Are you a servant?

Jesus lived and died a life of service to God. He stated that He came to serve in Mark 10:45, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

This being the Easter season, most Christians are again focused on Christ’s death and resurrection, and how He gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins.

But when you think about it, Jesus’ entire life on Earth was focused on serving. There are hundreds of examples in the Bible of how Jesus healed people, miracles He performed, and the fact that His life on Earth was 100% about serving God – even to the point of being willing to die for Him.

Chances are pretty good that God is not going to require any of us to sacrifice our lives for Him, but how willing are we to serve Him? There are all kinds of opportunities to serve…just take a look at the needs in your church that go unmet because people are “too busy” to do them. Pray and ask the Lord where you should serve. Chances are, God will suggest a place where you will be happy!

If Christ was willing to die for us, surely we can live for Him.

Extra P.S. here…get your kids involved, if you can. Have them help you make cookies, or wash windows. They usually love being involved! Recently, one of my grandkids baked cookies for our church’s prison ministry. Kids who see their parents involved are often kids who grow up to be involved in their church, as well.

Hebrews 6:10, God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Why does God let bad things happen?

One of the most difficult issues people struggle with and parents struggle to explain to their kids, is why bad things happen to good people. Older Christian kids, in particular, can be faced with peers who state that they won’t believe in God because “a loving God” wouldn’t let bad things happen to people. How can a Christian teen respond to this? How can we, as parents/grandparents help our kids with their responses to this?

Churchleaders.com published an article written by Lee Strobel on this subject, entitled, “Lee Strobel: Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering?” It is much more in depth, and much better than what I can write here.   Click on this link: https://churchleaders.com to get to the article, which was written just after the mass shooting in a movie theater in 2012.

I sat down with my grandkids a few days ago and had a ‘chat’ with them on this subject. We decided that kids need to know a couple of things about why there is evil in the world. First, evil exists in our world, and evil’s name is Satan. Because Satan is still on the Earth, bad things are going to happen. Second, Jesus will one day return to Earth and get rid of Satan forever. We decided we don’t know why God hasn’t banished Satan yet, but that if we lived in a world with no problems at all, we wouldn’t learn to rely on Jesus, and be able to see how He takes care of us. Satan doesn’t want people to believe in Jesus, but the reason for evil is not God or Jesus, it is Satan’s work. Finally, being a Christian means you are saved forever with Christ, and He will guard and protect you. He’s on your side, and wants what is best for you. That is what Christian kids need to remember, and share with their friends when this subject of ‘bad things happening’ comes up, because it will.

John 16:33, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

2 Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 

Is God’s arm shortened? Part 2

The founding pastor of Sonrise Community Church, Tony Foglio Sr., actually wrote the following paragraph for Day 66, Morning, of his Sonrise Daily Devotional Bible. I asked him if I could use it for this post, because it is a powerful reminder of God’s love for us. Bold words are my emphasis.

God is not dead, nor is He growing old. We in our carnality grow weary and weak, but God in His holiness never tires nor weakens. He may be silent, but He is never out of control. We can never take God by surprise. We will never catch Him off guard. Our problems are not out of His reach. We may be attempting to avoid Him, but His arm is not short. Usually when God seems out of reach it is because we are running from Him instead of running to Him. Like a loving parent who plays chase with his or her child, He will catch us whenever He desires. Therefore, when trials and problems come, run to Him, not from Him. When God seems distant, check your location. He will be there where you left Him. One sure place we will find Him is with His people in a place He calls His house.

We need the Lord Jesus like we need air. Our kids need Him in the same way. The more you trust Him, the more peace you will have. That’s a promise from God.

Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Pay attention!

Do you ever remind your kids to pay attention to you? If you haven’t, you are in an amazingly small group! Yet one of the things most Christians are good at, is forgetting to pay attention to what God is doing; in, through, and around us.

I would like to suggest that we re-energize our desire to see Christ at work. When we are truly paying attention, we can see what He has done to us and for us, as well as for the people and situations we are praying for.

In the picture here, we can’t see who made the footprint, but we know it was made by someone. Look around to see the evidence that Jesus leaves when He works in your life, and the lives around you.

This is not only a wonderful way for us to stay close to Jesus, but a wonderful way for our kids to witness Christ at work. God either causes or allows all things to happen. When we realize and accept this fact, there’s no room for “luck,” or “coincidence.” Everything happens for a reason, and when we watch for evidence that He is at work, it can be truly amazing what He does for and around us.

Just pay attention!

Romans 8:28, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Philippians 1:6, …being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

How do your kids learn to trust you?

How do your kids learn about trust? Studies on this subject indicate that children learn to trust, when their parents come through for them in their time of need. When they are babies and hungry, all they can do is cry, in order to get fed. You, their parent, feed them. And this happens over and over again.  Your child is learning that they can trust you to feed them when they are hungry.

I know this is obvious, especially if you are a parent, but this is exactly the same way we, as Christians learn to trust Jesus. It is a simple analogy…we go to Jesus in our time of need, pray for help, and He will help us. We may need Christ to help us see the answer, but it is there.

Many times the last person we go to when we need help is Jesus. We want to  tackle the issue ourselves; or we don’t even think about going to Jesus as a way to solve the problem.  This is human nature, and very much a part of the American culture. The problem with trying to solve the problem ourselves is that Jesus wants us to come to Him. He wants to be a part of the solution. Not only that, He knows our lives from the beginning to the end, and knows the path that is the best for us.

The best way to learn to trust Jesus, is to trust Jesus. Sounds simple, and it is, but it is also very difficult. Giving over an issue to Jesus has to be an act of our will. We don’t know the path our life will take, Jesus does. He also has our best interest in mind, knows us better than we know ourselves, and loves us like crazy.

We can trust Jesus, because He IS trustworthy.  If we need to take small steps to learn to trust Him, let’s do it that way.

Another benefit of learning to trust Jesus, our kids will learn that we trust Him, and we will be teaching them to learn to trust Him as well.  In this world in which we live, our kids are going to need to trust Jesus with all the problems they will face.  We can leave our kids in good hands, with Jesus.

Psalm 9:10, Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Which would you choose?

Would you rather be involved in a “religion,” or a “relationship?” One of my former pastor’s teachings that has most impacted me as a Christian was when he taught that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. We don’t become Christian to be involved in a religion, we become Christian to be involved with Jesus Christ Himself.

Jesus wants a true relationship with each one of us. God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us, to take the punishment for our sins, so we could have that amazing friendship with Him.

And He is amazing. He understands us more than we understand ourselves. He loves us like crazy. He wants us to tell Him all our problems, hopes, dreams. He wants to be intimately involved in our day, everyday. He wants to be able to bless us with His love, joy and peace. He wants to bless you and me, and help our lives make sense. And all we have to do is let Him into our lives. Ask Jesus to forgive you for the issues separating you from Him (our sins), and ask Him to be in the center of your life. It will make a huge difference in how you view the world, and your life. And it will be wonderful. Not without problems, but He and you will tackle them together.

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite Psalms.  Verses 1-6 go: You have searched me Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand on me. [*You surround me with your love, and wrap your arms around me] Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, to lofty for me to attain.

*My paraphrasing.

“Has the Lord’s arm been shortened?”

Look around you. How many of your neighbors attend church regularly? Why do you think people don’t go to church anymore? I talk a lot about “bringing Jesus home” and incorporating Him into our daily lives, but when we look at society in general, most people don’t even attend church anymore. Have you ever considered why that is?

All I can deduce is that maybe they don’t think they need Jesus. Maybe life is better without the Lord Jesus Christ in their lives. They can do just fine on their own. They don’t need what they see as the Bible’s “rules” for living to guide them, and see church as “old fashioned.”

If you know someone like this, (and we all do),  are their lives worry free? Are they without care, and do they have perfect peace? Or do they live their lives complaining about how things are going wrong in their lives and they don’t know what to do about it?  Chances are that the people who reject Jesus are in the second group. They want better lives, but don’t want to give up “control” of their lives, thinking that Jesus and church are old fashioned ways to control people.

I could see someone not wanting to give up “control” of their life if it is completely happy, content, peaceful and stress free, but not under any other circumstances. WHO has a life that is perfect?? No one! Why are we so bound and determined to have “control” of our lives when we can’t even control our heartbeat?  We actually have control over very, very little in our lives. But we use this excuse not to attend church, not to pray, not to live for Christ. We don’t want Him in control.

Ask someone you know to go to church with you this Sunday. That person may be the one who fights the hardest to be in control of their life, but also the one who needs Jesus the most.

Jesus loves even the most die hard “control freak”. He understands, and wants to help that person let go and let God, so to speak. It makes the difference between frustration and peace, worry and joy, unhappiness and contentment, feeling unfulfilled, and total fulfillment.  And all the person has to do is ask Jesus into their heart and be willing to be loved by Him. Send me a comment if this is you, and you want to know more about Jesus, and what He can do for you.

Luke 12:22-26, Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?