When I became a Christian I thought that the battles of addiction would be my biggest struggle. Addiction to booze, drugs, porn, you name it and it was an issue. But that wasn’t the case. My desires for those things simply didn’t weigh as much as I thought they would. My biggest struggle was, and still is, myself. Trying to take my eyes off of myself and focus on Jesus Christ has proven to be one of the biggest challenges of my life. I’m selfish. I’m inconsiderate. I’m impatient. I’m human. The bible says in Luke 9:23 NLT, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.” Jesus calls us to die to ourselves and He calls us to do it daily. This has been weighing on me for a while now. Every sermon I watch, every book I read, every verse, every song, is telling me to surrender. Why is this so hard? If I take a step back and really look at why I don’t just give in to the call of surrender, the answer is simple and heartbreaking. I don’t trust Jesus. I don’t trust the fact that He truly knows what is best for my life. I don’t trust that He WANTS what is best for my life. So many times I will hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me, telling me the next steps I should be taking, but I choose to ignore it. Why? Jeremiah 29:11 NLT says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” The Lord Himself has told us, promised us, that He has plans for good! Why do so many of us refuse to believe this? We believe that He was raised from the dead and will save us from an eternity in hell, but we don’t fully surrender our lives to Him. I have been living a life of partial surrender for too long. It’s exhausting, it’s frustrating, and it has been my stumbling block for long enough! I’m tired of pretending that I know better than God. From now on, and I encourage you as well, I will start my day off with a prayer of surrender. A prayer that will empower me to live out Galatians 2:20, “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” I surrender Lord, I surrender.
I haven’t written a blog in quite a while. I recently started a new job and it has really been my main focus lately. I’ve had a number of people message me to say they miss my blogs and that reading them has really helped them get back on track. The truth is that since I have started working, my priorities have shifted, and not necessarily in the right direction. As I was doing my daily devotion, which has really turned into a once every other day or so devotion, I came across a verse that put everything back into perspective. Luke 21:34-36 NKJV, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” The verses that came before this one in Luke 21 were talking about signs of the “End Times”, and to be honest, it’s a little scary. I hope that this verse has the same impact on my readers as it did for me.
Most of us have probably heard the story of the prodigal son. If you haven’t, the story is in Luke 15:11-32. It’s basically about a guy with two sons. The youngest of the two asks for his share of the inheritance and sets out to see the world. Not long after he leaves home he has blown through all his cash in “prodigal living” which basically means he partied all his money away. After working for a while feeding pigs, he realized that even the servants on his fathers land had it better than he did at this point. So, he decided that he would go home and beg for his fathers forgiveness. As he was traveling home he prepared this speech that he would say to his father in hopes that his father would allow him to return. The bible says that his father saw him when he was still a great way off and ran to him. Before the son could get halfway through his prepared speech his father cut him off and told the servants to bring out a robe, and start a feast, his son has returned! Now, the other brother heard the music and asked one of the servants what was up, the servant told him that his brother has returned. The older brother got mad because his dad never gave him a party for always being faithful, but as soon as his younger brother returned from blowing all his money on parties and harlots, they have a feast. The father says in Luke 15:32 NKJV, “It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” I really like this story because it reminds me of my own, except for the older brother part. I was dead in sin and lost to the world. I’ve done my fair share of “prodigal living” that’s for sure, but when I started on my way back home, my Father welcomed me with open arms. The Lord doesn’t care where you have been, He cares where you are going. It doesn’t matter how far away you have traveled from home, your Father will always welcome you back. Luke 15:10 NKJV, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
I honestly believe that every word in the bible is put there on purpose. Every word, every sentence, verse, chapter, and book have a message or meaning. Sometimes when I go back and reread a verse I’ll get a different interpretation than the first time I read it. But I always get something out of it. When I was doing my bible study this morning I was thinking about what kind of a message I could post from Luke 13. I could have posted about Jesus healing on the Sabbath and how we get wrapped up in the laws of God instead of focusing on the love and mercy that is Jesus Christ. Or the parable of the fig tree, that’s a message all on its own. But the verses that really stood out to me today was Luke 13:23-25 NKJV, “Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘ I do not know you, where you are from,'” The guy was basically asking Jesus if a lot of people were going to go to Heaven. The question of salvation can be a tricky one. Some believe that once saved, always saved. Some believe that you can lose you salvation. I believe that once you truly give your life to God, it won’t be an issue. Once you fully surrender to God, it won’t be a question of “am I truly saved?” or “can I lose my salvation?” Romans 8:38-39 NKJV says, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Once you truly give it all to God, nothing in this world or the next, can ever take away the love of God that is Jesus Christ. I have felt the power of God first hand, the change that takes place in your heart when you accept Him as your savior. Once you truly feel the Holy Spirit, it won’t be a question of salvation anymore. Once I was truly saved, I felt a calling to spread the word of God. I write these posts in hopes that they would reach someone out there, someone lost, someone far from God. The question I find myself asking now isn’t “is God real?” or “am I truly saved?” I know that God is real, I know that I am saved. My concerns now aren’t for myself anymore, they are for my friends, my family, my readers. The verse above isn’t a scare tactic to get you to go to church or read your bible, it’s the living word of God Himself. One day He will come back, and I fear for many out there it will be too late for repentance. It will be too late to give it all to God. “When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you,'”
Luke 12 is awesome. I used a highlighter on almost the whole chapter. If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest that you do. To be honest though, there was a couple verses in there that got me a little worried. Luke 12:45-47 NLT, “But if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and begins oppressing the other servants, partying, and getting drunk- well, the master will return unannounced and unexpected. He will tear the servant apart and banish him with the unfaithful. The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it.” To me, these verses are basically saying that even if you think you are saved, if you are hammered at a party when God decides to come back, it’s probably not going to end well. We don’t know when God is coming back, no one does. We must always be watching, waiting for His return. I don’t think that God is waiting for you to mess up and then come back just to punish you though. I think a lot of people have this vision of God as this Zeus type dude up in the clouds waiting to strike people down if they don’t say a prayer before every meal. That’s not at all who God is. God created each and everyone of us on purpose, for a purpose. God is our heavenly father. As a father myself, I only want what is best for my son. As Gods children, He only wants what’s best for us. My son gets upset when I tell him he can’t do something, but I only tell him no for his own good. The same is true for God. The reason He tells us not to do certain things is for our own good. When we decide to disobey God, it will always end in pain, suffering, misery, sadness, grief, and heartache. But just because we disobey God doesn’t mean we are banished into the pits of hell. His love is unconditional. When my son disobeys, he gets punished but I still love him. I don’t throw him out or disown him. I love him no matter what he has done. The same is true for our God, He loves you no matter what you have done. For those of you that may be reading this and don’t know God, or those of you that know Jesus but don’t have a relationship with Him, I would encourage you to open a bible and really get to know who Jesus is. Yes, He is the son of God, but He was also a person. A living man, just like you and me. I promise you, if you were to spend just ten minutes a day reading the gospels, your life would be drastically changed for the better. I honestly can’t think of a single person that has ever lived that would say their life got worse after spending time with God.
We have a number of “decorative” lamps in our home. We hardly ever use them but my wife assures me that they make the house look better. When we bought these lamps we intended for them to be seen, not to be put in a closet or under a blanket (although sometimes I think about it). Once we give our lives to God, we become His lamps, His light in the world. He did not intend for us to get saved and then hide the fact that we now live for God, He wants us to shine. Luke 11:33 NKJV, “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light.” I always liked the term “on fire for Jesus” because it paints an awesome picture in my mind. If someone is on fire, you can’t really ignore it or turn away from it. When someone is “on fire for Jesus” people take notice. I was truly saved in August of last year, and once I truly gave my life to God a change happened. I was “on fire for Jesus”. I started posting scriptures, praying, and reading my bible daily. People would come up to me and tell me how proud of me they were and how they couldn’t believe the change that has taken place in my life. But for me, it was all coming naturally. I couldn’t understand why people were so proud of me. I was just doing what I felt God was leading me to do. I had a couple tell me once, after I had given my testimony at church, that when they had gotten saved it took them a long time before they were very open about it. I know that sometimes it can be hard to be open about God, even if you are “on fire” for Jesus. I still have times that I know I should be talking about God, trying to spread the word, but I don’t. God wants us to be open, to be a shining light, to be His lamp, so “that those who come in may see the light”. You never know who may be looking for any type of light to help guide them. Since I was saved last August and started shining His light, I’ve had a number of people tell me that my posts helped get them back in church or that they seen the change that God has done in my life and it inspired them to open the bible. I’m not telling you this to brag or boast, I’m telling you this to encourage you to be open about your commitment to God. Spread the good news in what ever way you can, because you never know who may be watching.
It’s been a couple days since I read my bible, and even longer since I’ve posted anything. I can use excuses as to why like, “The holidays really through me off schedule,” or “I just couldn’t find the time” but the honest true is that I have just been slacking lately. I can truly feel a difference when I spend time reading the bible and in prayer, and when I don’t. Picking back up where I left off in Luke, I started chapter 10. Luke 10:2-3 NKJV, “Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.” When I read verse 2, I don’t think about working the fields on some farm, I think about the great harvest of people’s souls. We Christians are the laborers and He is right, the laborers are few. I’ve never worked as a farmhand during a harvest, but I’m sure it can be grueling, hard work. Being a true Christian is no different. It’s not hard as in back breaking labor, but it can be hard to stay true and walk the straight and narrow. Hard to keep the values that Jesus Christ lived and died for. Hard to keep your head up when everything you do to reach someone falls short. When I think about the world we live in today and the values we must uphold, we truly are lambs among wolfs. If we are not careful we will find ourselves surrounded by a pack of hungry wolfs, ready for a feast. I pray the Lord sends out more laborers for this great harvest. I pray that we can reach people that are far from God. I pray that we few laborers grow and can shine God’s light on this dark world. I pray that there would be a radical movement of Christianity throughout the world. I pray that we could stop being so religious and start being more Christ-like. And most of all I pray for time, because although I didn’t grow up on a farm, I know that harvest season doesn’t last forever.