that I may reveal it to others by living a holy and blameless life dedicated to you. Thank you, Lord Jesus for saving me, and I will praise you all my days for your love which never changes. I pray in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.

Inspirational Spoken Word

“The Hardened Heart” by Nick Vitellaro

“So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: ‘Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.'” Hebrews 4:7; NLT

Is your heart hardened? All this week we’ve been talking about matters of the heart. Does your heart desire to have what God desires for you to have? Have you purified your heart to think righteously, like Jesus, and to put those righteous thoughts into words and action? If your answer is yes, then you are ready for the next step. Now that you have a desire to do God’s will, and you’ve thought and meditated on His righteous word, it’s time to listen for His voice, and when you hear His call, do not harden your heart.

The problem is, however, we often do harden out hearts. We don’t want to do what God tells us. And His request could be something small, like being kind to an enemy, or asking someone who has hurt us for forgiveness. We don’t think we were in the wrong, so we complain to God, but forgiveness is as much a benefit for us as it is for the offending party, for the Bible instructs us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32; ESV). If we can’t do something so simple as to be nice to someone or to forgive a brother, how can we do the work of God’s kingdom?

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love . . . My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:10, 12-13

As Christian believers, we should have four main objectives. To sanctify or set ourselves apart from sin and be holy as God is holy; to praise and glorify His name because He is God, creator of heaven and earth, the one who breathed life into our very bodies, who restored our souls through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, that anyone who believes in Him will be saved; and lastly to love others as Christ loved us.

Love, in fact, should come first. That is the greatest commandment after all, to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40). Everything we do in God’s kingdom must come from love, and there’s not much love in a hardened heart. God loved us so much that He gave Jesus. Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life. How much do we love, and how much are we willing to give?

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:16-17

Romans 12:1 says to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. This means to dedicate yourself wholeheartedly in service to God, in doing His will. Offering yourself to God may involve sacrificing some things that used to be important to you for the things that are important to Him. And it won’t always be easy. God may tell you to do something you don’t like, or something that doesn’t make sense, or something that may turn your friends and family against you, or something that you simply don’t want to do. This is why the verse in Hebrews can be so comforting. When we obey God’s command, we will enter His rest (Hebrews 4:9-11), and there’s no rest more peaceful than the sweet rest we receive when we abide in God and in His love.

Now is your time to listen. You’ve already heard His promise, you’ve already seen how He’s delivered you from the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). Don’t continue to harden your heart. Obey His command. Love. Show others you are a disciple of Jesus Christ through your love. Bring others out of darkness into light through your love. And see if you don’t find rest for your very soul.

God Bless.

“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage on another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for disobeying your commands. Forgive us for hardening our hearts and turning away from you. With our whole heart, we seek you now; don’t let us stray from your commands. Lord, test our hearts for love. We want to love because you are love. Let your love live in us and we in you. Let us be examples of your great love to all the nations, that others may be saved and come to the knowledge of you, God, and of your unfailing love. We thank you for granting us rest, and we give you all the praise, for your love and mercy endures forever. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Inspirational Spoken Word

“Work in Progress” by Jon Jorgenson

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6; NIV

All this week we’ve been talking about wisdom, gaining knowledge and understanding the way God intended—through Him—learning to let go of certain people who bring us down, putting off our old selves and standing firm on our foundation of God’s word.

We are all works in progress—constantly learning, constantly studying, constantly seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit. We have a perfect example in Jesus Christ, and He is who we strive to imitate, but sometimes we mess up.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15

It’s OK if we mess up. When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive a brother who sins against him, Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22). Equally, God will forgive you seventy-seven times, even more, when you sin against Him. He is a merciful and loving God in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), that through our faith in Him, our sins will be forgiven.

In Psalm 51:9-12, David prays, “Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Created in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” We know that when we repent of our sins, He hears us (1 John 5:14), He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), and He will continue the good work he began in us to its completion, to the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

So keep on progressing. Don’t let past mistakes hinder you from moving forward. Try your best to resist falling back into old habits and clothe yourself in Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14). Continue to rely on the Word of God and the Holy Spirit within you to edify you for doing the business of the Father. And as always, be comforted in the knowledge that when you bear your all to him, you are forgiven, no matter what.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are a work in progress, but we are a product of your hands. Continue to mold us and shape us into your image and likeness. We offer ourselves as a sacrifice to you, that we may be renewed in our mind and spirit, able to do your will. We want to be holy as you are. Forgive us of our sins, Lord, that we may come into your presence and hear from you. Feed us with your word. We hunger for your knowledge and wisdom. Give us correction when we sin, guidance when we don’t know which way to go, and the strength to withstand any temptation from the enemy. And with this confidence we will tell others of your love and mercy so they too may come to you, seeking your righteousness. We give you all the glory, honor, and praise. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Inspirational Spoken Word

“I Believe in the Scriptures” by David Bowden

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:1-4; NKJV

As Christians, we go by many names (Christians, saints, the church, the called out ones, the body of Christ, etc.), but one name I love to be called is a believer.

Romans 10:9-10 says that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

What is a believer?

A believer is one who believes in Jesus Christ, one who confesses and believes that He is the Son of God, that He is God in flesh, that He came down from Heaven to fulfill the Law, to save the world which could not be made perfect under the Law because of sin, that He died on the cross to free us from our sins, that He was buried, that on the third day He rose from the grave, that He is Lord over all the earth.

And because a person believes all of this, according to Romans 10:9-10, that person is saved.

What does it mean to be saved?

Just before performing one of the greatest miracles known to man—raising Lazarus, who had been dead four days, from the grave—Jesus said this to Lazarus’ sister Martha:

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25

Do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus Christ came to save you from death? To be saved means to have life, but you have to believe in Him first (John 3:16-17).

After we’ve confessed, and we believe, what happens next? We must become disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).

Will you drop everything to follow Jesus? Jesus said that those who desire to come after Him must first deny themselves and pick up their cross (Matthew 16:24). That means giving up your selfish ambitions, giving up your desires to please man, giving up certain things that have taken a hold over you, like money or material things, that have become like idols, that have put you in bondage, giving up certain loved-ones—a boyfriend, or girlfriend, or best friend, maybe even some family members—anything that turns you away from God, that does not bring glory and honor to His Name. You must drop all of that stuff and dedicate your life whole-heartedly to seeking a relationship after Him through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). Are you willing to lose your old life to be with Jesus? The Bible tells us to put to death anything that belongs to our earthly or fleshly nature. For we used to walk in these ways, in the lives we once lived, but now we have taken off our “old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:5-10). Paul confirms this in Romans 8:13 when he says that “if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Ephesians 4:22-24 instructs us to “put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” There’s always something we must sacrifice first in order to be accepted by God (Romans 12:1-2). It’s not hard, or at least it shouldn’t be, compared to the abundant rewards (John 10:10) we receive just by accepting Christ into our lives.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24; NIV

So put away your old life and believe in Jesus! I promise you there’s not a sin you could have committed in your past that God will not forgive you for through Jesus Christ (Mark 3:28), whether it’s sex before marriage, adultery, cheating the poor, addiction to drugs or pornography, physical or mental abuse of your family, even murder. ALL of it can be forgiven. 1 John 1:9 (one of my favorite scriptures; I go to it often) says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Leaving behind our sinful ways can be hard—sin is fun; we enjoy doing, at least for the time—but what I love about this verse is that God promises to help us. We don’t have to do this on our own. We don’t have to “get clean” before coming to God. He will clean us up, but we first have to acknowledge that we need Him—confess our sins. And the beauty about God’s forgiveness is that he remembers our sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12Hebrews 10:17); He will not hold them over our heads. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.” We are new creatures in Christ. Our slates have been wiped clean. We can start fresh.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

And what I love most about being a believer—after I’ve confessed my sins, after I’ve been assured that He’s forgiven me, after I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, after I’ve picked up my cross to become His disciple—are the rewards I will receive. “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'”  (Matthew 24:34). Don’t you want to go to Heaven? Where there is no death or mourning or crying or pain? Where God will live and dwell among us for all eternity, and we will be His people and He our God (Revelation 21:3-4)? In John 17:3, Jesus defined eternal life to mean this: “that they [believers] may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” Did you know you can experience eternal life right here on earth, by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, by pursuing a relationship with God through prayer and reading His word, the Bible? But if there’s one thing I look forward to most, it is Heaven. Boy, oh boy, just to think of the knowledge we will gain when we get there, to learn even more than what our human minds could ever grasp here on earth, to sit at His feet and feed off of every word of wisdom that comes from His mouth, like Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42), to absorb every bit of knowledge that we can, while continuously praising and worshiping Him for His great love and mercy and power, and that He chose us to be His (John 15:16), forever and ever.

Yes! I can’t wait!

I believe in the scriptures.

Because I want everyone to come to the knowledge and confidence of God, to have that firm foundation in their belief of the scriptures, to anxiously hope for Heaven one day, but continue to seek God right here on earth…

If you are not saved, pray the following prayer, and feel free to contact me to connect as new brothers/sisters in Christ:

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I believe in the scriptures. I believe that you are the one true God, that you sent your Son Jesus to die for my sins. I believe in your love, in your willingness to forgive me of my transgressions and make me better through Christ Jesus if I’d only confess. Lord, I do confess of my sins, and I ask that you forgive me and remember them no more. I do confess that Jesus Christ is my Lord. I do believe that he died and rose from the grave that I too may be alive in Him, and for that I know that I am saved. Father, thank you for your salvation. Thank you for washing me clean with the blood of Jesus. Thank you for making me a new creature. Thank you for your promise of a future with you in Heaven, in paradise. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, whom you’ve given to lead me and guide me in this life. Thank you for your scriptures, which you’ve given to comfort me, to confirm what you’ve already promised me, to renew my hope in you day and night. I will forever put my trust in you, for you are my source, my strength, my redeemer, my deliver, MY GOD, in whom I will believe. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Inspirational Spoken Word

“American Persecution” by Jackie Hill Perry

“Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Daniel 11:32; NKJV

Do you know God? Will you stand firm in your beliefs of Him when someone tries to persuade you in the opposite direction? There will come a time, and some would argue that time is already here, when being a Christian in America won’t be so popular. It is even projected that in twenty-five years, America will become an atheist nation. I dread to see the day.

It is important for us not to waiver in our faith when facing persecution. Jesus never said this life would be easy (John 16:33). In fact, He said the world will hate you because He has chosen you to be his disciples (John 15:18-19). Remember that James tells us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). Various trials, persecutions, temptations, tests, etc. help us to mature in our faith, become better Christians, wanting nothing, not continuously asking, “Why, Lord? Why me?” but welcoming whatever trouble comes our way with joy.

Peter tells us to resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, because we know believers all over the world are going through the same kind of sufferings, and in due time, He will restore our strength and give us a firm foundation (1 Peter 5:9-10). Remember Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (KJV). This verse reminds us to trust in God, be patient with God. As we learned last week, God is our source. Put your dependence in Him, not man. Acts 5:29 says to obey God rather than man. Men are fickle. We change, we change our minds, we change our laws, but God’s word is perfect and true—it never changes (Matthew 5:17-18). And God is not a man that He should lie, nor is He a son of man that He should change his mind (Numbers 23:19). So when we obey Him, we know the rewards will be greater (Proverbs 11:18), and whatever He promises, if we’d only have the patience, it will be fulfilled.

One of the best examples of men who stood firm in their belief of God is the three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. When King Nebuchadnezzar set up the gold image and gave the decree that everyone was to bow down and worship it lest they be cast into the fiery furnace, these three refused to bow. They remained strong and steadfast in their belief of God, and firmly resisted the king.

“If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

There will come a time when the world will want you to go completely against what is commanded in the word of God. Will fear get the best of you? Will you silently agree so as to remain safe, to not be labeled, to stay within the bounds of being politically correct so as not to offend? But who’s punishment are we more fearful of—man or God’s (Matthew 10:28)? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego rejected the king’s decree because it directly violated God’s law, which states, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). When the king asked who could deliver them out of his hand, they confidently proclaimed God will, but even if He doesn’t, they will not bow.

Can we say the same? If God be for us, He’s more than the world against us (Romans 8:31). How much do we believe that statement when tribulations arise? Even when threatened with imminent death, will we remain strong in our confidence of God, in our faith, in our belief that He will deliver us even if He doesn’t, knowing that Jesus Christ has already given us the victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)? We believe in Him, don’t we? We believe that He rose from the grave so that we too can have life (John 3:16). That’s what makes us saved, right (Romans 10:9)? If that’s the case, then nothing a king—whom God Himself raised up (Daniel 2:21)—can threaten us with should be able to shake our faith.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:24-25

In his anger, the king had the fire turned up seven times hotter and had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego tossed in. The flames were so hot, the men who threw them in the fire died. But you know what, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego got up, they walked around, and I’d like to think that knowing they were saved, they praised and worshiped God right there in the fire! The king was in shock to even see a fourth person in there with them. You see, God goes ahead of us and is right there with us in the midst of our storms. The Bible says He will never leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). But we have to learn to trust in Him. That is our test. To trust Him. And when we do, miracles happen.

When Nebuchadnezzar saw how God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the fiery furnace, he called them servants of the Most High God and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God”  (Daniel 3:28). The one thing we can look forward to when facing persecution is that when God stretches out His hand to deliver us, He brings all the glory back to Him, that He may be praised, because of our faith in Him.

“Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to stand firm in our faith. We know that without faith it is impossible to please you. We want to please you, Lord. Give us the strength to welcome persecution with rejoicing, knowing that you will deliver us, that we already have the victory through Jesus Christ, that your grace is sufficient for us, that your power is made perfect in our weakness. We pray that our sufferings in Christ’s name will help to bring glory and honor to you, O God, that more people will come to you, that sinners will be saved, that backsliders will rededicate their lives to serving you. We pray that we continue to renew our minds in the Spirit, and not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but rather clothe ourselves with Christ and become that city on a hill, letting our light shine, that others may glorify you in heaven. We thank you, we praise you, and we love you, in Christ Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Inspirational Spoken Word

“Love To Worship” by Dillon Chase

 “Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him. Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.” Psalm 33:1-3; NLT

What is worship? This is a question I struggled with for quite some time. Is there a “right” definition for worship? How do I worship God; is there a specific formula?

A few years ago, a friend of mine invited me to her church for an evening revival service. The moment I stepped into the sanctuary of that church, it was as if I’d entered a world of confusion. Everyone, from infant to eighty, was dancing, singing, shouting, jumping, stomping, running circles around pews. The bishop sat in a corner breathing heavily into the mic, and looking straight at me, or so it felt, he said, “If you don’t get up and worship the Holy Spirit, you’re going straight to hell!”

Was this truly worship? Doing exercise routines in church and telling others if they didn’t follow suit, they were going to hell?

“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kinds of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:22-24; NIV

Is there anything wrong with dancing and jumping and shouting to praise and worship God? Of course not! But do you know why you are doing it? Is it because you know God, because you are that spirit and truth worshiper that Jesus spoke off, or is it because you are doing what the preacher told you to do?

The Samaritan people worshiped in ignorance. Tommy Higle, author of The Journey Series, wrote that their worship “was characterized by enthusiasm without biblical foundation.” This is the type of worship we often see in churches—there is enthusiastic, spirited dancing, singing, jumping, and shouting, to the extend that it is like a performance, but there is no Bible teaching to ground the people in God’s word and show them why they worship.

Knowing why we worship is so important. Once we know why, the how part comes easily. If we want our worship to be pleasing and acceptable to God, we have to learn to worship as Jesus instructed, in spirit and in truth.

A basic definition for worship is knowing God, recognizing His greatness, His holiness, His majesty and splendor, His divine power, His Lordship over all the earth. We must humble ourselves before Him, for the Bible says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in the spirit” (Psalm 34:18). How do we come to know God? By getting in His word, studying the Bible. John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” To sanctify means to set apart; to make holy. The word of God makes us holy. According to Psalm 1:1-2, blessed is the one “whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who mediate on his law day and night.” 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (KJV). Set aside time every day— whether in the morning, during your lunch break, at night before bed—to read the Bible. Show God that you are eager to know Him, to know His word, and to know His truth.

There are so many great verses of scripture we can mediated on that teach us about God and show His divine attributes.

God is loving. He is giving. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (NKJV). God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die for our sins. Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life so that we could have life (John 10:10). Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is no love greater than the love God has for us. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, God still loves us and is able to forgive us by His grace through the redemption that comes from Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23-24). God is our perfect example of love. 1 John 4:16 says, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” Further down in that scripture, it says “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19; NIV). Love is a form of worship.

2 Corinthians 5:19 says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (NKJV). Here, reconcile means to bring back, or to forgive. Through Christ, God has forgiven us and welcomed us back unto Him. We have peace with God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1), and because of His sacrifice, we are redeemed from the punishment of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23). God is forgiving.

Hebrews 4:15 says, “Fore we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He understands what we are going through, and we can approach him with our problems. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). 1 Peter 5:7 says to cast “all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” The shortest verse of scripture is John 11:35; “Jesus wept.” He is deeply moved by what troubles us. God is caring.

Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” God is healing. God saves us from death.

There are so many other attributes of God that we read in His word, but we must read it to know that truth. Think of specific examples in your own life when God revealed these divine attributes and others to you. Meditating on these truths about God will bring forth that captivating, emotional, enthusiastic, spiritual worship that He seeks. Then your worship will be in spirit and in truth.

 

Perhaps you don’t know God, you’ve never experienced His love, His grace, His healing, His forgiveness, or any of His other attributes in your life. You can worship neither in spirit nor in truth because you never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savoir. Don’t miss your opportunity to accept Him into your life now. Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is as easy as confessing and believing in your heart. If you desire to have the love and grace of God in your life, pray this prayer.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize today that I need you in my life. I desire to know you, your love and your grace and every aspect of you that makes you God. Father, forgive me of all my sins. You said in your word that if I confess my sins, you are faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. So right now I confess my sins, and I ask you to purify me and make me a new creature, holy and acceptable unto you. I confess and believe that Jesus is my Lord and Savior, that He died on the cross for my sins so I may be forgiven, and on the third day, He rose from the grave so I may have life. And for that, according to your word, I am saved. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving me today. Now fill me with the power and glory of your Holy Spirit, whom you promised, to live on the inside of me, to lead and guide me into all truth, that I may become a spirit and truth worshiper all the days of my life, bringing glory and honor and praise to you. In the mighty name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

If you said that prayer in sincerity of your heart, congratulations, you are saved! The hardest part is behind you! Now it’s time to live a life dedicated to God. If you need help, guidance, or are confused about what your next steps into Christian living are, feel free to email me. You can find my contact form under the “About” link on the main menu.

God bless!