Do Not Be Surprised

Do Not Be Surprised

“Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” 1 John 3:12-15 NIV

Do you love your brothers and sisters? That is why you are so hated. You and I live in a world where the love of most has grown cold. (Matthew 24:12) We live in a world where most have the spirit of Cain who hated and murdered his brother. Only a few have the spirit of Abel who loved God and his brother. Yes, it’s that cut and dry. People either belong to God or they belong to the Devil:

“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” 1 John 3:10 NIV

To God there are only 2 classes of people: those who are already dead, or those who have passed from death to life through their faith in Jesus Christ. If you are truly alive you will always be attacked and harassed by the walking dead because of your faith in Jesus. If you are never attacked you need to examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5) The Bible says that all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted:

“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12 NLT

But remember, when you follow Jesus and love the brethren (and even your enemies) this shows that you have passed from death to life. You are alive indeed. You have eternal life! How great is it then that you have the privilege of suffering for Jesus Christ and are being persecuted because of Him:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “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 5:10-12 NIV

“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.” Philippians 1:29 NLT

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV

“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.” 2 Timothy 2:11-12 KJV

Jesus wants us to turn our focus on what being persecuted for Him means not on how it feels. And I can tell you from experience that when we do this it doesn’t feel as bad anymore. But when we focus on what others are doing to us our problems get magnified like looking through a magnifying glass, and it hurts way more. To illustrate, take a small dime and hold it close to your face. It’s now big because you have it up close in focus. Now move that dime as far away from your eyes as your arm will extend. It’s quite small now, isn’t it? Because it’s out of focus. That’s how troubles are. Whatever we focus on the most becomes bigger. And anything out of focus becomes significantly smaller. You and I must learn to focus on the right things and not on the wrong things. Let’s focus on how big our God is by holding Him up close to our eyes; by studying and meditating on His words, His faithful dealings with us in the past, and His awesome promises.

You believe God, right? You believe that He can’t lie, correct? Then listen to what God says about our troubles:

“For our LIGHT AND MOMENTARY troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV

God says that our troubles are light and momentary. So if they feel super heavy, and like they will never end, can it be because we are focussing on them, or viewing them the wrong way? Shouldn’t we pray to God to give us His view, His perspective when it comes to our trials? He will help us if we ask Him. (James 1:5-8)

Everything I’m encouraging you to do I am guilty of not doing. Like you I am learning and fighting to do God’s will every day. I also know from experience how terrible things go when I don’t obey God and keep worrying about stuff. I don’t want to be stuck on stupid so I’m fighting hard to do things God’s way, the much better way. When you think about it, is it wise to compound problems we already have with another heavy load called WORRY?

JESUS SAID DON’T WORRY

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34 NIV

One of the most coolheaded people I know is my son. He is not easily excited about anything. There are times I wish I was more like him. Recently I was facing a trial and pondering the way my son handles things. Then I heard a small still voice inside me say, “You taught him well. Now do what you taught him to do. Don’t worry.” Guys we must fight through prayer and study of God’s word to keep our eyes focussed on Jesus Christ, not on our problems. They will appear bigger than they really are if we focus on them. We will be doing ourselves much harm if we don’t obey Jesus who says, “Don’t worry.”

In conclusion I would like to leave you with a quote I once heard on someone’s voicemail greeting. The lady wished whoever was calling her a good day and said, “Instead of looking at your problems and how big they are, look at your problems and tell them how big your God is.” Wow! That stuck with me for years. It’s one of the greatest quotes I’ve ever heard because it agrees with something Jesus said. It goes like this:

“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 NIV

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It Is Clear

It Is Clear

“We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece-throughout both Macedonia and Achaia.” 1 Thessalonians 1:4-7 NLT

In the verse above it is clear who really gets the gospel message and are truly saved. First of all they are God’s elect or chosen. This is a work done by the Holy Spirit. It does not originate with man. When the Holy Spirit is speaking to someone being saved He gives them full assurance that what he/she is hearing is the truth. The Spirit demonstrates this not only with words but also with power:

“And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.” Mark 16:20 NLT

“God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Hebrews 2:4 NIV

Those who are truly saved receive the message with joy, and don’t let it go in spite of persecution that comes because of believing in God’s word. This is in contrast to the many who are called but are not chosen:

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14 KJV

“The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Matthew 13:19-23 NLT

Jesus makes it very clear who is really saved. If we want a relationship with Almighty God we can repent while there is yet time. God will forgive us for all of our sins. All we have to do is ask him. All we have to do is confess to Him that we have not lived up to His righteous standard, and repent from our hearts. Let him know that you do want to live for Him and ask Him to guide you. The benefits of doing this are staggering! Jesus will give you a new life. He will help you build your life the way God wants it to be; a life filled with love, joy, peace, and many good things. More than that the moment you repent you now have eternal life. That’s right! When you breathe your last breath on earth you will be with God in heaven forever, never again to experience any more pain or sorrow. Repent to God. Accept Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins. He loves you so much and doesn’t want anyone to perish. He will forgive you no matter what you have done. Just bring it to Him in prayer. And don’t worry, He will show you what to do next.

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The World Lives In False Reality

The World Lives In False Reality

“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” 1 John 5:19 KJV

“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 KJV

“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Ephesians 2:2 KJV

“This great dragon-the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world-was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.” Revelation 12:9 NLT

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Matthew 4:8-10 NIV

“When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20 NLT

“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” John 12:31 NIV

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 KJV

All the verses above prove that the whole world system is ran by Satan the Devil, and he rules everyone in it except those who have been set free by Jesus Christ. (John 8:31-32) That’s why the world we call reality is so fake. It takes after it’s master; the angel who so desperately wants to be God. This world is filled with every imagined and unimaginable falsehood. Let’s examine just a few.

Our political system is fake. The religious system is fake. The medical system is fake. The entertainment industry that makes people look more beautiful than they really are is fake. The news isn’t real. The banking system is fake. The economy is fake. Your food is fake. Your water is fake. Jewelry is fake. Artwork is fake too. Knowledge that people are given about the origin of life and our physical world; that it all came by a big bang, all fake! Explosions don’t create meticulous order. They produce chaos. Men today are fake and women are fake too. Hair is fake. Body parts are fake. All the supposed history in the history books of the world is fake. People we praise as heros are really villains, hence fake. Your friends are fake. So are your enemies. Contracts are fake. Insurance policies are fake. Craftsmanship is fake. The education system is fake. Wars are fake. Not that people don’t die in them, but the reasons we’re given for having wars are fake. I can go on and on and on. This entire world system of things is fake! It’s garbage! And no wonder, it’s ran by Satan the Devil, the epitome of fakeness.

THE REAL LIFE

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV

There’s the real life! It’s all found in Jesus. Whoever believes in Him has eternal life! Whoever does not will perish​ forever. There is nothing fake about Jesus. Of course there’s a whole lot of hypocrites out there who claim to represent Him. But nothing is fake about Jesus Himself. He’s so real that even His enemies strive super hard to prove that He doesn’t exist. And as far as the many religious hypocrites out there that claim Jesus with their mouths but dishonor Him with their lifestyles, Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” Matthew 7:21-23 NIV

Jesus foretold there would be many religious people claiming to belong to Him. But, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” is what they will hear on the day of judgment. So don’t pick apart Jesus Christ because of what these fakers do. Get to know who Jesus really is for yourself by studying the Bible accounts of the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. See for yourself if there is any fakeness about Him.

For those of us who strive to avoid all forms of hypocrisy and are convinced of who Jesus really is I leave you with this final encouragement:

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.” Philippians 1:27-30 NLT

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Don’t Be Selfish

Don’t Be Selfish

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

I love this passage because it conquers the flesh. It is everything opposite of human nature. It is God! You and I were born selfish. The problem is sin. It produces selfishness. No effort is needed to be this way it’s automatic. We inherited it from our first parent Adam along with a host of other evils:

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12 NIV

UNSELFISHNESS

Because we are naturally inclined to be selfish God’s Spirit is needed to be the opposite.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

Everything about God is unselfish. HE HAS DONE AND STILL DOES FOR US THINGS HE DOESN’T HAVE TO DO! God is so good He even takes care of His enemies:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. HE CAUSES HIS SUN TO RISE ON THE EVIL AND THE GOOD, AND SENDS RAIN ON THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE UNRIGHTEOUS. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 NIV

God shows us the best way to live, it is by imitating Him. Those who have the faith to obey His commands know just how much following Jesus’ teachings benefits them. When we live by the Spirit and go against our flesh we always experience blessings, and some very pleasant surprises. If we hang in there with Jesus and do not give up we will understand what He means when He says:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

SHOW KINDNESS TO THE UNTHANKFUL AND EVIL?

“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36 KJV

Jesus raises the bar; He commands that we do good to others expecting nothing in return, even the unthankful and evil. Yes, that includes those who hate your guts. That’s a lot for the selfish flesh to digest sometimes. But we (God’s children) are growing into the image of Jesus Christ who is the epitome of unselfishness. Have we come to realize yet that our very existence is to glorify God? What awesome rewards and joys we receive when we obey Him! When we’re loving, generous, and compassionate, we are walking with God. Here are some wonderful verses to ponder regarding this:

“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV

“And if your brother becomes poor and is not able to make a living, then you are to keep him with you, helping him as you would a man from another country who is living among you. Take no interest from him, in money or in goods, but have the fear of your God before you, and let your brother make a living among you. Do not take interest on the money which you let him have or on the food which you give him. I am the Lord your God, who took you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, that I might be your God.” Leviticus 25:35-38 BBE

“Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him; the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.” Psalms 41:1‭-‬3 ESV

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.)”  2 Corinthians 9:6-9 KJV

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God Doesn’t Need To See

God Doesn’t Need To See

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV

Does the Lord test us solely to see how we’re gonna react in certain situations? Does He do this to see if we’re good enough to warrant His favor? First of all, why would the one who is the Alpha and the Omega, the begining and the end, the first and the last, the past, the present, and the future, need to see anything? (Revelation 22:13) He already knows. And secondly, if the Lord tests us to see if we’re good enough to warrant His love these next verses are null and void:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 KJV

No one is good enough to deserve God’s favor. Having God’s favor is a merciful gift. A gift that is only made possible through Jesus Christ. When God tests us he is REFINING us. This matches scripture:

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2 NIV

“For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.” Psalm 66:10-12 KJV

Often our trials show US things about ourselves. We get to see where we must improve to reflect the image of Jesus Christ. God knows us through and through and where we need to grow. For example, on the night that Jesus was arrested Peter promised Jesus he would never desert Him. But Jesus looked right at him and said,

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Matthew 26:34 NIV

“Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:69-75 NIV

It’s not God who needs to see

to show you you

and show me me

He already knows

Jesus already knew what Peter would do. But Peter had no idea what his heart was capable of.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 KJV

Peter learned some things about himself from his trial. Though he fell flat on his face he profited from his experience. Because he persevered (did not give up) he soon grew to become the pillar of the church Jesus said he would be:

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 KJV

Like Peter our trials show us US. They can show where we need to grow into the image of Jesus Christ. And they should also be showing us just how Awesome and Merciful our Holy God is to Love us in spite of how wretched we are in these fleshly bodies. (Romans 7:21-25)

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Psalm 103:8-14 KJV

PATIENCE/PERSEVERANCE

“Being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 WEB

Just as God is patient with us we need to be patient with ourselves and one another. We can be confident as the scripture says that God will fulfill His promises to us. He will complete the work in us He began. When you feel down about your trials, or when your sins upset you, remember and meditate on God’s promises. Remember His mercy for those who come to Him with a repentant heart. (Proverbs 28:13) This gives us strength and confidence. Feelings are fickeled, but not God. He will do in our lives what He said he would. All we have to do is believe Him and persevere (not give up).

Our trials though many are actually perfecting us, making us complete in God’s sight. This is a cause for joy! Everything the enemy throws our way to destroy us God makes work out for our good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:28-32 NIV

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