Discouraged

Philippians 1:6

 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Do you sometimes feel as though you aren’t making progress in your spiritual life? When God starts a project, he completes it! As with the Philippians, God will help you grow in grace until he has completed his work in your life. When you are discouraged, remember that God won’t give up on you. He promises to finish the work he has begun. When you feel incomplete, unfinished, or distressed by your shortcomings, remember God’s promise and provision. Don’t let your present condition rob you of the joy of knowing Christ or keep you from growing closer to him.

Taste and See

Psalm 34:8

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”

“Taste and see” does not mean, “Check out God’s credentials.” Instead, it is a warm invitation: “Try this; I know you’ll like it.” When we take that first step of obedience in following God, we will discover that he is good and kind. When we begin the Christian life, our knowledge of God is partial and incomplete. As we trust him daily, we experience how good he is.

Bring them on!

Luke 5:18-20

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”

It wasn’t the paralyzed man’s faith that impressed Jesus but the faith of his friends. Jesus responded to their faith and healed the man. For better or worse, our faith affects others . We can’t make another person a Christian, but we can do a lot through our words, actions, and love to give him or her a chance to respond. Look for opportunities to bring your friends to the living Christ….pray up and bring ’em on.

Do Good

1 Peter 3:8-12 

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead , pay them back with a blessing . That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. 

Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. 

But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil.”

The Good News! 

The holidays are here, and now is the good time to keep the meat of the Good News (Gospel) in your pocket, ready to deploy to family, friends and even better to strangers.

It also beats talking about things like politics, which can lead to contention …. In these series we will go through the core of the Gospel.

This will also be a good refresher for new and old believers.

Read the following verses below, which will be the focus of these mini-series.

The Gospel – by Paul the Apostle

1 Corinthians 15:3-7

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. 

Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.

He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 

He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.”

First importance – The Gospel is not an afterthought or something to be considered occasionally, but is of “First Importance”. Understanding and believing it will determine where you will spend the rest of your real life, eternally (which is afterlife).

Here is the Good News plainy put:

“The good news is that God Himself loves us enough to enter into the world and suffer for us, that despite humanity’s inability to save itself, God saved us. He did not send someone else to do His dirty work. He rescued us Himself. No one else could do it. That is the beauty of the gospel; it is all about God and what He has done out of His love for us.”

Types of soils

Luke 8:4-8 

One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him:  

“A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it . Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. 

Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Jesus would often use stories to convey spiritual truths to his disciples and to his listeners. To the person who just wanted to listen, it was just a simple story. But to the spiritually hungry people, there was a message hidden in the story that they could understand.

Jesus uses a common job, agriculture/farming, to explain how there are four types of people and responses when they hear about the kingdom of God. 

The “footpath” is the hardhearted and stubborn people who hear the good news about Jesus and don’t want anything to do with it. 

The rocky ground is the people who are eager to follow Jesus at first, but when a trial comes, they quickly abandon Jesus. 

The thorny soil or among thorns is the people that also accept Jesus but then get caught up with anxiety about life, money, or other desires that distract them from Jesus. 

The fertile soil is the people that receive the message of Jesus, obey it, and reach out to others. Their life is fruitful. 

Christians also have a responsibility to be the sower. It doesn’t matter who you interact with. You should always be scattering the good news about Jesus because you can’t tell by the outward appearance what type of soil that person is. 

This is an encouragement to be the sower and the good soil. Which soil are you? 

Written by D. Sanders 

Assurance 

Romans 8:35-39

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? 

Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons*, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 

No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

No matter what happens to us, no matter where we are, we can never be separated from his love. Suffering should not drive us away from God, but help us to identify with him and allow his love to reach us and heal us.

Believers have always had to face hardships in many forms: persecution, illness, imprisonment , and even death. These sometimes cause them to fear that they have been abandoned by Christ. But Paul exclaims that it is impossible to be separated from Christ. His death for us is proof of his unconquerable love. Nothing can separate us from Christ’s constant presence with us. 

God tells us how great his love is so that we will feel totally secure in him. If we believe these overwhelming assurances, we will not be afraid.

*In verse 38; Powers are unseen forces of evil in the universe, forces like Satan and his fallen angels (see Ephesians 6: 12 ). In Christ we are super-conquerors, and his love will protect us from any such forces.