Betrayal of a Friend

My heart is pounding. Sweat is pouring down my face. I’m lined up with 10 other guys ready to go into battle. I have a teammate on my left and a teammate on my right. I can’t stop looking at the referee waiting for a whistle to be blown. As each moment passes, I feel like a year has gone by. Every other moment of the game I have nerves of steel but right now they feel like melted rubber. Not until I see that ball comes flying in the air do I start to get a break from the nerves but they don’t leave me until I start running full speed at my opponent and WHACK! Gone were the nerves for the rest of the game. I wanted to use this analogy because I guarantee this is how Jesus was feeling the night he knew he was going to be betrayed by Judas.

 

Luke 22 talks about a few big things. One was the Passover meal and the other was when Judas betrays Jesus. I want to focus on the betrayal. Imagine you are Jesus in this moment of time. Let’s bring it to today’s world so you can really relate to it. You have gotten together for a potluck meal at one of your friend’s homes. These are just any friends; these people have been with you in the thick and thin. They had your back and you had theirs. You guys went on vacations together, you grilled out on summer nights, you served at the church with them. Even after all of that, YOU knew that one of them was always going to betray you.

It had to be tough to be Jesus that day. Just reading scripture you can tell that even the God of the universe struggled with this.

In verses 41-44 it says, “And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Have you ever prayed so hard you sweat? I know I haven’t. I bet that if you knew you had to die today, you would be praying just as hard trying to figure any way out of it. I love how Jesus puts it, “nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” That right there is a sermon in itself. My will is not important; it is God’s will that I should focus on. Next time you are in a situation where you have to make a big decision, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your OWN understanding, in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight! (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I want to leave you with one thing, God’s will is always more important than my will. Remember that and remember that you can go to him whenever you need him.

 

The Parable of The Sower

It was the end of July and vacation bible school was wrapping up for the summer. I and about another 100 kids were packed into our small rural church listening to some guy talk about Jesus. I didn’t know much at the time but accepting Jesus just felt right. This guy speaking was asking anyone who wanted to accept Jesus into his or her hearts to come to the front. Luckily for me, I had just been up on stage playing a game for a prize so it was no big deal. I still got my brother and cousin and made sure we headed up together because we were all in it together. I remember after that church service being as excited as I was for Christmas to come that year. I don’t experience that kind of joy very much as an adult but wish I did. I was so excited that night that we spent the whole drive home calling everyone one we knew and telling them that we accepted Jesus into our hearts. Never a second thought. Sometimes I wish I could think more like that now.

Luke 8 has many stories and miracles but the one that really stuck out to me was the parable about the sower.

4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

After this parable Jesus explained to the disciples on what it meant. I really enjoyed the way the message version explains it.

 

11-12 “This story is about some of those people. The seed is the Word of God. The seeds on the road are those who hear the Word, but no sooner do they hear it than the Devil snatches it from them so they won’t believe and be saved.

13 “The seeds in the gravel are those who hear with enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm doesn’t go very deep. It’s only another fad, and the moment there’s trouble it’s gone.

14 “And the seed that fell in the weeds—well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun.

15 “But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.

I can easily see these seeds in my own life. I have had times where I feel like I have been on fire and the Holy Spirit was with me. I have also had times where I choose to not listen and to ignore the love of my heavenly father. I can bet that you can relate to that too. The good news is that God is patient, God is kind, God keeps no record of wrong because he died for us. We are saved by grace and nothing we do will ever make us worthy enough to not need God. So if you feel like you are one of those seeds who fell among the thorns and there is no chance that you are good enough, I can promise you are.

God is always knocking; you just need to open the door.

I wanted to write about the day I accepted Jesus for a couple reasons. One is that even though I accepted Jesus, I truly didn’t know what it meant to have a relationship with him and that relationship suffered because of that. Secondly, I wanted to let you know that God died for all sins and will always love you. It’s not a young person thing to do. No matter how old you are, it is never too late.

Enjoy your Thursday and be praying for those seeds in your life who may have fallen into the wrong plot of land. I promise that they are never too far away to come back to God.

What Is Love?

1 John chapter 4 and 1 Corinthians chapter 13 two books you hear quoted a lot in weddings. Whether they are Christian or not, the Bible always seems to be read in one or both of these chapters. Why is that? Well, I think the main reason is that both of these chapters focus on love, but what is love?

 

Do we really know what love is? We use the same word to share our feelings with our significant other as we do to our favorite burger joint. I LOVE you has become a watered down phrase we say that marks the next step in our relationship. Love doesn’t mean forever anymore, Love is temporary and only there under the best of circumstances. Luckily, we have a savior that first LOVED us.

 

I was a camp counselor my sophomore year of college at a sports camp in Missouri. That summer I was stuck in a log cabin with 8, 9-year-old boys that didn’t know what they got themselves into. As a part of that trip we memorized verses but to make it easier for the kids they made songs out of it. I remember specifically learning 1 John 4:10 because they paired that verse with “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift. Still to this day I have that verse memorized.

 

That verse is probably the most important verse to look at in this chapter. It states, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. “ (1 John 4:10)

 

Let’s break this verse down. Even though we have not loved God, he still CHOOSES to love us. Can you even wrap your mind around that? When’s the last time you truly loved someone that hated every bone in your body? I’m talking lay down your life because you love them so much. I don’t think we, as imperfect beings, could even wrap our mind around that. Even though we hated him, he chose to love us AND sent his Son to die for us. That love just blows me away.

 

As your week comes to an end, remember what love really means. In a culture that only wants to devalue the word love, I challenge you to give that word more value as you use it in your day to day life. Have a great Thursday!

1 Peter Introduction

1 Peter is the first of two letters sent by Peter to multiple church communities in Asia Minor. He sends this letter specifically to the people he calls, “elect exiles.” These people were under the Roman authority and he calls them exiles because he knows that this is not their home.

 

A lot of this letter focuses on how they should respond to persecution. These people were under a lot of persecution and Peter knew that it wouldn’t stop so he encouraged them to remember Jesus. Specifically, he wanted them to remember how Jesus loved and even died for the sins of people who hated him.

 

Peter also took some time to speak to husbands and wives. In relationships that were unequally yoked he spoke to the wives saying, “ wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” (1 Peter 3:1-2) He also speaks to Christian marriages, making sure that husbands treat their wives as equals. (1 Peter 3:7)

 

The final chapters of the letter talk about suffering. Peter wanted these Christians to know that suffering was going to happen. It happened to Jesus and it will happen to you and me. This world is not home for the people of God, and the world is broken and full of sin which is why there will always be persecution and suffering.

 

The overarching principle of this letter from Peter is that as Christians we will come against persecution and suffering. As that happens we are to respond in a way that is honoring to God, which is why we have been given Jesus as an example. 1 Peter is made up of 5 chapters so join us as we dive into Chapter 1 tomorrow! Have an awesome Thursday!

One Example of Biblical Maturity

Growing up I called myself a Christian. I did everything a “Christian” should do, the only problem was that I had no relationship with God. As I went through my college years and into the present time, I still feel like my relationship with God is at such a basic level. Just like any relationship, it takes time to truly get to know one another. I am finally working on that with God and as I do, I start to understand things that I didn’t have a clue on in my younger years. I imagine that in 50 years from now, I will look back and have a good laugh at what I thought I knew and the relationship I thought I had with God. Philemon is a short letter that is written by Paul and is a story about a guy named Onesimus. Let’s dive into this!

 

Philemon Chapter 1 is a story about forgiveness. I think we can all relate and think of a time where we did something before we knew Christ, only to be saved by grace through faith and now have to face the problem you created. Onesimus had to do that very thing in this story.

 

The letter starts off with Paul writing to someone named Philemon. We found out that Philemon was a guy that Paul shared the gospel with and it changed his life. Philemon went back to where he lived to tell others about the gospel and he grew to be a major part of the church. As the letter continues we find out that Philemon had a bondservant (slave/employee) named Onesimus. Onesimus did something to Philemon, the passage hints toward him stealing something because Paul offers to put Onesimus’s debt on his “tab.”

 

Onesimus, after stealing from Philemon, runs off to Rome to escape any kind of reprimand but guess what? He runs into a guy named Paul. Paul teaches him the gospel and he becomes a Christ Follower. Now the story could have ended right there. Paul could have used Onesimus to help him out with ministry in Rome, but check out what he does!

 

 

I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

 

 

Do you see the maturity in this passage? Paul is good friends with Philemon and as he got to know Onesimus he found out that he was one of Philemon’s bondservants. He could have just sent Philemon a letter and said, “ Hey man, I found your boy Onesimus. He heard the gospel and believed, now he’s my right-hand man so I’m going to need him here,” or Paul could have never said a word BUT he didn’t do either one of those. He chose to get his friend’s consent.

 

Have you ever done something behind someone’s back thinking they would never find out…. and they did? Paul is so mature in his faith that he wants to make things right with Philemon and Onesimus rather than selfishly keeping him for his own intentions. Even though his intentions were good.

 

 

I think the moral of the story is to think about the decisions you make and how they affect not only yourself but also others. Also be willing to forgive someone who has wronged you, especially if they didn’t know Christ at the time that they wronged you. Have a great Thursday everyone!

Stay True To Your Roots in God

Back in my younger years, so like 15 years ago, I just started to learn about Christianity. I still had so much to learn, and still do today, but I started my foundation then. I grew up in a family of strong believers; almost all of my aunts and uncles were missionaries at one point and know the word. I grew up getting to know the word from everyone around me. I wouldn’t say it totally stuck with me until I was mature enough to grasp it. Today’s reading is 2nd Timothy Chapter 3, let me tell you about that!

The first part of the chapter talks all about the coming of God. End times if you will. It again points out the signs that come before the coming of our lord and savior. Paul says that these are some of the signs in Verses 2-7.

 

“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” (2nd Timothy 3:2-7)

I studied those words because each and everyone one of them looks very familiar to the world we live in today. This journal entry is not about end times but it is important to be aware what the bible says about what the signs are of the lord before he comes.

I want to focus on the second half of this chapter. It’s important to read and really understand what Paul is telling Timothy here in this letter.

“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2nd Timothy 3:10-17)

All of this is important writing but I really want you to focus on verses 14-16. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” We are talking about Timothy’s upbringing in the word of God and how his mother and grandmother taught him about Christ. “And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” This verse is so important to understand. It is saying that Timothy was taught the scriptures (Bible) when he was younger and do you know what that does? Learning the scriptures not only makes you wise but it also shapes you into a better image of Christ, which is where WE CAME FROM.

If you can take anything from this chapter in 2nd Timothy, it is to get into the word of God and truly commit to learning the scriptures. I struggle with it myself and it will take discipline but it will be worth it in the end.  Have a great Thursday everyone and enjoy diving into the word!

2nd Thessalonians Introduction

Today I am introducing the second letter to the Thessalonians. This is a letter written to the Thessalonian church about a couple things. First off, this letter is short. It only has three chapters and it’s written to the church to give hope and to teach. There are three parts to this letter. The first part talks about the people of this church thinking that Christ had already come, the second part is an encouragement to stay strong in the persecution, and the third part talks about idleness.

 

PART 1

The Thessalonian church was struggling with something. There were people who were coming into the church and spreading lies. They would speak for Paul by bringing letters that they said Paul had written. The problem is that no one knew he didn’t write those letters. These false writings were basically explaining to the church that Christ had already come and they missed the cut. This was hard to hear because this church was constantly under stress and persecution. Their only hope was that one-day God would return and get them out of this persecution. Paul found out that about these false teachings people were told in his name and had to write this letter. He reminded them that the coming of Christ is a good thing and that the signs would be hard to miss. He spoke on the signs again and encouraged them to stop listening to these false teachings.

 

PART 2

Like I said in the first part, the Thessalonian Church was heavily persecuted. They needed encouragement to keep on this path because it was hard for them to keep choosing to be persecuted for Christ. Paul understood this from his own experience. He also encouraged them by letting them know that the other churches respected their church and that he talks about their church all the time to other people.

 

PART 3

The last part talks about idleness. Basically, since the church was being so heavily persecuted people stopped working. Some thought it was because Christ was going to come back really soon so they didn’t see the point. Paul writes to the church to let them know that idleness is wrong and that they should all be working to earn their keep. He reminds them that when he was visiting, he also had a job and worked to earn his keep so that they didn’t have to support him while he was there.

 

Those three parts explain the short letter to the Thessalonian church. It is a quick book to read but it has so many important points to learn. We can’t wait to dive into this book the next three days with you! Be on the lookout of 2 Thessalonians Chapter 1 tomorrow morning!

Onesimus Has To Face The Music

Philemon 2 is a story about forgiveness. I think we can all relate and think of a time where we did something before we knew Christ, only to be saved and now have to face the problem you created. Onesimus had to do that very thing in this story.

 

The chapter starts off with Paul writing to someone named Philemon. We learned in Chapter 1 that Philemon was a guy that Paul brought to know the faith and it changed his life. Philemon went back to where he lived to tell others about the gospel and he grew to be a major part of the church. Now chapter 2 we find out that Philemon had a bondservant named Onesimus. Onesimus did something to Philemon, the passage hints toward him stealing something because Paul offers to put Onesimus’s debt on his “tab.”

 

Onesimus, after stealing from Philemon, runs off to Rome and happens to meet Paul. Paul teaches him the gospel and he becomes a Christ Follower. Now the story could have ended right there. Paul could have used Onesimus to help him out with ministry in Rome, but check out what he does!

 

I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

 

Do you see the maturity in this passage? Paul is good friends with Philemon and as he got to know Onesimus he found out that he was one of Philemon’s bondservants. He could have just sent him a letter and kept Onesimus, or not even have written a letter to him BUT he didn’t. He chose to get his friend’s consent. Have you ever done something behind someone’s back thinking they would never find out…. and they did? Paul is so mature in his faith that he wants to make things right with Philemon and Onesimus rather than selfishly keeping him for his own intentions. Even though his intentions were good.

 

I think the moral of the story is think about the decisions you make and how they affect not only yourself but others. Also be willing to forgive someone who has wronged you, especially if they didn’t know Christ at the time that they wronged you. Have a great Thursday everyone!

Why Do We Keep Treating Our Salvation Like a Debt That Needs To Be Paid?

I’m in a small group that meets on Tuesday nights. If I could just pop in here and give a small plug for small groups, it would be that I think you all should be in one. It is so good to be able to grow and sharpen iron together as relationships build amongst the group! Anyways, for the past 3-4 months, we have been doing a study on Galatians. As a 24-year-old Christian, I think I can fall prey to what Galatians 2 is talking about. The biggest thing I have learned through this study is that there is no work or deed that can give us salvation.

God died for us, and in doing that he paid for our sins yet we go on trying to save ourselves by doing good. It’s not about the works that you do. I’m not saying to stop doing good things; I am saying to stop thinking that good things are worthy of your salvation. Try to think of it from this example. A guy is in jail for life, for doing something terrible. In jail he does everything right, he never gets in trouble and does all the good things to make his time go smoothly. That guy does everything right but guess what; he still has to be in jail. All of his right that he is doing is not making up for that wrong that got him in there in the first place.

 

Just like in that example, we are all sinners that will always have sin in our life. Our job is not to try to do as many good things as possible to make ourselves feel better, our job is to have a relationship with God. When the relationship is there, you will want to do good things because that desire comes out of love for God. When that relationship isn’t there, your desire turns into settling a debt.

 

The most important verse in this chapter, in my opinion, is verse 21. It reads, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” This is huge to understand. If we stick to the idea that we are going to make up for our sin than GOD DIED FOR NO REASON!

 

One of the best things I have learned from the study I am going through is to not only repent of your sins but to also repent of your righteousness. Confusing at first, but remember that our good deeds will never be good enough to save us from our sins.

 

Today, meditate on your life. Think about if you have been doing good deeds for the wrong reason. Have a great Thursday everyone!

Men of Society vs. Men of God

I grew up in a house full of almost all brothers, I played football and baseball, and worked for the family business in some way since I was 12. Needless to say, I knew how to be a guy. I was around other guys all of the time; I learned many important life lessons from other guys in my life. For example, I learned how to take a punch in the shoulder and always come back with a straight face saying, “that didn’t hurt, you hit like my sister!” In reality, my shoulder was killing me! I learned that society looks to men to be the strong, emotionless figures that can handle every situation put at them. I learned that it’s better to not cry because crying makes you look weak. The problem with these few learning tips that I have pointed out is that they are all lies. They are lies to cover things up. They are temporary solutions that only result in a bigger fallout in the future.

 

You might be wondering how I am going to tie this into 2 Corinthians 2. That’s a great question. If you read that chapter you start to realize something. Paul has these deep emotions that guys from our culture tend to not have. Paul says in verse 4, “For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you,” and verse 13, “my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.”

 

Notice the key words in those two verses: affliction, anguish, many tears, abundant love, and my spirit was not at rest. These are all feelings and emotion that Paul, a man, had.

 

So if you are a guy out there and you’re reading this, struggling with the same lies that the culture puts on our hearts every day. Remember this passage. Remember that being a man centered on Christ does not mean you are weak and emotional, it means that you have realized that you can’t do this on your own! God is our strength, and through our weakness, he is made strong.

 

Today, men, take some time to pray for God to make a change in your life. Pray for a softening of your heart. Pray that he will convict you to moments where you are acting more like society tells you to act than God tells you to act. I promise it will be a struggle but it will cause us to rely more on God. I’m up for this challenge. Are you?