Tag Archives: Life

The Commands of God

In the past four days as I have taken my dogs for their daily walks, I have encountered unleashed, uncontrolled dogs. Today’s dog was a bit comical. As her master called for her to get back to her side of the street, she slowly inched her way in our direction. It was as if she thought she could slowly sneak near us and her master would maybe have a change of mind over the boundary. As I consider the barriers that we should be in place for our fur family (fences, leashes), I cannot help but think about the boundaries God has put in place for His children to keep us safe. Just like the dogs often try to sneak away from their master when not contained, we too slowly sneak away. At times, we paw at the boundary line for a long time until we finally succumb to the temptation and take the final leap toward the sin. Sometimes we slowly walk toward the line and start to think no one is watching, and we run across like a dog who has a malfunctioning underground fence.

At the end of the day, as we stroll across the boundaries that God has put in place, we find ourselves facing the consequences. For a dog escaping, the usual punishment is back to the house. Our consequences are a life apart from God. When we are actively and knowingly sinning, we are living like we are separated from God even though He lives inside of us and is ever-present. When you don’t follow the commands, you turn away from God and toward the temporary. You drown out the Spirit. You put something above God. Your life you then begin to navigate without a map or GPS, and end up off course and out of gas.

In God’s Word, we see lots of commands. These commands are not because we have a God Who wants to be making life so difficult for us like some lengthy tax code or rules that keep us from fun. The commands of God are to protect us and to promote godly living which leads to joy, to peace, and blessings. Imagine not having to wonder if something is good or bad for you. God already has broken it all down in His Word. It makes life easier. Imagine how much easier and how much more joy and peace will be in your life if you stay on the narrow path and don’t find yourself knee deep in sin. Today let us examine where we are at in life. If you are often questioning the commands of God, consider why you question them. Do you have your priorities straight? Do you think you know better? Do you question them because you truly want to find a way around them? The Bible says if you love God, you will keep His commands. It should be our aim to do just that – to honor Him in all that we do in life. It is never burdensome.

 

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:3 [ESV]

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Sanctity of Life

We are Valuable. Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? [NLT]

We are God’s Creation. Only part of Creation made with God’s hands. Remember, He took the dirt and formed Adam. He took Adam’s bone and made Eve. He gave us breath (the breath of God). Other parts of Creation were spoken into existence but humans He handmade. (Genesis 1 & 2)

We are His Masterpiece. He continues to mold us. We are His masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

Ephesians 5:11 – Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. [ESV]

Proverbs 24:11-12 – Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? [ESV]

We each have responsibility to shine the light in this dark world – to share the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

REMEMBER: Where sin abounds, grace abounds more. (Romans 5:20)

If you have had an abortion and you asked for forgiveness, you have already been forgiven.

So what does the Bible say?

In the Bible, some were known in the womb. Some were sanctified in the womb.

Jeremiah 1:5 – “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” [NLT]

Isaiah 49:1 – “Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The LORD called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.” [NLT]

Galatians 1:15 – “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased” [NIV]

The word for prenatal and postnatal beings in the Bible – CHILDREN.

We also read about:

  • Jacob & Esau struggling in the womb
  • John the Baptist leaping for joy while in the womb and recognizing Jesus in Mary’s womb.

HE IS THE GIVER OF LIFE

Psalm 139:13-16 [NIV] – GOD KNITS TOGETHER; IT’S GOD’S WORK – NOT OURS

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

HE MADE US IN HIS IMAGE

  • Genesis 1:26-27 – Man is made in God’s image
  • Genesis 5:3 – When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. [NIV]
    • Seth was created in likeness of Adam.
    • Adam was created in likeness of….. GOD

Imago Dei (EE-ma-go Day) – Image of God is stamped on each of us.

HE VALUES LIFE

Genesis 9 – Capital punishment – murder in 1st degree

And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God. (v. 5-6 NIV)

Exodus 21:22-25 speaks about punishment when pregnant woman is accidentally injured while people are fighting and a life is lost.

  • The Didache (Di-dah-kay) – Jewish instruction manual held that abortion was murder
  • Early church, Calvin, Luther, Edwards held that abortion was murder.

God values life so much that He sent His one and only Son to die on the Cross so we could live forever with Him.

More Than a Story: Richness

More Than a Story is a 12 week study of the parables of Jesus. This is the first week: RICHNESS.

Message Outline:

More Than a Story: Richness

[The Rich Fool: Luke 12:13-21]

BE ON GUARD AGAINST COVETOUSNESS

Covetousness – desire to have more than you have

LIFE DOES NOT CONSIST OF ABUNDANCE OF POSSESSIONS

Possessions are useless when life is gone

Cannot truly live when fixated on possessions

  • Focused on protecting what you have
  • Focused on getting more – never enough
  • Focus is idolatry – God doesn’t have 1st place in life

Rich man called a fool. Jesus says, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God(v. 21 ESV).             He’s not called fool for being productive or profitable.

Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [NIV]

Notice that the rich fool is not just called a fool; he’s a fool who loses his soul.

Our possessions: Time – Treasure – Talents

These can be hazardous or helpful. You decide.

Hazardous = It becomes your life <<OR>> Helpful = 1 Timothy 6:17-19

“Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life. [MSG]

True Life — Eternal Life                                           Life is knowing God

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3 NIV).

“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).

Bible Study Questions:

Discussion Questions

1) The brother who approached Jesus at the beginning of the passage was covetous. The “rich fool” in the parable told by Jesus was also covetous. Jesus said to “be on your guard against all covetousness” (v. 15).

What are some instances when we are covetous?

How can we be on guard against this covetousness?

2) When reading verses 17-19, what words stick out to you?

3) What was the focus of both the brother and the “rich fool”?

4) Can one be “rich” in possessions (“treasure” – money) and still be rich toward God? If so, how?

5) How can we be rich toward God?

6) John 17:3 says that eternal life is knowing God and Jesus Christ. What does that mean? What is the difference between knowing of God, knowing about God, or truly knowing God? How does that look in our lives?

Download Message Outline

Download Bible Study Questions

Download Bible Study Leader Guide

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

How the Mighty Have Fallen

In 2 Samuel 1 we read about the death of Saul and Jonathan at the hands of the Philistines. David is told this news and he lamented. He writes this long lamentation that says “how the mighty have fallen” three times (vs. 19-27). It is such a beautiful collection of words as a tribute for these men. As I read through this passage, it is easy to see how David wanted to honor these men; however, it also can serve as a reminder—“How the mighty have fallen.”

No matter how strong we are on our own, we will fall. No matter how much we achieve, we will fall. No matter how high up the ladder we climb by our own human standards, we will fall. We will fall. But that’s not the end of the story. It’s only a small smidgen of life. God has promised us life and life in abundance (John 10:10). His Word says that if we believe in Him, we will have everlasting life (John 3:36). We may fall but we will rise with Him. On His shoulders He carries us home (John 6:40).

You can trust in the promises of God for He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9). He is true. He is the Promise Keeper. Each of us will fall again and again, but with each sin we are covered by the blood of Christ. Each of us will one day breathe our last breath, but that last breath of air is not the end. Oh how the mighty have fallen— but oh how the children of God will live forever with Him rejoicing together, singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8 NIV).

“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” – John 5:24 [NLT]

Hard-Pressed Relief Outline

Hard-Pressed Relief

2 Corinthians 8:13-14 – “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.” (ESV) BURDEN & EASE

If one member of the body suffers – all suffer – 1 Corinthians 12:26

Burden causes fatigue, struggle, drowning—become overwhelmed & even angry

Yet we are to “Serve with gladness” – Psalm 100:2

  • Delegation – You Cannot Do Everything
  1. Jethro & Moses (Exodus 18)
  2. Seven chosen for distribution including Stephen & Philip (Acts 6)
    1. Good reputation / Full of Spirit / Full of wisdom
    2. Know gifts / don’t serve in all areas – serve where you can give your all
    3. Not burdened that others may live at ease. Remember Exodus 16:18 – Manna was gathered and there was “nothing left over” and there was “no lack.” Each one gathered as much as they could eat.
  • Recognize Burden – Take Note When You Are Drowning & Speak Up
    1. Moses says: “I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me” [Numbers 11:14 ESV]
    2. “Gather for me seventy of the elders… and I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone.” [v. 16-17 ESV]
    3. Two is Better Than One [Ecclesiastes 4:9-12] – “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.”(ESV)
  • Jesus Above All
    1. Guard the Gospel [2 Timothy 1:12-14] “Which is why I suffer as I do. But I’m not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what he has entrusted to me. Following the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” (ESV)
    2. Keep aware not to take away from another’s walk. Equip. Empower.

Ephesians 4:15-16 “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (ESV)

Download Hard-Pressed Relief Outline from Dropbox

The Panic Button

I have been very blessed to be able to still have the usage of a vehicle as my car faces the dreaded inspection. I am so grateful. I am also at times confused. I’ll admit it. As I was trying to gather all of my things to head home after a long day, I hit this button on the thingamajig that says “panic.” And that’s just what I did. I panicked. God, help me. What did I do? How do I make the beeping stop? Oh dear. In time I was able to figure it out but I’m sure some onlookers had a good chuckle.

With the key’s panic alarm, you are to press it when there is an issue so it will cause people to flee who might threaten danger. In my case I pressed the button and then came the panic. It reminds me of how we occasionally do things in reverse order when it comes to our relationship with God. We do and then we pray. We do and then we read our Bible. We push the button before we are supposed to push the button and then we “panic” afterward just like I did in this borrowed car.

God wants you to come to Him in prayer and He wants you to read His Word. He wants to have a relationship with you. Why wait till everything falls apart to come to God? Why wait till after you make a mess of things to seek His counsel, to seek His Word, to pray for His wisdom? Today is a good day to put down the panic button, fix your eyes on Jesus and pour your heart out as you read His Word. Seek Him first.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33 [NIV]

Feet Planted

Yesterday I read something that said that it was important to firmly plant both feet on the ground—that it was a good foundation. For each person, when we stand with our feet firmly planted on the ground, there is only so much strength and ability to keep us standing. For me, because of health issues, sometimes I feel as if the wind could blow me over.

If you go through life believing you only have to plant both feet on the ground, that you only need to rely on yourself and your own ability and strength, you are going to get knocked down. It might take awhile. You might not come down easy. But you cannot live life in your own strength and make it to the finish line still standing.

God’s Word tells us that we need a firm foundation. The only firm foundation is Christ Jesus. We stand firm on Him. He helps us to stand firm. He gives us the strength to stand firm. It is because of Him that we are able to stand in victory at the end of the race. So today, don’t just plant both of your feet firmly on the ground—plant yourself in Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27 [NIV]

Grim Strength and Glory Strength

We have the option of doing things using our own strength or doing things with God strengthening us “with all power, according to His glorious might” (Colossians 1:11b ESV). I have tried both ways and I know which way is best. Time and time again, using my own strength was like running a race without eating breakfast first. You might finish what you meant to finish, but it’s not fun, not easily accomplished, and it really beats you up.

In the Message there are two strengths mentioned: Grim Strength and Glory Strength. Grim strength is when you are gritting your teeth just to get something done. It’s almost as if you have to force it to be completed, giving it every ounce of what you have to make it work. It’s a bad struggle. It’s not how God intended things to work. The Glory Strength is when you allow God to strengthen you to accomplish His will. You might have a great struggle before you but with His strength it is never grim. People see you overcome, people see your achievements, and God gets so much glory. When you live with God’s Glory Strength, you do great things through Him and cannot help but have this outpouring of praise for what He’s done through you. You realize that you could have struggled alone and barely scraped by but with Him you were able to soar to great heights for His glory. He qualified you. He did the work. You simply were the vessel through which He worked.

Life is rough. Life is hard. Life is filled with struggles and obstacles. You have two options: Grim Strength or Glory Strength. You can do life alone and try to make it through to the end or you can do life with God and allow Him to provide you the strength you need to get things accomplished. You can focus on a life that is lived for you, where your plans are the goals to be reached, or you can focus on God’s will for your life and realize that you have put great limits on your life. For God wants you to soar; God wants you to be a great bright light in a world of darkness. When you walk with grim strength, you miss out on the great plan He has for your life. In the end, a life lived with that strength causes you a lot more than just gritting teeth. May you learn how God works and how to live with Glory Strength so that you may endure and praise God with all you have as you see Him move and work through your life.

“Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” – Colossians 1:9-12 [MSG]

Dead End or God Delight

“A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way.” It is possible. There’s no 12 step program, no self improvement book, no quick fix. Today’s passage speaks of the “delight of listening to God telling you.” There’s always a choice. God’s delight or a dead end.

I have come upon many dead ends in my life. Thankfully when I approach, I am able to turn the car around and go in the other direction. When it comes to life, if you are approaching the dead end, there’s still a chance to turn around (repent) until your earthly, temporal life is over. But when that small period is finished, the dead end is just that—a dead end.

I cannot save you. I cannot make you give your life to Christ. I can tell you that Jesus Christ offers a “whole, healed, put-together life.” I can tell you that “God’s gift is real life, eternal life.” I am so grateful for the delight of listening to God. I am thankful that He has given us the opportunity despite us spending much time listening to sin. Jesus loves you and He has promised you something only He can deliver. I chose Jesus.

“As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end. But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.” – Romans 6:20-23 [MSG]

Align with Jesus

To align with someone is to give someone support. To align with someone is to take a side with, to agree with, to root for, to fit with someone. When I think of align I think of getting the car tires aligned. They have to be a particular way for the car to move properly. They have to all be in agreement with how they are to work so that the car will run smoothly.

In today’s passage, it speaks of what God wants—His will for us. He wants us to have eternal life, to align with Jesus. We simply must believe and trust Jesus and align with Him. Then we “will enter real life, eternal life.” How awesome is that?

It is so easy to make an altar call and think that everything is good to go; however, being a Christian, being a true follower of Christ, means so much more. It isn’t about an altar call. It’s about aligning your life with Christ. You believe. You trust. You continue to side with Jesus. You root for Jesus. You fit with Jesus. You agree with Jesus. Your life is built on Jesus. When you are aligned with Jesus, life is always smooth no matter how rough the path, no matter what comes your way.

“This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.”
-John 6:39-40 [MSG]