You Exist Because of Jesus

shutterstock_524008843.jpgJohn 1:1-13

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

9The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.


Right now you exist because of Jesus. You have breath in your lungs because of Jesus. The universe holds together because of Jesus. All things were made through Him and by Him all things remain.

Yet when Jesus came into this world in the flesh, the response of the world was to reject Him. Little did they know the One they were rejecting was the very Author of their existence.

Take a moment to gain some perspective on your life. Every relationship you hold dear exists because of Jesus. Without Jesus, that person wouldn’t be here and neither would you for that matter.

Who in your life do you need to thank Jesus for today?

John contrasts those who rejected Jesus with those who received Jesus.  For those who received, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.

Regardless of what your personal experience with family has been, this Father to child relationship is that of an ideal, good, and perfectly loving Father.

To receive Jesus is to receive God as Father.

Thought for Today: How does your approach to God change when you think of Him as a good Father? What misconceptions about God might you struggle with?

Today’s Prayer: Pray to God as Father. Ask Him to help you see Him for who He is. Pray that you would be able to understand God more through the person of Jesus.

 

Are You Full of Peace and Joy Today?

shutterstock_234929374.jpgRomans 15:13

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 


Have you ever let someone down who was trusting in you?

This might be hard to remember, but odds are that you have.

There are no perfect relationships because there are no perfect people. The result is that we get hurt, abandoned, let down, frustrated, angry, or maybe even resentful. With all of the ups and downs of life, we can quickly find ourselves losing hope, peace, and joy.

In the above passage, Paul directs our trust to more solid ground. While our earthly relationships might let us down, putting our trust in God will ultimately lead to joy and peace.

Thought for Today: Would you say you are full of joy and peace today? If not, what do you think is robbing you of that joy and peace? Take a moment to talk with God about it.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, help me trust in you and be filled with all the joy and peace. I want to be someone who is joyful and peaceful. Help me place my hope in you, and let the power of the Holy Spirit work in my heart. Amen.

 

 

Why God is Trustworthy

shutterstock_172656752.jpgHebrews 11:1-6

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

4By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.


Have you ever thought about how many things you place your faith in every day without being able to see them?

When you say goodbye and tell people you’ll see them later, you have faith that your heart will continue beating.

When you are speeding in your car through a green light at an intersection, you have faith that other drivers on the cross street will see the red light and stop.

When you order food at a restaurant, you trust that it was prepared in the kitchen without any health code violations.

At its core, faith is trusting in what you cannot see. It’s confidence that what you hope will be, actually will be. So we trust that we will live another day, that the other lights on the road will turn red before ours turns green, and that the cook washes his hands.

We trust these things because they have proven trustworthy over and over again. We place our faith in things that we cannot see every day without a second thought and don’t find it odd at all.

So why do people get hung up on putting faith in God?

Christianity is not a baseless faith. It’s not a blind faith. It is trusting in the God of the universe who has proven faithful time and time again.

That’s why the writer of Hebrews immediately gives examples of past heroes of faith and later continues in the chapter listing many more examples. We can have confidence in our faith in God because God has proven himself trustworthy.

We can’t always see how God is working. But he continues to work. And, as many people will tell you, the more you trust in God, the more he will prove trustworthy.

Thought for Today: No matter what, you need to believe that he is behind the scenes cooking up something good.

Today’s Prayer: God, help me to trust you even when I can’t see how you are working. Help me have the faith to know that as long as I follow you, you will continue to pull through like you always do.

Are You Just Going With the Flow?

shutterstock_155594174.jpgProverbs 4:20-27

20My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
21Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
22for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
23Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
24Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
26Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
27Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.


There are many paths that lead to the heart. Our hearts are filled with what we watch, what we listen to, what we read, what we think about, and who we spend time with (just to name a few). Solomon warns his son in this passage to be cautious as to what he allows to influence his heart.

Think about all the things that influence your heart throughout the day.  What messages, images, thoughts, or ideas are you allowing? Are you “on guard” toward what you will and will not allow in or are you just “going with the flow”?

Solomon talks a lot about focus in this passage. “Pay attention to my words,” he says. “Fix your eyes forward. Don’t get distracted. Watch each step. Guard your heart.”

Thought for Today: So how are you doing with this? Are there any things that you have allowed into your heart that it is time to stand guard against?

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, help me to see what I have allowed into my heart that need not be there. Help me to keep my focus where it belongs and to find life and health as a result. Amen.

Follow God’s Command, Then Get the Reward

shutterstock_699209509.jpgPsalm 19:7-14

7The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
8The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
9The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

10They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
12But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
13Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.

14May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.


I can easily fall into the trap of thinking that the Bible is a bunch of rules. It’s not. The Bible is a love letter from the Creator of all things to me. There is not a command that God gives that isn’t for my good, His glory, and the good of those around me.

When we learn from God’s Word, what we are experiencing is what David describes here as better than pure gold. When we follow God’s direction there is great reward. But often it is difficult to see the reward on this side of obedience. It isn’t until after we have followed God’s command that we experience and understand the reward.

Are there any commands that God has given that you struggle to understand why?

A pastor once said, “To understand why, submit and apply.” The understanding comes with application.

Thought for Today: Be reminded of this today. God doesn’t give commands to bum us out. He gives commands to bless us. God loves you.  He wants what is best for you. You can trust Him.

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, thanks for giving me the Bible to help guide me. Give me faith to submit and apply to Your Word so that I may experience the blessings of following You. Amen.

What Can You Do For Someone Else Today?

shutterstock_656284912.jpgRomans 12:1-2

 1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


The pattern of this world is to love yourself, take care of yourself, and do whatever you have to do to make yourself happy. And no matter what hurts or hang ups you may have, if you just have enough new stuff, and your body looks a certain way, and you have the right number of people admiring you on social media, all of your problems will magically melt away. Right? Right???

In today’s passage, we are prompted to snap out of it. God is asking us to question the patterns of this world. This world we live in doesn’t want to hear about your anger, guilt, shame, and envy. The world wants to see your filtered and curated highlight reel, because that’s all you see all around you, right?

Hopefully you have been around for the last 5 weeks, and learned the truth about what lack of forgiveness does to your soul, and to your relationships. If you’ve missed any of the sermons, check them out here. I hope you’ve been enlightened and encouraged in your walk with the Lord, and in your own journey of healing. But now what?

The passage above tells us what we need to do with all the encouragement, and wisdom we have received: be a living a sacrifice to God. Be a living, breathing, walking, loving sacrifice, by giving of yourself sacrificially to the service of others, for the glory of God.

Does this sound too hard? In layman’s terms: Do something. Not for you. Not for your image. Not for your future. Do something for others who cannot repay you. Give to those who have been devastated by natural disasters.

Don’t have money? Give of your time to a friend who is lonely, or needs a night off. There are so many simple, yet profound things that we can all do that would mean the world to someone else.

Today’s Prayer: Pray that God would help you to no longer conform to the ways of this world. Ask that He would give you wisdom to see what it is that you can do to be a living sacrifice. And then pray that God would give you the courage to boldly go and do that thing, and to do it all for His glory, and not your own.

What Do You Need to Confess Today?

shutterstock_594047027.jpgJames 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.


You may have heard the old adage that confession is good for the soul. It’s so true. Confession brings healing. Do you remember a time as a child when you broke something that belonged to a parent or sibling, but pretended you didn’t know anything about it? If you were like most children, you were pretty bad at covering it up and your parents could see right through your attempt to conceal the truth.

Do you remember how hard it was as a child to carry around that secret sin? Eventually, you probably broke down under the weight of the guilt and confessed in tears to mom or dad. With that confession, there was some embarrassment and regret, but also a wave of relief to be free from that burden.

As we get older, we can get more skilled at covering up our guilt. In fact, we can sometimes carry around burdens from past sins for years and no one has any idea what is going on inside of us.

Well, that’s what we think. Right? Our heavenly parent, just like our earthly parents, can see right through our cover-up strategy. God wants us to be free of the burden of our sin and mistakes. He does not want us to carry around that kind of weight. So, the Bible says, “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

Thought for Today: If you are carrying around a burden of guilt, talk to Father in heaven about it. God already can see what you are hiding. Receive forgiveness and freedom from Him. Then, confess that sin to a friend or a family member. Bring it out into the light of day and take away the power of that lie. Be free of that part of your past and begin the healing process. What do you need to confess today?