Tag Archive | Jesus

Were you discipled?

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Do you know what Jesus’s last words were to his disciples? 

 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 28:18-20

     Christ ascended in 30 AD and by 49 AD the Good News had been preached to all the known world. Imagine that! It only took 19 years for the disciples to get the word out. How do you suppose they did that?

They followed Christ’s instructions to “Go and make disciples!”

    Sounds like an oversimplification doesn’t it. But guess what? It worked! Well, at least it did for the disciples! But it doesn’t seem to be working quite as efficiently in our modern world.

So what’s the problem?

     Let’s ask ourselves (those of us who are Christians) this question. After our decision to turn from our life without God in the center of it and turn instead to a life with God in the center, what happened next? Perhaps we started attending church regularly, joined a Sunday school class, maybe even participated in some bible studies. Next question:

Did these activities equip us to live life successfully?

        Or did we find ourselves taking detours? Did we soon lose our desire to read our Bibles? Did we find ourselves succumbing to temptations? And for those of us who stayed the course, how intense was our struggle to do so? Were there times in our lives when our doubts became almost overwhelming? And, more seriously, did we reach a point where we no longer felt guilty about not living for Christ?

        The Church today stresses evangelism (that’s going out and leading people to Christ). AND that’s a wonderful thing. But what about Jesus’s last words to make disciples? Ah! Herein lies the core of our problem, I think. If we evangelize but fail to make disciples, we’ve played right into Satan’s manipulative and deceptive hands. Let’s consider this final question:

Were we discipled?

     In all likelihood, we were not. (I know I wasn’t) and I’ve been a Christian for 62 years!!!!! So, this may surprise my readers, but starting just last week I began attending my first discipleship class. It’s a small class, only 3 of us. I’m learning that’s plenty. Classes of this nature need to be small. For as we get trained then we will go out and find 2 or 3 to disciple. Then those will go out and find 2 or 3 to disciple. You get the picture, I’m sure. It’s called exponential growth. I do believe that was the same successful strategy the disciples used. 

     More on discipleship next time…

 

 

 

Out of the ashes!

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   The Las Vegas tragedy leaves us feeling that evil has the upper hand. The enemy of all of mankind, Satan, would have us  drowning in despair. He would have us questioning God as to how something so horrible could happen. He would have us becoming angry with God. His aim is to manipulate our thoughts so that we can’t find anything to feel hopeful about. 

  There’s a verse in the Bible, John 16:33, that tells us that in this world we will have tribulation. Well, we certainly know that’s true. Las Vegas only confirms it. We know from personal experience as a nation and as individuals that trials and troubles are a common thing in this fallen world we live in, Yet, our initial reaction when tragedy strikes is to cry out, “Why God? How could you let this happen?”

In times such as these, we must remember :

   God has warned us and tried to prepare us for the consequences of sin. After we messed up His original plan, He didn’t give up on us. He made a way where we could know peace in the midst of turmoil and tragedy. Because He knew that our rejection of Him would bring inevitable and sometimes tragic consequences.

But take heart:

   Jesus not only has overcome the world but He will return and straighten out the mess Satan has made of it. But until then we must not allow the fiery darts of hopelessness, anger, or despair blind us.

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   May we light the candle of faith. Only then will we see good triumphing over evil in Las Vegas. It’s an unspeakable horror, yes! But we can’t let that rule our thinking. Instead we must focus on the truths of God that pour forth in abundance from the beautiful stories rising out of the ashes of Las Vegas. 

   One by one, prayer by prayer, people are seeking God for His strength in overcoming this evil. They are reaching out to each other to assist, protect, or bring healing, With every act of bravery, self-sacrifice, love, compassion, etc. the enemy is being defeated.

 

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What do you think of Easter?

In researching about Jesus and His fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Him, I came across this link and just had to share it with you!

Mathematically speaking, the odds of anyone fulfilling this amount of prophecy are staggering. Mathematicians put it this way:1 person fulfilling 8 prophecies: 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 1 person fulfilling 48 prophecies: 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power 1 person fulfilling 300+ prophecies: Only Jesus!
https://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/biblestudyandtheology/jesus_prophecy_fulfilled.aspx

With Sunday being Easter, there’s a lot of discussion going on about Jesus and if He is all that the Bible says He is. In a bible study years ago of the book of John, this same mathematical statement was made and affected me profoundly. It sort of anchors my thoughts concerning Jesus, especially in light of all the negative discourse that’s out there about Him. 

Of course, Satan is just as active (maybe more so because his time is running out) in tempting believers to doubt Jesus and non-believers in completely discounting Jesus ever existed. It’s clearly easy to understand why non-believers could be so manipulated by Satan, but why is it that he is so successful in inducing such vulnerability in God’s army (you and me)?

. . .why is God’s army plagued with such a lack of boldness and courage and so easily disheartened and distracted? p. 1, FD

Repeatedly in my book, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice, I state the answer to the above question:

. . . if he can keep you from consistent Bible study and prayer, then you will not possess the ability to recognize the lies of fiery darts and your thinking will be vulnerable to Satan’s manipulation. p. 61, FD

When these two disciplines, Bible study and prayer, are not practiced consistently in a Christian’s life, Satan’s fiery darts find an easy mark,. . . p. 63, FD

Have you been an easy mark for Satan? Do you find it easier to talk to others about anything other than Jesus? Do you find yourself expressing more passion for your favorite sport or movie than you do Jesus? 

Is Easter just an excuse for buying a new outfit? Is Easter one of the two times a year you feel the pull (thank goodness there is still some pulling) to attend church? How does the Easter story of colored eggs and chocolate bunnies compare to the Easter message of Jesus that you tell your children?

REMEMBER:

The first half of John 10:10 reveals Satan’s intentions toward mankind, “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.” p. 6, FD

Be alert, my dear readers, to the fiery darts you have unknowingly allowed to influence your thoughts which have given way to attitudes and actions that have committed you to the bondage of negative thinking in which you may be bound!

Especially regarding Easter! 

Christmas and Fiery Darts?

Secular Iconic Christmas image

What do fiery darts have to do with Christmas anyway?

   Maybe I should ask another question.

Is there anything about the way we here in America celebrate Christmas that bothers you? Whoa! Hold on, I can’t type that fast!

   Yes, it does seem that we have lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. So much so, that we find ourselves in the midst of a cultural war  attempting to prevent us from even saying Merry Christmas in public places. 

   You see, Satan’s hidden agenda (Um, maybe not so hidden anymore) is to get us to focus more (a lot more) on Santa or some magical substitutional Christmas spirit than we do Jesus. Eventually, pushing Jesus out of the picture altogether, I’m sure!

   That is just a sampling of the problems with which we contend during Christmas. And if we aren’t careful  fiery darts like frustration, depression, selfishness, loneliness, greed, stress, or anger and certainly the lack of personal and world peace will find us vulnerable targets!

   The side affects of an over-commercialized Christmas are burdensome but added to that the persecution of Christians, especially in middle eastern countries, the heaviness of such a load is more than any of us could carry and the joy of Christmas seems beyond our grasp. 

But do not despair!

Armed with the following Truth thoughts we can wage a successful war on such fiery darts  and reclaim the blessedness of Christmas in spite of the darkness that tempts us to despair.  

   Jesus came to this earth as a baby, grew up and preached to all He could that God had sent Him to save the world. He accomplished this by dying on the cross and coming back to life–that’s what we refer to as the Resurrection. When we accept that personally then we have the promised hope of heaven and peace reigns in our hearts. (Fiery darts fizzle in the face of such Truth!)

And there’s absolutely nothing about Santa or a Christmas spirit that can compare to that; much less change that.

   We have the ability by God’s grace to resist the fiery darts, like the ones I mentioned previously, that accompanies an over-commercialized Christmas, and, instead, partake of the splendors of a Christmas centered on the love, joy, and peace inspired by faith in the Christ-child. 

And what about the cultural war on Christmas? Do you realize that all this upheaval only serves to broadcast the good news to anyone who has ears to listen. (I call that a fiery dart that backfired)

   Does the persecution tempt you to despair? Listen my dear readers, as horrible as it is, remember this–when a Christian leaves this earth they have Jesus and heaven waiting on them. For those they leave behind, this is their comfort! And their loved ones who believe in Jesus too, have the confidence that at some point in the future they will be reunited.

And why is this?

   Because a babe was born in a manger! 

Religious Icon of Christmas

Do I focus more on what concerns me rather than what concerns Jesus?

Wow, that’s a soul searching, thought provoking question!

   As Christians, of course, we expect God to care about what concerns us. Scripture assures us of this over and over. But for quite some time now, it seems I am being challenged to consider an additional question:

Am I as focused on what concerns Jesus as I am about what concerns me?

   When I am faced with a problem too often I will be more concerned over how this is going to affect me personally rather than how is it going to affect Jesus. And oh how the fiery darts will attempt to lock my thoughts into focusing more on myself rather than Jesus in these types of situations.

   If focusing on what concerns Jesus, causes me to have to consider giving up something I thought I wanted (or maybe deserved) or humbling myself in a difficult situation then it becomes a struggle to focus on Jesus’s concern. My concerns might get ignored, right? (Fiery dart there you know

Consider this verse:

Rom 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

   The idea of being heirs of God with Christ is indeed attractive but not so much to share in His sufferings.  So perhaps I am willing to focus on Christ as long as it doesn’t require me to do something I don’t want to do, make me uncomfortable, or require me to make a sacrifice I am unwilling to make. When focusing on Jesus begins to cost me something, then I hesitate, because my will often takes priority over Jesus’s will.

Therefore, the following prayer has become necessary for me:

Dear LORD, Help me to be more focused on what concerns Jesus rather than being more focused on what concerns me.

   Do you suppose that if we became more focused on what concerned Jesus then we would discover that our concerns were being covered by Christ and that He was doing a more successful job of it that we ever could?

 

 

 

Beware of the easter bunny!

Hold on, this isn’t a blog condemning the secular celebration of our most cherished Christian holiday! 

(Please read on!)

If it was, some of you would be rolling your eyes  about now and you would be preparing to hit that little ‘x’ to close this tab.  But not to worry!  I am a grandmother of nine incredibly wonderful and fascinating grandchildren.  The oldest being 9 and the youngest being 17 months.  So I’m pretty confident that eggs will be dyed, hidden, and hunted for around this country home come Sunday.

But there will be something a little different!

What will stand out about my family’s celebration of Easter will be the difference in our focus.  Yes, we have small children who are of the prime age to gather colorful and decorated eggs for their baskets! And, of course, there will be chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and Cadbury eggs, etc.  They will all look stunningly adorable in their new Easter outfits. But while those things are fun, they are not my family’s focus when it comes to celebrating Easter.

So, what’s the difference?

The children are young in this family, but no one is too young to understand why Easter is such a special celebration.  And the emphasis in our family is that Jesus Christ died for our sins; came back to life; and after spending a little more time on this earth, He went to heaven.  That’s why we have the hope of heaven after our time here on this earth is ended.

Here’s some ideas from my first born daughter about sharing the Easter story with your children, and a really cute and fun game to help them grasp the resurrection.  Enjoy:

Tell them the Truth:

 Make sure your children (whatever their ages!) know these things about Jesus this week. Make sure they hear YOU tell them about God creating them, sin stealing them, Satan threatening them, & Jesus rescuing them! Don’t freak ’em out, just tell them the Truth. Let Easter come to life for them (& for you!). Let it become more than just a candy holiday they celebrate in Spring. Let them see, it’s their story…

A Fun Game to Play!

Look for empty things!! & Every time you find an empty thing, cheer “Hallelujah! The tomb is empty!”

Make a game of it by…
* Putting a sticker/mark on a card every time someone finds something empty & cheers. Count the stickers later & see who found the most. Maybe give a prize
* Putting a jelly bean in a jar every time someone finds something empty & cheers. On Easter Sunday eat all the jelly beans

…Have fun finding (& celebrating) Jesus in plain ole ordinary life

The fiery dart of Easter is that young children cannot grasp Jesus’s death and resurrection and how that relates to them and their future.  Therefore, we tell them the story of the Easter Bunny which is a simple cute story easier for them to grasp.

Sure they are young and there is much about Easter that is beyond them (remember how there is a common sense ‘truth’ in fiery darts! ! ! FD p 20) But if we bring it down to their level, they will understand far more than the fiery dart will allow us to believe.   If all our children know about Easter is bunnies, jelly beans, colored eggs, or new outfits, then they have missed totally the most significant event if Christendom. And if they miss that then they have missed everything!