SENT IN JESUS’ AUTHORITY

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” —Matthew 28:19-20

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” —Luke 24:46-49

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. —John 20:21

When Ambassador Chris Stevens was sent to Libya he was sent in the authority of the United States like any other Ambassador. To attack him was to attack the United States. To kill any ambassador of the United States typically would bring a strong authoritative response, but not with the present administration.

Those sent are to come under the authority of the one doing the sending and it is known that to harm them would bring a powerful response. Earthly leaders fail, but in this passage following we see that those who harm God’s servants will be dealt with severely and that can be counted upon.

He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others” (Luke 20:9-16).

Also in Revelation 6:9-11 we read that “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.”

We are sent in the authority of Jesus to make disciples in the entire world. Those who harm the Lord’s servants will be dealt with by Him and His followers are not to retaliate, the Lord will take care of it (Romans 12:19). May we be faithful in discipleship. This is the mission He has sent us in under His authority.

Dear Father, may I be faithful in the mission to make disciples. Help me to remember that I have been sent in Jesus’ authority and to trust Him wherever I go.

SUICIDE: THE SATANIC LIE

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. —Matthew 27:1-5

Suicide… when life is seen as not worth living because of deep depression, blackness, emptiness, self-worthlessness, pain, sorrow, bleakness… When a person is in a deep, dark, hopeless pit and the only way to seemingly escape this state is the idea of taking one’s own life. The University of New Hampshire has had a number of students commit suicide by getting into the path of the Amtrak Downeaster train. This is the logical outcome from many in our educational system that teach man is no different than an animal and man’s worth is no greater than a pollywog. If death was the cessation of life then people could commit suicide and go into non-existence and not experience any more pain. But, this is a great lie promoted by our educational system, our culture in general and the world system’s philosophies. This lie is satanically motivated.

There are many facets or factors that bring a person to contemplate or commit suicide. In the above verses we can see that it was being “seized with remorse” that caused Judas to take his own life. As we look at this further we can also see that the betrayal of Jesus was satanically prompted for which Judas felt emotional remorse after he went through with it (Luke 22:1-5). This is how Satan works. He seeks to get us to do something where we think it will benefit us somehow only to have us regret it after the fact and then leave us alone to feel that guilt or sorrow. Sorrow, guilt and isolation are his tools. Satan seeks to use that emotional guilt to bring us further down the slippery slope toward suicide— doubt, discouragement, despair, despondency, death.

We have great hope! Suicide is not the answer! It will only bring terrible, eternal consequences for the lost who commit suicide. The great lie is that death will bring relief. It is a lie. Death for the lost, those who have never trusted Jesus, will bring upon themselves an eternal consequence that will be worse than anything they could ever experience in this life. What is the answer to suicide and all of life’s problems? Trust the Lord Jesus Christ who loves you more than anyone ever will. He laid down His life for you. He took the penalty and punishment for your sins. He died and rose from the grave which guarantees you life with Him now and forever. You will have a Friend that will never leave you or forsake you. He will give you great hope and purpose in life… if you sincerely trust Him and live for Him. It does not mean we will have no problems, but He will walk through them with us! That is the Truth! Don’t believe the lie!

Dear Father, thank You for the life You have given me now through Jesus and for the life forever I will have in heaven through trusting Jesus. Please Father, for those who may be reading this but have never truly trusted Jesus, may they do so now. May they call on His Name— turning from their own ways (repent), receiving the forgiveness that Jesus offers, becoming Your child through Jesus and live for Jesus from this point on. May it be so!

SENT WITH A MISSION!

Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. —John 17:18

They were sent to the front lines in the battle. This was to advance the cause and not to retreat. When they were sent they were expected to take ground and not to give it up. Those who sent them had great anticipation for them to succeed.

So it is with Jesus. He was sent into the world by His Father with a plan to succeed and He did accomplish all He was intended to. According to the verse above Jesus has now sent us into the world. Matthew 28:16-20 says, “Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We are to be going, making disciples wherever we are in the world, baptize them, and teach them to obey His Word. The Lord has promised to always be with us and so we are not involved in this battle alone. No, in this battle we depend on Him (Philippians 4:13; Ephesians 6:10-18).

The question I have to ask myself is “Am I being obedient in making disciples? Am I going intentionally into the world system that Satan is over to share the gospel and when others come to the Lord Jesus am I intentional in helping them grow in their spiritual journey? How am I involved in that process?” How would you answer those questions?

This is a challenge for me because if I am not being obedient in these commands then I do not truly love Jesus (John 14:21). I can say “I love Jesus” all I want, but if I am not being obedient to Him then those are just empty words. May this not be the case, but may you and I faithfully be encouraging others to trust the Lord Jesus Christ and to grow up in Him. May this be so.

Dear Father, help me to be a faithful follower and be encouraging others to trust the Lord Jesus and then to mature in Him. I cannot change anyone, but You can through Your Word, through Your Son and through Your Spirit. May You be pleased to do so as You work in and through me for Your honor and glory.

PROMISES YOU CAN DEPEND ON

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. —John 16:33

What is a promise? It is when someone gives their word about something— “I take you as my wife/husband until death parts us. It is a verbal or written contract— marriage license. It is an assurance— I will be there at 10am. When a person gives a promise it is a pledge that they will absolutely do something.

Jesus gives us 3 promises in the verse above: 1- We can have peace in Him. 2- In this world we will have trouble. 3- We can have courage because He has overcome the world.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). It is only through Him that we can have peace with God having previously been enemies (Romans 5:1, 10). He gives us peace the midst of the storms of life (Mark 4:39). He gives us a peace that the world cannot give us (John 14:27). Are you at peace with God? Are you experiencing His peace even in the middle of a life storm? Are you seeking peace from the world or are you experience the peace that only Jesus can give you?

This world is full of trouble because it is a fallen world. Since Adam and Eve sinned the whole of creation was affect… infected by sin. It affects every area of creation. We are told that the creation groans because of its subjection to sin’s affect (Romans 8:19-25). As part of that creation we also groan at times because of the difficulties we go through. But, the Prince of Peace can give us peace during these times and at all times as we trust Him.

Jesus has overcome the world and it is because of His overcoming that we will overcome as well. He rose from the dead (Romans 1:4), was seen by many after He had risen (I Corinthians 15:1-8), was seen ascending back to heaven with the promise that He would return the same way (Acts 1:9-11). If Jesus did not rise from the dead then all of “Christianity” is lie. The Apostle Paul said, “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Corinthians 15:12-20).

Listen, you can count on these 3 promises that Jesus gave in the above verse to come true, they will happen. We can have peace in Him if we trust Him. We will have troubles in this fallen world. Don’t be surprised by that. We are over-comers because Jesus over-came this world, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven and so one day we will also! Rejoice!

Dear Father, thank You for these promises in Jesus and the great hope that You have given us in Him. May we have that peace that only He can give and life faithfully until we get home to heaven! May it be so!

THIS IS WHAT TRULY HONORS GOD

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. —John 15:5

Take away the branches from the main stem of a tomato plant and you will not get any tomatoes. Take away the branches from the main stem of a pepper plant and you will not get any peppers. Take away the branches from the trunk of an apple tree and you will not get any apples. Take away the branches from the trunk of an oak tree and you will not get any acorns.

Take away the branches from the main trunk of the vine and you will not get any grapes. Take away ourselves from Jesus and we will not bear any fruit that honors our Father. Vine, branches, fruit— that is the progression in plants and trees and that is the progression of fruit-bearing believers. There is no other way. Jesus said, “…for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Did you hear that? We can do nothing without Jesus that would bear godly fruit. Yes, we can do all kinds of things apart from Jesus, but those are ungodly things, things that are done from worldly or satanic motivations. We read in First John 2:15-17 to “not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” In Matthew 16:23 “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” We need to be aware of how Satan works (II Corinthians 2:11; I Peter 5:8).

What a joy it is to see a plant or tree’s branches sagging with much fruit on it. In the same way we honor our Father by bearing much fruit and also show to truly be the disciples of Jesus. So, what are our branches looking like? Are they still connected into the vine or off by themselves? If we, as a branch, are off doing our own thing and not connected to Jesus then all we are doing and the “fruit” that we are bearing has no eternal value! Only the fruit that we produce while in fellowship with Jesus will have godly, eternal significance. Oh, that our branches would be sagging with much fruit as we are connected to Jesus and by doing so, honoring our Father.

So it is with the world. All that is done apart from Jesus has no lasting, godly value. Do not be deceived. All that is done apart from Jesus has some other motivation behind it other than the love for God and godly love for people (Matthew 22:37-40). We have an enemy in this spiritual conflict. Yes, be on guard!

Dear Father, oh, that I would stay connected to Jesus and bear much fruit to honor You. Please help me to sensitive to the enemy and his schemes. May this be so!

LOVING OBEDIENCE

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. —John 14:21

Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. —John 14:23

“Yes, dad” the child said when asked to clean his room and off he went to do so. “Yes, mom” her daughter said when asked to do the dishes and off she went to do what was asked of her.
When asked to do something by a parent, by a teacher, by an employer and the answer is yes shows at least respect. A blatant “no” would surely bring conflict between the one requesting something to be done and the one being asked to do something. It would also clearly reveal something is not right with the relationship.

For those of us who have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, when He asks us to do something and we obey, it shows our love for Him. Those who are not obedient to Him are showing that they really do not love Him.

So, do you love Him? What is He asking of you? Will you obey? Your decision to obey or disobey reveals your love or lack of love for the Lord Jesus Christ. May we be obedient to His desires, showing we truly love Him!

Dear Father, Oh, please help me to obey Jesus because I love Him. May it be so!

BETTER NOT TO HAVE BEEN BORN!

But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” —-Matthew 26:24

They had been friends from their youth, but John always seemed to have better things happen to him. He was well liked, had a very pretty girl friend and a good job. Troy became jealous and when an opportunity presented itself to betray his friend for money and have John sent off to prison for life, Troy did it. He thought that he not only would have the money, but also have an opportunity to “comfort” John’s girl friend and maybe end up marrying her himself. John asked why Troy was betraying him and the response was “Because you always had everything and I did not. Now I will have everything and you will have nothing.” John was sent to prison on false charges— betrayed by his friend.

Ever feel betrayed or have a sense of disloyalty toward you, deceived or let down by someone? On the surface things look to be going fine, but behind the scenes there are secret meetings and deception as loyalty wanes and a let-down is soon to be known. Instead of going to a person whom another has a disagreement with, the one in disagreement meets with or forms a group with others that are in agreement with them. This is when a major conflict is flamed up and destructive attitudes are out of control.

Jesus went through such a betrayal with Judas Iscariot. From all appearances on the surface things looked to be going well. But, Judas met with the religious leaders to come up with a plan to hand Jesus over to them. He did this for a mere 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-15). Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Matthew 26:48-49).

Ever hear someone say, “I wish I had never been born!” People usually say this when something is not going their way and they are feeling sorry for themselves. But, according to the verse above Jesus said, “it would be better for him if he had never been born.” In this case it was not what Judas was presently experiencing, but what he would experience because of his betrayal of Jesus. The eternal consequence for that act would be the judgment of hell. Compared to that consequence “it would have been better if he had never been born.”

So it is with everyone who is against Jesus, those who will not live for Him as their Lord, Savior and King. It would be better if “they had never been born!” than to suffer the eternal consequence for their denial of Jesus. Oh please, do not fall into this error. If you do, indeed, “it would have been better than you had not been born.” Those are frightening words, but a factual warning from the mouth of Jesus!

Dear Father, if there is anyone who is reading this and they have not trusted the Lord Jesus Christ yet. Please may they do so now!

LOVE REVEALS

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” —John 13:34-35

Spend time with a person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a year and you will know what that person stands for, their likes, dislikes etc. So it is with a person’s vocation. Follow them around long enough and you will know what it is they do. People can claim to be this or that, but when you spend time with them, you will really come to know who they truly are.

So, who are you? If someone was with us 24/7 for a year, who would they say we are? What would they say about our character? Are we truly loving (I Corinthians 13)?

According to the verses above everyone should know that we are the Lord’s disciples by the way we have love for others in the church, the body of Christ. Is this the case? First, what is love? Yes, it can include feelings, but it is first a commitment to the best interests of the other person. Is this how we treat others in the body of Christ? Are we truly looking out for their best interests or just our own? Philippians 2:3-4 tells us “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Is this how you and I live and love?

When Lazarus died, Jesus wept and the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36). When genuine love is shown toward others, people will take notice. So, I have to ask, as an individual am I known for loving others, being committed to them because of my love for the Lord Jesus Christ? Do I love other believers at the local church I am part of? Do I love those I am serving? Those following Jesus will be known that they truly are His disciples if they truly have love each other. Is this the case with you and me? May it be so!

Dear Father, help me to love as You desire me to. Oh, that others would know that I truly love the Lord Jesus Christ by the way I love others!

ERROR

You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. —Matthew 22:29

A compass is a great guide… if you are reading it correctly. This summer we set up a compass course for some teens. Overall they did really well, but there was a moment when one of the teams was not reading the compass correctly and they were actually going in the opposite direction from what was intended. They had gone some distance before they realized their mistake and had to back-track to end up at the correct destination.

So many people wind up with the wrong conclusions because they do not know God’s Word or His power. How many times have we heard someone take a verse or passage and lift it out of context and interpret it through their lens of experience or their bias? Instead of understanding it properly they are like the teens mentioned above. Instead of reading a compass incorrectly though, they are reading God’s Word incorrectly and ending up at a destination of understanding that is faulty. This happens so often by misunderstanding or by deliberate skewing of the truth.

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” (Proverbs 13:24). This verse has been in the news lately and used by many as to the why an NFL player abused his child. Again, it is the ignorance of many who would say this verse talks about child abuse. It is talking about discipline and anyone who knows what discipline is knows that it is guiding a person to do the correct thing. It is not talking about abuse…

I find it interesting that those same people who are against child abuse, and rightly so, are among the many that support the worst child abuse ever— abortion. Why is it wrong, and rightly so, to abuse a child and OK to slaughter the smallest among us while they are still in the womb? This is hypocrisy at its highest level.

Many are reading the compass of God’s Word incorrectly and come up with bogus interpretations, leading them in the wrong direction. Jesus clearly said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Many have wrong views of God as Father because they have had poor father figures and then they project those poor examples onto their view of God as Father. In Ephesians 6:4 fathers are told to “not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Also in First Thessalonians 2:11-12 we read “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” Abuse of a child outside of the womb or inside the womb is deeply despised by Almighty God and those who do such things will be held accountable to Him in due time.

Dear Father, may we read the compass of Your Word correctly and not just regurgitate what someone else has told us or some idea we have read. No, may we look to Your overall teaching in Your Word to have the right compass setting, reading Your Word rightly and ending up at the destination of correct understanding. May it be so in the authority of our Lord Jesus and in the power of Your Holy Spirit.

THE UNTOLD GOSPEL

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. —Luke 19:10

Hide and Seek is still a game children like to play. They look and look and look for those who are hiding until they find them. Some are easy to find and others are much harder to discover where they are. But the one seeking continues until all are found.

It takes concern, compassion, empathy, endurance, persistence and patience in seeking out those who are lost. Jesus told us that one reason He came was “to seek and to save the lost.” This should be our desire as well. But to seek the lost we need to be just doing that— seeking them. We also must be concerned for their lost state. If this is not the case we will not be involved in the seeking the lost that our Lord Jesus desires us to be about.

To seek the lost means we need to go where they are and talk with them. We may already be around many lost people where we work, go to school and live. But, even though they are lost in plain sight, we may not even be attempting to seek them out to share the gospel with them. This is truly amazing when you think about it. We have the message that can cause the lost to be found and yet we are not “seeking” to tell those around us that message. How sad is that?

I am not saying this to make anyone feel guilty, but I am stating it as a matter of fact. It is said that only about 2% of believers share their faith regularly. I mean the least we could do is hand a person a gospel tract, gospel of John, New Testament or Bible and encourage them to read it. That is the least we could do, but 98% of believers are not regularly even involved with that. Think about 98% of an army not being involved in the war and leaving the 2% alone to do so! That would be ludicrous, but that is what is happening in the church!

Kirk Cameron said, “I used to cringe at the thought of giving someone a gospel tract. I didn’t want to appear as a religious fruitcake. But the sobering thought that every unsaved person will be spending eternity in hell compels me to do something. If I don’t have the opportunity to speak with someone about the Lord, a well-written tract can do the speaking for me. A tract may not be as good as a personal conversation, but a sincere gospel tract is better than no gospel at all.”

D.L. Moody had just finished preaching the gospel to a crowd. After a woman approached him and said, “Mr. Moody, I don’t like the way you share the gospel.” Moody said, “Oh, I am open to learn better ways. Tell me, how do you share the gospel?” The woman said, “I don’t!” Moody went on to say, “Then I like my way of sharing the gospel better.”

May we be seeking to reach the lost by talking with them or at the bare minimum, sharing the gospel with them in written form. May it be so!

Dear Father, please help us to share the gospel with the lost around us. Oh, that we would seek opportunity to do so and have a real concern for the lost all around us that they may be found and come to live for Jesus as well. Oh, may this be the case!