SURVIVAL

Alas, who can survive unless God has willed it? —Numbers 24:23
You are breathing because it is God’s will for you to do so. Anything you are doing it is because, in the plan of God, He has willed it. You cannot do anything or be anything unless it is in the will of God. We cannot come close to fully understanding the awesome will of God on this planet or in all of creation. God has revealed what He has chosen to reveal and that is all we can know (Deuteronomy 29:29). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faiLQCuoskM
In His will, God has allowed evil, but it will only be temporary. Evil thoughts, words and actions are the result of Satan rebelling against God and mankind followed him in that rebellion. In His will God allowed Satan to make that choice and for man to do so as well. He still allows those who wish to rebel against Him to do so today. He does not want to force people into relationship with Him, but He desires that people will love Him for who He is.
Do you love Jesus? That is because you understand who Jesus is, sent from the Father to take the penalty and punishment for our sin and then rise from the dead, proving that He is the Son of God (Romans 1:4). We begin to understand how awesome He is!
Do you not love Jesus? That is because you have not come to the place of understanding who Jesus is or that you do not want anything to do with Him because you are rebelling against Him like Satan and all those who don’t want anything to do with Him.
God’s will is going to be done whether you, I or anyone else cares for it or not. God is God and we are mere men. Who are we to speak back to the One who created us? (Romans 9:20). Yet there are many who are indifferent toward Him, shake their fists at Him and curse His Name. Yes, He will allow that temporarily, but then judgment will come upon all those who want nothing to do with Him. That will be their choice.
God’s will is that “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4) and love Him freely. Not all people will make that choice to love Him. Some people hate Him. Yet He is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9), but here are many who will not repent and they will perish in Hell forever. A judgment they will bring upon themselves.
Jesus is Savior and Lord. God loved us so much that He sent His Son to save us from our sin. If you have not trusted Jesus, I urge you to do so. Nobody loves you as much as the Lord God Almighty does! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD6khv6pGkw Trust Him!
Dear Father draw many to the Lord Jesus Christ that they might know Your love forever! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTzXpzSXtdQ

BEWARE!

As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” —Mark 8:15

Watch out for those who have a “religious” veneer whether they are from the religious community or government community. There are those who claim they are followers of God, but they only use this claim to fortify their power positions. Jesus warned His followers to beware of their teaching (Mark 16:12). Plain and simply there are liars in both communities who will say what they need to with the express purpose to hold their positions. Jesus warned us to “Watch out” for the teaching of these people.

Remember when Jesus was born? King Herod had gathered “together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born” (Matthew 2:4). “Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (Matthew 2:7-8). Herod made it look like he was truly interested in finding the Child so he too could go and worship the Child, but his intent was actually to kill Him (Matthew 2:16).

Brothers and sisters, we are in spiritual war and Satan will send his “ministers of righteousness” into all arenas to oppose the people of God. Beware; do not be deceived by the religious community or government community. Let us be about our Father’s business in sharing the Lord Jesus Christ with people and making disciples wherever the Lord may lead us to do so. Yes, let us be faithful in the work He has called His church to. May it be so.

Dear Father, please help us not to get sidetracked from that which You have called each of us to. May we be about Your work by the power of the Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.

THE HIGHEST PLACE

When you see the tassels, you will remember and obey all the commands of the Lord instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do. —Numbers 15:39

Indeed, is the Lord God Almighty given the highest place in our lives? Are we being obedient to Him? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z_OoO_3suQ Or, are we following our own desires and defiling ourselves as the flesh is prone to do?

Jesus said in John 14:21 that “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” To truly love Jesus is to be obedient to what He has to say to us. Not only that, but to truly love God’s children is to “love God and obey his commands” (I John 5:2). Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

What is the Lord saying to you? How is He calling you to be obedient to Him today? Will you? http://www.movingworks.org/project/disciples/

Dear Father, may I be obedient to whatever You desire of me. Help me to know Your specific desires and then be faithful in them. May this be done in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus my Lord.

THE HILL OF DIFFICULTY

But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” —Numbers 13:30-33

People have a tendency to take a path they think is of least resistance and a path they believe to be more pleasant and comfortable. This is seen in Pilgrim’s Progress at 5:45 when Pilgrim comes to the Hill of Difficulty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnScYAl-dww There are those who take what appears to the easy path, but it does not end well.

The passage above gives two very different viewpoints from those who were chosen to “spy out the land.” They were to scout out the land to see what kind it was. Their mission was not to decide whether they were to go into the land or not. The Lord had said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites” (Numbers 13:1-2). So they did not have to make the decision about going in. The Lord had already told Moses that He was giving them the land! Now Caleb, and later Joshua as well, told the people “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” Caleb sought to be obedient to the Lord’s plan and encouraged the nation to do the same. But the others who spied out the land, ten of them, said “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites.” So, the minority said, “The land is good! Let’s go take it!” The majority said, “We can’t do it. They are stronger than we are. The people are huge there.” Then the majority of the spies sought to discourage the whole nation from being obedient to the Lord. The consequence for discouraging the nation from being obedient would affect a whole generation.

When the Lord tells us to do something we are to do it! We are not to come up with excuses as to why we cannot. That is rebellion and wickedness. Do not side with the majority that seeks to disobey the Lord. That will only bring dire consequences. Be obedient even if you are in the minority and you will be blessed. The key principle is to be obedient to the Lord regardless if those around us decide to do so or not. But let us encourage those around us to be obedient to His will as well. May it be so!

Dear Father, may I obey You even if I may be in the minority. My desire is to be faithful to You as the first-most priority. Please help me to be sensitive through the Holy Spirit as to Your desires for me and then may I act in the authority of my Lord Jesus to carry out those desires.

LISTEN OR LOSE IT

Jesus said, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” —Mark 4:24-25

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEtsHWFE6-w This happens when we sit at the feet of Jesus listening intently to what He is saying. He tells us that “the closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given— and you will receive even more. Those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD-ZdMOx_HY

Are you and I paying close attention to what Jesus is saying to us? If not, then our understanding will be limited. But, if we want more understanding we have to listen closely to what He is saying to us now. As we are faithful in our understanding now, then He will give even more understanding to us. If we are not listening to Him even what we do understand will be lost. This is why it is so important to consistently pay close attention to what Jesus is saying. Are you? Am I?

Dear Father, help me to closely listen to Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. May it be so!

SOWERS OF GOD’S WORD

The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” —Mark 4:14-20

There are many ways to plant seeds. Today’s plant seeding machines are a marvel to watch– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ycc5Slwtzo . It is also true that there are many ways to plant the Word of God in people’s lives today. But, whether we are planting physical seeds or spiritual seeds, it is God who makes the seed grow (I Corinthians 3:5-9).

When we plant seed (the Word of God) in people’s lives there are different responses as Jesus explains in the Parable of the Sower above. The first most important part of planting His Word is going to others with it! “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:13-15). Are you going to others with the express intent of sharing God’s Word with them? That is the only way they will hear His Word. We must be active in reaching them with His Word.

When the seed, the Word of God, is planted in a person’s live some of the seed falling “on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.” These people do not come to an understanding of God’s Word and so the seed of His Word bears no fruit in their lives.

Then the “seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.” Because these people are not rooted in God’s Word they fall away and the Word of God does not bear any fruit in their lives either.

So also the “seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.” God’s Word does not impact their lives.

But “the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Those who truly “hear and accept” God’s Word will produce a harvest of varying degrees. May we be that type of “good soil” that produces fruit and may some of the seed we sow fall on good soil of others which produces much fruit in a person’s life!

Dear Father, may I be faithful in taking the seed of Your Word to those who need it. Yes, Lord, help me to do the part of sowing your seed which You have called every follower of Yours to be involved in. May we be faithful in the authority of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit’s power. May it be so!

YOUR ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND!

One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. —Mark 3:20-21

Jesus was said to be “out of his mind” by his own family! That is, they thought He was insane! It is interesting that Paul says, “If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you” (II Corinthians 5:13). Again, some thought Paul and his companions were “insane.”

But what is reality. It is interesting that in II Timothy 2:26 we read “that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” Truly, it is those who have not trusted Jesus that are not “of sound mind.” They are trapped or ensnared by the devil and are being held captive to do what he wants them to do! Satan has those who have not trusted Jesus blinded so they cannot see who Jesus is (II Corinthians 4:4). But “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (II Corinthians 4:5). Yes, Satan seeks to keep people in the dark, but God causes His light to shine in our hearts so we can understand who Jesus is!

When I first trusted Jesus just before I got out of the Navy Seabees back in 1979, friends and family thought I was going through a phase. They expected it would only be momentary and then I would return to my old self— that old drinking, profane, womanizing person I once was. Well I was not out of my senses but I finally came to my senses when I trusted Jesus and I am still walking with Him!

You see, who is it that is really not in their right mind? It is those who have not trusted the One for whom they were created to have a relationship with. If a person stood on the train tracks and said they were going to stop the on-coming train with their bare hands— well, we would say he is out of his mind. Or, if a person said he was going to jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet without a parachute and fly safely to earth, yes, we would say he is out of his mind. How about a person who shakes his fist in the face of the Lord God Almighty, Creator of all, and the One who has all power and says, “I don’t need You and You cannot do anything to me!” Hey, that person is truly “out of their senses, out of their mind and is insane.” But it is interesting that people that are “insane” think that others who are sane are the ones insane. That is the spiritual warfare we are in. Are you sane or insane? That is determined by whether you know Jesus or not…

Dear Father, thank You drawing me to Jesus that I could have relationship with Him and understand things from Your perspective and not from man’s ideas of what is reality. I am grateful to know my purpose for living, for knowing Jesus, for being able to serve Him, to look at others as He does, and to be in Heaven with You forever after I die. I am soooo thankful!

While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” —Mark 2:2-12

Sin, do we really understand what kind of an affront it is to God? If we don’t then we will not understand why He judges it. If we do not understand the holiness of God we will not understand why sin is such an offense to Him, nor will we understand His outrage against it. If we do not understand the perfection of God then we will not understand why sin insults Him and why He cannot have anything to do with it. Truly, if we do not understand the nature of sin then we will not understand the depth of love and gratitude we should have for the Lord Jesus for taking the penalty for our sin at the cross and then forgiving us when we trusted Him as Lord and Savior. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbe7OruLk8I&list=RDJbe7OruLk8I

“Your sins are forgiven.” Those words spoken to us from the Lord God Almighty are so freeing! Jesus has the authority to forgive our sins and when He forgives them they are gone. Consider what this means! One sin is an eternal issue. If we only sinned one time as a lost person in our whole life that one sin would keep us out of Heaven. That one sin would keep us from having a relationship with God through Jesus. That one sin’s guilt would receive the wrath of God and judgment in Hell forever. That one sin has eternal consequences! All of us have sinned more than one time in our life, much more. But, when we truly trust the Lord Jesus, when we call on His Name to save us, our sin is forgiven. It is cast into the deepest sea never to be dredged up! It is cast as far as the East is from the West never to be considered again! Our eternal consequences, judgment and guilt for sin are gone. Jesus paid it all!

When I sin as a believer I am to confess and forsake it. But, the sin is already paid for because Jesus already took the judgment for that sin. Otherwise every time I sinned I would have to be re-born-again or born-again again. When I sin as a believer it impacts my fellowship with God, not my relationship with Him. It is truly Good News when I understand that my “sins are forgiven.” Now out of loving gratitude may I live a life that is pleasing to God, hate sin, confess sin immediately, seek to forsake it and live holy to the Lord! May it be so!

Dear Father, I am utterly amazed at what Jesus has done for me. Oh, that I truly would live a life that is pleasing to You. May I become the man you desire and do the things that Your desire.

FISHERMEN FOR JESUS

Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men. —Mark 1:17

You say you follow Jesus. When was the last time you “fished?” He said He would make those who follow Him “fishers of men.” Acts 1:8 says, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

To fish for fish you need a strategy, tools and a bit of skill. Not a lot of skill because even a child can catch a fish with help. When my daughter, Rebecca, was 4 years old she caught a good sized fish. It was not quite the conventional way to pull in a fish with a rod, but she landed it. You will need a fishing pole and bait or a net or a spear gun— something to catch the fish with. Some skilled fishermen even just use their hands to fish, but that is not my choice! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndr_fhmWqxQ But to fish you need strategy, tools and then you must go where the fish are.

So also when “fishing” for men we need some skill, strategy, tools and then go where the “fish” are. We might go to a next door neighbor, co-worker, fellow student or even a stranger. Sometimes when we are fishing for fish it takes patience and a long time before one is caught. Or, at other times you cast in your line the first time and catch a fish. So it is when “fishing” for men. Sometimes there may be much fishing in the same “pool” before a fish is caught or it may be the first time you share the good news with a person. Either way, we are called to “fish.” So, when was the last time you and I intentionally “fished?” There are many ways to share the gospel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4j7FBYXQKs What are yours?

Dear Father, today, may I share the good news of the Lord Jesus with someone who needs you. May it be so!

RISEN!

Some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today. —Matthew 28:11-15

Oh no… The guard’s “prisoner” had gotten away! That meant the death penalty for them! “Some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened.” Maybe they could help them escape the death penalty somehow. After they told the leading priest what had happened, “A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” The guards were in no position not to disagree if they wanted a chance to escape being executed. “So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say.” The soldiers lied about what really took place to save themselves and “Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.”

To deny the resurrection: the leading priests and elders developed a false narrative, they would bribe the soldiers with a large amount of money, the soldiers were to spread this false narrative, the priests and elders would keep the guards out of trouble if the governor heard about it, the guards accepted the bribe and spread the false narrative.

People will go to great lengths to deny the resurrection. Why is that? It is because without the resurrection all of Christianity would fall apart. The resurrection is the foundational for following Christ. Without it there would not be a risen Christ to follow.

“For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. BUT in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead” (I Corinthians 15:13-20).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxgm2TJr2m0

Dear Father, may many others come to know that Jesus has indeed been raised from the dead, is in Heaven today and will return again. Oh, that many around us would hear the gospel and trust the Lord Jesus Christ. May it be so!