What Kind of Friend Are You And What Kind of Friends Do You Have

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Do you have any friends have been there for you in adversity? Let me ask this question, are you the friend that someone can call when they are in a time of adversity?

In Luke 5:17-26 is the account where Jesus heals a man that has palsy. Here are 4 friends, helping 1 man, making 1 trip, to get one ultimate healing.

Palsy, can affect either motor centers of the brain or the spinal cord. Sometimes it can cause a loss of sensations, and it can affect one side of the body or the whole system from the neck down. In Mark 2:3, the Bible describes this man with palsy as, “being borne of four.” Now here borne means to be brought, carried, and one definition was to be supported. So this man is depending on his four friends to get him help.

First, we see their faith caused a determination. The Bible does not say the distance that they traveled to get to the house, but you can imagine that they must have been tired. Carrying their friend, they all had to work together, and together they may have felt discouragement. They finally get to the house where Jesus is teaching, only to find that there is no way they can get inside, but the crowds would not stop them. Are there any crowds that may be stopping us from getting people to Jesus? Maybe even consider something else, are there any crowds that are keeping ourselves from getting to Jesus? We can have friends, family members, perhaps even a relationship that can be potentially be stopping us from getting to Jesus if we are not careful. I remember friends that kept inviting me to church and Bible studies and services, why, because they wanted to get me to Jesus. They knew that I was in desperate need of healing, spiritually speaking. Thank God for the friends that bring us to Jesus and let us be that friend that brings others to Christ.

Secondly, we see their faith brought restoration. As these friends are lowering down their friend from the roof, in Luke 5:20, the Bible says, “he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” See, Jesus healed, but he did not address the physical need first. He took care of the spiritual need first. There are many people that we know that have physical needs. Maybe we are praying for those with cancer or some diagnosis that isn’t very good, and those are great things that we should pray for. But we also need to pray for people to be spiritually healed. I want to see souls saved and lives changed. Perhaps even someone that maybe was full time in ministry or involved in the things of Christ but has walked away, our prayer for healing for them would be, that they would make a return to being in fellowship with Christ personally, and other believers. In this account, we see that there were doctors, but they were the wrong doctors. Verse 17 says, “there were Pharisees and doctors of the law.”. The only thing that they wanted to diagnosis was how they may condemn the work that Christ was doing. But Christ would make it clear that “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” May we continue to pray for those that we know that need spiritual and physical healing.and we thank God that Christ is able to forgive us and make us new again.

Lastly, we see faith was rewarded. Jesus “seeing their faith…”. Think about that, these friends of this sick man all believed in the same thing, Jesus Christ. Even the man that they are carrying, he had to have faith. He’s assuming that these men all knew what they were doing not only in bringing him to Jesus, but then lowering him through the roof to make sure that he was seen by the Great Physician.

Do we have friends like that? Maybe the question that convicts me is, am I that kind of friend? Ready to go through adversity, no matter what the obstacles could possibly be, to bring help to someone that I love and care about. Do we have friends that still believe in bringing others that are hurting and are in what seems to be helpless, hopeless, pointless situations to Christ? You see after all was said and done the man with palsy “immediately rose before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house glorifying God.” Not only did the man glory God after was made completely whole, but in verse 26, “and they were all amazed, and they glorified God…”. So when we come together and we work for the same cause and believe, and allow God to work, there is no way for those that are watching to deny the power and the working of God. May we continue to glorify God in the healing and restoring work that He is still continuing to do in the lives of people today.

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What Will You Do With Jesus

When I was a younger, I was always reminded by my parents that the choices that I make will always follow me. As I get older (and I’m not even old right now) I have realized that statement is very true. I have found this out the hard way a number of times, but I get it. In scripture, we see there are many different accounts of people that made good and bad decisions that had long-term effects.

In John 19:1-16 we see that Pilate and Jesus made some choices. But even before this passage we see that Judas had a made a choice as well. So let us briefly look at 3 different people who made 3 different decisions.

First, Judas. He sought out the Pharisees and went to them and asked, what will you give me if I give you Jesus? Judas had walked with Christ and seen him do many great things, yet he chose 30 pieces of silver over Christ. Now it’s easy to rip Judas, but how many of us have been like Judas? We choose something that has little value over Christ. Judas never did enjoy any of that silver that he had acquired from the Pharisees because he would later hang himself. Matthew 6:19-20 tells us that our treasures should not be laid up in the things on earth but in the things of Heaven. Looking at the outcome of the life of Judas and his decision to chose silver over Christ, it’s evident that the things that we invest in, especially sin filled choices, will leave us empty. Hebrews 12:1-2, encourages us to lay aside things that are weighing us down as we run our race that has been set before us. A runner wants to be as light as possible, and for us in the Christian life, there are things that we need to lay aside because they are weighing us down.

Second, Pilate made a choice. Had he made a different one than he had, our whole Bible would have been written very differently. In John 19:1-6, Jesus is brought before Pilate and as verse 12 says, “Pilate sought means to release him…“. But then something happens. Again in verse 12, “…but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” If Pilate were to have released Jesus, the Jews would have accused him of high treason against Caesar. Pilate gave into the crowd and what they were saying. So, let me ask this question: what crowds are we listening to? What voices are we listening to and letting influence the decisions that we make for the cause of Christ? Psalm 1, gives us encouragement that we can be blessed or some translations state happy if we walk NOT in the counsel of the ungodly. I personally have found that the listening to the right voices such as the voice of God first and foremost, my parents, pastors, and accountability partners have greater benefitted me that listening to the wrong people. The advice I have gotten wasn’t always the easiest or what I even what I wanted to hear, but I’d rather get counsel from those that have my best interest at heart, rather than those that could care less about me.

Thirdly, and lastly, we see Jesus. In John 18:10-11, as the soldiers have come to take Jesus away, Peter strikes a soldier with his sword and Christ quickly tells him to stop. He makes known to everyone that the cup that the Father has given to him, is for him to drink and that he must go through with what his purpose is. In verse 36, Jesus tells Pilate that if he truly wanted he could have servants or angels fight for him, yet he never gives that command. 1 Peter 2:21-24 tells us that Christ gave us the perfect example that we should follow, and because of the fact that he was obedient to his Father’s will, that “by his wounds, you have been healed.”

So, to whoever is reading this, and for myself as I feel conviction about this, what are we going to do with Jesus? Will we betray him as Judas did? Choosing something that seems like a great thing, but in the end, leaves us with nothing. Will be like Pilate, and give into the voices of the wrong crowds. Or will we be like Christ? Who not only said to the Father, ‘thy will be done’ but in actions followed through with that statement. It has been said before, “One prayer that will never go unanswered is, Father not my will but thine.”

So Much Time, So Many Different Bible Versions to Choose From

I was recently reflecting back to a time when I was in Africa, (last summer to be exact) and a friend and I were in a discussion about Bible versions. I had explained that in Tanzania, where I particularly was, they had the Good News Bible because that was what could be translated into Swahili because the King James Version could not be translated into their language very well.

Now, that got me thinking, there are many that are so baffled that people wouldn’t use the KJV Bible and only the King James Bible. I for one, prefer the KJV. If I am going to read scripture in a service or teach or preach it’s going to be from the KJV. I wouldn’t, however, say that I am KJV only person, I think a better way to say it is, I am a KJV preferred person.

Now some of you reading are already mad at me for stating what I just did, and that’s okay, I appreciate all opinions and input and this is just my personal conclusion that I have recently come to.

I can’t understand why people would say that other versions of the Bible are simply “not the word of God”. Who are we to say, well that’s not the KJV, therefore, you cannot learn and grow, so here, here’s the ‘right Bible’. I have many versions of the Bible and often times in my personal studies I will use different versions. One, for the different study notes. Secondly, to compare translations, because I do enjoy seeing the differences. Thirdly, because sometimes the different versions of the Bible help me to understand a particular passage better.

When I see others that have a Bible that maybe isn’t the Bible that I favor, I am not going to tell them their Bible is corrupted and inusable. Rather, it’s a blessing to see someone with a Bible, and by that I mean a paper one, (I don’t have a Bible on my phone, which is an entirely different post for another day). Rather than argue and bicker amongst ourselves, why not use what we have. Why not disciple someone using what they have, whether that be an ESV, NKJV, NLT, or NIV. I have run into many people and when I have asked them why they use the KJV only, they really had no idea. Which I can admit for a while I was the same way. I really didn’t know why I liked the KJV or thought that was the only Bible that there was to use.

There are many countries where the KJV Bible cannot be translated very well, and other Bible versions are used. And guess what, those Bibles are reaching, teaching, and impacting people’s lives. Why would that not be the case here in the USA. I almost feel that if we say that the KJV Bible is the only Bible that we are to use as Christians, then we are putting God in a box. We are almost saying that we cannot walk someone down the Romans with an ESV Bible, or that John 3:16 has no impact to anyone if it is the NIV version.

Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where to I sent it.”  It is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. The Bible doesn’t say God’s word will go out void if you are using an ESV Bible. God can, and he will use any version of the Bible. There is no limit to what God can use to touch the hearts and lives of the unsaved.

Think we need to be careful and draw a clear line in saying, ‘well son if you are going to teach, preach, read scripture here at this church we prefer the KJV.’ Rather than, “you use a Bible other than the KJV so you cannot preach, teach, or do anything at this church.” There are people in other countries that would die to have a Bible or pamphlet with Scripture on it. We have such wonderful freedom here in America, we can purchase Bibles anywhere and carry them anywhere we please. So why limit it to just one Bible.

I love God’s Word. I love that I get to teach, and preach, and read, and learn, and grow from it. I love when I am given any Bible of any version. They have all been a great blessing to me. So I challenge whoever may be reading, search out why you believe in what you believe. Don’t believe in something or hold hard to an opinion just because that is how you were

So I challenge whoever may be reading, search out why you believe in what you believe. Don’t believe in something or hold hard to an opinion just because that is how you were raised, rather search out and make your own conclusions. Be able to defend your views, whether it is Bible versions, or doctrinal issues or whatever it may be.

Asking for Prayer

I often feel as though, people have enough things to worry and stress about they don’t need what I’ve got going on as an added burden and if you are anything like me, you never want sympathy from anyone.

In Romans 5:30  it says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”

Here Paul is beseeching, which is another word for begging, for believers to pray for him, together. I don’t believe it was because he thought that the members of other churches had forgotten about him. I believe that he himself undestood the real power of prayer, of getting a hold of God through prayer, and seeing the results of bringing requests before God.

Paul humbled himself and asked others to pray for him. Sometimes my prides gets in the way and I come up with the wildest excuses of why not to share my struggles with anyone else. Things such  as, “They have enough going on, they don’t have time to add me to their prayer list.” Or, “I’ve got this.” Most famous line, “I don’t need any help.”

The truth is I need help. A lot of it actually, and the reality is, we are all in need of help in one way or another. Whether it’s financial, or physical, or spiritual, we all need help. Even if we think we don’t need  help, we can always use it anyway.

What better way to help someone, by lifting them up in prayer. Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in the time of need.”

Now you may think that’s great but I don’t need any prayers because I’m hanging out in the shade drinking pink lemonade, life is all good. Well, if you’re on a mountain top so you say, here’s what the beginning of chapter 15 in Romans has to say.

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let everyone of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.”

So those that are doing well, find someone that you can help out and minister to through prayer. Even if someone doesn’t express to you verbally that they have a heavy burden on them, pray for them anyway.

So I challenge to be praying for others. And not just saying, ‘I’ll be praying for you’ because that’s the spiritual cliché thing to say someone, but actually praying. Prayer is powerful. Without prayer, where would any one of us be right now? Prayer together as one body of believers, we can still see miracles happen.

 

“Is there any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.” – James 5:13

 

Be Strong and Courageous

Have you ever had a job or get assigned a task and you think to yourself, why in the world was I chosen for this? There is no way that I can get this done. I have often felt that way about numerous things.

In I Chronicles 28, David gives instructions to Solomon to build the temple. But he doesn’t just give him the instructions and then send him off on his merry way. He encourages him as well. God did the same thing with Noah, he gave him in the instructions on how to build the ark and then provided everything that he needed to complete the task that was before him. Joshua was left to complete a task after Moses had died, and he may have thought how am I ever going to get this done. But God encouraged and reminded Joshua that he was going to see him through all the way to the end.

“…as I was with Moses, so will I be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” – Joshua 1:5 Again, in verse 6 he tells Joshua to be “strong and very courageous.” And then a third time in verse 9, “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” 

I often need to be reminded of verses such as Hebrews 13:5, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God doesn’t just give us a task to complete and then fold his hands and sit in a rocking chair and wonder to himself, I wonder if they can handle that one. No, thankfully, God provides and sustains us through whatever task he gives us.

David encourages Solomon in I Chronicles 28:20 “And David said unto his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it; fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of God.”

Our issue and mine as well, is that we often already have a pre-assumption that whatever God wants us to do we aren’t adequate enough to complete, so why bother even trying. What’s the point? The point is that we have gifts and skills that God gave us, and if we are willing, he will work through us and allow us to use those strengths for his glory, and in a way yes, we aren’t really adequate enough to really do much of anything for God, but that’s why we need his help! He’ll see us all the way through.

God will even provide the right people to come along side of us and help as well. I Chronicles 28:21, “And, behold, the course of the priests and the Levites, even they shall be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship every willing skillful man for any manner of service, also the princes and all the people will be wholly at thy commandment.” 

Just like a baseball team, you can’t show up with 9 pitchers. You need a catcher and a pitcher and all the other positions filled. The pitcher can’t just do everything on their own, thats why they need everyone else on the field supporting them. As Christians we can’t do everything on our own. We can’t do anything without help from our Heavenly Father. With God helping us, willing and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ helping us as well, we can accomplish whatever God has asked us to do!

 

 

“Two are better than one; because they have good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Being confident if this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Hands

In Luke 10, in verses 10-37 there is the famous account of the Good Samaritan. Jesus is speaking to a lawyer and he begins with the question, what can he do to inherit eternal life. I’ve been told that a good lawyer will ask questions that he already knows the answers too. Jesus replies with a question, asking him what has he read in the law. Very clever of Christ because he would have realized that this lawyer would be very knowledgeable of the law and what it says. The lawyer answers and says “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”  (v.27)  A correct answer and Jesus acknowledges that but the lawyer wants to really to get the win here, and seemingly prove his case and asks the question, and who is my neighbor? As I was reading the account it got me thinking and wondering the same question that the lawyer had asked. Who is my neighbor? Is my neighbor the folks that live on either side of me, or perhaps could I consider everyone in my neighborhood my neighbor? Really not that bad of a question if you ask me.

Today we can turn on the news and within a matter of minutes, we see stories about all kinds of death, hurt, destruction, illness and really just madness. With recent terrorist attacks in other regions of the world, I think it can become easy for us to come to the conclusion, that I’d rather not have any neighbors. If I can take care of me, myself and I then all other needs just become secondary or even non-existent.

This account in the Bible has never become more relevant. We see a Jewish man that is “stripped of his raiment, and wounded, and departed, and leaving him half dead.” (v.30) He’s obviously not in a good spot and yet what is to come is rather disturbing in one sense. A priest, which represents a religious man, comes by this wounded man and, “when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” (v.31)  A priest is the first one to see the helpless man, and he we could say represents a religious man. As a Christian I feel like we are always being criticized, and it may even be fair to say that all those are considered people of religion share constant criticism, but God help us if we get to a point, where we see something and decide to not only let someone else handle it but rather take ourselves way out of the picture, and ‘pass by on the other side’ so to speak. We live in a society where everyone has to have their needs met right away and we are inconvenienced when we are asked to assist someone else.

Next, a Levite comes along, and his reaction is actually worse. “…when he was the place, came and looked on  him, and passed by the other side.” (v.32) It’s not that he glanced over, or tripped over the man, but he saw, he took the time to gaze upon, and then made the decision, to not even walk by but to take himself to the other side of the road and then pass by.  Today I think we can all relate in a sense. I remember in school seeing a fight break out and I never really wanted to get involved, and it seemed that the crowd that gathered around to watch didn’t either. Even if one person was getting annihilated everyone just waited for someone else to handle the situation. It’s sad that so many times in churches this same thing happens from time to time. We hear of a need, but we are too busy, or we have the ‘someone else can do that’ mentality. I have been guilty of that. But the fact of the matter is if I am able then I should help my neighbor and as a Christian I believe that is part of the following of Christ, to help those in need when I can.

Lastly, a Samaritan comes and takes care of the wounded man, cleaning up his wounds, and he even goes so far as to bring him to an inn and further take care of the man. (v. 33-35) Now we read that and honestly, we don’t really think that the Samaritan did anything that amazing. But what he did do was use his resources his animal, clothing, money, and energy. Something that we can do all do to help the needs of others.

But at the time of the story Jews and Samaritans hated each other. They had no dealings with one another. But yet the Samaritan helps this Jewish man to the ultimate degree and then some. When Jesus asks the lawyer who he thinks proved to be a good neighbor, the lawyer can’t even bring himself to say Samaritan, he just says, “he that showed mercy.” (v.37) 

So can I challenge everyone with this, as I have been challenged – it doesn’t matter what color, race, creed, gender, social status is can we be a Good Samaritan, because it doesn’t matter if someone is a homosexual, or a drunk, or a drug addict, or rich, or homeless, or black or white, or purple or fat or skinny or a pastor or a satanist. We all are neighbors of each other even though it may mot be a geographical sense. We all have neighbors that are in need. We probably don’t have to drive far and we’ll see a neighbor in need. Let’s put aside these barriers of why we can’t help someone else and instead come together like chain links and help those that needy. People may have less than us but that doesn’t mean they are less of a human than us.

 

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” – Matthew 5:43-44

Sow and Let God Grow

Matthew 9:37 – “…The harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few.” 

This verse to me has always been convicting and humbling. We live in a world where there are billions of people (the harvest) and yet finding people to be committed to the ministry of reaching them with the Gospel is as stated, being few laborers.

I think that sometimes, and I myself am guilty of this, we find ourselves doubting or even tired of the work (ministry). We have doubtful questions: well, these people never come to church anyway so, why bother to knock on the door. No one comes to evening services anymore so, why have them? I want to sleep in instead of getting up on Saturday morning and going out and visiting. I have often thought, well what if I say something stupid or dumb to someone while trying to share the Gospel and get rejected or look like an idiot.

But my friends do not doubt, do not be fearful, don’t get frustrated and don’t quit the work. Ask God for divine appointments. In Matthew 13:1-8 we have the parable of the sower. We see different outcomes of what happens to the seeds that are attempted to be sown. The first, “the fowls came and devoured them up.” (v.4). The second, fall onto stony soil and they become scorched because they had no root. (v.6). The third, are fallen onto thorns and then the thorns choke the seeds. (v.7).  But lastly, we see that some made it on good soil and brought forward much fruit. (v.8). 

I think that sometimes in ministry all we see, and if we aren’t careful, all we focus on is the seeds that we try and plant and become choked out, devoured, or even scorched. But friends we can’t get caught up on the seeds that did not grow the way we wanted. All that we are, is simply sowers. We may think that there is no point, we have not seen any fruit from the seeds that we have planted. But evangelism is more than what we can see. Isaiah:8 – “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” What a great comfort!

Farmers don’t just plant seeds and expect growth overnight. In fact, sometimes they plant a crop, some time has passed, they begin to think that that there won’t be any substance. Later, unexpectedly something appears. But if the farmer never plants any seeds then they will never know what can possibly be grown. If we don’t plant seeds- pass out tracts, share our testimonies, invite people to church, visit different people then it’s no wonder that we don’t see any fruit. James Merrit in his devotional book called 52 Weeks With Jesus, stated “Jesus won’t do our job- we are to sow. We can’t do his job- he is to grow. We can do our part but only Christ can reach the heart.”

You see it’s not so much was my delivery of the Gospel flawless, or that someone has to get saved every time that I share the Gospel and if not then the opportunity was a bust. No friends, we have no control over when and how the seeds that we planted are grown. That is up to the work of God. Personally, there were many sowers that planted seeds in my life. There is the possibility that those that shared testimonies and the Gospel with me thought, “you know I don’t think he is ever going to get it” or perhaps “this really has just become useless”. Only to their pleasant surprise one day I accepted Christ as my Savior.

Had seeds never been planted then who knows how I may have come to faith or if I would have come to a belief in Jesus Christ. The fruit came many years later. But don’t give up planting seeds. You never know what growth can come about. But just remember that is all in God’s time, and we can’t do the growing. John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.” 

There is a world of people that you reading this can reach that I may never. As II Timothy 1:6 says, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” Let’s get stirred up, be bold, and be confident not in ourselves but in the amazing work of the Holt Spirit and because “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 

“Our tendency is to write off people in our minds: friends we think would never be interested in Christianity; colleagues who seem to sinful, ‘too far gone’; or family members who say conversations about ‘your religion’ are off limits. When I start thinking this way, I need friends to remind me that no heart is too hard for the Holy Spirit.” – J. Mack Stilles.