Why Is It So Hard?

Paul once wrote about the people with whom he was sharing Christ that all they seemed to want was either miracles or worldly wisdom. Jesus alone just wasn’t all that satisfying to many of them. It was a mystery to them how Paul could get so excited about this guy.

John, the apostle, had the same issue. He would teach people about Jesus, and do so with exceptional clarity. Yet, it was apparently very easy for others to follow him with false messages, and the people would quickly listen to those instead. It got so bad, John had to write them from his prison cell on the island of Patmos and say this: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1, NIV). 

But the killer is that even Jesus himself had trouble convincing people of who he is. Despite his working miracles right in front of their eyes this occurred! In the face of teaching such wisdom that many people were amazed at the words that fell from his lips, Jesus still had people doubt who he is.

Why is it so hard? Why is it so difficult for people to believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world, the one who has the words of eternal life. What causes so many to refuse to believe?

The Bible has the answers we seek. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? The answers to all these questions are found there. And those answers all point to one person — Jesus Christ.

And Jesus’ deepest desire is for us to come to him in faith. But the reality is (as Paul states clearly in 1 Corinthians 2) that believing in Jesus is far more spiritual in nature than it is rational. The Holy Spirit is needed to overcome our strong natural resistance to Jesus caused by the sin in us.

Sin in us. Satan against us. The world and its Jesus-resistant culture surrounding us. It’s no wonder it’s hard. But never, ever think it’s impossible. It’s not, because the Holy Spirit is far more powerful than all of these put together. Times 100!

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Friday, May 8 is Judges 7:8b – 8:35, John 5:31-47 and Proverbs 11:19-28.

Lord, send your Spirit to help me believe that you are my Lord and my personal Savior. Send your Spirit to teach me that all my sins are forgiven. Send your Spirit to convince me that you have the words of eternal life!

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When Life Truly Begins

Sometimes it feels like we’re in a holding pattern, just waiting for life to get started.

Life will begin when we finally get to high school. Or is it college?

Life will really get started when we graduate and get that first big job. Or maybe it’s when we — at last! — meet that woman (or man) of our dreams, our soul-mate, our life’s companion.

Or maybe life will truly commence once I’ve achieved financial freedom. Then again, it could be when my health issue is resolved. Or is it when I finally get to retire and travel the world? No, no, I mean move to that cabin in the woods.

Or is it a beach house?

Surely, that’s when life truly begins.

Jesus has a different take. He tells us that life — true, eternal life — begins the moment the Holy Spirit moves our heart to trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. And how does the Holy Spirit move our hearts? The Spirit moves when we listen to Jesus’ word!

That’s what the Creator of all life tells us. We give life a chance to commence when we put ourselves in position to listen to the Bible. And true life begins when faith in Jesus begins. At that moment, as Jesus says, we “cross over from death to life!”

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (‭John‬ ‭5‬:‭24‬ NIV).

Our Bible reading for Thursday, May 7, 2015 is Judges 6:1 – 7:8a, John 5:16-30 and Psalm 57:7-11.

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me life. I no longer have to wait for it. You have already granted it to me, when you sent your Spirit to give me faith in you!

Authentic

How important it is to hear the voice of Jesus, to tune in to the words of the Son of God. We can trust what Jesus says, and stop living in fear. We can know that what he says is true and real, and not worry so much what everyone else has to say.

The beauty is this. Now when we need true wisdom, we can listen to just one voice, and tune out the rest. His words are the words we will lift up and praise. His words are the words that will shield us from harm. His words put our fears to rest.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4, NIV).

Jesus’ words are convincing. That’s because his words are real, and that authenticity inspires faith.

“And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.'” (John 4:41-42, NIV).

It’s so important that we carve out time every day to listen to Jesus’ voice. As we do so, his Spirit enters our hearts, and he persuades and convinces us that Jesus is real. And he especially assures us that Jesus is real help in times of trouble.

Our Bible reading for Tuesday, May 5, is Judges 2:6 – 3:31, John 4:27-42 and Psalm 56:1-13.

Lord Jesus, your words are real, and they are the words of eternal life. Send me your Spirit to help me take your authentic words into my heart and trust you as the Savior of the world.

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Closed Minds

Do you know what the number one roadblock to learning something new is?

A bad memory? Constant distractions? A bad teacher?

Nope. None of the above.

The number one roadblock to learning something new is a closed mind. And the apostles were suffering from a closed mind, even after Jesus’ resurrection. (That’s how powerful a closed mind can be!)

The apostles needed a supernatural intervention. And they got one.

“Then he [Jesus] opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45, NIV).

Now, here’s the bad news. Because of sin in our hearts, we all suffer from a spiritually closed mind. And there’s only one solution for it.

Have Jesus intervene — supernaturally — and open our minds, too. Then — and only then — will we be able to understand the Scriptures.

Our Bible reading for Tuesday, April 28, is Joshua 13:1 – 14:15, Luke 24:36-53 and Psalm 52:1-9.

Jesus, I want to understand the Scriptures. Open my mind so that I can understand what you want me to know about you, and about your love and forgiveness.

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God’s Secrets

Every now and again when we read the Bible we get to peer for just a moment into God’s personality and nature. One verse that gives us such a peek is Deuteronomy 29:29…

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, NIV).

The reason this verse of the Bible carries a great deal of importance is that it shows us that God has chosen not to reveal everything he knows.

God has some secrets.

Mind you, they’re not sinister secrets. In fact, it’s just the opposite. These are things that we don’t need to know for salvation. These are truths that we are just not yet ready for. We don’t have to know them right now.

It’s a lot like a parent knowing that his child is not quite ready to be exposed to something yet. Or a teacher understanding that it’s best to learn algebra before trigonometry.

Some things are meant to be kept for later. And for us, some things are meant to be kept for heaven.

The good news is that God has revealed everything you and I need to know to get to heaven. He has shown us his Son, Jesus. He has told us the way to faith and salvation through his Son, our Savior. And he has sent his Holy Spirit to open our heart and mind to the things that can only be discerned spiritually.

The key is to be satisfied with what God has given us. And also to be content with what God has decided — for now — to keep from us.

What he has given us is a lot — way more than we deserve. Probably way more than most of us will ever use.

But, being content with what God has given us? That’s always a tall order!

Then again, it gives us all something to look forward to, doesn’t it? In the future, some really big things are coming our way!

Our Bible reading for Saturday, April 18, is Deuteronomy 29:1 – 30:10, Luke 18:31 – 19:10 and Proverbs 10:1-10.

Lord, you have given me everything I need to know for salvation. Thank you! Help me to be content and not to worry or delve into the things you have chosen not to reveal to us. Help me to simply trust in you and your love, and know that what you have revealed is all I really need to know.

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The Source

Idolatry is the root of all sin. We are constantly on the watch for something — anything — that we think will give us life, peace, joy, contentment. In some way or another, all of life is a hunt for these things.

Our pursuit of them is the reason that we worship idols. Whatever idols we pursue, we pursue them only because we hope that they can bring us one of these — life, peace, joy, and contentment.

Our idol might be money. It might be possessions. It might be a relationship. Or it might be chemicals. Or sex, or power, or respect, or education. Some idols are idols not because they are bad things in themselves, but because we see them as ultimate things.

We pursue them for what we hope they will deliver to us. We chase the thing we hope will give us the THING.

It doesn’t work. Not in the long haul, anyway.

And there’s a much, much better way. Pursue Jesus. Listen to him speak. Adopt his angle on life. Follow his commands.

The way to do this is to absorb his words into your heart, deep inside of you. And post his words as reminders all around you. Post them even on your hands or on your forehead, if need be.

Jesus is the one and only true Source of life, peace, joy and contentment. He is the Ultimate.

“Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads” (Deuteronomy 11:16-18, NIV).

Lord, help me to seek you, pursue you, find you. My heart naturally does the opposite. I am a sinner and and idolater. I look in every place but you for what only you can give. Please forgive me. Turn my stubborn and rebellious heart to you. Fix your words on my heart and mind. Give me a clean heart. Grant me a heart that trusts you above all else.

Our Bible reading for Thursday, April 9, is Deuteronomy 11:1 – 12:32, Luke 12:35-59 and Psalm 43:1-5.

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Re-think

They say there’s far too little thinking going on in today’s world.

I say there’s far too little re-thinking going on in today’s world.

We form habits and we rarely take the opportunity to step back and really look at those habits to determine if they’re helping or hurting us.

Our culture teaches us a certain way of going about life. We are stunningly incapable of stepping outside of our own culture to see if what it teaches us is truly wise and helpful.

Our parents instruct us in the ways they think are best. But are they really?

And the saddest fact of all? That we don’t know, or possibly even care, what God thinks about our habits, our culture, our parents’ instruction.

When Jesus carried out his ministry, he trained his disciples and readied them to come alongside him, and take his teachings out into the world. He prepared them for battle with spiritual forces. He even gave them authority over evil spirits.

And what were they to teach people? In a word: Re-think.

Re-think your way of life. Re-think your habits. Re-think your culture. Re-think what people in authority have told you is correct. Re-think it by comparing it to what Jesus teaches. Re-think it by comparing it with the word of God.

Re-think. Or, its synonym: Repent.

“They went out and preached that people should repent” (Mark 6:12, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Saturday, February 21, is Exodus 29:1 – 30:38, Mark 6:6b – 29 and Proverbs 5:15-23.

Lord Jesus, help me to re-think everything in light of your teachings and your words and promises.

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