My neighbor always lets his weeds get 2-3 feet high. Sometimes as I am navigating down the footpath, a weed will rub against my leg and I jump in the air and quickly look down to make sure I’m safe. In my mind, I know that he never addresses the weeds. But even still, I look down because there is a small chance that a mosquito or spider or something else is crawling on my leg. I hate bugs.
When I was a pastor, I always encouraged people to look in the Bible to see the verses I was referencing in a sermon. It was important for me to point people to the actual scripture so that everyone could see what God says. Even though most of the time it is only weeds rubbing against your legs, every so often there is a mosquito or spider crawling on your leg. If you are looking in your Bible to see what God says, you can check for yourself. You aren’t trusting it’s a simple grazing of a weed. You’re able to know it is just a weed. This is important for your walk with Jesus—to know for yourself what God says. Yes, you won’t know it all. Yes, you won’t understand it all. But open up His Word and seek Him.
There are a lot of commentators of the Bible. There are thousands of pastors and theologians. Interpretations vary at times because people allow their own misconceptions and traditions to speak into the Word. People read what they want to read. People cherry pick. People have agendas. People are broken. I’m not suggesting that the last sermon you heard was wrong or that commentaries are bad. My pastor shared a great message from God this past Sunday, and my bookshelf is lined with commentaries. My suggestion, my desire for you is to always seek Him and His Word for yourself. Independent Bible reading and study should be a regular occurrence. What is God saying to you today?
“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” – Psalm 25:5 [ESV]
Don’t Stop Here: Keep On Building (REV FEST)
God made you for greater things, not just good things (John 14:12).
You need to focus on YOU and then you can go out in community & make a mark for Kingdom – THIS IS THE GREATER THINGS PART
Today, let us look at building – allowing the Spirit to build us up, and then going out in the community and continuing the building through Jesus Christ.
- Promote Personal Building – THE TAKING IN STAGE
- Abide in Him – Word, Prayer– U abide in Him / He abides in U (John 15)
- Home Church– Praise/Worship, Bible Study, Fellowship – make a point to attend each week—get invested
Our community has problems with homelessness, with addiction, and so on. I personal know some young people who have died of drug overdose. I personal know people who had promising lives & are now in prison. People are hurting. People are feeling empty. People are reaching for something.
God calls us to shine the Light in Lebanon County and beyond. About 95% of Christians NEVER led a person to Christ. To share Jesus, to shine the Light, first we must CARE. We have to care for the people out in our communities. We have to care for the people in our cities. James 4:17 says if we know the good that we should do and we don’t do it, then it’s a sin. Remember, love God. Love people. And then GO. Go and make disciples.
Non-believers are not the enemy. They are BLINDED BY THE ENEMY. They are people who NEED JESUS. We ALL need Jesus. We were once blinded too.
- Promote Kingdom Building – THE POURING OUT STAGE
- Plant Seeds, allow Spirit to grow(1 Corinthians 3) – job isn’t the growing
- Invest in people– invest time, talent, treasures (Luke 6:38, Luke 12:48)
They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. – Psalm 126:6
One of things that grieves me the most is seeing people who are not passionate about Jesus. I remember a time when I neglected to live for Jesus, when I was neglecting the Word, neglecting a lot of things. One day priorities changed. I had a thirst for Christ Jesus. I wanted nothing more. If I didn’t get to read my Bible, I felt starved. If I hadn’t taken the time to pray, I felt lacking.
Paul wrote about everything being worthless when in comparison to knowing Jesus. Paul noted how he discarded everything so he could gain Christ. The person who sold everything to buy a field with hidden treasure had the same desire Paul had for Jesus (Matthew 13:44). Nothing else mattered.
Today, look at your priorities. Is everything worthless compared to Jesus Christ? How do you value your relationship with Jesus? Are you putting things before God? What matters most to you?
“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” – Philippians 3:8 [NLT]
Planning is important. The Bible tells us that before we start building something, we would certainly want to count the cost (Luke 14:28). Even so, planning is not everything. If you can only think up great ideas, but can never see them to completion, what good comes from the ideas?
In Proverbs, we read that good planning and hard work lead to prosperity. This means before we set out to do something, we should plan it out and use good discernment. When we have our game plan in place, then we should work hard to see it through. If we live this out, we will be prosperous.
Today, consider how you can be a better planner or how you can best follow through. Ask God to reveal any shortcuts you are attempting to take in life. Thank God for the opportunities He has provided to plan and work to glorify Him in everything.
“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5 [NLT]
Some of us are very blessed by our country of birth, the families we were born into, and the opportunities that we have had in life. We are blessed. We are blessed to be a blessing.
Even so, some people oppress the poor. Rather than answer the call to serve and assist the poor, there are steps taken that thwart any chance of the poor having opportunities for change. There are people who turn their eyes and look past those in need, while there are others who take advantage of those people who are already struggling. These people could use a hand up, but instead receive a push downward.
The Bible tells us that those who oppress the poor insult God. When we take steps to tear down rather than build up, this goes against God’s design. He created all people. He wants the best for all of us. Today, look for opportunities to help those in need. Do what you can to be the difference and shine the light.
“Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors Him.” – Proverbs 14:31 [NLT]
When I want to save something to remember, I will write things on my hands or take photos with my phone. As well, I am a frequent user of sticky notes on my computer. Doing these things keeps me on track to remember what needs to be remembered.
The Bible speaks a lot about remembering God’s commands. Long ago, the people had their own ways of remembering Scripture. Even their culture was built upon remembering what God had done, as they continued to meet for prayer. They invested time in passing down the sacred text. Even during meal time, they remembered.
Today, we need to be intentional when it comes to guarding God’s Word. We need to keep it ever before us, not so as to protect the Bible but to drown ourselves in His Word and treasure it. To have God’s Word written deeply in our hearts, we must be constant in the Word. Wake up reading it. Go to sleep reading it. Have it posted and spoken around our home. Have it playing in our ears. Today, ask the Spirit how you can write the Word deep within your heart, where it will be a source of life and a treasure everlasting.
“Obey My commands and live! Guard My instructions as you guard your own eyes. Tie them on your fingers as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.” – Proverbs 7:2-3 [NLT]
You have likely glanced in the mirror recently. Each morning I catch a few glances in the mirror while getting ready to start the day. But then I walk away and the mirror does not follow. As you go along through your day, you are not continuously looking at yourself. You cannot remember all of the fine details that you saw earlier in the day.
When we read in James about the mirror glances, it is compared to people listening to God’s Word and then walking away as if it was not even heard. This letter speaks about the need to have God’s Word written on your heart so that you can remember what you have read and heard. It also reminds us that we simply cannot be hearers of the Word, but we must also be doers on the Word. If you live out the Word (instead of the glance and then fading away), the Word is not only in your heart but demonstrated for others to get a glance too.
Today, have you read the Word? Have you taken some time to sit down and read a passage, a verse, a chapter of the Bible? Have you glanced and went back to your day, or have you taken what you have read and put it to memory? If people would look at your day, would they see God’s Word being lived out or are you taking mirror glances?
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” – James 1:22-25 [NLT]
One minute we seem to be all about Jesus, and the next minute we have changed our focus. Sometimes this means that we are not deeply rooted, or not rooted at all. When things are going well or when God is at the forefront of our lives, we are all about worshiping God and serving His people. We are attending church on Sunday and perhaps even interacting with a Bible study group. But then something happens. Boom. Something shakes our world and oh how quickly we do an about face. We change direction. It’s as if we are a different person. What happened to the way we were living? What happened to our focus on God?
It is important for us be deeply rooted in Christ, to have a strong foundation that will stay standing despite any circumstances that will come our way. Yes, we will falter from time to time; however, we should not sway every time to wind blows. Focus on your roots. Study the Word. Hear the Word. Spend time with fellow believers. Pray daily. Do whatever you can to be closer to God. Allow your eyes to be fixed on God. Understand that the moment will come when your world will be shaken. Hold on tight and keep pressing forward.
“At the end of the forty days and nights, the LORD handed me the two stone tablets inscribed with the words of the covenant. Then the LORD said to me, ‘Get up! Go down immediately, for the people you brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted gold and made an idol for themselves!’” – Deuteronomy 9:11-12 [NLT]
During the walk this morning, it was quite foggy. It was the kind of fog that when you walk forward, you cannot see a thing. Even so, I know what is supposed to be there. I’ve walked the same path every morning and evening for years. So I walked forward in trust.
The Bible speaks of many great people of faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the Hall of Faith as it is filled with many of these faithful followers of God. People like Abraham, who God commanded to leave all he knew and walk into the unknown. He said that He would should Abraham where to go. Now that’s faith. Things are different for us. Even though there is a lot of unknown, we have a lot more to go on than Abraham did. We have the Word of God. We have the Old and the New Testaments. We can read about the faithfulness of God. We can read about how God provided. We can read about how God protected His people.
We don’t always have the faith we should, because we are human. We have doubts. We have worries. It is in these moments we pray for God to help our unbelief. “I believe. Help my unbelief.” As the fog up ahead keeps you from knowing all that will come your way, walk with fog faith, clinging to the promises of God, trusting God at His Word, for He is the best promise keeper.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 [NIV]
This is the time of the year when things start to get interesting as I leave the house for my morning walks with my dogs. The mornings are starting off a bit darker than before, so I find myself fumbling around to attach their leashes to their harnesses. As I walk by the arborvitaes bushes, I do the quite routine, yet not-so-normal to onlookers, flinging of my left hand in front of me to feel for webs so I don’t walk into a spider web and forever be itching for the rest of the day.
As I get myself ready in the morning, I am pretty good at feeling my way around. I am familiar with the same walk, the same location of items, the same surroundings. I know what is supposed to be there if the sun was lighting the path. But even so, even though I know what is supposed to be around me, I do not see everything. We do not see everything around us. There is a great battle happening. The angel armies of God are all around us, protecting us, shielding us, battling it out against the evil that lurks all about us.
There have been moments when I considered what is going on around me. I know my imagination is nothing close to reality. But I also know that we serve an awesome God, and He has already won the victory. I know as well that He promises that NOTHING can snatch us from His hand (John 10:28). Find rest in His refuge. Find confidence in His victory. Find strength in His power. Keep pressing onward. The battle is around us, but we will win this fight my friends! The God of Angel Armies is fighting for us each and every moment. You do not even know how great the fight is—but you know the Victor—and you know the length He will go for you.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12 [NLT]