Never Once

Hebrews 13

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

What an incredible Promise that we have been given that God will never leave us or forsake us.  There are many people today that feel like  he has done just that.  When a persons life seems to fall apart around them it is very hard to comprehend and understand that God is still there or even cares.  It really all comes down to whether we believe the promises of God.  Matt Redman has a new song out entitled “Never Once”.  What an incredible promise that we have that no matter what we go through we do not have to go through it alone.  Do we believe the promise that no matter what we face God will always there right beside us?

What causes us to lose faith?  I believe this happens when we look at the circumstances in our lives instead of our God.  The bible tells us that God’s grace is sufficient for us, but there are times when it seems that grace is a long way off.  This last year has been a year of lessons and trials for us as a family.  My wife’s father has been diagnosed with cancer and her stepfather spent most of last year in a coma after a serious car accident.  It seemed like every phone call that we received had worse news.  It seemed to us that these situations came out of nowhere.  We were in the middle of an incredible week of Camp when we received the first phone call and our realized that our lives would never be the same.   One of the major lessons i have learned through all this is that while we may be surprised by our circumstances God is not.  I am so thankful that these situations do not take God by surprise.  Never once did he leave us throughout these ordeals.  God used his people to pray in ways that i can not even comprehend. In fact, i believe with all my heart, that neither one of them would be here now if it were not for the prayers of God’s people.

Many people will say if God is there why doesn’t he do something about our circumstances?  We will not always have the answers we are so desperate for.  Many times God is working we just can not see what the plan is.  Jesus did not promise us that life would be easy in fact he told us that we would have troubles, but the hope we have is that he has overcome the world.  No matter what we face we have hope that will last forever in heaven with him.  Until that day when all things will be made right we can rest assured that never once will we walk through this life alone.


Through the Fire

Daniel 3

10 You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abindigo refused to follow the king’s command. They knew there was only one God and it was not an idol of Gold.  Do you put God first enough that you could never serve anything else but him?  We are quick to say yes, but we often times do just that

We serve worldliness

We serve self

Are we willing to put God first even when no one else will?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abindigo didn’t have to make a choice.   These men had already made their choice to follow God and put him first.  All they had to do was bow down to this image and they would live.  So why wouldn’t they do it?  They wouldn’t do it because they would not dishonor God.  Some of us may read this and think this could never happen today. The sad fact is that persecution like this happens everyday throughout the world.  Are we willing to put God first even if it costs us our lives?

The king was so enraged that he turned the furnace as hot as it could go.  He also chose his best soldiers to tie them up and throw them in.  The Flames were so hot that  even the soldiers that threw them in were killed.  God’s hand of protection was with Shadrach, Mescach, and Abindigo.    How many times have we felt this same hand in our own lives?  Many of us could tell stories about times that we would not have made it without God and his people praying for us.  Many of us can tell stories about times that God has come so close you could almost feel his arms wrapped around you. This often times happens when the rest of our world has fallen apart.

Was this Jesus in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abindigo?  Commentators seem to be very split on this, but the main point of the story is that even in the midst of the greatest trials that we will ever face God is there.  God will be with us in the midst of all the fires and storms that we face.

Is it always easy to see him?

Is it always easy to know that he is still there?

It is often times very difficult to see him standing there in the midst of the storms that are swirling around. We can have faith and trust that he is there for us just like he was there for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abindigo.  When we put God first we can rest in the knowledge that he will always be with us.

Hebrews 13:5

“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

Even in the fire that life offers us God is there. Your families may fall apart, your finances may let you down, your car may give you trouble all the time, your health may be worrying you, but we can rest in the knowledge that God will never leave his people.  Isn’t it going to be a lot easier to put him first when we know that he will never leave us?

These men went through the fire, but God never left them.  There will be times and situations that look impossible hold on God will get you through.  So many people give up on God because they think he has abandoned them when his word says that he never will.  There is another fire that we could not escape without God’s help.  Without Christ we are destined for judgement.  With Christ, we have the promise of eternal life.  Because of Christ, we have peace in the midst of all the fire and sufferings of this world.  We have peace with God because of Jesus Christ.  Hold onto Jesus and he will bring you through the fire and bring you home.

Dare to Be A Daniel

Daniel 6

4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

Daniel was exiled with the rest of his people. It would have been very easy to attempt to blend in and not be noticed.  Daniel continued to live for God no matter what his circumstances.  In fact, do you see what these verses tell us?   They could not find any reason to charge him?  Daniel had lived such a exemplary life that no one could doubt his faith in God.  Are we living this kind of a life that the world takes notice?  They could say a lot of things about Daniel, and they will later on, but they could not doubt his integrity and his faith in God. Are we putting God first in the way that we live?  In fact Peter tells us that we are called to live this way.

People will spread lies, they will gossip about us, they will disrespect us and they will disappoint us, but that should never change the way that we live.  Why is that?  If we continue to live For God and honor him, even in difficult circumstances, others will see this and give God glory. Are you putting God first in the way you live your life?

The administrators could not come up with anything, so they went to the Kings ego.  There is no way that the king could know what the administrators had planned. If they could only get the king to sign the decree, they knew it could not be repealed.

Daniel had a choice to make.  He could either follow the decree and stop praying to God or honor God and face the consequences.  Daniel relied on God in all circumstances.  There was nothing that could separate Daniel from his relationship with God.  The question is do we allow situations and circumstances to separate us from God?  For Daniel his relationship with God was his life and he could not turn his back on it.  Do we rely on God during suffering or turn our back on him?  Do we trust God in all circumstances?  The only way we are able to do that is we realize that our circumstances are temporary and a relationship with God is eternal.

The King did not want to throw Daniel in the Lion’s den.  He was bound by his word to follow through with his decree.  Once this word had been given it could not be rescinded.  The King had no choice he had to throw Daniel into the Lion’s den. Do you notice what he says about Daniel?  Even the king that did not follow God recognized that Daniel served God continually.  What do we learn about this?  We learn that when we put God first and serve him continually the world will take notice.  Are we putting worshipping God first no matter what?’

What Daniel understood is that he had the love of God no matter what. Even if God did not spare him he knew his faith was secure. Do we have this kind of faith?  This is what allows us to put God first is when we know that our hope in him.  Our Circumstances are temporary, but life with Christ is eternal.  Do we desire to have the kind of faith that Daniel did?  Are we willing to Dare to be a Daniel?

I Peter 3:15

15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

The World has been fascinated with the Tim Tebow story. Even the media is having to acknowledge that there is something different about this man.  What makes him stand out so much?  He is a man who stands behind what he believes in and he does not apologize for it.   He is a man that is one of the hardest working football players in the world, but still gives full credit to God for everything that he does.  Even though he is a Heisman trophy winner and a national championship winner he has been relegated and maligned but continues to do what he does best.  Tim Te bow knows how to win.  It is not like Tim Tebow is playing up his faith, he lives it.  If people notice that is great, if not, he is going to continue to serve his lord. Tebow has been made fun of and jeered and he continually responds with class. Some have said he is too outspoken, but I think he is compelled by the love of God to share the good news.

The question i had, while i have been watching this amazing story unfold, was why does he stand out so much?  Why is it that world seems surprised when someone really lives out their faith in a no compromise manner?   Isn’t that what we are all called to do?  When someone is truly living out their faith people notice.  It will not always be favorable, as Tebow as learned, but it will be noticed. I think we also have to be careful to praise Jesus for what he is doing in Tim Tebow’s life and not Tebow himself.  The fact that he has been maligned by many puts him in good company.   The pharisees despised Jesus and the apostle, but they could not help but notice what was taking place among them. The question i had to ask myself is do i stand out?  When people see me do they see the difference in my life that Christ has made?  Or do people see someone who has comprised some of my beliefs to keep from being singled out?   Are you living a life that is devoted to living the way God wants you to live regardless of the consequences that you face?  Preachers, are you willing to preach the things that God wants you to preach even when it might cause issues for you personally?  Are we willing to stand out or have we conformed to look like the rest of the world?

Why does Tim Tebow’s life stand out?  It stands out because not a lot of people are willing to stand out anymore.  God is doing a great thing in the life of Tim Tebow, the question is what does he want to do with yours if you let him?

His Name Was John

Mark 1

4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey

Does this look like a man who would be accepted today? John ate Locusts and had clothing made out of camel hair.  He wasn’t a lot to look, but people came out to hear him preach because he was preaching the words of God.  What was his Message? His message was that messiah was coming. Why did John come? Jesus Christ came to reveal the messiah Jesus Christ.  How did John know who was the messiah?  The Messiah was revealed to him by God. This happened as Jesus was baptized by John.  John was now fulfilling his purpose to testify about the son of God.

John’s goal was that Christ would be glorified and not himself. His prayer was that Christ would become greater and he would become less.  His disciples even got worried and concerned when people started going over to Jesus. John’s reply was not thinking of himself, but of the kingdom. Shouldn’t this be our goal as well? Our goal must be that Christ might become more in our church, our homes, and our lives.  John could have had followers, status, and power, but his desire was to serve Christ.  Are we willing to make Christ more and ourselves less?  This was the purpose of John and the purpose of our lives as well.

John the Baptist was a man that fulfilled prophecies, preached that the kingdom of God was at hand, he also suffered and died because of his faith in God.  John was the forerunner of the one he served.  Jesus Christ came and fulfilled prophecies, preached that the kingdom of God had come, and died for our sins because he proclaimed the words of God to the people.  Are you willing to serve him as John did? Are you willing to lay down your life in service to your king?  His name was John, but his desire was that he was not proclaimed, but that Christ was proclaimed.Are we continuing John’s mission to share with the world about Christ?  Are you telling others that the messiah has come?  Are you willing to take a stand for your faith even if it costs you your life like It did for John?  His name was John and he served a man named Jesus.  The question is do we?


A Life of Thanks

Luke 17

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan

Do we live lives of gratefulness to God?

These ten men had lived lives of isolation.  When you had leprosy they had to start their own communities and were not allowed to see their families. In recent years Leprosy has been found to be contagious among people that have not been treated.  In Jesus’ day treatments to cure the disease would not have been accessible as it is today.

These men have no hope; they are going to spend the rest of their lives in isolation.  Out of this great despair comes a hope. Here is this savior we have heard about, maybe he will have mercy on us and will heal us from our leprosy.

Was it the priest that heals them?  No, it was Jesus himself that healed these men because of their faith in him.  Only one comes back isn’t it amazing.  These men have just received back their lives. Wouldn’t you say thank you?

What could have made the Lepers not come back?

Maybe they go so wrapped up in going home they forget to thank Jesus

Maybe they believed that they had already been healed of their leprosy before they see Jesus, after all Jesus told them to do was go see the priest.

Maybe they believed that Jesus already knew they were grateful and didn’t need to come back to him.

Should they have come back? The answer is yes they should of. A man had just had his life restored.  He was blown away and knew he only had Jesus to thank for it.  He is ready to go home, but before he does he has to go see Jesus.  Do you hear Jesus’ response?  Where are the other nine?  Are you the only one that has come back?  He tells the leper rise and go your faith has made you well.

Which leper would your life be?  Do we give thanks to God for what he has given us?  How do we live a life of Thanksgiving?  How can our lives display our thankfulness to Jesus Christ?  Because of God’s mercy, we can show our thankfulness by laying our lives down as a living sacrifice.  Have you conformed to the world?  Is your life laid down as a living sacrifice?  Why does it matter that our lives are transformed?  If we are saved by faith why do works matter?  Works matter because the bible teaches us that if we are Christ we are a new creation and the old is to have gone.

Are we a new creation when we are mastered by the old ways? How can someone claim to be a Christian when they live the exact same way they always have?  Are you a new creation?  Jesus said that you will know my disciples by their fruit.  Will our works save us?  Absolutely not, but our works are evidence that we are saved!  His Great mercy is not a license to sin, but a call to holiness because we have been freed from sin.  Are we living a transformed life?  Are we living a life of thankfulness that is shown through a life of a living sacrifice?  A Life of Thankfulness is a life that is transformed.

Paul tells his fellow Christians that if they are following Christ the spirit will be constantly transforming them.  Who will they be transformed to be?  It doesn’t say they will be transformed to be what they want to be.  It doesn’t say that they will be transformed to have the best life they can have. It does not say they will be transformed to have great health.  Jesus says that the spirit’s job is transform us to be like him.  Are we truly thankful for what Christ has done?  Do our lives show this thankfulness?  What do we have to be thankful for?

Think about the lepers one more time.  Isn’t this the same condition as we were in our spiritual lives?  They were without hope in their leprosy.  There is a condition that all of us have that can only be healed by Jesus Christ.  Without him, we are without hope.   It was a condition we could not heal on our own, but only through Christ.  While we were still sinners Christ died for us.

When we look at what God has done for us, how can we not live a life of thankfulness?  Have you been transformed by the son of God and the spirit of God? Do you know him?  If you do not you are in need of healing and that healing can only come from Jesus Christ.  Victory comes through our lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4

10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Do you hear Paul’s statement?  He had learned to be content in all circumstances.  Doesn’t that sound like the life you would like to live?  How can we be content in a world that seems completely out of control?  How can we be content when the money runs out and we hate our jobs?  How can we be content when our marriages are broken and there seems to be no way to fix it?   How can we be content when a diagnosis of Cancer rocks our world?  How can we be content when everyone seems to have turned their backs on us?  The secret to contentment that Paul discovered is that he had to place his contentment in Christ and not in these circumstances that were constantly changing.  Whether by life or by death Paul lived for Jesus Christ.

How can we be content no matter what the circumstances in our lives?  We can be content by realizing that having a relationship with God is enough.

Paul frankly had a lot to complain about and we as a world do too.  How many things do you hear in a day that builds someone up? Most of the time we hear complaints about other people and the way that they made us feel.  Think back to your last seven days, did you spend most of the time complaining about circumstances and people or living the joy that comes through Christ?  If we base our contentment on others or our circumstances there will be no peace to be found.  True Contentment is only found in Jesus Christ.  We have the promise that no matter what the circumstance he will never leave us or forsake us.

Paul knew that no matter what man did to him, no matter much he suffered he had Christ and that was enough. If Paul was alive he determined to live for Christ, if he died he was going to be able to live with Christ forever. When you look at life in these terms everything else fades away.  If you lose your job you still have Christ. If your marriage breaks up you still have Christ. If you don’t feel loved Christ loves you.  If you have been diagnosed a terminal disease not only will Christ see you through it, but even if healing does not come he will be waiting for you on the other side of it.  Do we have this kind of contentment?  Do you trust Christ this much?  When Christians reach this contentment the world is changed because it allows us to do whatever God wants us to do without fear for ourselves. Are you ready for a life like this?  Are you ready for a life of Contentment that can only be found in Jesus Christ?