I think we have all done something that we are ashamed of at some point or another, I know I have. Maybe it was saying something out of anger that you didn’t really mean, or maybe you made bad decisions after a night out on the town. We have all done something that we’re not proud of. Luke 9:26 NKJV says, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the Holy angels.” I wouldn’t say I’m ashamed of Jesus or the word of God but I have had times where I could have said something and didn’t. Times where I felt like God Himself was telling me to do something and I just brushed that feeling off. Times when I could have spread the word and chose to stay silent. I wasn’t ashamed necessarily, but I wasn’t proud either. That’s not the kind of Christian I want to be. It’s something I struggle with. I can type a message on this computer all day, but for some reason when I get out in the “real” world I clam up. I’ve been praying for the kind of strength that would allow me to stand up and speak in name of God and not be ashamed. The last thing I want to hear is that God Himself is ashamed of me. I pray for wisdom that I would know the word and have the right thing to say at the right time also. I also pray that someone may read this blog and at the very least it would spark an interest in the bible or God. I have felt the power of God, I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and the change it can have in your life. My only goal for these posts is that in some way I could share my thoughts and experiences with as many people as possible and maybe they could feel the power of God like I have.
Everyone faces storms in there life at some point or another. Some are emotional, some physical, and with the holiday season among us I’m sure a lot of us are facing financial storms. Whenever these storms roll up we need to remember who is really running the show. The disciples faced an actual windstorm while traveling in a boat one day. Luke 7:23-25 NKJV, “But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” They were faced with a terrible storm and started to question their safety. They forgot who was sitting in the boat with them. We do the same thing today. As long as everything is going smoothly, we are fine worshiping and praising the Lord, but the second a storm rolls in we start questioning God. We have to remember that no matter what storms we face in this life, God is with us. He can calm even the most violent of storms, we just have to have the faith.
I keep seeing these posts saying that Christians are homophobic, racist, ignorant, an all sorts of other derogatory terms. I think that the problem with most people today is that they think they have an idea of Christianity, Christians, and Jesus Christ but they really have no clue. They don’t know of His saving grace or His unending mercy. What they know is people. People are homophobic, racist, ignorant and everything else. Just because you follow Jesus doesn’t mean you are going to start walking on water. Christians are still human, we’re not perfect. We still have our own opinions and ideas of others. I have faith in God and Jesus Christ because I have felt His power. I have felt the Lord’s presence in my life. I spend a fair amount of time in my youth looking into other religions but never felt anything close to the power and grace that is Jesus Christ. Classifying Christians as hate mongers, homophobic, racists because of one persons actions that says they are a Christian, is like someone saying you are a Nazi because you are German, it just doesn’t make any sense. Everyone is so quick to judge. We as Christians have to set the example, we have to take the high road. What I have learned over the years is that if you stand for something, no matter what it is, someone is going to disagree with you. We Christians have to keep the faith, and not get angry at these people that would love nothing more than to stir up strife and make us question our beliefs. I know in my heart that Jesus Christ is as real as you and me, and He loves you. He doesn’t care if you are black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight, healthy, sick, a sinner, or a saint, Jesus Christ loves you. Luke 7:50 NKJV, “Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” You see that? It doesn’t say, “God Hates Fags!” it says, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Jesus Christ said those words, go in peace. Is Homosexuality a sin? Yes. Do I believe you will burn in Hell for it? No. It’s a sin just like getting drunk, sex outside of marriage, gossiping, and gluttony. Will you burn in hell for one sin and not the other? I don’t think so. Instead of focusing on the sins of others, we need to take a look at our own lives. Nobody is perfect.
I personally don’t have any experience building houses, but even I know how important the foundation can be. You can build up an awesome house but if the foundation isn’t what it should be, it’s not going to last very long. The same is true for our lives. We must have a solid foundation if we want to be able to stand the storms that this life has to throw at us. Luke 6:47-49 NKJV, “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” That rock solid foundation that Jesus is talking about in this verse is God. When I read this verse it makes me think about what my life was like before I met Jesus and how unstable it was. When I was living without God it didn’t take a flood to destroy my house, all it took was a gentle breeze. I rebuilt my house time and time again, but instead of using God as my rock I used drugs and alcohol. Each and every time I would rebuild my house only to have it torn down in the smallest of storms. It took me hitting rock bottom to realize that God was that rock at the bottom. I’m so thankful that Jesus found me, laying in the ruble of a broken home, and He in all His mercy, helped me build a proper foundation. This verse also makes me think of the direction our country seems to be headed in also. Everywhere I look I see people and organizations trying to remove our foundation, trying to remove God. In schools, in the workplace, and in more and more homes each day, God is being taken out. This country was founded with God in mind, “In God We Trust” is printed on our money. It scares me to think how long our country will hold up if the foundation is ever truly removed. Most of us have heard the word of God before, but how many of us actually follow what it says? I have lived without God in my life, without that solid foundation, and I can testify to how great the ruin truly can be. If you are struggling and everything seems to be tearing you down, you may need to check your foundation. I’m not saying that with God in your life you won’t face storms, I’m saying that when you have God as your foundation, as your rock, nothing will be able to shake you.
I usually read my bible at least once a day. This past weekend I don’t think I even opened it once. I was “too busy” or “too tired” to read it, but I had time for other things such as video games, movies, and Facebook. As the weekend progressed I felt worn out, beaten down, frustrated, and honestly a little angry. I let this world tear me down until I was at the point of tears. It wasn’t until Sunday night, when I attended a Christmas special at church, until I felt better. Something about seeing kids sing about the glory of God and His sheer awesomeness cheered me up. Earlier Sunday morning, the preacher had talked about searching for a light in the darkness. For me, those kids singing was my light. All weekend long I had looked at other people and judged them. I would look at how they were living their lives and form my opinions of them, usually in a negative way. I would think to my self, “They really need to stop doing that and get right with God,” or “How can someone do that?”. All weekend long I had put myself on a high horse and looked down at people that weren’t living like I was, and by the end of the weekend I was feeling miserable. I woke up this morning feeling down and out, sad, and depressed. I drank some coffee and ate some breakfast, watched my son play with his trains and was trying to figure out why I was feeling so crappy. As I was sitting there it dawned on me that I hadn’t done a bible study all weekend. So I got up and turned to the last place I had left off, Luke 6. It truly is amazing seeing God work. Before I even started reading the chapter I looked at a verse that I had already highlighted a while back. Luke 6:37 NKJV, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Whoa, coincidence? I don’t think so. That one verse alone was enough to bring me to tears. As I read this chapter, the whole thing was just full of awesome verses. I wanted to pick one to write about this morning but they were all so amazing I just decided to kind of shoot from the hip on this one. If you haven’t read Luke 6, you should. As I got to the last few verses, it was like a gut check of how my weekend had gone. Luke 6:41-42 NKJV, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Jesus Christ just called me a hypocrite! And He is right, He is always right. I had spent my weekend looking at the lives of others and judging them, and had failed to look at my own life. That “plank” in my eye blinded me from seeing how I was acting, how I was thinking. Christians already have a notoriously bad reputation for being hypocritical, and I was doing nothing but reinforcing that myth. I debated whether or not to even write this post, but I want to be honest and true to my readers. I’m not perfect, no where close. I still have daily struggles, I still do things I’m not proud of. I’m trying my best to live a Godly life and bear good fruit. I’m trying to shine God’s light on this dark world, to be a guide as people travel down the straight and narrow path. But the truth is that I haven’t been walking it for very long myself. I hope that whoever reads my posts gather strength from them, or maybe they may inspire someone to give church a chance or crack open a bible. I hope that I can lead people that are far from God, closer to Him. I’m not here to save you, I’m here to arrange a meeting between you and someone that can, Jesus Christ. I hope to be His torch in the dark to show people the way to salvation. A messenger of His Good News. Luke 6:43-45 NKJV, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” What kind of tree are you?
I have tons of friends and family that love to fish. They will wake up at crazy hours to fish all day, hoping to catch “the big one”. They have family secrets, techniques and locations that they don’t share with anyone. They don’t support their families from fishing, they do it for fun. But if they have a bad day on the lake, you would think they just lost a months salary. In Luke 5, Jesus came to a lake where some fishermen had been at it all night and caught nothing. Luke 5:4-6 NKJV, “When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.” Simon, James, and John had been fishing on their own all night and caught nothing. It wasn’t until Jesus came into their lives that they started having any success. I think the problem a lot of us have is that we don’t want to follow the advice of Jesus. We think that we can do it all on our own. We have to trust in the Lord, we have to have faith that He will lead us in the right direction. I haven’t once read or heard about anyone being mislead by God. Never have I heard anyone say, “Everything was going great until I let God into my life.” Usually it’s the complete opposite, people talk about how bad their lives were until the met Jesus. Verse 9 in Luke 5 says, “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken;” They were astonished at the work that Jesus had done for them. They put their faith in Jesus Christ and it paid off. They caught so many fish that it actually started to break their nets and sink their boats. Jesus gave them more in a matter a minutes of blind faith than they could do in a whole night by themselves. We have to stop second guessing God and just let Him have control. We have to stop being afraid of the change that God will do in our lives. For anyone reading this message that is unsure about God or may be on the fence about giving it all to Jesus. I challenge you to let God have control of your life for a solid month and tell me things aren’t better. Really let Him into your life, in all aspects, and tell me your life hasn’t improved over that short amount of time. It’s ok to not be ok. Jesus Christ didn’t come back for people that have it all together, He came back for the hopeless sinners of the world. The drunks, the drug addicts, the liars, the cheats, the sick, the poor, He came back for you and for me. Luke 5:31-32 NKJV, “Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Those words are straight out of the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. He loves you no matter what. I encourage you to open your heart to Him. Let Him into your life. Just like Simon, James, and John on the fishing boat, you too will be astonished at what God can do for you.
It seems like right after I gave my life to God, I started being tempted in ways that I never imagined. Things that I used to do before without so much as a second thought, suddenly became a struggle for me. I know in my heart what I should and shouldn’t do, but I still struggle with the temptation. Luke 4:1-2 NKJV, “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.” After Jesus was baptized, He was tempted by the devil himself for 40 days. It doesn’t list every single temptation, but I can only imagine what the devil promised Jesus if He would just turn from God and worship him. Power, money, fame, food, authority, women, glory, who knows what else the devil tried to sway Jesus with for 40 days straight. For over a month, the devil threw everything he had at Him. I assure you that the devil is just as real today as he was 2000 years ago. We may not see him like Jesus did back then, but he’s there. Behind every temptation we face, day to day, the devil is trying his best to sway us. He may be using alcohol, or drugs to sway you. Maybe it’s women or money, maybe it’s the fact that you have been questioning if God even exists or not. I heard a quote somewhere that said, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing man he didn’t exist.” I titled this post “Spiritual Strength” for a reason, we have to be strong in our faith to resist the devil. It’s not always going to be easy, in fact, most times it will be quite difficult. The devil will tell us that if we just give in, he can make us feel better. That if we just set our faith in God aside, life would be more enjoyable. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In the beginning of chapter 4 in the book of Luke, the devil took Jesus up to high mountain top and showed him the kingdoms of the world. Luke 4:6-8 NKJV, “And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. “Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord you God, and Him only you shall serve.'” The devil is going to offer you the world to turn from God, we have to have the spiritual strength to see through his lies. I don’t know what you may be struggling with today, but take comfort in knowing that just as you and I are being tempted now, Jesus was also tempted and prevailed! Luke 4:13 NKJV, “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” An opportune time, the devil will attack you when you are at your weakest. When you are beaten down, depressed, lonely, struggling, that’s when Satan will start his temptations. It says that Jesus ate nothing for 40 days and was hungry. That’s when the devil started to attack Him. When He was hungry, tired, and weak, the devil started tempting Him. The same is true for us today. The devil will wait until we are at our lows to start his attack. Hebrews 4:15-16 NKJV, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Jesus Christ knows us, He knows our weaknesses. He was tempted then just as we are now. We must have the strength to come boldly before God in our time of need, not to Satan and his temptations. God knows that we are not perfect, He understands the temptations that we face, because He also faced them.