Know Your Authority in Christ

Matthew 28 with map

If you believe in Jesus Christ and He is your Lord and Savior, then it is crucial that you understand the authority that has been given to you by Jesus.  This authority is transferred to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, which was given to us when we repented of our sinful nature and received Jesus as Lord!

In Matthew chapter ten, Jesus gathers His twelve disciples together and He gives them His authority over evil, death, and disease.  He also gives them instructions on how to preach and minister to people.

“He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”

Matthew 10:1

“As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.”

Jesus speaking in Matthew 10:7-8

Brother and Sisters in the Lord, we still have that same power inside of us today!  I have only had to do it once, but in the power of the Holy Spirit I cast out a demon that had been living in our house for four years!  I was only 18 and had only been a Christian for a couple months!  It was incredible!  I also stopped breathing in 2012, my wife prayed over my lifeless body, and I came back in the power of the Holy Spirit!  No, I’m not nuts, I am testifying!  It was not my time to go yet.  Jesus is The Resurrection and The Life, and He says when I go!

We have power over disease too.  Sometimes, like with the Apostle Paul, the Lord keeps the thorn in for His Own purposes.  However, God still used Paul to heal people through the laying on of hands in the power of the Holy Spirit!  The brothers in my Bible study in college and I once laid hands on our brother who had a damaged knee.  He was due to have surgery the next day.  There were over twenty guys in my study at one point.  We all prayed for his healing.  The next day when he went in for surgery, the surgeon said the new x-ray showed it was healed and he didn’t need surgery anymore!  We were all pumped when he came back to campus to tell everybody!  He ended up becoming a Pastor in Boulder.  I know God can heal me from Celiac Disease and restore me completely, but I also know I have to trust God with this thorn and rely fully on His grace.  It is sufficient, believe me!

Jesus left His disciples with one more very important command before He ascended into Heaven.  This is so crucial for Christians to understand!  You must understand the authority that has been given to you and accept it with an open heart.  It is called the Great Commission and it is the foundation of why we preach worldwide!

At the end of the Book of Matthew, Jesus gathers the remaining eleven disciples to a mountain in Galilee and He speaks three of the most famous lines in the entire Bible.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

That is the power and authority of God that has been given to you my brothers and sisters!  I will never forget the first time I baptized someone!  I was in college and a friend of ours had accepted Christ and she wanted to be baptized.  She asked me to baptize her because I was well known on campus from preaching almost every Friday night at Campus Crusade for Christ.  Those four years at the University of Northern Colorado were incredible!  What a time of growth in the Lord!  We witnessed so many of our fellow classmates come to Jesus!

I was honored that she would ask me to baptize her, and of course I accepted the offer with joy!  We set it up to do it that night at a pool.  Several of our friends came and it was so joyful and cool!  We bought her red roses and placed some of the pedals in the water.  It was beautiful!

Right as I was getting in the water, one of our friends who had grown up in a very legalistic fundamental church spoke up and said, “What are you doing?!  You can’t baptize her!  You are not a pastor!”

Now folks, I was trained in the Bible and evangelism by one of the best evangelists I have ever known.  He was the Director of Campus Crusade at UNC when I attended from 1996 to 2000, and he taught me the authority I had in Christ very well and I was in the game preaching the Gospel on campus every day.  Keep in mind, I had already cast out the demon in my parent’s house by the power of the Holy Spirit inside me!

I was angry at my friend for saying such an ignorant, sinful, and blasphemous statement against God’s Word and His command to us!  However, I stayed calm, looked right at her, and I rebuked her in the Name of Jesus for her lies and told her Jesus gave me the authority to do this, and I am going to baptize her.  She didn’t say another word after that, and our group of friends looked away from her and back at me.

My newly saved friend who I was gently holding in the water looked up at me and smiled.  I asked her to confirm her faith in Jesus, which she did, upon which confession I said, “I now baptize you in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” as I gently dunked her under the water and brought her back up!

All of the people gathered around the pool cheered and some were crying.  It was so beautiful I will never forget it!  That girl is still following Jesus to this day!  I have since baptized many people and I will continue to do so by the Lord’s command, and so should you.

I don’t know what kind of church you grew up in.  I did not grow up in church.  I came to Christ through supernatural experiences and He showed me just how powerful He is!  I came to know Jesus through straight up Holy Spirit power!  If you believe in Jesus, don’t you ever let anybody tell you that you can’t baptize or preach or heal or drive out demons because you are not a pastor or some other ordained title of human ego!  I rebuke those lies of legalism in the Name of Jesus!  Jesus never said you have to be an ordained pastor to have this authority.  Those are sinful human regulations put on God!  You have the authority to do it in Jesus, so obey your King and do it!  “Freely you have received, freely give,” as Jesus said.

We are Ambassadors for Jesus Christ on this earth.  All authority in heaven and on earth was given to Jesus, and He told us to go and make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  He will be with us to the very end of the age just as He said He would be, and His authority is all the authority you need!

Know your authority in the Lord brothers and sisters, be strong in it, and don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise!

Grace and peace to you!

Matthew 28 with sunset

 

Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit 2

I like fruit, don’t you?  It is sweet and refreshing, and it is a blessing from God!  God gives us another kind of fruit when we receive His Holy Spirit after receiving Jesus!  It is not fruit that you eat.  These are fruits of the Spirit I am talking about!

If you want to have true power for living and overcome sin in your life, then you need the Holy Spirit.  It is through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit that we overcome sin and death.  Listen to how Paul explains it to the believers in Galatia:

“So I say live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.”

Galatians 5:16-18

So, the flesh and the Spirit are at war with each other.  They want different things.  The sinful nature wants sin.  The Spirit wants holiness.  They are in conflict, so that we don’t do what we want, which means sin.  That is so true too!  If we do exactly what we want all the time, we will most definitely end up sinning.  Let’s take a look at the fruit of the sinful nature and then I will show you the fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit.

The rotten fruit of the sinful nature

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Galatians 5:19-21

Man, that’s like a rotten brown banana in a pile of rotten bananas!  If we are honest with ourselves, and I hope you are, then many of those acts of the sinful nature are not foreign to any of us.  Those are all disgusting realities of the sinful nature found everywhere in the world.  That nasty fruit comes with a warning too: notice, you won’t go to Heaven if you live like this!  That rotted fruit needs to be thrown out!  How do we do that?  Only by the power of the Holy Spirit, that’s how!

The Beautiful Fruit of the Spirit!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

Man, that is beautiful!  That is like a succulent perfectly ripe strawberry in the soft summer breeze!  That is the kind of fruit I want inside my soul!  How about you?  That is what God promises you when you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  He will fill you with His Holy Spirit and produce that exact fruit of the Spirit in you.  The perfect fruit of the Spirit will show up in your life and vanquish the old rotten fruit of the sinful nature!  You will be set free from sin, and death will no longer have any hold over you!

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:24-25

Paul leaves us with one more crucial warning about the sinful nature and the Spirit at the end of his letter to the Galatians:

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Galatians 5:7-8

Choose wisely.

Grace and peace to you all!

Acts 1 verse 8

 

 

The Criminals Who Died With Jesus

Luke 23 v 42 43

There are many aspects of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that the church talks about.  The most important thing to remember is that Jesus died to forgive all of your sins and reconcile you to God (John 3:16, 1 John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9).  That is why Jesus is called the Lamb of God.  He was sacrificed for the sins of the whole world!  Salvation is a free gift from God and the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  Remember the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Today, I want to focus on the criminals that were crucified next to Jesus–one on His right, the other on His left.

These men both spoke to Jesus, but each man made very different comments to Jesus and very different decisions about Jesus.  One man rejected Jesus and the other man received Jesus as Lord.  Let’s travel back in time to around 33 A.D. when Jesus was crucified by the Romans, and listen in on the conversation.

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.  When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals–one on his right, the other on his left.  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him.  They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him.  They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him.  “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:32-43

I want to stop right there.  That is incredible!  What a conversation that Luke records!  First, Jesus forgives those crucifying Him as the soldiers and rulers are mocking Him, which is amazing and beautiful.  Then, as one criminal is mocking Jesus the other criminal rebukes the mocker!  These men had nails driven through their hands and feet and were hanging on crosses, but they were chatting away!

The criminal who repented did so by accepting his punishment as just and realizing that Jesus was innocent.  He gave glory to Jesus as his King, and he was saved right there on his cross!  He didn’t have time to live a righteous life, and he was being punished for a crime he committed, but he put his faith in Jesus, and that very day he was with Jesus in Heaven!  We are saved by faith in Jesus, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

He repented of his sin and put his faith in Jesus as he was dying on a cross and Jesus saved his soul that very day!  He was a criminal at the end of the line–time’s up!  But Jesus saved him because he put his faith in Him!  That is the power of God’s love and forgiveness!

Another important fact to mention is that he also did not have time to get baptized and that is very important because there are people out there who preach baptism for salvation.  Listen to me please, we are not saved by just getting dunked in water.  We are saved by putting our faith in Jesus Christ.  We get baptized as an act of obedience to the Lord’s command (Matthew 28:18-20) to show the world that we believe in Jesus Christ.  Baptism is a witness to unbelievers.  The repentant man next to Jesus did not have time to get baptized, but as Jesus said, he was with Him that day in paradise after they both died on their crosses.  The man was saved by grace through faith in Jesus.  Read the “My Beliefs” page on my blog to learn more about baptism into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I once heard our Pastor preach about the Roman method of crucifixion.  As you can imagine, it was the most brutal form of execution around and it was primarily reserved for criminals like murderers, and people who were enemies or traitors of Rome.  It is possible that the men hanging next to Jesus had killed someone.  Whatever it was, the repentant man believed he deserved to be there and Jesus did not.  That soft heart towards Jesus led him to a faith that saved him at the very last moments of his life!

The other man who hurled insults at Jesus and mocked him decided to take the full punishment for his own sins upon himself.  He could have cried out to Jesus too, and his sins would have been forgiven and he would have been in paradise that day as well.  Instead, he chose to reject Jesus and he died in his sins that day.

The stark contrast of that scene from the Bible blows me away!  Is that not like all of us today in our time?  Are we not all heading towards our end just like the men on the cross that day next to Jesus?  We all have a choice to make.  Time is running out.  We can accept God’s plan of salvation or we can reject it.  We can mock Jesus or we can receive Jesus and be saved!  It truly is up to us.  I made the choice to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior back in October of 1996, and I highly recommend it!  Don’t be the unrepentant guy on the cross mocking Jesus until your last breath.  Jesus loves you and He died for you too!

“Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.  When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

John 19:28-30

When He died, Jesus was actually separated from God and He paid the full penalty of our sin for our salvation.  That is why He said, “It is finished.”  Did you know that after He died and before the resurrection Jesus actually went down into hell and preached to the disobedient people who had died back in Noah’s time?  Yeah, the Noah who built the ark!  Check it out:

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built…”

1 Peter 3:18-20

The “spirits in prison” is hell folks!  You see, He most definitely experienced death, but death had no hold on Him!  He paid the full penalty for our sin, which is death (separation from God), and He conquered it!  Satan could not touch him, the demons could not touch him, and death could not hold him down!  None of those things can hold you down either if you know Jesus!

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

John 11:25-26

That, my friends, is the question of our lifetime!  Grace and peace to you!

Acts 4 verse 12

 

 

The Rapture

Rapture verse

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Okay folks, this is a big subject where there is a lot of heated debate within the church.  I am going to get to the point because there are a lot of weeds to get into with this topic.  I talked with a strong brother in Christ today about the Rapture, and it got me thinking.  I posted such a long reply to him that I figured I better just do a post about the Rapture on my blog too.  So, without further delay, may I introduce you to The Rapture.

One thing I want you to remember is that it has to get really, really bad on earth before the Rapture takes place!  We will all be here for all of it leading right up to that point if it happens in our time.  How bad it is going to get before we are “caught up” only God knows.  The verse that gets me is the one in Revelation 14:12 about the mark of the beast where it says, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”  The mark of the beast takes place during the Tribulation, so that is talking about the people who accept Christ during the Tribulation, but I take it to heart nonetheless.

Based off of 22 years of studying the Bible, I believe the time table of future events is World War 3 (WW3), the Rapture, the Tribulation, the 2nd Coming where Jesus defeats Satan at Armageddon, and the Millennial Kingdom.  Believers in Jesus will be Raptured before the Tribulation.  However, it is going to have to get very bad for WW3 to pop off and we will all be here for that if it happens in our time.

We will have to hold on and endure because it will get so bad that God comes to get us. WW3 will be so bad that a third of mankind dies (Revelation 9:18)!  That is 2 billion people based off today’s world population!  It will be so bad that the anti-Christ comes at the end of it and the Tribulation starts!  That is why the Bible says the world will love the anti-Christ because he brings peace (which is a fake peace) to WW3 and stops the war.  The world will think he is the greatest world ruler ever!

People forget how bad it has to get before the Tribulation can start, and that is where a lot of the disagreement is.  We will not be Raptured out of WW3.  We will have to endure. We are Raptured right before the Tribulation at the end of WW3 because the Tribulation is about God’s wrath and that is not for the redeemed in Jesus.  Imagine how bad it will be on the earth in order for the Rapture to happen and the Tribulation to start!  We have to live through everything leading right up to the moment of the Rapture (again, if it happens in our time).

The original language the Bible was written in almost 2,000 years ago makes it much easier to understand.  The New Testament was written in Greek, so let’s look at the Greek root of the phrase “caught up” about the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

I learned from Pastor Mark Hitchcock that “caught up” is the word harpazo in Greek, which means “to snatch, to seize, or to take suddenly.”  The same Greek word harpazo is used in the story about Philip and the Ethiopian when Philip is snatched up and transported by the Spirit to Azotus in Acts 8:26-40.  We will most definitely be “caught up, snatched, and taken suddenly” just like the Greek word harpazo means.  If it happened to Philip, then it can happen to us, and it is the same exact Greek wording as the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.  Believers in Jesus will be snatched and caught up (harpazo) in the Spirit just like that!  Praise God!

Pastor Mark Hitchcock in his book “The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days” teaches us about the word harpazo and where our English word “Rapture” comes from:

Harpazo appears thirteen times in the New Testament: Matthew 11:12; 13:19; John 6:15; 10:12, 28, 29; Acts 8:39; 23:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Jude 1:23; Revelation 12:5.  In those passages, harpazo is variously translated as “take by force,” “snatch,” or “caught up” (NASB).  In Acts 8, the Spirit “snatches,” or transports, Philip from one place to another that was twenty miles away.  In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul describes being “caught up” to heaven in the presence of the Lord.  This was a thrilling experience he wanted others to share.  In Revelation 12:5, harpazo refers back to the Ascension of Jesus to heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

Our English word Rapture is derived from Latin.  In the fourth century AD, the great scholar Jerome translated the Greek New Testament into Latin.  In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Jerome translated the Greek word harpazo into the Latin word raeptius.  The Latin word rapio means “to seize, snatch, or seize away.”  This word was eventually brought into English as Rapture.

So, while it is true that the word Rapture does not occur in most English translations, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 clearly contain the concept of a catching away of living believers to meet the Lord.  The Rapture could just as well be called the “catching away of the church,” “the snatching away of the church,” the “translation of the church,” or the “harpazo of the church.”  But “Rapture of the church” is an excellent description and has become the most common title for this event.”

Mark Hitchcock, The End, pages 124-125

It is clear the Lord will come to get us and I believe in the Rapture.  However, it will get extremely bad on earth before that happens and we will have to endure and hang on to Jesus.  The Tribulation is not for believers in Jesus.  He rescues us out of His coming wrath!  In the same Book of 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes:

“and to wait for his Son from Heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”

1 Thessalonians 1:10

Paul is encouraging the Thessalonian believers that we will be rescued from the coming wrath and Jesus will snatch us up suddenly (harpazo) into the air with Him, and we will be with the Lord forever!

Just like Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:18,

“Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

Take heart believers!  You are safe in Jesus!  The Greek root meaning of the word “faith” means to “trust in, cling to, and rely on.”  That is exactly what we need to be doing with Jesus.  Trust Jesus, cling to Jesus, and rely on Jesus!  He will come to get us just like He said he would.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going  there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Jesus speaking in John 14:1-4

That is not figurative language folks!  That is literal and He means it!  He will be coming back to get us, and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!  Amen!

Grace and peace to you all!

Never forsake verse

Friday Field Trip!

Start of trip

In celebration of Friday, I thought I would take everybody on a little field trip to our local neighborhood Lookout Tower.  It’s just up the street–take a drive with me!

This post will be all pictures and captions–I hope you all enjoy it!  God bless!

Trip 1
We’ve arrived! Here is the Lookout Tower. There are thick woods just over that hill. Remember, mountain lion country out here–watch your back!
Trip 2
Some local foot pokers!
Trip 3
Hope you have good shoes on!
Trip 4
View at the top of the trail. See why lions like it out here? I snowboard out here in the winter if we get enough snow. We call this place “Broskee Village!”
Trip 6
This part of the trail goes down through the woods a bit and back around to the tower.
Trip 5
Let’s head up to the tower, shall we?  See the High School off to the upper right?  That is where the mountain lion was last spotted chasing a herd of deer!
Trip 7
Heading up!
Trip 8
It’s kind of hazy today. We’ve had a lot of fires this summer.
Trip 10
You can barely see the bottom of the foothills today. I will be sure to get a clear shot of the mountains soon.
Trip 9
Back to Thunder!
Back home
Welcome to my home, or, my garage that is!
Back home 2
Welcome, c’mon in!  This is our kitchen. I love the Spanish style cross above the sink!
Back hom 3
C’mon down!
basement
My father in law and I built this basement together. We did all of it, framing, drywall, electric–all of it! Can you tell we have kids? Those bins are for all the Legos. Time to clean up!
basement 3
The walk out door is to the left and there is a back bedroom/office to the right. I just can’t bring myself to take a picture of the bedroom–too messy!
Basement door
Backyard

 

basement hallway
This hallway leads left off the stairs away from the main area. The disease took a toll and stuff piled up.  The bathroom is first and the back room is my cozy den where I write to you all.
basement bathroom
Installing tubs and toilets is not fun by the way!
Spider in light
Dead spider in the light–cool! He has been there for a few weeks. I’ll mess with it later.
Ryan den
Welcome my friends to my cozy den of joy! This is where I serve the Lord and build my blog!  Yep, I built this room too. I remember sitting on buckets wiring the outlets at 2 a.m. with my father in law.
Den calendar
Yeah, Bob Ross! I grew up with him and his happy little trees!
Den calendar 2
Good advice!
Bison art
Cool bison art titled “Chief” by Robert Bateman. Due to Celiac, our family eats free range bison from South Dakota.  Check out Wild Idea Buffalo Company at wildideabuffalo.com.  The meat is delicious and it helped save my life!  I’m like Dances With Wolves up in here!
911 picture
I got that picture from a friend when she lived in New York. She was there when 9/11 happened. That is the famous cross they found formed from the wreckage.
Den couch
It’s tight in here, but it fits!  Nice place to rest, think, and pray!  Yeah, I play a little guitar.  Gotta bust out that praise and worship! Those are my sons laser tag toy guns.  He loves playing that with me.
snowboard.jpg
The Never Summer Legacy 159″. Yeah baby, 12,000 feet straight down, droppin’ in!
Helmet
Protect your melon!
Bible pic
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

I hope you enjoyed my little Friday Field Trip!

Grace and peace to you all!

Den calendar 2
I just had to!

Jesus fish

 

 

 

Completed Faith

Ephesians 2 v 10

There is another section of Scripture that is widely misunderstood and misused to instill fear in people.  It is found in the Book of James regarding Faith and Deeds.  Before I get to that, please read the above verse.  You can see that any good works we do are done through Jesus, and God prepared them in advance for us to do them.

It is clear in Ephesians 2:8-10 that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, and that any good works we do are done through Him:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

There is no boasting about good works.  The work we do for Jesus is done for His glory and it was prepared for us by God to complete.  We are not working for our salvation.  That was paid for in full by Jesus when He died on the cross for our sins.  If we could earn salvation, then He died for nothing.  He said, “It is finished,” for a reason!

With all of that in mind, let’s turn to the misunderstood and misused Scripture in James:

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

James 2:14-17

That sounds odd doesn’t it?  I thought Ephesians says salvation is by grace through faith and not by works.  Yes, that’s right, James is not talking about salvation.  He is talking about putting your faith into action, and explaining to the new believers scattered everywhere that there is work to be done.

The New Testament was written in Greek, so let’s look at that word “dead.”  The Greek root of that word is nekrós.  In this context it means “unable, ineffective, powerless, or corpse-like.”  James is telling them to not be ineffective in their faith.  He is asking what good is your faith if you don’t act on it?

If you see a homeless man in need, but do nothing about it, what good is your faith?  That is what he is saying.  He is really saying, get up off the bench and get in the game!  He is not talking about working for your salvation!  Any good works we do are done through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and all the glory goes to God for preparing it!

Yes, of course we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, but don’t just sit there.  Our faith is like a muscle that needs to be worked.  James is telling us to not let that muscle wear out!  God gave you gifts in the Spirit–go use them!

I pray we all complete the work the Lord has for us to do!  If God is for us, who can be against us?!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Grace and peace to you all!

Remember:

Saved by grace through faith

My Truck Thunder

Psalm 36 v 5

I’d like you to meet Thunder.  No, he is not a person.  He’s my truck!  My kids called him Thunder when they were little because it has a 5.3L V8 and he has a warm roar and rumble as we drive down the street.  It’s not loud like some of the big F250s.  It’s a Chevy Silverado 1500 Z85 Heavy Duty, and it’s just right.  They love sitting in the truck bed, especially on 4th of July!

Truck side view
My truck Thunder!

This post is just for fun this Friday!  I love seeing pictures on all the blogs of where people are from.  It makes me feel closer to them, so I would like to do the same for you!  Happy Friday to all!

It seems silly and materialistic that what you drive can say anything about you at all, but we all love our rides don’t we?!  Well, sometimes.  My Dad let me drive his old Ford Tempo my Senior year in High School.  It didn’t have a radio and we tied the bumper on with rope!  I loved that little blue Tempo though!  Classic!

I drive a truck because I need 4×4 in the winter, it is safe in the mountains, and I want to be able to help people.  It is always useful having a truck in the family.  I once pulled a Christian couple’s car out of a ditch with a Nissan truck I had years ago.  We had a Dodge truck in the family growing up too.  I have gear inside my truck for towing and a military shovel (along with an assortment of other tools and goodies) for digging tires out of mud or snow or what not.  If you are in Colorado, and I see you stuck, I will be the guy in the big black truck that gets you out.

I was also very glad to have a vehicle that could tow a trailer all the way to Seattle when we moved to Alaska for a short time.  I was so sick!  That was back in 2012.  We moved because of the disease.  We closed our daycare business and had to move.  We lived with her Dad for a couple months, but decided Alaska was not for us.  My wife grew up there, and she just couldn’t do it again.  Thankfully, our house never sold here in Colorado, and we ended up coming back home.  Praise God!  I can’t live in Alaska–beautiful in the summer, but way too dark in the winter!

This truck means a lot to me because it reminds me of God’s faithfulness.  I bought it when I was so sick I was having trouble standing up for long periods of time due to the pain in my small intestine.  I traded in a Mazda 3 and the deal God gave me was incredible!  I sold cars right out of college, so I know a bit about car sales, but the deal I got I could have never orchestrated!

They gave me top value for my car, a bunch of cash off because it was “Chevy Truck Month”, and I drove off the lot only owing $14K on a $40K truck!  It was amazing and I drove home in shock praising God!  I was hurting so bad, but the Lord just hooked it up!  I quite literally felt like I was being handed a gift from God!

My father in law and I drove all the way from Denver to Seattle a week before Christmas in 2012.  We even went over Snoqualmie Pass through the Cascade Range in Washington in a snow storm and made it through safely!  People die there all the time in avalanches.  The truck was pulling an 18 foot trailer weighing just under 9,000 pounds the whole way there, and it did great!

The stickers on a guy’s truck say a lot too.  I want to show you my truck stickers.  The Never Summer stickers are from the snowboard company I bought my board from.  I ride an old school Never Summer Legacy.  You have to represent and let people know whether you ski or snowboard in Colorado baby!

Truck back window
That is our bedroom above the garage. See the bathroom to the left with the shampoo bottles in the window–real classy! Hee hee!
Truck stickers
The 1:1Six sticker is from Christian music artist Lecrae.  It stands for Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”  Those FM stations play great Christian music here in Denver!  Peace to all!
Truck snowboarder sticker
That is my little snowboarder dude from Never Summer! That is exactly what it’s like too! Just flowin’ and vibin’ with the mountain! Praise the Lord!
Truck NS sticker
Never Summer Logo! They get the name from the Never Summer Mountain Range, which is right next to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Truck hood
Lookin’ good Thunder!
Truck inside
Don’t worry, if you are stuck, I’m comin’ to help!

Give thanks to God for everything He has done for you and all He has given you!  He is so faithful to us!

Grace and peace to you all!

Here are a few pictures of our Rose bush out back that I took this morning:

Rose bush

Roses

Rose

 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Psalm 107:1

God is faithful