Why … the great commission?

In Revelation 20:12-15, John wrote:

“I saw the dead, the great, and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened…the book of life….If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.”

 Why is this important?
 
Jesus said: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” – Mark 16:16

 

Jesus also said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

We also know because of Scripture:

Be it known therefore to you, that the salvation of God is sent to the nations. – Acts 28:28

And…

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. – Mark 1:15

But how can everyone else know unless we tell them and tell them QUICKLY! See facts below:

A Barna Research Group survey discovered that

  • American children ages 5 to 13 have a 32% probability of accepting Christ
  • Teens and adults aged 14 and over have only a 5% probability of accepting Christ

 

Ages at which Americans say they accepted Christ

  • Ages 0-4            1%
  • Ages 4-14       85%
  • Ages 15-30    10%
  • Ages 30+          4%

If we don’t tell our children, they may never know Christ, because the odd of them believing after they become an adult are VERY SLIM!

Tell our kids, OUR FUTURE, the FUTURE OF THE CHURCH!

an interview with Rick Warren

This blog includes a documented short interview with Rick Warren, author of  “Purpose Driven Life” and pastor of the very well known large “Saddleback Church” in California.

People ask me what is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body– but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, “which is my problem, my issues, my pain.” But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don’t think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)? When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do. That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings.

· · Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.

· · Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.

· · Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.

· · Painful moments, TRUST GOD.

· · Every moment, THANK GOD.

Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you.

DISCLAIMER: I have not been able to find the original source of this interview to thank them or to acknowledge them. If you know of the source, please notify me so I can properly acknowledge them.


Coincidence, I think Not!

I continue to be amazed by God!  Tonight, the youth lesson was about Jesus’ power of Salvation & how we should tell our lost friends about Him so they can have eternal life. We sang “By His Wounds” THEN…in big church, we sang “Nothing but the blood of Jesus,” & the pastor reminded us to tell our friends about Jesus.  I’m famous for the line: “If it’s repeated in the Bible, it MUST be really important!” Then I must ask, if TWO sermons, by different people are repeated the SAME night in church, ISN’T THAT MESSAGE REALLY IMPORTANT ALSO?

1) JESUS saves!
2) Tell others!

on forgiving

I was led today to the passage that discusses a conversation between Peter and Jesus on forgiveness:

Matthew 18:21-22– Then Peter came up and said to him, Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

It hurts so bad when people have wronged us. And it takes so much time to recover, if we can recover the relationship at all. Yet Jesus tells us that we should be quick to forgive and forgive again and again.

That doesn’t mean we might not hurt inside, but we need to forgive and love the one who hurt us. Think about when we sin against God…. What if He never forgave us?

Mark 11:25-26 …if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father, Who is in heaven, may also forgive you your (own) failings and shortcomings and let them drop.

But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings.

Wow, that passage is pretty powerful!  If we don’t forgive, then God won’t forgive us!

“Why”

Why is it important to tell others about your faith?  Simply put, I believe that John in the book of Revelation says it best:

Revelation 20:12-15  “I saw the dead, the great, and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened…the book of life….

If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.”
 

There it is.  How many of you want ANYONE to be “cast into the lake of fire” ? It’s a FREE gift from Heaven that Jesus gave us in Salvation, why don’t you share it with someone today?

 

 John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 John 14:7-9  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

 

Remember that “religion” does not save anyone.  If you know somebody that is “religious,” make sure you take the time to explain to them that only through JESUS do we receive eternal Salvation. When we know Jesus, then we know the Father – God.

Share this gift with someone today.

The Message

It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st
Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square . Early November
weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter
chill of late December and January, but it’s enough to send the masses
crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth.

For a musician, it’s the most lucrative Starbucks location in the
world, I’m told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you
play your tunes right. Apparently, we were striking all the right
chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing. It was a
fun, low-pressure gig – I was playing keyboard and singing backup for
my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion
instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the ’40s to the ’90s with a
few original tunes thrown in. During our emotional rendition of the
classic, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” I noticed a lady sitting in
one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat
and singing along.

After the tune was over, she approached me. “I apologize for singing
along on that song. Did it bother you?” she asked. “No,” I replied.
“We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up
front on the next selection?”

To my delight, she accepted my invitation. “You choose,” I said. “What
are you in the mood to sing?”

“Well. … do you know any hymns?”

Hymns? This woman didn’t know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth
on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our
guest singer a knowing look. “Name one.”

“Oh, I don’t know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.”

“Okay,” I replied. “How about ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’?”

My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on
mine again and said, “Yeah. Let’s do that one.” She slowly nodded her
head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center
of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing.

Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?

The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling
noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what
they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.

I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free.
For His eye is on the sparrow And I know He watches me.

When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening
roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall.
Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, “Oh, y’all go back
to your coffee! I didn’t come in here to do a concert! I just came in
here to get somethin’ to drink, just like you!” But the ovation
continued..

I embraced my new friend. “You, my dear, have made my whole year! That
was beautiful!”
“Well, it’s funny that you picked that particular hymn,” she said.
“Why is that?”
“Well . ..” she hesitated again, “that was my daughter’s favorite song.”
“Really!” I exclaimed.

“Yes,” she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause
had subsided and it was business as usual.. “She was 16. She died of a
brain tumor last week.”

I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence.
“Are you going to be okay?”

She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. “I’m gonna
be okay. I’ve just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his
songs, and everything’s gonna be just fine.” She picked up her bag,
gave me her card, and then she was gone.

Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that
particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence
that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular
shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just
happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter,
who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it. God has
been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of
time, and it’s no stretch for me to imagine that he could reach into a
coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a
revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting him and
singing his songs, everything’s gonna be okay.

The next time you feel like GOD can’t use YOU, just remember…
Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer…
AND Lazarus was dead!

No more excuses now!! God can use you to your full potential. Besides
you aren’t the message,
you are just the messenger.

and the greatest is …

faith, hope, love, . . . but the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13

As I wonder exactly why Paul chose “love,” I think it becomes clear…when we join the remaining passages of Love throughout the Bible (and there are many) with this  verse.  Recall 1 John 4:8

He who does not know love does not know God, for God is love. – 1 Jn 4:8

Therefore, if we believe in who God is, then it’s clear that if God is love, then LOVE is the GREATEST of all things.

Jesus commanded us to Love the Lord (the “first” commandment – Mark 12:30) and to love one another  (and the “second” commandment – like the first – Mark 12:31). It seems as though Jesus summed up ALL the commandments in just this simple act of LOVE!

There is no other commandment greater than these – Mark 12:31

As one scribe put it…

So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.  And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  – Mark 12:32-33

Love is communicating grace and identifies us as children of God.
– Gaebelein, pg 270 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

the love of God

When you love someone what do you do?
  • Talk to them, tell them “I love you”
  • Spend time with them
  • Get to know them
  • Do things THEY want to do
  • Include THEM in things you like to do
1 John 4:7-8 states: God is Love

 “Love” originates in God 

Love can never fail (see 1 Corinthians 13:8)
However…non-Christians are separated from this love, so we NEED to tell them about God so they can have love and show love.
 

 

 

Jesus told us the greatest commandment in Mark 12:30:

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

How will you show God your love?

Will you…

  • Talk to Him, tell Him “I love you”
  • Spend time with Him (Pray)
  • Get to know Him (read the Bible)
  • Do things HE wants to do (witness)
  • Include HIM in things you like to do

 

 

 

Catholic power

Joke day:

Sister Mary Ann, who worked for a home health agency, was making her rounds in her local town. She was visiting homebound patients when she ran out of gas.

As luck would have it, a gas station was just a block away. She walked to the station to borrow a gas can and buy some gas. The attendant told her that the only gas can he owned had been loaned out, but she could wait until it was returned

Since Sister Mary Ann was in a hurry to see this patient, she decided not to wait and walked back to her car. She looked for something in her car that she could fill with gas and spotted the bedpan she was taking to the patient. Always resourceful, Sister Mary Ann carried the bedpan to the station, filled it with gasoline, and carried the full bedpan back to her car.

As she was pouring the gas into her tank, two Baptists watched from across the street. One of them turned to the other and said, “If it starts, I’m becoming Catholic.”

– author unknown

Who is God, really?

25 “To whom will you compare me?
      Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.

According to the Lord, Himself, there is truly no way to describe Him. Think about it, if we can’t compare Him to anyone, how can we truly describe Him?

 26 Look up into the heavens.
      Who created all the stars?
   God brings them out like an army, one after another,
      calling each by its name.
   Because of God’s great power and incomparable strength,
      not a single one is missing.
 27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
      O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
 28 Have you never heard?
      Have you never understood?
   The Lord is the everlasting God,
      the Creator of all the earth.
   He never grows weak or weary.
      No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
 29 He gives power to the weak
      and strength to the powerless.

 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
      They will soar high on wings like eagles.
      They will run and not grow weary.
      They will walk and not faint.                 
                                – verses from Isaiah 40, New Living Translation

We might not be able to describe Who God is, BUT, the best part is we can rely on Him to strengthen us, to love us, and most importantly to SAVE US. We are doomed to a fateful place that we deserve, and it’s not Heaven. However, God loved us so much that He WILLINGLY gave us His son to die a gruesome death that became a beautiful episode that serves to remind us daily that we can have eternal life in Heaven. But at a great price.

Now, the good news to that is that the great price has already been paid. It’s as if you walked into the store and your favorite item had been put on lay-away with the final payment being paid for you. All you have to do is ask for the item, and it’s yours. That’s Salvation. Paid-In-Full by a Savior that loves you so.

Take time today to thank Jesus for what He did for you on Calvary’s hill.