Matthew 19:29 Putting God First

Put God First

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29

Jesus talked about how hard it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It was because the rich want to rely upon their wealth to live and not God. Jesus finishes out talking by telling them that anyone who has left anyone or anything for Him, will receive much more and eternal life.

Giving up something now for something greater later is often hard for people to do. Investors tell people that they must give up a little money now, in order to have a large bank account later. Some people will follow that, while most will not do it. They do not see the value in giving up some fun now in order to have greater wealth later.

Following Jesus requires that a person puts Him first in his life. However, some will go to the point of following Jesus that they neglect others in their life. This was not what Jesus was saying.

Looking at the whole of God’s Word, one will see that they are to love every person. They are to work for their food. Following Jesus means that you will love every person and will also work.

The challenge is to not let other people or your work get in the way of doing what God wants you to do. In the Bible the people were to be willing to give up their land to follow Jesus. This was their livelihood, their job.

Today God may call you to leave a job in order to do another work for Him. He may call you to not spend the time with family members, in order to do another work for Him. This does not neglect others, but puts God and His work first.

Trust God today as you follow Him. He knows what your needs and responsibilities are. He will make a way where there seems to be no way. Be willing to step away from the things and people of this earth to follow God when He leads. He can do great things through you and redeem all the time. You will receive much more in the end.

I pray today that you will follow God with all your heart; that you will put God first in your life; that you will trust God’s leading in your life; and that God will redeem all that you give up for Him.

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Matthew 8:19-20 There Is A Cost To Follow

Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:19-20

As Jesus told His disciples to go to the other side of the lake, a man comes up to Him and states that he will follow Him, no matter where He goes. Jesus does not accept or reject the offer, but tells him that He has no place to lay His head down at night.

It is easy for people to claim that they will do something. It is very common for a teenager to claim that he will be the best in some field of work when he gets out of high school. He claims that he will do what it takes to make it there. Yet, when the reality of what it takes to make that claim come true, many back down.

Difficulties and challenges in life cause many people to give up on their dreams or promises. They are told that they will never make it and so they give up. Others can’t afford the high price it takes to make it happen, so they quit.

People who come to Jesus are often in the same boat. They claim that they will follow Jesus no matter where He goes. Jesus suddenly asks them to do something with Him, and they back down. They back down out of fear that it will cost too much. They do not want to give up their lifestyle or comfort.

If you have already made a choice to follow Jesus, you must be willing to follow Him no matter where He goes and leads you. Some of those places may be uncomfortable, but they are in the middle of God’s will and purpose for your life.

The Bible does not state if that teacher of the law chose to follow Jesus or not. You have a choice to make.

Not having a home to lay your head down would be an uncomfortable thing to do. However, which is more important: getting a good sleep at night, or the salvation of someone for eternity?

Getting a good sleep at night or following Jesus wherever He goes?

Choose to follow Jesus with all of your life, no matter where He goes. It will be worth it in the end.

I pray today that you will know the love Jesus has for you; that you will hear God’s guidance in your life; that you will follow Jesus wherever He goes; and that God will use you to change this world.

Matthew 4:19-20 Dropping Everything To Follow

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:19-20

As Jesus was getting ready to start His ministry, here on earth, He was walking along by the seas. He comes up to two men, Simon-Peter and Andrew. Jesus tells them to follow Him and that He will have them start fishing for men. Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

People who have started a new business adventure selling something that they believe in, they want everyone to follow them in it. They are often very excited about the product that they sell and the potential money to make. Ads are put out telling others to stop what they are doing to take some time to come and look at what they have. There is great potential in making big money. Some will take that time, while others reject it.

Most of the time, however, most people will question it. What good is that product? Will it really work? How does a person make money? How much money can be made? And the questions go on.

The disciples had not asked Jesus any of those questions, they just dropped everything and followed Him. They trusted Him.

God has times in the life of a believer, where He will tell the person to stop and follow Him. It may be to stop and job to do another job or to go into ministry. Or it may be to go be a witness to someone. Or to take a moment to help someone out.

The real challenge is to be willing to stop and follow Him, without question. It is knowing and trusting that He knows what is best. Many people question God and want to know what is ahead first. They want to know all the details of God’s plan, which He may not show.

As you believe in Jesus, you must be willing to drop everything to follow Him, when He guides you. Do not worry about the future or your past. He has it all in His hands and control. Do not question Him, but follow Him.

It is in following Jesus that you can be the one who changes the life of someone else or an entire nation. God can and will do great things through you, if you will just follow Him.

I pray today that you will hear God’s voice guiding you; that you will drop things of this world to follow Jesus; that you will not question God’s guidance; and that God will help you fish for men.

Zechariah 14:9 King Of The Whole Earth

The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. Zechariah 14:9

Looking into the future Zechariah sees a time when God will overcome all the nations of the earth. At that time He will destroy all false beliefs and gods. God will be the God of all the earth.

At the time of Zechariah and even today, there are many gods on this earth. People worship and serve other people, false gods and things. Some will worship them to the point of making it a religion, while many will just give their whole life to something or someone.

It looks as though the world and Satan is in control and will win the battle. Churches appear to be getting smaller and smaller, many closing their doors. Sinful activities are promoted more and more openly everywhere. Certain false religions appear to be on the rise, growing more and more all the time.

This looks the same as when Israel was in captivity and there appeared to be no hope left. God had said that He rejected them and cast them out. The nations of the world had overcome Israel. Yet, there was a hope. Not all were destroyed in the captivity. After a time in captivity, they were restored. Later after that, they regained their land as their own nation and country.

While it appears that the world and Satan are winning, they are not. God is setting up the stage for the return of Jesus. When Jesus returns all sin will be destroyed for all eternity. A new heaven and a new earth will be made. At that time the name of Jesus and God will be the only names worshipped and honored. God will be God of the entire earth.

Each day that you look out on this world and read or see the news, keep in mind that Jesus said that He will return some day. There will be a day when He returns and takes you away with Him to a home He has prepared for you.

Until that day, stay strong in your faith in Jesus. Continue to let every person know what Jesus has done and can do for them. Be a witness and strive to bring as many with you to God as you can. In the end God will be God of all the earth. You have hope!

I pray today that you will know the salvation of Jesus in your life; that you will know the hope you have in Jesus; that God will remove the fear of the world in your life; and that you will be a witness for Jesus to this fallen world.

Joel 1:13, 15 Weep And Mourn

Put on sackcloth, you priests and mourn; wail, you who minister in before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and the drink offerings are withheld from the house of God. Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Joel 1:13, 15

Destruction of Judah was imminent. The enemy was already closing in on the nation and God was ready to destroy the nation. All of the people had chosen to walk away from God and follow other gods, no longer did the nation follow God. After many warnings, God chose to destroy the nation. Now, Joel is calling all the people to weep, mourn and fast. The destruction would be great, because it would be brought on by God.

Although Judah had been destroyed, and Israel has been restored, there is still a great destruction coming soon. There is a time coming when Jesus will return to end all life on this planet. The planet earth will be destroyed.

When that time comes every person will be divided into one of two groups. One group, who has chosen to follow Jesus, will be changed and brought to heaven for eternal life. The other group, who chose to reject Jesus will be condemned in hell for eternity.

No one knows the day or hour when that will happen, but everyone can be sure it will happen. All the prophecies of Jesus have been fulfilled so far, so that there is  no reason to doubt this will not occur also.

As a believer, this news is a bittersweet message. On one side it tells you that you will be going to heaven to live for eternity with God. On the other side it also tells you that billions of people will be destroyed and condemned for eternity.

Take a look around you and notice how many people do not know Jesus as their own personal Lord and Savior. Most likely, it is the majority of people. Even if it is a few, you should be weeping and mourning for those who are lost. Weep and mourn at the destruction that is coming.

Now, because it has not happened yet, go out and tell someone about Jesus. Spread the gospel message to all, so that all may be saved from the coming destruction.

I pray today that God will reveal to you the times you are in; that you will see those who need Jesus; that you will weep for those who need Jesus; and that you will be a witness for Jesus in this world.

Changing The Mindset

Homestead

Over Thanksgiving weekend my family was able to go to a Homestead Heritage Fair that occurs in Central Texas every year over that weekend. The fair is put on by a group of people who desire to get back to the basics of life and be able to live off of the land. Their hearts are set on following God and putting down all the distracting things in this life, going back to a more simple, but fulfilling lifestyle.

The families that put this on display many of the crafts that they have done. Many of these items are also available for purchasing. Most of these crafts are built by children, from the age of 7, up through high school. Some of these displays are woodworking, metal working, quilting, various types of sewing, paintings, books, food, and much more.

Homemade chairs             Quilt

Along with having many different crafts for sale, they also have many different sessions teaching or talking about various subjects. Some of these are harnessing a horse, cotton preparation and spinning, cheese making, sustainable gardens, rope making, horse training, raising goats or chickens, food preservation, and many more.

My wife and I focused on various sessions on gardening and raising chickens. On Friday we had brought most of our children, who enjoyed making some crafts and going through a petting zoo. They also enjoyed seeing many different farm animals up close.

One of the sessions I went to was called, “Small Homestead Energy Alternatives.” It was a session talking about various energy alternatives that people can do to save money on their energy bill.

Energy

The first thing the speaker talked about was for a person to take a serious look at how energy is used in the home. Then to take note of where energy is wasted in the home. When a person really looks at all the things that use energy in a home, it is quite amazing at how much uses energy. One thing for a person to do is turn off the lights and then look around the room for any other lights that light up in the dark. Each of those little lights are energy users, and usually wasting energy. One can also look for any leaks of air in doorways, windows and connections in the wall.

He stated that once you have an inventory of how energy is used, then you must work to change that pattern and use less energy. The number one thing to do is turn things completely off, rather than leave them in a stand-by mode. While in stand-by mode there is energy still being used that is actually being wasted, because it is not usefully being used.

This is probably one of the most difficult things for a person to do, because it requires a change of the mindset, a change in how a person does things or thinks about things.

Once a person changes his mind about energy usage, then the rest of the alternatives of providing energy for a house may be applied.

As helpful as this was for the house, God revealed to me that this can also be applied to the spiritual life also.

Ephesians 4_11-24

 

Paul tells us that we are to change the attitudes of our minds. We are to be a new person in Christ Jesus. This is a change of the mindset. Before knowing Jesus, you are a person who followed the ways of this world, rather than the ways of God. The desires of your mind were corrupted by deceitful desires, things that were not good and were selfish.

Colossians 3_1-2

 

As a believer in Jesus, you must set your mind and heart on things above, things that concern God. As long as you focus on the things of this earth, you will struggle to be more like Jesus and to please God more. Focusing on God will help you to see that what He desires for you is better than anything you can choose or this world will ever offer.

John 14_15

 

Jesus said that if you really love Him, you will obey Him. You will want to do what He commands because you really do love Him.

All of these things come from a change of the mind. It is not natural for man to follow God. It is not natural for a person to love his enemy. It is not natural for a man to sacrifice himself for someone who does not love him. It is not natural to deny oneself for a physically unseen future. It is not natural to follow someone that cannot be physically seen.

Many Christians struggle with various sins in their life. They cannot seem to ever get a handle on rejecting that sin. With a change of the mind, it can bring about the needed victory over the sin. The mind has to learn to focus on what God wants and desires. The change of mindset changes from things of this earth to the things of God. At that point, the power of sin is no longer there. There is no more pull towards sin, because the pull of God is much greater and better.

Change Your Mindset

Just as with changing the mindset in how you use energy in your home, you must also change your mind in how you follow God and reject the things of this world. Both ways go against the norm of most people, yet, both can be very beneficial to the person.

How is your mind today? What is your mind focused on today?

Jesus Freaks

Last week I was blessed to be able to go on a cruise with one of my boys. This cruise was the Jesus Freak 2017 cruise. The Christian band, DC Talk, had reunited after a 16 year hiatus for a one week cruise tour. They set up the cruise with several other bands, Newsboys, Hollyn, Capital Kings, Ryan Stevenson, and Finding Favor.

For anyone not familiar with the band, DC Talk, they had started out in 1987 and performed until 2000. During that time they became one of the most popular Christian bands of all time. Their music was one of a mix of rap and rock in each song. The band was known for being bold in talking about Jesus and pointing people to Jesus. They wanted their message to be one about the gospel message.

One of the songs that they came out with was, “Jesus Freak.” It was their most popular song and portrayed their hearts.

One of the lines in that song is: “What if people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak? What will people do when they find that its true?

The term “freak”, to be used to describe a person is not a popular term to be used in today’s society. It would probably be listed as a politically incorrect term.

Freak has the meaning of a very unusual and unexpected event or situation. It can also mean a person, plant or animal with an unusual physical abnormality.

Adding the term freak with Jesus, makes an interesting combination. What exactly is a “Jesus Freak”?

It is the idea that one is very unusual in following Jesus. They are abnormal from all the other people. It is a very unusual and unexpected situation in life.

Take a look at the life of Jesus. He was a different type of person when He walked on this earth. Another line in this song is: “People say I’m a strange, does that make me a stranger? My best friend was born in a manger.

Think about this: Jesus came to this world to save the world and  be king of this world. Yet, the method of coming in this world was not normal. He was not born in the palace, or even in the hospital as most people were. He was royalty and yet, was born in a manger, a place for animals, not kings.

Jesus talked about loving your enemies, instead of fighting them. He tells you to bless those who curse you. These statements go against the thoughts and ways of most of the world. The world says that you have a right to fight against your enemies and that it is acceptable to curse those who do you wrong.

Along with some of the strange teachings that Jesus taught, He also died on a cross. Why would a person die who wanted to save everyone else? How can He save everyone by dying? By the world’s methods of doing things, Jesus was a freak, which is part of the reason why they chose to crucify Him.

Jesus was one who followed God with all of His heart, soul, mind and strength. He was sold-out to God. This made Him a freak, an unusual and strange person in this world.

Those who follow Him are also strange. Why would someone want to follow someone who died nearly 2,000 years ago? Why would someone want to follow someone who was strange and said to love and bless his enemies?

The whole reason Jesus was a freak was because of love. The reason a person is willing to follow Jesus is because of love. God’s love is the best thing that there is in all of this great universe. God has the best in mind for every person.

Now going back to the song about the line saying that he is a Jesus freak. What makes a person a Jesus freak?

Take a look around you and you will probably see a lot of people who claim to be Christian. Some churches have a lot of people in them. Yet, at the same time, take a look around you and watch how many of these same people act in this world. How do they treat each other? How do they treat their enemies?

The sad part is that most do not treat others with the same love that Jesus shows them. Christians are often known for acting and looking just like everyone else in this world. They do not stand out as different.

The few people who do stand out as extremists for Jesus are rare. They are seen as radicals and crazies–Jesus Freaks.

When a person comes out in this way in this world, the world will rise up against them, just as the world rose up against Jesus when He walked on this earth. Today the term used is usually politically incorrect, or extremists. This will even occur within the church. Very few people live as an extremist for Jesus. It is highly unusual to see someone live wholeheartedly for God, abandoning their own life and ways to follow God–thus a Jesus Freak.

Take a look at your own life and see how you are living. Are you living for yourself? Or are you living for God?

Are you concerned with what people think or what they will do if you live sold-out to God?

Allow yourself to be sold-out to God. See what God can do in and through you when you live in the same way that Jesus did. As a believer in Jesus, you are to live, talk and act just as He did. Everything that Jesus said and did was what God wanted Him to say and do.

Just as Jesus was a stranger in this world, so are you. This world is not your final home, you are just a stranger passing through.

Are you a Jesus Freak?

May the final words of that song be yours: “I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak, there ain’t no disguising the truth.”

As for the cruise, it was an awesome cruise! It was amazing to see 4,000 people all being excited about serving and loving God. They were not ashamed of the gospel message. It was awesome to hear the various Christian bands proclaiming God loud and clear for five days.

I was able to talk with many people from all over the world and hear many great testimonies of what God is doing or has done in their life. It was encouraging to hear. God is alive and being served in this world by many, though not the majority.