ARE YOU PREPARED?

Sometimes we just don't know when God will give us an opportunity to share His Good News!

SO BE READY AT ALL TIMES!

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3 Important Truths About Trying To Hide Your Sin!

In the story of David and Bathsheba we learn three important facts about trying to hide your sin! You an read the story the whole story at 2 Samuel 11 - 12.

TRUTH #1:  YOU MAY BE ABLE TO HIDE YOUR SIN FROM PEOPLE - BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE THEM FROM GOD.

One of the first things that we learn from this story is that God knows what we have done and you can't hide them from Him.  David went to great links to hide his sins from people and thought he had them all covered up but what he forgot was that God is always aware of our actions.  Nothing catches him by surprise - nothing can be hid from him.  

We are often like David! We too try to cover up our sins so that others won't about them.  But the reality is is that God already know what we have done and is waiting for us to come to him and own up to them. 

TRUTH #2:  GOD WON'T TURN A BLIND EYE TO YOUR SIN - HE WILL CALL YOU OUT ON THEM.

God not only knew the sins that David committed but he also sent His prophet to call David out on his sin.  Through the telling of a fictitious story the prophet was able to show David that God already knew what he did and was calling him out on it.  

Like with David God will also call you out on your sin and make you take responsibility for them.  He will not let you slide by - he will not pretend you didn't sin!  God will expose your sin so that you have to deal with them.

TRUTH #3:  WHILE GOD WILL FORGIVE YOU OF YOUR SIN - HE MAY NOT TAKE AWAY THE CONSEQUENCES.

When David realized that God knew about His sin he immediately repented and confessed his sins before God. David took responsibility for what he had done and as a result God did forgive him and said David wouldn't die.  But God also told him that the consequences for his sins would not be removed.  David would still have to suffer the consequences for his sinful deeds.

God also will forgive us of our sin but at the same time we also might have to suffer the consequences that have come from years of sinful living.  If you spend years in alcohol addictions God can forgive you but you still might still get liver damage. If you spend years of immoral living you, God can forgive you but you still might loose your family. 

Here's the lesson to learn from this post.  If you sin don't try to cover it up, instead, immediately own up to them, confess them, repent from them and get right with God.  Don't ever think you can pull the wool over the eyes of God. 

Being Successful As A Follower Of Christ

Recently I read this quote by Rick Warren the Pastor of Saddleback Church and I thought it had a lot to say to us who claim to be Christ's followers and what it means to be successful.  Here's what it says:

“Being successful and fulfilling your life's purpose are not at all the same thing; You can reach all your personal goals, become a raving success by the worlds standard and still miss your purpose in this life.” ― Rick Warren

As I read this I started asking myself some questions:

  • Is it possible to be successful but be successful at the wrong things?
  • Can I be successful and still not fulfill my God given purpose?
  • What are God's standards for success for His people?

As I pondered these questions 2 thoughts came to mind that I believe are so very important to remember:

THOUGHT #1:

How horrible it would be to stand before God on the Last Day (Judgement Day) and begin to share with Christ how I had accomplished so many great and different goals only to hear Jesus reply with, "But that's not what I had ask you to do or accomplish!"  Wouldn't it be terrible to have placed your ladder of success and ascended it - only to have realized once you got to the top that you had place it on the wrong wall!  I want to hear the words of my Lord say to me, "Well done good and faithful servant."

God's plan and ministry for us is to be His ambassador to this spiritually dark world by making God's appeal for people to be reconciled to Him as if it was God Himself  making the appeal through us. Therefore, we are to be His ambassadors that intentionally engages in the ministry of reconciliation.  That is accomplished through disciple making.  So, the question bids an answer: How successful are we at making disciples for Christ?

THOUGHT #2:

Success from God's perspective is very different from success in the world's perspective!  The world says you are successful if you accomplish great results but the Bible says we are successful when we are obedient to what He has commanded of us.

Over and over again we hear the Bible teach that obedience is better than sacrifice; or for us to be doers of the word and not hearers only, and to teach new believers to obey all that Christ commanded. Jesus even shared that being obedient to Him is an expression of our love for Him.  

We work and train to do our best at what Christ commanded but in the end success isn't defined by the results but by our willingness and faithfulness to do what He said.  The results are in God's hands but our obedience is in our hands.  

So, in the final analysis as Followers of Christ we need to intentionally pursue the role of being Christ Ambassadors, to sharing the Gospel to those still lost in spiritual darkness and to obeying all that Christ has commanded.  If we can do that then we are successful!

Evaluating Your Perception Of Church

How do people outside the church view the church?  How do people inside the church view the church? Does our perception of the church have an effect on the relevance we give to the church? And is our perception of the church Biblical and accurate?  These are some of the question we are going to look at in this post.  I pray it gives you something to chew on and help you become a better Light of Christ in your part of this dark world! 

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Do You Feel Inadequate Making Disciples For Christ?

Many of God's people feel inadequate in the obedience to Christ in the making of disciples of all peoples!  Why? A lack of competence and confidence!  Watch this video to learn the solution to this problem.  

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3 Things To Improve Your Ability To Love

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-12 (NIV)

1.  Remember Your Debt Of Love You Can Never Repay.

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another ..."

The first place to start when it comes to improving you ability to love is to remember that God first loved you when you were unlovable.  God loved us while we were still in the middle of our sinful condition and He demonstrated that love by having Jesus die on the cross to take the punishment that we deserved for our sins. Then God after Christ's resurrection offered forgiveness of sin as a free gift if we would only receive it by faith.  How can you pay back that kind of debt?  You can't but we can pay it forward by loving others the way Christ loved us. 

2.  Regard Others Like Yourself

"Love your neighbor as yourself ..."

The next place to go for improving your ability to love is to remember that the scripture tell us to love others as we love ourselves.  Just as you take care of yourself - in the same way you should also take care of others.  If you are one who doesn't love yourself very well then do what Christ said.  "A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another like I have loved you."

3.  Refuse To Harm Others

"Love does no harm to a neighbor."

And finally, in order to improve your ability to love others better you should always remember that love does not harm others.  When we love people it is our intent to build them up - not to tear them down!  It's to heal them - not injure them! Here's a good question to ask yourself before you talk to someone or do something to someone:

"Is what I am about to say or do going to harm this person?"

If the answer is "yes" then don't do it!  Why? Because love does no harm!

Now that these suggestions and go out into your part of this dark world and love people liberally! Shine the Light of Christ brightly by doing loving deeds in such a way that God gets the glory for it. 

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WHAT NOW? How Are Christian To Act Now That The Election Is Over?

How should we who claim to follow Christ behave and respond to others now that the presidential election in the United States is done and many are confused and frustrated over the election results?  This is a good question and one that each of us who love Jesus needs to take seriously, find the answer and obey.  After all we are called to be the Light of the world.  Where and how do we start in this new age of America?  Watch this video and get some helpful insights to answering that question.

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A Biblical Story On Joining Christ On His Mission

In Acts 8:26-40 we have an amazing story about an ordinary christian by the name of Philip who was used by God in an amazing way.  From it we learn some powerful principles for shining the Light of Christ brightly in our part of this dark world. Watch and see what you might learn.

Take a few moments and share your thought as a comment.

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A Bible Story Of Hope

Today I want to share with you a true story from the Bible that should bring you hope and encouragement.   It will make clear to you that Jesus truly does love you and is willing to change your life. 

If you are a fully devoted follower of Christ that wants to join Christ on His mission then I highly encourage you to learn this story for yourself and begin to share it with people over and over again.

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How Not To Allow Distractions Keep You From Doing The Most Important Things!

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The Importance Of Forgiving One Another

In order to shine the Light of Christ brightly in our part of this dark world we must learn to forgive one another.  Forgiveness is the proof that we really love and love is the proof that we really know Christ!  Watch this video and be encourage to forgive those that have hurt you.

Please share this video with your Christian family and friends on Facebook & Twitter to encourage them to live a more powerful missional life. 

5 Important Lesson About Anger!

Today we are going to learn about God’s Way For Dealing With Anger.  Our text is found in Genesis 4:1-15. 

"Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth[c] a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.  Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.  Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the Lord said to him, “Not so[e]; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

What Do We Learn About Anger:

1.  Anger can develop from a bad attitude.

“... The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” (v. 4,5)

The bad attitude that Cain had was jealousy. He was jealous that his younger brother had his sacrifice accepted by God when his wasn't.  There are all kinds of bad attitudes that we can develop but if left unchecked anger will quickly develop from it.

2.  God will always call us out on our anger.

“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted ...” (v. 6, 7)

Don't think that your anger goes unnoticed by God!  He not only notices it but will also calls us out on it and warn us about it. 

3.  Not dealing with anger will lead to sin

“... But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it’s desires to have you.” (v. 7b)

Anger is a seed from which sin can be birthed.  When we are angry we make Godless choices.

Jesus during His Sermon On The Mount said, 

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (v. 21,22)

4.  God will punish us for the sin that our anger caused us to do.

“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ ‘I don’t know,” he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ The Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brothers blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” (v. 9-12)

Don't think that you can use your anger as an excuse that God will accept for the sin you committed.  Anger is no defense for sinning in the sight of God.  Even though you were angry God will hold you accountable for the sin.

5.  Anger Can Be Mastered.

“... it’s desires to have you, but you must master it.” (v. 7b)

Every can learn to manage their anger so that it doesn't control them.  How many times have we been in a heated argument with a family member when all of a sudden the phone rings and instead of screaming and yelling when we answer the phone we change our tone and calmly say, "Hello, can I help you?"

You see we do have the ability to control our anger, it's just a matter of if we are willing to or not. 

How To Be Credible In Living A Powerful Missional Life!

In today's post I want to share with you about our credibility for living a missional life.  How will people know that what we are sharing about Jesus, about the Gospel or the forgiveness of sin is accurate and true?  The answer comes back to our credibility!  Are we credible? Can people believe us?  Watch this video and see what God is telling you!

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Who Do You Share The Gospel To Next?

Once you've shared Jesus with every person you personally know who do you share it with next? That is going to be the topic of this post!  After all we are not released from sharing the Good News simply because everyone we personally know has already heard.  So, who do we tell next?

Who Do You Share The Gospel With Next?

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3 Indispensable Biblical Parts To Answered Prayers

Confidence In Offering A Prayer Of Faith

Confidence In Offering A Prayer Of Faith

When it comes to living a powerful missional life that brightly shines the Light of Christ in our part of this dark world prayer is essential.  But not just any kind of prayer but prayers where there is confidence that God will hear and answer it. 

So much of our prayers is what I like to call, "I hope God will answer my prayers!" but there's no confidence that God will actually do it.  We are praying with uncertainty that God will actually do what we are asking Him to do.  On top of this lack of confidence there is just a lot of "BAD" teaching going on in the name of "PRAYING IN FAITH".  To many people out there like to take just one passage of scripture and emphasis it to the exclusion of other essential and indispensable verses on topic.  This is a very bad practice to develop!  In learning to praying in faith we need to understand the full council of God.  Failure to do so can lead a person into a practice that's not only unbiblical but potentially destructive to their faith. 

There are 3 Indispensable Biblical parts for having confidence that God will answer your prayers the way you have asked him to.  

Let me emphasis that they are essential and indispensable!

Why?  Because they are like 3 legs on a stool!  If you remove any of legs from the stool, leaving only 2 legs, the stool will fall down!  ALL THREE LEGS ARE INDISPENSABLE!  The ability to pray and know that your  prayers will be answered requires us to have all three of these indispensable parts in place. Remove one of the parts and you no longer can have confidence and certainty that your prayers will be answered the way you are asking!   But if you have all three parts in place you can pray with confidence and know you have what you ask for.  So, what are they?

PART #1:  Hearts That Don't Condemn Us

"Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." 1 John 3:21,22

This is the part that makes sure that you the one praying is in a proper spiritual condition to come before God and ask Him to do something.   Knowing that we are in a spiritual condition that allows us to come into God's presence and be accepted is a vital part to knowing that your prayers will be answered.  

In order to know if we are in a proper spiritual condition to come before God with our petitions we need to do a spiritual inventory of our life. We need to see if there are any unconfessed sins that still need God's forgiveness.  If their is sin then the activity that is needed is a prayer of honest confession from true repentance.  In 1 John 1:9 God gives us assurance that our sins can be forgiven with this simple act.  Read what it says, 

"If we confess our sin that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Why should we think that we can receive anything from the Lord if our hearts are not right with the Lord.  To have confidence that our prayers will be heard by God depends first and foremost if we are prepared to even ask for it.

Question To Ask Yourself:  

Is There Any Unconfessed Sin In Your Life That Needs To Be Dealt With And Made Right With God?

PART #2:  Knowing & Praying According To God's Will

"This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." 1 John 5:14,15

This part deals with the actual request being made.  Is what we are asking for according to God's will or not.  This passage of scripture makes it perfectly clear that when our requests are inline with God's will we know God hears us and we know He will give us what we ask for.  

If you are asking for something that is not according to God's will it doesn't matter how much, how often or even how passionately you ask God for it, it you will not receive it.  Why?  Because it wasn't part of God's will.  In order to pray in faith with confidence you must know what God's will is! If you are uncertain what God's will is on a particular matter then before you can pray in faith about it you must first pray for God to reveal His will to you about it. Listen to what James 1:5 says,

 "If anyone lacks wisdom you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him."

What a wonderful assurance this verse provides us. If we ask God to reveal His will to us by giving us wisdom He promises to do it.  NOW THAT'S POWERFUL!  Once God reveals to you His will concerning the matter then you can begin to pray in accordance to God's will with confidence that God will answer it.

Question To Ask Yourself:

Do You Know What God's Will Is Concerning The Matter You're Praying About?

PART #3:  Praying In Faith With No Doubt 

Once you know that you are able to go into God's presence to make your request and once you know what God's will is concerning the issue you are praying about, then you can make your request to God but you have to make it in faith and without any doubt that God will do exactly what you are asking Him to do.  NO DOUBT!

"Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 'Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:22-23

Praying in faith and without doubt is essential to answered prayers. However, this kind of faith that I am talking about is not a faith that controls God and makes Him do whatever we want.  That kind of faith reduces God to be like genie in a bottle. Our God is not a genie that has to give us our three wishes.  No! Our God is the Sovereign Lord of all creation.  God doesn't do our will - we are to do His will!  Biblical faith is not some kind of force that makes God do what we want.  

Biblical faith is surrender to God's will and joining God in accomplishing His will!  This prayer of faith is because you already know what God is going to accomplish, you have discovered His will on the matter, and through faith you are surrendering your will over to God's will and fully trusting that God will, not maybe, accomplish exactly what He said He would do.   In other words when you pray a prayer of faith you have no doubt that what you are asking is going to happen because you know that God already has willed it to happen!  

Question To Ask Yourself:

Once God Has Revealed To You What His Will Is Do You Have The Faith To Pray That It Will Happen Without Doubt?

When you are certain that all three of this parts are in place then you can have confidence that God not only hears your prayers but that you will also receive for what you have asked.  Remove one of these three part or legs and the stool will fall.  All three are essential and indispensable if you are to receive in prayer what you have asked God to do. 

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Powerful Missional Living Requires Confidence In Our Personal Prayer Life

If you are going to have a powerful missional life that brightly shines the Light of Christ in your part of this dark world then you will need to have confidence in your prayer life!  You will need to have confidence that God hears and will answer your prayers!

In this video I am going to share with you one Biblical way you can have that confidence.

 

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1 Hard To Swallow Explanation For Why God's People Suffer

Have you ever asked a question, sincerely wanting an answer, but once the answer was given you really didn't like it?  When it comes to why God allows His people to suffer no answer is really comforting.  The answer itself actually might be very hard to swallow and accept.  

In today's post I am going to lead us to examine one explanation for why God's people suffer. But let me be up front with you from the get go; I don't think it's going to taste very good in your mouth.  It's true but hard to accept.  And while it may be hard to accept it is also at the same time very challenging and noble.  Take a moment and read the verse that I am going to be using as my text.

"For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." 2 Corinthians 4:6-12 (NIV)

I just love how verse 6 starts off.  God who made the light shine in darkness also made His light shine in our hearts through the knowledge of God that we see in Christ.  GOD MADE HIS LIGHT SHINE IN US!  That's just powerful.  We didn't discover the Light!  We didn't create the Light!  We did't even put the Light inside ourselves.  The Light of Christ that shines through us is a work of God from start to completion.  It was through God's initiative and by His own hand that the Light of Christ lives in us and shines through us.  In other words, we are God's chosen vessels, that He is displaying His light through in our part of this spiritually dark world.  That's our purpose and our mission.  POWERFUL!  SIMPLY POWERFUL!

We contain Christ's Light in "Jars of Clay" or in our broken and feeble mortal bodies.  Now here it comes. This is the part that can be hard to swallow!  God has chosen to display his light in the broken down and beaten up bodies of His saints in order to show the world that the power His saints display are not from them but really from God.  

God wants to make sure that the world realizes who is truly the one powerful!  God wants to make sure that we, his saints, don't get the credit for what He has done and for the credit that He deserves.  And to insure that God's power and Light is manifested to the world in such a way that He alone get's the glory, He (God) allows his saints to experience trials, tribulations, persecutions and all kinds of hardships.  In dying with Christ, through persecution, the life of Christ is manifested through us!

Here's why I also call this explanation and this kind of lifestyle noble:  It's what the Apostle Paul says at the end of these verses.

"So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." 

It's NOBLE because all this suffering and dying is intended for the eternal life to be made available to others who still need to experience it.  Nobility isn't define by what you say you believe but through your acts of righteousness out of your beliefs.  What better act of righteousness is there than a person willing to suffer and even die so that others can see Jesus and receive eternal life?  DON'T YOU THINK IT SOUNDS VERY CHRIST LIKE? ISN'T THAT EXACTLY WHAT CHRIST DID FOR US?

As Followers of Christ we are still here on planet earth for one reason and one reason only!  That reason is simply so we can live a powerful missional life that brightly shines the Light of Christ in our part of this dark world.  If nothing else is accomplished and we simple shine Jesus in a way that God gets the glory and not us then we've accomplish all that is of real importance. And as we accept our role of being the Light of the World then we need to also accept the very real possibility that suffering will be a part of that shining.  

4 Things To Concentrate On As You Wait For Christ's Return

Many of God's people are sensing that Christ's return might be coming more sooner than later! But the question that begs to be answered is: What should God's people concentrate on as they are waiting for Christ's return?  

From God's word we can see 4 things we are told should be our aim and priority as we wait. Whether Christ's return is sooner or later these four things should always be what we focus on.

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen"  1 Peter 4:7-11 (NIV)

#1:  Remain Steadfast In Prayer

There are two important factors that are vital to help us maintain a steadfastness in praying.  They are being "Alert" and "Sober Minded".  Being alert means that we are to be aware of what is happening around us both in the physical word and in the spiritual world.  How can we pray as we should if we are not noticing what is happening around us.

The second is like the first but also slightly different and that is to be sober minded.  We need to keep ourselves from becoming intoxicated by the pleasures and the trappings of this world.  Intoxication of this world is probably the biggest hinderance to a powerful and God honoring prayer life.

#2:  Express Sincere Love For One Another

Peter says two important things when it comes to the love that we need to have for one another. First, he tells us that we need to love each other deeply.  Our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ can't be a surface kind of love that is more "talk" than it is a "walk'.  Talk cheap love doesn't do anything for anybody accept offer flattery.  We need to show deep love for one another because as the day approaches for Christ's return we might actually need to lay down our lives for one another out of love.  If you don't have a deep love for each other you won't be willing to die for that person.

Next Peter tells us that love covers a multitude of sins.  That means if we really love someone and I mean really love them we will over look their faults and even their sins agains us.  We will forgive each other even in the midst of them persecuting us.

#3:  Demonstrate Hospitality With The Right Attitude

Hospitality without grumbling.  Attitude is everything.  If you  do all the right things but do them all with the wrong attitude - it's still wrong and amounts to nothing.  Doing something nice for someone but not really wanting to still displeases God.  God wants us to desire with all our hearts to express love through good deeds.

#4:  Use Your Spiritual Gifts To Strengthen Each Other

God has given you spiritual gifts not for your benefit but for the benefit of His body - the church and for it to be done in such a way that Christ gets the praise!  God ministers to His people, through His people, by using their spiritual gifts.  You need to use your spiritual gifts, use them liberally and use them to strengthen your church fellowship.

4 Tricks Of Satan

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:11,

"Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil ..."  (NAS)

The word "schemes" in the Greek is the word "methodia" and literally means:

"To trick or lie with the purpose to deceive"

Satan's tactics in spiritual warfare are attempts to trick or lie to us with the aim of deceiving us to believe and do things that are contrary to God's will and way and once we have fallen to his deception we suffer the consequences of our choice. 

But here's the good news!  The scripture has identified for us Satan's schemes so that we are not unaware of them.  Today I am going to list 4 of those tricks and/or lies.

#1 TRICK/LIE:  SATAN IS CONCERNED ABOUT YOU

Read Matthew 4:1-4 and you see Satan trying to tempt Jesus to turn some rocks into bread. Satan is trying to sound concerned about Jesus being hungry.  His trick was that he was offering a solution for Jesus' suffering motivated by concern.

But Satan wasn't concerned about Christ. He was just pretending in order to trick Jesus so that Jesus would fall into his temptation.  

Satan's temptation to us will often come across as a compassionate solution to our problems or sufferings.  But don't fall for his trick. Once you yield and give in to Satan his true nature will come out and you will see that he doesn't really care for you at all.

#2 TRICK/LIE:  SATAN MISUSES THE BIBLE TO CONFUSE YOU

Read both Matthew 4:6 and Psalm 91:11-12 and you will discover that Satan was using scripture to tempt Jesus to once again sin.  But in his use of the scripture he actually misuses it by omitting a whole line from the verse in Psalms.  The line he omits is

" ... to keep you in all your ways ...".  

Which is a very important part to leave out. Why? Because God dispatches His angels to help us keep the ways of the Lord and not to sin against God.  

Satan knows the Bible! And he will misuse it to get you to believe that what is really a sinful act is a Biblical act.  IT'S NOT! DON'T BE FOOLED.  Know your Bible - study your Bible so you won't be fooled by Satan's misuse of it.

#3 TRICK/LIE:  SATAN CAN PROVIDE A SHORTCUT TO REACHING YOUR GOALS

The third temptation of Jesus by Satan is found in verse 8 of Matthew chapter 4 where he takes Jesus onto a high mountain to see all the kingdoms of this world and then offers them to him if Jesus would only bow down and worship him.  

What was Satan doing?  He was offering Jesus a shortcut.  Why was Jesus there?  To become King of all the earth!  God's plan was going to lead Jesus to the cross to accomplish that goal but Satan's plan was quicker, easier and less painful. 

Understand that Satan will often try to get you to see that his plan will accomplish the same goal that God has for your life but it will be quicker and again less painful.  You will be tempted to take it but don't be fooled.  IT IS A TRICK TO GET YOU TO SIN!

#4:  TRICK/LIE: SATAN DISTORTS WHAT GOD SAYS TO GET YOU TO DISTRUST GOD

Go to Genesis chapter 3 and read the temptations of Adam and Eve and what you will find is that Satan was trying to deceive them to believe that God really didn't have their best interests at heart and that God was trying to hold them back from being all they could be.  Satan said,  

"You won't die. God knows that on the day you eat of it you will become like God knowing good and evil." 

In other words Satan is saying that God is trying to control you with the fear of death and hold you back from becoming like Him.  Satan loves to trick people to believe that God doesn't really care about them so they won't trust God.  DON'T BELIEVE IT - IT'S A TRICK!

3 Important Choices That Lead To Powerful Missional Living

A powerful missional life just doesn't happen by chance.  It comes about because Christians make choices that lead them into that kind of lifestyle.  These choices are not always easy to make and if the truth be told they are often extremely difficult.

As we look at Moses we can see 3 choices that he had to make that allow him to powerfully join God on His mission.  These same 3 choices still face Christians today!   To make the choice the way God would have you will lead to greater effectiveness in shining the Light of Christ but to make the choice contrary to God will cause you to become impotent and ineffective in missional living.  

To choice God's way is not easy and will require you to have faith in God.  The outcome of your choices may not always be clear but your conviction to follow Christ is not only clear but firm and your trust that God will work all things out for good is steady.  Without faith you cannot please God - you cannot make the choices the way God would have you to make.  

The Bible verse to help us navigate in understanding these choice is found in Hebrews 11:24-26.

"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." (NIV)

Let us take a look at the 3 choices:

Choice #1:  Choose To Identify With God & Not The People Of The World

"By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter" (Vs. 24 NIV)
We all know the story of Moses of how Pharaoh, out of fear of having the Hebrew slaves grow so large in numbers that they might overthrow him, ordered that all the male children under a certain age be killed.  We remember how Moses' mother hid Moses until he was to big to hide any longer but then out of faith put baby Moses in a basket and floated him downstream. We've heard about how Pharaoh's daughter found the basket and fell in love with baby Moses and decided to raise him herself thereby making him a Prince of Egypt.  And in the palace of Pharaoh Moses was raised in the wealthiest country in the world.  He had pleasure, prestige, power and property.  He was living in the lap of luxury.  
That was until he was all grown up and decided to no longer live in the lap of luxury while his people were living as slaves.  He wanted to help his people. He wanted to find a way to ease their suffering.  MOSES GAVE UP THAT IDENTITY OF BEING A PRINCE OF EGYPT TO BE KNOWN AS A HEBREW SLAVE
As we intentionally set out to live a life on mission with Christ we too will be asked by God to exercise our faith to abandon our identity with the world and instead, be known as a Child of God.  We will be asked by God to stop considering ourselves as a member of this world but instead to consider ourselves as ambassador for the Kingdom of God.
When we make this choice most of the people in the world will not understand why we would do that.  Many people will ridicule us - make fun of us - and even malign our character for choosing it.  They will consider us foolish and even traitors.  
But we also need to keep in mind that how we view our identity will have a powerful effect on how we go about God's mission and how effective we will be in accomplishing His will. 

Choice #2:  Choose To Embrace Suffering Rather Than Pleasure

"He chose to be mistreated along with people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time."  (v.25 NIV)

Did you see that?  Moses chose to be mistreated!  That's amazing!  Instead, of living in the lap of luxury with everything your heart could ever want.  Moses gave it all up just to follow God and be obedient to him.  That requires a growing faith to make that kind of Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

.And it's not just about giving up the pleasures of the world (Egypt) but more importantly to give them up in favor to being mistreated by others who don't believe in God.  Moses could have enjoyed all the sinful pleasures that a wealthy life as a Prince of Egypt could offer.  But he chose not to.  Why? Partly because Moses realized that sin, though pleasurable, is only temporary but in like fashion he also realized that that the mistreatment he would experience was also only temporary.

In missional living we will experience the mistreatment from the people of this world.  By choosing Christ and obedience to His mission we become an enemy to the world and the rulers of this world. We could experience all the pleasures of the sinful lifestyle this world has to offer.  We could easily drown ourselves in debauchery and party until to our hearts content.  But we are willing to give it up!  Why? Because we know that with Christ's return comes the end of all of the pleasure of sin. 

But it's going to require faith for you to make that choice!  We can see sin and the pleasures that people get from their participation in it but we don't see Christ and all that he has offer yet.  We have to believe and trust that Christ will be true to his word.  THAT'S FAITH.

Choice #3:  Choose The World's Disgrace Over Getting Their  Approval.

"He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt because he was looking ahead to his reward."  (v. 26)

This is a choice of what's of most value to you!  Moses felt that being disgraced and dishonored by those of the world was of more value than all the riches in Egypt.  All the hate, all the name calling, all the beatings and even death was of worth more than all the treasures the world could gather together.  

Jesus express the same sentiments on the Sermon On The Mount in what we call the Beatitudes.  Read what he says:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11,12 (NIV)

According to Jesus we are "BLESSED" when we are insulted, persecuted and lied about all because Jesus.  We are to rejoice when these things happen because our reward in Heaven because of it. 

I'm not sure what you think but Jesus believed that our reward in Heaven is going to be far more valuable than all of the treasures of earth.  

You know, when suffer for Christ we are in really company. Moses suffered, all of the prophets of the Old Testament suffered and even Jesus' own disciples died because of their choice to follow Christ. and not submit to the opinions and attitudes of the world. 

3 Choices!  Making these 3 choices will greatly enhance your missional living.  It will help shine the Light of Christ brighter than you ever thought possible. 

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