The Great Commission… Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8

Each week this year, I am memorizing a Scripture verse (or verses). This week’s verses are Matthew 28:19,20 & Acts 1:8… and are often called the Great Commission.

I. Make Disciples

Unless and until the church is making disciples – followers/students of Christ – the church falls short of the priority ministry & mission of the church. The church may do lots of good things, but it must ALWAYS be making disciples!

II. Mark Disciples

Baptism doesn’t save a person, but it identifies him or her as being saved. One doesn’t get baptized in order to be saved; one is baptized because he or she is saved. In baptism, we are identified as one of God’s own, then assigned our place and our job within the kingdom of God.

III. Mature Disciples

A disciple is a student, and a student is constantly learning. It’s not enough to simply “make a decision”; that’s just the beginning – the new birth. From that point on, we grow. We learn. We learn to follow Jesus… living like Jesus.

This Week’s Memory Verses… Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8

Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a Scripture verse (or verses). This week’s verses are Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8.
“‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:19,20)
“‘But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.'” (Acts 1:8)

Some Thoughts concerning the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Same-Sex “Marriage”…

Let me be clear…

I agree with today’s statement made by Dr. Ronnie Floyd, our current president of the Southern Baptist Convention:

“I believe in biblical and traditional marriage. The court has determined otherwise. With God, nothing changes. His Word stands.”

Today’s supreme court ruling concerning same-sex “marriage” was a setback for the family…. and our society. Today was another indication that God’s Word is no longer as respected in our nation as it once was. But, this should not be a surprise to anyone… and was certainly not a surprise to God. God is still on His throne, and His ultimate will and purpose will eventually become evident to all.

Why do I find the ruling faulty?

From which angle would you like to discuss same-sex “marriage”?

Speaking biblically, it is contrary to God’s express purpose for marriage and family as expressed in His written Word, the Bible.

Speaking socially, while it may be seen as “victory” by some, it strikes at the foundation of the values that have sustained our society and our culture for more than 2 centuries. Statistics still support the fact that children do better in homes in which a loving father and mother are both present. That should be the goal… and it has always been the standard.

Speaking linguistically, the very definition of “marriage” cannot be supported by this ruling. Marriage has always been defined as the wedded relationship between 1 man and 1 woman. A “wedded relationship” between 2 people of the same sex may be defined as a “union” or a “partnership” or “a committed institution”, but it cannot be defined as “marriage”. I do not like eggplant, but very much like peaches. To call an eggplant a peach in order to somehow make it more palatable would not change the fact that it is still an eggplant, and not a peach.

What is a Christian to do now?

We are to do today what we have been commissioned to do since Jesus left. Today’s ruling only made the need more apparent!

We may watch the news… and get frustrated, confused, and possibly even angry.  And, while those reactions might be appropriate, those are not the responses we are to share most loudly.  Instead, we are to continue to be salt… if possible, to be saltier than we were before.  We are to continue to be light… if possible, to shine brighter than we did before.  We are to continue to share the best Hope – Jesus Christ – with a world who seeks temporary “feel-good” solutions to sin problems.

It would be foolish for us to blame a lost and dying world for grabbing on to lost and dying solutions to problems.  Instead, we are to share Jesus… in ways that are loving and positive and hopeful; today, more so than at any other time!

PS.  Before you post or vent or bemoan today’s supreme court ruling, please remember the words of Paul in Colossians 4.5,6 (ESV): “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Those 2 verses are just as relevant today as they ever were… and may be needed today more than ever before.

Praying for Our Nation… 2 Chronicles 7:14

Each week this year, I have challenged myself to memorize a Scripture verses (or verses). This week’s verse is 2Chronicles 7:14.

“God’s people following God’s plan receive God’s promises.”

2Chronicles records the construction of the temple under the direction of King Solomon. In ch.6, Solomon knelt down before God’s people, spread his hands out toward Heaven, and prayed an amazing prayer of dedication.
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from Heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. That had to be some kind of prayer!

After celebrating and praising God for over 2 weeks, the people went back to their homes joyful and glad in heart.
Later that night, after everyone had left, the Lord appeared to Solomon to tell him his prayers had been heard. That’s the immediate context for 7:14, our passage for today… “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

– God’s People
This is a conditional clause: “If”. God says if we follow His plan, then we will receive His promises.
Who is revival for? It’s for God’s people… those who belong to God through conversion and who bear His name through commitment.

– God’s Plan

What are those things we are responsible to do? How do we follow God’s plan? This verse gives us 4 conditions to follow:
1. Humility.

We are to humble ourselves. We are to attack pride and force ourselves to be humble. God wants us to see ourselves as He does… ­no more and no less.

2. Prayer.

After humbling ourselves, we are commanded to pray. If we want what’s best for our nation, we must humble ourselves and pray. If we want to receive God’s promises. then we need to follow God’s plan.

3. Seek God’s face.

The third condition is to “seek God’s face.” The idea of seeking implies a desire for something of great value. When you seek something of value, you rearrange your schedule and priorities until you find it. When we seek something, we are persistent.
Are you actively seeking an audience with God so you can do His will? Are you rearranging your priorities so you can come into His presence? We don’t have to look hard to find Him.

4. Turn from our wicked ways.

This is the true test of biblical repentance. Are we willing to turn away from sin and turn toward God?

The order here is significant. As we humble ourselves and pray and seek God with all that we have, our hunger will be satisfied by the sight of God’s face and we will no longer want to hold on to those things that grieve our Father.

– God’s Promises
When God’s people follow God’s plan, they will receive God’s promises. God says, “If My people do these 4 things, then I will do these 3 things.”

1. God will hear.

When we pray the way God directs us to pray, He promises He will hear our prayers. We don’t have to worry about getting God’s attention; He is online 24/7 and delights in hearing the prayers of His children.

2. God will forgive.

To forgive means to “send away” or “to let go.” Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” God is the only one who can forgive our sins and make us clean again. As 1John 1:9 states, when we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

3. God will heal.

The last promise has to do with national blessing for the nation.

Will you join me in praying for our nation?

This Week’s Memory Verse… 2 Chronicles 7:14

Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a Scripture verse (or verses). This week’s Memory Verse is 2Chronicles 7:14.

Why not memorize it with me? Let’s do it a phrase at a time…

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves,

and pray and seek My face,

and turn from their wicked ways,

then I will hear from Heaven,

and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

This Week’s Memory Verse… John 14:6

Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a Scripture verse (or verses).  This week’s Memory Verse is John 14:6.

Why not memorize it with me?  Let’s do it a phrase at a time…

Jesus said to him (Thomas),

‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”

The 2 Top Commandments… Mark 12:29-31

Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a Scripture verse (or verses). This week’s verses are Mark 12:29-31.

Jesus was approached by a Jewish teacher, and was asked what the most important commandment is. Jesus didn’t always answer such questions… and He certainly didn’t always answer them as clearly as He answered this question: “The most important commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel!… You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

Then, Jesus continued!  He said, “And the second (most important commandment) is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”

So, in Jesus’ answer, Jesus actually gave 3 important commands:

1) Love God with every part of yourself.

2) Love your neighbor (and Jesus had already defined our neighbor as anyone/everyone in need).

3) Love yourself.

Loving God With Everything That’s In Us… Mark 12:29-31

Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a Scripture verse (or verses). This week’s memory verses are Mark 12:29-31.

In these verses, we are told – by Jesus – to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. Let’s look at that a little closer…

You can’t begin to understand a relationship with God unless you understand this point: there is only one God. What matters is not rules and regulations and which one is most important; what matters is a relationship with the One true and only God.

Jesus gave a two-part answer to the question He was asked—love God, love others. It was a summation of the Ten Commandments, which are broken into two groups: a faithful relationship with God, and a faithful relationship with others.

Concerning our love for God, Jesus tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. So what does that look like? What does it mean to love God with all of you?

1) Heart… kardia… the middle, thoughts or feelings.

2) Soul… psyche… breath, spirit.

3) Mind… dianoia… deep thought, imagination, mind, understanding.

4) Strength… ischys… power, strength, ability.

These 4 parts of us represent our:
– Values (heart)

– Character (soul)

– Thoughts and feelings (mind), and

– Will (strength).

Your values are the deepest held beliefs about yourself and the universe around you. These values then influence your thoughts and feelings, which result in your character—the thing that makes you you. Your will is the outward expression of your character; the things you say and do. God wants us to bring all of those things into a love relationship with Him, and then take that same love and pour it out into the lives of others.

Let’s look at some ways to love God:

– Your heart (core values)
Is a relationship with Him the ultimate focus of your life?
Does He take first place?
Do you desire for His values to be overlaid on your life, or do you overlay your values onto God?

– Your soul (character)
Are you becoming more like Him or less? (like those who have been married for a long time)
What is the reaction when you think/feel/do something you know isn’t like God? Is it “so what?” or “oh no!” and then what do you do with that reaction—do you run from God or towards Him?
How do react when God does something you don’t understand, don’t like, or is clearly discipline? Do you want to run towards Him or away? (Hebrews 12:7-11)
Do you love him with your total being?

– Your mind (thought life and emotions)
Do you allow God access to your thoughts? (Psalms 139:23-24)
Do you think often about God and His character? (Philippians 4:8-9)
Do you want your thoughts to match what Jesus thought? (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Are you attuned to God—listening actively for Him speaking His values to your mind?
Do your thoughts automatically reflect the values in God’s Word? (Romans 12:2)

– Your strength (decisions, outward acting of the character)
Is this age becoming less attractive or more?
Do you strive to love and serve him energetically? (Philippians 2:12)
Have you devoted all your physical and material capabilities and talents and abilities to him?
Is it becoming easier or harder to make decisions in alignment with His will? (Romans 12:2)
Are your decisions more and more those that benefit God’s kingdom?

* Overall ways to check on the depth of your relationship
Do you take pleasure in his company?
Is it becoming easier to hear His voice?
Is it easier or harder to submit to Him and even love Him, even when you don’t understand?
Do you feel more like you “get” God?

A love relationship, like a good recipe, has important ingredients:
Time, dedication, communication, effort, and a giving up of self.

This Week’s Memory Verses… Mark 12:29-31

Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a Scripture verse (or verses). This week’s verses are Mark 12:29-31. Jesus was asked what is the most important commandment; Jesus answered that question directly… and even said what the second-greatest commandment is!

Jesus answered him,

‘The first of all the commandments is:

“Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.

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.”

This is the first commandment.

And the second, like it, is this:

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

There is no other commandment greater than these.'”

Rest for the Weary… Matthew 11:28-30

Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a Scripture verse (or verses).  This week’s verses are verses of great encouragement for those who are tired.

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

People today seem so beaten down by the everyday struggles of life. They seem so very tired and weary. It is so bad, it has brought on a new illness called “chronic fatigue syndrome”. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people today that suffer from this disease… a disease of our time and culture. Doctors can actually do little about the problem if you suffer from it; about the best they can do is prescribe sleeping pills and muscle relaxers. Wouldn’t you rather find a cure for your weariness? We find the cure in this week’s memory verses.

I. There is a Problem we all face (v.28) “…all you that labor and are heavy laden…”

We all labor, and we are all heavy laden with something. We are tired and weary physically, mentally, and emotionally.
– The Everyday Bothers of life weary us.
– The Enormous Burdens of life weary us.

II. There is a Promise we are all given (v.28) “Come to Me…and I will give you rest.”

– His Godly Nature insures us He can make His promises good.
– His Good Name insures us He will make His promises good. See Revelation 19:11.

III. There is a Prescription we are all pointed to (v.29,30)

Here it is, the part so many have been waiting for; the prescription for our weariness… yet we are perplexed by what is said. We are not told we need more leisure time. We are not told we are to take a vacation. We are not told we need bed rest. Instead, we are told we need to be yoked!

The yoke is the key to our rest. For so long, we have been trying to work alone and we have worn ourselves down. It is now time to put on the yoke and get harnessed together with Christ; for the yoke that is mentioned is a double yoke. It is a yoke likened to the yoke of the oxen where we see two yoked together. While we may feel we need a hammock, Christ says we need the yoke.
The yoke is important for 2 simple reasons:
1) The yoke is a place of Labor.
The problem with us is not that we must serve some master or perform some task; the problem is really what master we serve and what tasks we perform. Here, Jesus is inviting us to work for Him and with Him. When we take the yoke of Christ, we soon learn what is important work and what is not. We learn that what we do for Him totally eclipses anything else that we could do. When we begin duty in the yoke, we have assurance that Christ is looking out for us and we worry less about the other less trivial matters of life. In the yoke, we find restful activity.
2) The yoke is a place of Learning.
We are invited to learn of Him in our text. Could there be a better situation for learning than when we are yoked together with Him? The problem many of us face today is that we know so little about our Lord. His desire is that we would have a full knowledge of Him. We can only learn of Him when we abide with Him. That is one of the important elements of the yoke; it keeps us bound together with Him in a place of closeness where we can be taught.
In the yoke, we learn from Christ how to be patient in suffering, how to walk humbly, how to trust implicitly, how to love intensely, and how to rejoice exceedingly.

Conclusion:

Do you have rest today, or are you weary and tired? Have you come to Jesus? He is calling all those who are laboring and heavy laden, and He promises you rest if you respond. Would you come today or had you rather continue carrying the load that is tiring you out?