4 Steps to Greatness

4 Steps to Greatness

Mark 10:35-45 accounts the request of James and John to seat at Jesus left hand in glory. Jesus used this request to teach them a lesson about true greatness. Verses 42-45 contain 4 steps to greatness:

  1. To be great, don’t live like a superstar. v.42
  2. To be great, live like a servant. v.43
  3. To be the greatest, live like a servant for everyone. v.44
  4. To be great, live like Jesus. Spend your life focused on others. v.45


Alive! Post 1

Alive! Post 1

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

After Resurrection Sunday Jesus appeared to His disciples over a period of 40 days before He ascended to Heaven. Acts 1:3 Believers in Christ can celebrate our Savior who is Alive! He is not only Alive, but He is interested in us.

#1 Jesus PURSUES us where we are. John 21:1

#2 Life with Jesus is an ADVENTURE. John 21:6

#3 Passion for Jesus is Rewarded with His PRESENCE. John 21:7

#4 Jesus INVITES us to join Him in His work on Earth. John 21:9; John 20:21

#5 Time with Jesus is CRITICAL and cannot be replaced. John 21:12

Our Great Savior is Alive!

Overcoming Obstacles

joshua6Joshua 6 records the Victory that the Nation of Israel had when God gave them victory at Jericho. From this chapter and other scriptures there are 7 ways to overcome the obstacles that keep you or your church from being where God wants you to be.

  1. Realize that God has a PLAN. Joshua 6:2-5, Jeremiah 29:11
  2. Understand the place of PURITY in your life. Joshua 3:5, Joshua 5:2-10
  3. Exercise you FAITH in God. Joshua 6:7, Hebrews 11:1
  4. Practice PATIENCE on the Journey. Joshua 6:15, Psalm 40:1
  5. Control your SELF. Joshua 6:1, Proverbs 16:32
  6. Claim the PROMISES of God. Joshua 21:45
  7. Have confidence in the Spiritual LEADERS in your life. Joshua 6:27
Living with Assurance

Living with Assurance

Living with Assurance

2 Peter 3:1-18

Assurance is hard to come by. We hope the economy will get better, but there is no guarantee. We hope for good health, but sickness comes. We hope our relationships will be strong, but many time we struggle and hurt those we care about. Some of the things we hope for either don’t happen or don’t happen on our time schedule. When Jesus was talking to His disciples about the hard times they would experience when He would be betrayed, falsely convicted, and killed on a cross He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33) Jesus is our source of peace and hope. Peter was there when Jesus said those words. Now at the end of 2 Peter, he is writing as “reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking” and to remind them what the Word of God says (2 Peter 3:1-2). By searching and studying the Word of God, we can live with assurance that God is in control and hold the future in His hand.

Peter warns the reader that there will be “scoffers” in the last days. Scoffers are individuals who show contempt for the Word of God and the people of God. During the time of the writing of 2 Peter, these scoffers challenged the second coming of Jesus saying, “Where is this coming he promised?” (2 Peter 3:4) Peter is continuing to defend the faith and the Word of God and offers the answer to this question. He reminds the reader that God created the Heavens and Earth. He is in control of creation and sets the timeline of history by His pleasure and plan. Peter describes how this creation is being reserved for a day of judgment and will see the destruction of ungodly men.

These scoffers question God’s timing and the validity of the claim that Christ will come again. The way we experience time is different than the way God experiences time. Peter writes, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8) This verse is sometimes used to interpret the length of days of the creation account in Genesis. In the context of this passage, Peter is not explaining the length of creation, but how God is above time. We live in the confinement of time, but God does not.

Peter then writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Once Jesus comes again, the opportunity for people to repent of their sins and place their faith in Him will be over. For this reason, Peter writes about God’s patience with those who don’t know Him. Believers in Christ live to share the Gospel with a lost and dying world while looking forward to His coming.

Peter describes the “Day of the Lord.” New Testament writers used the term “Day of the Lord” to point to Christ’s final victory and the final judgment of sinners. (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary) Pastor Hank will be describing this day during his series through the book of Revelation.

Since this day of judgment is coming, Peter describes the kind of people we should be when he asks the question, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” (2 Peter 3:11)

Peter answers this question:
Believers ought:

  • To live holy and godly lives. 2 Peter 3:11
  • Look forward to the day of God. 2 Peter 3:12, 14
  • Speed his coming by sharing the Gospel with all nations. 2 Peter 3:12
  • Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him. 2 Peter 3:14
  • Be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men. 2 Peter 3:17
  • Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18

Peter’s love for the church is evident as he writes to “stimulate” the church to wholesome thinking and action. Relying on the Word of God leads to assurance that God is in control. His is neither early nor late. He is perfectly on time and His purposes and His people will endure whatever future holds.

Living with Troublemakers by Standing on the Truth

Living with Troublemakers by Standing on the Truth

Living with Troublemakers by Standing on the Word of God

2 Peter 2: 1-22

Since the church began, there have been false teachers who would corrupt the church and the truth found in God’s Word. God’s Word is the standard by which one can confirm or reject the validity of spiritual teaching. Eternity for unbelievers and victorious living for believers hangs in the balance when truth is challenged by false teaching. The Apostle Peter wrote a strong rebuke to false teachers in 2 Peter chapter 2. He identifies the presence of false teachers, the content of their teaching, and describes the judgment that will come on them.

Peter starts this chapter by writing, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you” (2 Peter 2:1) He lets the reader know that false teachers exist and that the reader should beware. These teachers “secretly introduce destructive heresies”, and many will follow them and their teaching. Peter is issuing this strong warning to protect the reader from being captivated by these false teachers. The twisted truth of these false teachers is like a disease to the body. When false teaching is discovered, every means necessary must be taken to eliminate it so the body can return to health.

Throughout 2 Peter 3, Peter describes the content of the false teaching of his day.

False Teachers:

  • Deny the Sovereign Lord v. 1
  • Bring the truth into disrepute v. 2
  • Make up stories that exploit people v. 3
  • Follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature v. 10
  • Despise authority v. 10
  • Slander celestial beings v. 10
  • Blaspheme in matters they do not understand v. 12
  • Carouse in broad daylight v. 13
  • Have eyes full of adultery v. 14
  • Seduce the unstable v. 14
  • Are experts in greed v. 14
  • Have left the straightway v. 15
  • Appeal to lustful desires v. 18
  • Promise freedom while they are enslaved by sin v. 19

This list from 2 Peter 1-20 demonstrates the condemning words that Peter used to describe these false teachers. Any teaching that is described by this list is false and should be rejected. The most powerful weapon against false teaching is the Word of God. It is central in determining truth and conduct.

Peter also describes the judgment that awaits false teachers. He writes, “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” (2 Peter 2) Peter begins by giving Biblical examples of God’s judgment for false teaching and apostasy (2 Peter 2: 4-9) This passage describes how God judged the angels who sinned and rebelled against Him (2 Peter 2:4), the ancient world with the flood in Noah’s day (2 Peter 2: 5) and the city of Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Peter 2: 6-9). Peter also demonstrates how God is able to save the godly from these judgments when he writes, “if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.” (2 Peter 2:9) God protects the godly, those who live according to His Word, while He judges the false, ungodly teacher.

Anyone who would endeavor to teach the Word of God and to lead people spiritually should pay close attention to 2 Peter 2. Consider the commitments a teacher of truth must make:

  • The Bible is God’s gift to the world and the source of truth
  • The Bible was written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit
  • The Bible is the inerrant Word of God
  • The Bible is the infallible Word of God
  • The Bible describes how one can know God and live for Him.
  • The Bible has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. (Baptist Faith and Message)
  • The Bible is the source of Christian truth and teaching

A teacher who makes these commitments about the Word of God need not fear the judgment of false teachers. A teacher who stays close to the Word of God can confidently proclaim and teach truths found there in. Paul wrote these words to Timothy, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2: 1-2)

Living in Faith

Living in Faith

Living in Faith 

1 Peter 4:12-19

All believers will endure suffering. The type of suffering Peter is describing in 1 Peter 4:12-19 is suffering for the cause of Christ. He helps the reader understand how to respond to suffering that comes into a believers life because they belong to Jesus.

Peter instructs the reader to expect painful trials and understand that trials are a part of the Christian’s life. When we can anticipate something, we can be ready when it comes and not be surprised. Our culture is turning more and more hostile towards Christians. As we see this developing in our society we can take measures to confront this hostility and ready ourselves for what is coming.

As these trials come, Peter tells us to rejoice. This seems counter intuitive on the surface. How can we rejoice when we experience trials for the sake of Christ. Peter mentions 4 reasons:

  1. We identify with the sufferings of Christ. (1 Peter 4:12)
  2. We will be rewarded when He returns. (1 Peter 4:13)
  3. The Spirit of Glory and of God rests on us. (1 Peter 4:14)
  4. These trials give us an opportunity to place our faith in God and commit ourselves to our Faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:19)

In this passage Peter also encourages us to identify the cause of the trial we are under. He writes, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.” 1 Peter 4:15) These sufferings give you the opportunity to examine your life:

  • Why am I suffering? (1 Peter 4:15) Ask yourself if you are the cause of the trial.
  • Am I ashamed of Christ or do I look for opportunities to praise Him? (1 Peter 4:16)
  • Do I look for opportunities to introduce people to Jesus? (1 Peter 4:17-18)

How strong is someone’s faith if it is never tested? God will use the trials of this life to strengthen us for His glory and our good.

Judges 6-7  Gideon  The Reluctant Warrior

Judges 6-7 Gideon The Reluctant Warrior

Judges 6 – 7  Gideon – The Reluctant Warrior

In Judges 6, the people of God are once again turning their backs on God. To chasten His people, God hands them over to the Midianites. The chastening of God is evidence of His love for His people. The Midianites pillaged the land and destroyed their crops. This causes the Israelites to cry out to God for help. God raised up another Judge to deliver His people from the Midianites. His name was Gideon.

No one would have picked Gideon as a leader. He would not even have picked himself. His decisions were uncertain, and his faith was shaky. However, despite Gideon’s shortcomings, God used Gideon to bring glory to Himself and victory to the people of Israel. Gideon is a great encouragement to anyone who struggles with accepting themselves and believing that God wants to use them in a significant way.

After “fleecing God”, Gideon assembles an army to attack the Midianites. God leads him through a process of reducing His army down from 32,000 men to 300 men. God was making sure He got the glory for the victory. Gideon defeated the Midianite army and once again restored Israel.

Be Encouraged with this Clear Application

  • God listens to the cries of His people.
  • God uses ordinary, even reluctant, people to do His work.
  • Victory is not found in skill or number, but in the power of God.
  • Strategy and focus are important.
  • God is not done with us even though we fail.

Growing in Faith

Each of us are known for:

  • Our families
  • What we do
  • Where we live
  • What we drive
  • The hobbies we have

Our online persona consists of:

  • facebook profile
  • twitter feed
  • our klout score

Of of all the things we can be known for, we need to strive to be known as people of abiding faith.

What does faith look like?

Faith Described –

Hebrews 11:1-2

  • This is not a definition, it is a description
  • Faith is more than wishful thinking
  • Biblical faith is not a blind faith
  • Faith is practical
  • Faith enables us to understand what God does
  • Faith enables us to see what others cannot see
  • Faith enables us to do what others cannot do

Faith is God enables us to know God, to please God, and to do what He has called us to do. Hebrews 11:6

Faith Demonstrated

Hebrews 11:22

Joseph was:

  • Sold into slavery by his brothers
  • Tempted by Potiphar’s Wife
  • Falsely accused of rape
  • Forgotten by his jail mate friends

Yet, Joseph continued to put his faith in God. Joseph looked forward to the Promised Land and longed for home. Hebrews 11:22

Faith Developed

Hebrews 12:1-2

Hebrews chapter 12 gives us clear instruction about developing faith that pleases God and changes our lives

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

1. Learn from the faithful

2. Eliminate any barrier to Faith

3. Strive for endurance

4. Focus our life on Jesus

Faith is only as good as its object. The object of our faith is Jesus. He never fails.

Joshua 2 Spies, Conquest and an Unusual Convert

Joshua 2 Spies, Conquest and an Unusual Convert

Forty years earlier Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan and only two came back with a faithful response, Joshua and Caleb. This time Joshua sent two spies into the city of Jericho to return with a report of the city before the armies of God would invade the city. These spies are protected by a prostitute named Rahab.

Only two women are mentioned in Hebrews 11, “The Hall of Faith,” Sarah, the wife of Abraham and Rahab the prostitute of Jericho. Rehab is also mentioned in the Genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5. Rahab is known for her faith in God and the resulting actions she took to protect the spies. The most important thing about Rahab was her faith. She had heard the report about what the God of Israel was doing and choose to place her faith in Him. Rahab demonstrated her faith in God by helping the spies. James tells us that “faith without works is dead.” Rahab obedience gave evidence of a changed life marked by faith.

Rehab is concerned for her safety and the safety of her family and asks the spies to promise her protection. They grant her request. They instruct her to tie a scarlet cord in her window to indicate her location for the invading army. This is a reminder of the blood sprinkled on the door posts in Exodus 12. In Joshua 6, Rehab and her family are protected by the two spies and saved when Jericho fell.

This chapter focuses on the faith of an unlikely example. The faith of Rahab.

Clear Application for Today

  • Sometimes God uses unlikely people to fulfill His purposes.
  • The Promises of God extend to all who will trust Him.
  • Faith requires courageous responses to the circumstances of life.
  • Faith is demonstrated in actions, and those actions lead to obedience.
  • As a child of God we can meet the challenges of life with strength and courage.

What circumstance are you facing that you must put your faith fully in God and work it out with acts of obedience?