When One Hurts, We Rally

picture taken by Josh Amyx.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

Good friends of mine lost their house in a fire this week. They lost everything but pot holders, a signed basketball, and a few pictures salvaged. Fortunately, their lives were spared. And of course that is really what matters. Nevertheless,  I am hurting for them and the loss of not only their valuables but those things that cannot be replaced… pictures and awards and certificates that are precious to us as families.

Their loss ignited an outpouring. Our church rallied. The amount of prayers and support would inspire the greatest doubter that people can really care. It was inspiring to see. It reminded me of an absolute truth… We need each other.  You really do need your church. You might think you don’t but I assure you God never intended you to go it alone. We don’t need the church only to receive but for us to give as well.

We need each other. The body of Christ was meant to be a group of people that do life together. That love each other and rally around its members when they are hurting. The body is not always perfect in this. There are times where people slip through the cracks and feel neglected. Sometimes it is because they Attend the church but are not connected to the church. There is a difference. God intended the church body to be a close, connected community that loves each other.

We need each other. We were never meant to do this life alone. We need those outside of our immediate family to love us. So often when something happens it effects our family and those outside of it are the ones who can comfort us and love on us in our greatest time of need. It shows us how much God loves us when church people rally to show us support. It is supernatural. It is God’s will for His body.

We need each other. We need each other to share our burdens with; to celebrate our joyous moments; to grow together in the Lord; to raise our kids together; to serve with one another. To come together as a community that we can be real with. It is an authentic community. I am accepted and loved just as I accept and love others in return.

We need each other. When life throws us a curveball, we need others to help hold us up; to help us find perspective; to hold us while we grieve; to help us pick up the pieces and move forward. God wants His body to take care of each other. Christ would have us reach the world with the gospel but if the church doesn’t care for its own, how will our message be received?

The church is not the church if it doesn’t care for its own in the name of Jesus.

Dax

Divine Appointments Happen Everyday

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 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 28:18-20

When I worked at the bank, every day brought a divine appointment. What do I mean by divine appointment? Glad you asked. It is an opportunity to share the gospel with someone who has crossed your path. Might be a stranger or a coworker or a family member. Regardless, it is someone that you encounter where opportunity arises to share your faith.

For me, I helped people with their finances. That afforded me many counseling sessions as people looked to build homes or manage their money. Personal stuff always came up. Daily I was set up for a great opportunity to share Christ. Problem is… I rarely took it. I would hear people share their struggles or fears, creating a great launching pad for me to share the gospel. I would discuss with them concerns over their marriage and children. Fears about investments and retirement.  I always offered advice but never mentioned Jesus. A little bit of advice is one thing but Jesus takes it to a whole new level.

I always wanted to share Jesus. I had it in mind but I always talked myself out of it. They are not here to be preached at… this is a bank not a church… they will feel awkward… I will feel awkward! I rarely went through the  door God opened for me.

I would hint at things like church or the Bible or prayer. I saw this as seed planting but honestly it was just me being scared to speak the gospel. They were sharing with me their hurts and pains. I had the answer for that! I just needed to share it. Whether they received it or not was not my mission. I was to share Jesus with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). I was not to be ashamed of the gospel because it was the only thing that had the power to save them (Romans 1:16).  

Then I had a client die. She had bought a motorcycle and I did the financing for her. She had told me she was struggling with some things and wanted to ride to spend more time away with her husband. I listened and offered some quick wisdom but no Jesus. On her first trip on her bike she lost control and hit s guard rail. She passed on the scene. To this day it haunts me that I didn’t seize the opportunity to share Christ with her. I pray she knew Him.

The issue is getting started. Where do we begin? Here are some good conversation starters to sharing the gospel with those you encounter during the week:

  • What is your view of God and His role in your life?
  • Have you ever thought that God wants to help you deal with that issue?
  • How specifically can I pray for you?
  • May I tell you how God helps me with my issues?

Once you have started the conversation you what to share with them the gospel. Sharing the gospel means leading them to an understanding of sin, Christ’s sacrifice, and their need for Him. The Bible needs to be shared here to lead them to Christ. Here is a suggested plan:

  • Romans 3:23– all of us sin. Sin means missing the mark. We don’t meet the standard God demands for us to be acceptable. His standard is perfection. None of us are perfect.
  • Romans 6:23– Sin has a consequence. It is eternal death. Because of our sin we fail to meet God’s standard and therefore we will be found unworthy. You are not right with God on your own merit.
  • Romans 5:8– While we were unworthy, Jesus did something for us that we couldn’t do for ourself. He took on our penalty and died in our place. Because of  his sacrifice, we can have forgiveness of sins (John 3:16).
  • Romans 10:9-10,13– How do you receive the benefits of all Jesus has done and get right with God? You have to believe. You respond with faith, believing that your sins are covered by Jesus. You submit your life to Him and your sins are no longer held over you.
  • Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17– You are now a new creation. You have been transformed by the gospel. You need to now live by faith and trust in Christ.

We are given divine appointments every day to share the faith. Don’t pass on them hoping someone else will share. God wants you to share your faith with them.

Dax

 

Last Week of Jesus- Thursday

 

 

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36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.    Matthew 26:36-44

It is Thursday night. In less than 24 hours Jesus will be dead. Could you imagine the emotional turmoil of knowing tomorrow would be your last? Jesus was humans and he was struggling with knowing what was to come.  So he led his disciples to go and pray. His favorite spot was the Garden of Gethsemane. He and the disciples had just finished the Last Supper for the Passover. Jesus had watched as Judas left the table to go and betray Him. He passed the cup to Peter, knowing that Peter would deny him three times tomorrow. One last intimate meal with his twelve, knowing they would all scatter from Him in His hour of greatest suffering.  Jesus needed perspective so He went to the garden to find peace, guidance, and comfort from His Father.

How Jesus dealt with his impending suffering and death epitomizes how we should deal with our own pain and tragedy. We can learn how to deal with our own times of trials and pain from Jesus here in three specific ways.

Jesus brought Friends With Him

In His most difficult hours, anticipating His own death, Jesus drew his friends close to him. During these difficult times, we need people to walk with us. So many times we isolate form others when facing tough times. Be vulnerable with them. You are hurting. Ask them to bear it with you. People who care about you will do that. Jesus never shut them out. Even though they were often confused and probably frustrating to him, He included them until the end. He needed them.

Don’t Write Friends Off If They Fail To Meet Your Expectations and Disappoint You

Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him. It had been a rough and tiring week. They were emotionally and physically spent. While praying, the disciples fell asleep. Jesus was disappointed to say the least. Wouldn’t you be? You are going to die and your closest friends fall asleep on you when their supposed to be praying for you! But what I want you to notice is that Jesus did not write them off. He continued to let them in and share His burden even after they disappointed Him. He needed them and He did not let their mistake destroy the bond. We need friends to be with us when we are hurting but we need to remember they have their own lives to live and their own struggles to face. They may fail to meet our expectations perfectly in our time of need. Show them grace. You need them. Let them be there for you even in their imperfections and quirks.

Jesus was Persistent In Praying

Jesus found a special place to pray. He found His prayer closest. No coined prayers offered here. Jesus prayed his guts out. His intimacy with the Father was on full display. Jesus prayed all night and did not stop until he had peace and His answer. Notice Jesus didn’t get what he asked for. He wanted to be saved from the torture, the pain… He wanted to be released from impending death. Yet, His Father said no. His Father’s will was for Jesus to die for humanity. The very ones to kill Jesus was who He would be dying for.  Jesus submitted fully and came to peace with what his father desired. We give up to quickly in our prayers. We pray a quick prayer and walk away already anticipating no clear answer. Why? We need to pray with determination. We need to cry out to God and not stop until we hear from him. God will answer if we seek Him until he does. If we need to pray all night then so be it. God will answer.

What a gut wrenching night this was for Jesus and his disciples. To know that tomorrow you die. Jesus could have stopped it. He had the power to do so. Yet, he submitted to His Father and died for us. He went through all of this suffering for me and for you. When we suffer, He is with us. He understands our pain and agony. He has experienced it. We are never alone. He walks with us all the way into eternity.

Last Week of Jesus- Wednesday


Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus.

 14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.     Matthew 26:14-16

This is Wednesday of the last week of Jesus before he would be viciously killed. It’s a day of rest as they prepare for Passover. The disciples are with Jesus, resting with Him, but one slips away. Judas Iscariot make his way to see the chief priests and strikes a deal with them for 30’pieces of silver: that is about equivalent to 400-600.00 today. In that day it was enough to purchase one slave (Expdus 21:32)

600 dollars is not much to betray God and lose your soul.

We might forget that Jesus chose Judas after praying all night. They spent every day together for three years, talking, eating together, laughing. Jesus sent him out to minister. Judas shared in the miracle of feeding 5,000 people. His was in the circle of trust. Not much hurts worse than being betrayed by a brother.

And the priests were more than happy to pay Judas. They hated Jesus. They were jealous of His power, for who of them could raise the dead? Give sight to the blind? Hearing to the deaf? Heal them of all diseases? Deliver them from demons? Who could create food? Control storms? They were also jealous of His popularity for His power had garnered Him popularity, the likes of which no person ever walking on this planet had received because none had ever done what He did. They were jealous of the accolades He received from the crowd. They hated His message.

 Theirs was a message of earn your salvation by works, and His was a message of repent for your sin and receive your salvation as a gift of grace, and they hated that because they were proud and self-righteous. They wanted to earn their way in.

It was done. Jesus would be betrayed. Judas greed had won out. The Chief Priests got the last word. Satan had struck the final blow. Or so it looked… But it was all in the plan.

It had all been foretold in the prophecies. Jesus would be betrayed and he would die for it. But it was God’s plan all along. What Satan meant for the greatest victory for evil, God would use to redeem the world. Jesus endured the betrayal of a brother, the loneliesness of being a rejected leader, and the punishment of a deadly criminal all for us. He did it all so we could live free. He did it because He loved us intensely. Never forget! Never take this sacrifice for granted!

Last Week of Jesus- Tuesday

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36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

It is Tuesday of the last week of Jesus life on this earth. Jesus is departing Bethany and heading into the inner part of the city of Jerusalem for Passover. While He is starting the two mile journey from Bethany, Jesus engages in discussion with those on the road. At one point He encounters the Scribes. The Scribes, lawyers of the Pharisees, pose a question to Jesus. Their intent is not pure. They are not seeking to learn from Jesus’ wisdom nor are they just inquisitive. Rather, they want to trip Him up so that they can “catch” Him in a contradiction or blasphemy.

They ask him which is the greatest commandment. Instead of choosing one, Jesus brilliantly encapsulates all ten commandments by alluding to Deuteronomy 6:5 (Shema). By telling them to love God with their whole being, He captures the essence of the first five commandments. He then refers to loving your neighbor, which undergirds the second five commandments. These two commandments sum them all up. The scribes couldn’t disagree with His logic. They were unable to trip Jesus up and in turn He made a profound statement summing up what two pursuits are the most important for us in life… to love God and to love your neighbor.

We make our faith much more complicated than it should be. We make it about a list of do’s and do nots; about rules and regulations; traditions and rituals. It transcends that.

Here is how I suggest you should live.You might be shocked on my prescription but I think God would back me on it:  I have two things for you to do and from there do whatever you want. I mean it, no boundaries. Live like you want with no pressure. Don’t try and live in accordance with a bunch of rules and regulations. Do whatever you want to do. I am serious. I just want you to simply follow two principles. Just two. After that you are completely free to do what you want. Two things: Love God with all you are and love your neighbor as yourself. If you do these two things you don’t have to wonder if you are living right. You don’t have to wonder if you are doing enough. You don’t have to measure up to any other standard. Just love God with all you are and love others as much as you love yourself and from there do whatever you want.

Church if we take Jesus seriously and begin to live out these two principles it will transform not only us but the world around us. Your biggest obstacle here is yourself. The biggest threat to our obedience to these two greatest commandments is that we love self too much. I don’t want you to hate yourself. As Keller said, “humility is not thinking less of yourself but rather thinking about yourself less.” Jesus is not asking you to not enjoy life or to do nothing for yourself. He is asking us to think of self less so that we make room for what should be priority in our life as Christians, to love God and to love our neighbor.

If we don’t love , then who out there is going to take us seriously? If we live the same way they do then how can we say we have anything different worth taking notice of? They need to see our love for God and love for them as consistent and genuine. If not then we are guilty of being what they call us, hypocrites.  We show our faith to be ingenue and not worth considering. Love is the key.

We need to put more effort into responding to our God in love. We do this by praying to Him, worshipping Him, and obeying Him. Those three acts speak love to our God. Find time to do those outside of Sunday. As you love God more you will begin to care more and more about others. What could you do this week as an anonymous act for someone else that shows them love and care? There are hurting people all around you. Plenty of people need your care today. Take time to do an act of kindness for them in the name of Christ. Don’t do this on display so that you get the glory. Let your actions and words point them to Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

Last Week Of Jesus- Monday

Jesus Cleanses the Temple12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. Matthew 21:12

Mondays can be depressing. Jesus would agree. On this Monday, the beginning of His last week on earth, He is in His Father’s house. To His dismay, there are money changers and sellers of pigeons in the temple, making more than a buck off of people trying to worship God.

This angered Jesus. He went to see God’s people and what he saw was anything but a sign of sincere faith and worship. The word tells us Jesus got really mad. He had righteous indignation to the degree that he flipped their tables over and sent their things flying. Did I mention the temple would have been packed? It is the start of Passover week, the most Holy Week of the Jewish calendar. Jesus made quite the scene on this start of the holiday. As the sheckels flew, clattering on the floor, no one could miss Jesus message.

What angered Jesus to this degree? He could not take those using His Father’s name for their own selfish gain. He was angry to see them claim faith only when it benefited them. Today, we can be guilty of the same. We follow Christ when it is convenient. We will serve Him if it fits our schedule. We will worship Him if it is in a church setting. We will pray if it’s meal time. We go through the motions and pay our dues but are we all in, sold out to Him?

Jesus disturbed the temple. He kicked the anthill and sent the money changers and animal sellers running. We need to be disturbed by Jesus today. We need Him to unsettle us. To move us out of complacency into pursuit of Him. We need Him to stir up our affections for each other, to love more than we do. We need Him to break our hearts for the lost around us so that we are compelled to share. Jesus unsettle us today. We don’t want to be complacent!

As we start this week before Easter, may God renew in us a passion for Him. Don’t settle for anything less!

Jesus Does Not Share

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13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  Matthew 7:13-14

Imagine going to the doctor and being told that your Gallbladder needs to be removed. Now you have grown fond of your gallbladder so you tell the doc that you would like for them to remove “part” of your gallbladder and leave you the rest. Or you go to wash your car and tell them just to wash one side of the car.

Ludicrous…Insane…Preposterous… Exactly how many respond to Jesus.

The idea that Jesus wants to be a part of your life is about as off as telling the doc you want to keep part of the bad organ. Did Jesus come to take part of my sins, part of my dreams, part of my habits? Ludicrous I say!

Jesus knew that people would try and tease their life with a little bit of him. His words in Matthew ring with power and warning.

We can break the passage down into three parts to follow exactly what Jesus means by the way is Narrow:

1) It is the gate that leads to Heaven. The ONLY gate. No other way there. No back door. No secret entrance.

2) It is difficult path (word “strait” in archaic translation means rigid or difficult).Will mean sacrifice. Will mean you give up things. Will cost you.

3) There will not be many who take this path over the course of human history. Path is too difficult. Most will take the easy route.

Jesus will not share us even with ourselves. He wants you, your family, your children, your bank account, your stuff. This would be terrible news if He were not so amazing! When you give it to him he redeems it into something eternally significant.

 What does Jesus want? He wants all of you not part of you. No part time Christians out there. God wants full custody of you and not just weekend visits.

Only then will you understand the true blessing of the truth that I no longer live but Christ lives in me!