Carrying Your Cross

The Cross of the Disciple

Luke 14:25-26 – Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

What is the meaning of this passage? Are we to hate everybody in our life, not care about them or take care of them and follow God and anything else we hate?

When we compare this to other scriptures we can safely say that this passage is a slight exaggeration. We are not to literally hate everyone, or that would be considered murder.

This passage means that to be a disciple we MUST put Jesus first in our life, to the point where we would sacrifice anything for Him. It is as if nothing else mattered except for Jesus. This is how it should be, He IS the creator of the world and the almighty God, for that reason alone we should always respect Him to the point where nothing else matters. God deserves our respect and worship, He deserves our very lives as a living sacrifice for Him.

We can still have a relationship with others, and as we follow Jesus those relationships will become stronger and we will know more how God wants us to treat those relationships, but before everything else, Jesus must come first in our life!

Luke 14:27 – “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

When Jesus carried His cross, it was a death sentence waiting to be filled. Walking down the road to the place where He would be executed, there was no turning back, no laying down to take a nap. It was a brutal walk, the last walk that He would make before being executed.

As we go through this life being torn down by sin and being attacked on every side by the pressures and distractions of this world, we know that this is our last walk. We should have the same focus that Jesus did. No matter what it cost or how hard it would be, the will of the Father MUST be filled.

Through our life we need to be focused on His will. What does God have in store for you, what is your mission and where does He want you? A lot of people get lazy and just don’t care. Their idea of carrying a cross is to pray before dinner and go to church most Sundays. That type of cross is the cross that you wear around your neck. Very little pressure, or benefit, just the look that says “Look at me, I’m trying to be good”. Is this the type of cross that Jesus had in mind when He said to carry your cross daily?

I think Jesus had something more in mind. The cross that He carried was capable of killing Him, a giant beam across His back with tremendous weight behind it. It is something that we would never be capable of doing alone. That is why Jesus said that His burden is light. But just because it’s light doesn’t mean that Jesus takes the cross from us. I think it means that He works with us to make us strong enough to bear the weight easily.

We are to carry our cross daily, this means that we focus on Jesus and not on the things of this world. While we follow and serve Him He will make it easier for us and give us the strength to handle the fight that the world will give us because of Him.

Luke 14:28-30 – “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?

Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.'”

In order to follow Jesus we must analyze what it will cost us. We must prepare the resources for it and prepare our minds to deal with the problems that will come as a result. Following Jesus, being His disciple and carrying our cross is not an easy thing. Our bodies are tied to this world and attracted to the lusts of the flesh. In order for you to be best prepared, you must look ahead at what being His disciple may cost you, and be willing to pay the price.

This goes back to the beginning of the passage, are you willing to give up your family and others that you love in order to be His disciple? Can you give up the comforts of this world if He calls you?

Luke 14:31-32 – “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?

Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.”

The war that we have to fight is a spiritual war, we may not see it but it is very real. Again, we must be prepared for it. We fight the war with or without Jesus on our side, that is just one more thing that we must be prepared for. Imagine the cost. The cost of following Him and the cost of not following Him.

Luke 14:33-35 – “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?

It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Are you willing to give up EVERYTHING that you have to serve Jesus? Everything we have belongs to Him. It is not by our will that we are alive or acquire stuff. If it wasn’t for His goodness we would have nothing. Would you still follow Jesus if what happened to Job happened to you? He lost everything, wife, kids, riches, house, even his health, but STILL he followed God.

Are you willing to follow God when the only thing that you have is an old wooden splintery cross on your back and a long rocky road in front of you? Are you willing to give up everything you own to be called a disciple of Jesus?

Showing Reverance to God

“I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel;
For He is the living God and enduring forever,
And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed,
And His dominion will be forever.”

Daniel 6:26

Many people today take the name of the Lord and treat it like trash or a joke. Think about who we are talking about here; the all powerful Creator of the Universe, our Judge and Savior, the one who has the power to destroy the entire solar system in a single breath or kill an individual by only thinking about it. The Almighty Counselor, who deserves more respect than anything we can possibly give.

I have been to a few people’s pages on myspace this week, some who call themselves “God”, or “the black Jesus”, or many other names trying to make themselves look like God. Most of these people do it for a joke, just to have some fun, and who knows why others do it. This is the Lord, God of the Universe that they are making to appear as a fool.

Every person will one day give awe and respect to the Lord, Phillipians 2:9 states “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” But those who voluntarily give the glory to Him now will be much better off.

To be a Christian is to be “Christ-like”. How Christ-like are you being in your day to day life? Are you giving God the honor and glory that He deserves?

Do you respect and fear God enough to show that respect? Do you tell others to respect Him when they are around you or do you just let it slide? Would you tell someone to stop disrespecting your spouse or family if people talked about them the way they talk about God?

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;

Hebrews 12:28

O LORD God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty LORD? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.

Psalm 80:6-8

And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Your ways,
King of the nations!
“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy;
For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU,
FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.”

Revelation 15:3-4

When we see all the mighty works that God has done and see the power that He alone has, how can we not show awe to Him? If you love the Lord, then you need to obey His commands, Jesus said that. How can we love and show awe for God when we don’t even try to follow what He says?

In our daily lives we need to have our lives right with God, making sure that we are DAILY carrying our cross and that we do our best to follow His commands on a day by day, minute by minute basis.

If you don’t try to follow God’s commands, then you are disrespecting God and you are destroying the image of God that people will see in you. People will look at you who call yourselves Christians and use you for an example of what a Christian should be. What do they see? Do they see a reflection of Christ or someone who only wears the name for the benefits but doesn’t care to be an ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven?

If you are living that kind of lifestyle, then are you sharing it with others? We are told to spread the gospel among the nations, meaning to everyone you associate with; do you do that? A line from a popular and powerful Casting Crowns song states “Jesus paid too high a price for us to pick and choose who should come”. How many people around you are going to spend an eternity in hell and you are just letting it happen because you don’t want to tell them about Christ for whatever reason? What is holding you back? Fear of their rejection or their weird looks at you?

Do you have such an awe and respect for God to obey His commands and share Him with others? Who do you fear more, those around you or the Almighty God of the Universe?

Following God

1 Peter 1:13-21
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’

“If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

Do you consider yourself a Christian? Many people call themselves Christians because they like the “love story” that it involves. Being a Christian isn’t just a romantic story of a Creator who falls in love with His creation. Being a Christian is a battle, constantly we are battling good and evil.

With that in mind, always be prepared to do battle. In order to prepare, what will you need to do? For one, equip yourself with a weapon. That weapon is the Word of God. We need to read it daily so that we are ready for any battle that comes our way.

If you are in warfare, would you go out into the battlefield one day without putting on any armor or carrying a weapon? You are on the front line, and there comes Mr. Christian walking along the front of the battlefield playing his Nintendo DS, oblivious to the fact that the enemy is right behind him and he is being shot at and being hit from all directions.

Being a Christian IS a battle, not just a metaphorical battle, but a real one, with real casualties and real POW’s. And most of us don’t even care enough to equip ourselves. You wouldn’t walk onto a battlefield unarmed, then why would you walk into your daily battlefield with the devil without arming yourself with the Scripture every day?

Keep ready, fix your hope and trust on God and keep ready every day of your life. If we are going to be obedient to God, then we can’t align ourselves with the devil, we can’t conform ourselves to the world. This world is at odds with Christ, so we can’t be conformed to this world and to Christ. We have to choose one side or the other. We were once conformed to the world in our ignorance, when we rejected Christ, and we were captive in lust and every other wicked thing under the sun. But now we have freedom from that, we are not conquered by lust or any other sin.

Now that we are followers of Christ, we need to conform ourselves to Him. This means we need to try and be Holy like He is Holy. Are you doing what you can to be Holy like God? Or do you call yourself a Christian while being just like the world? How can you call yourself a follower of Christ if every action through the day reflects the world, which is the enemy of Christ?

God will judge you for what you do, so if you call yourself a follower of God then you had better act like it, because you are going to be judged by it. We are not redeemed by silver and gold so we don’t need to concern ourselves with silver and gold while on this earth. We are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and that is what we need to focus on every day.

We have such an honor to not only serve the Creator of the Universe, but to be called His children. If we have this great honor, then we need to make sure that we represent Him who we serve.

God has given us so much, and asks so little of us. But most “Christians” are not even willing to give the little that He does ask.

“You shall be holy, for I AM holy”

How much do you even try to be holy?

Extreme Faith

Extreme is becoming a fairly common word in today’s society. There are extreme sports where people have the mentality of “No Fear” to do incredible stunts and actions. They do it for various reasons, an adrenaline rush, to be popular, or they just lost their mind. But these people constantly risk their life to be extreme, even after seeing others be paralyzed or killed in motorcycle accidents or parachuting. Still the risk for them is worth the adrenaline rush or popularity.

The definition of extreme: “Being very far from the center of public opinion”

Similar words to extreme: extremist, fanatic (or fanatical), rabid, radical, revolutionary, revolutionist, ultra

Opposite words: conservative, moderate, temperate; conventional, orthodox, traditional; liberal, progressive

So now I’m asking you a question, in your relationship with Christ, do you have a “No Fear” extreme faith? Or are you a “middle-of-the-road” Christian?

Let’s take a look at what extreme faith is.

Genesis 22:2-3

He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

God made a huge demand here, one that none of us would take lightly. And what was Abraham’s response? Did he plead with God and beg that something else be done? No, Abraham had such an extreme faith in God, that he would do ANYTHING that God told him to do, no matter how bad. Of course we all know that this was a test that Abraham passed, but he passed only because of his faith in God.

Our faith is what allows us to follow God. Without faith, we would not believe and would not follow him. Especially when it gets hard to follow.

We need to have an extreme faith in God and reveal it in many ways. Do you have enough faith to know that if you pay tithes that God will provide for you? Do you have enough faith to live your life for God more than for “stuff”? Stuff will always fail you. Your car will break down, no matter how cool or expensive it is. Your clothes will wear out, and your friends will fail you. But God will never break down and will NEVER fail you! He is actually worthy of putting faith into, but still it seems hard soemtimes.

Do you have such an extreme faith that you would tell others about Him? What’s the worst that is going to happen if you ask others if they believe in Jesus, and if they don’t then lead them through the importance of it? Let’s look at Acts 16:23-25

When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely;

and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;

Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail and still they could not be silenced. Not only that, they started to praise God! How little faith or devotion do we have today where we stop talking about Jesus if someone looks at us funny? Stop cowering in a room surrounded by other Christians and get out there and spread the Word!

A word of warning here. Hearing this will make a lot of people feel bad about themselves, like you have failed God or feel like you are a coward. God choose you like you are, so don’t feel that way. You can’t fail God because He already knows what’s going to happen; He already knows what you will and will not do.

Beating yourself up for what you have or have not done in the past will only hinder your work in the Lord. Get over the past and get busy. We have too much work to do to feel bad for ourselves.

Acts 8:26-27a

But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.)

So he got up and went;…..

God told Philip to go, and what did he do? He got up and went. The result was that he happened to meet a eunuch on the road and witnessed to him. He witnessed to the eunuch “And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”

The Eunuch was saved because Philip had faith, heard the call and answered it.

The point is don’t feel ashamed or bad for your past, even if you have been a bad witness. Instead, have an extreme faith and get up and go. Don’t feel bad for not going in the past, go now! Even if you don’t witness to every person you meet (which is highly unlikely) just witness! Everyday make sure that you are living a life that is a witness to others. You are an ambasador to God, act like it. Represent Him.

And have an extreme faith, not extreme faith in your motorcycle jumping across a canyon, but faith that God will save those who follow Him and the faith that says “I will stand up for God, even to the death.”

Carry your cross, every day. Everyday ask yourself, do you have extreme faith?

1 John 1

1 John 1:1-4 – “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

– The Gospel message… It is the power of this message that has transformed us into what we are today. Because of that transformation we are the witness to and we proclaim eternal life to all those around us. Being a Christian isn’t a part time or self-paced religion. It’s a full time mission. And how can it not be?

We are all sinners, Christian and non-Christian alike, but through God’s manifestation of Life we have been made clean, not just forgiven of sins, though we are very thankful for that too, but we have been given a relationship with God.

With that knowledge, what do you do? Do you hide it and act like every other person in the world? Or do you let that difference shine from you and proclaim it to all people that you are a son of God!

Being in fellowship with one another and with God should bring us joy! Doesn’t it? Isn’t it much more joyful to hang out with a Christian brother or sister than someone of the world?

It’s okay to spend time with people from the world, but how can you do it for long? If you spend a lot of time with someone with a worldly mindset, then it will not take long for that mindset to rub off on you. Be careful who you spend time with! Remember, you are a chosen vessel of God, don’t get yourself dirty.

1 John 1:5 – “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

This is how holy God is, there is NO darkness in Him at all! He is absolutely perfect with no stain or spot whatsoever. Know what is even better about this? We have been made one body with whom?? With God.

Wait a minute now… If we are the body of Christ, and Christ is God and God is Holy with no darkness whatsoever… what does this say about our own lives? We are dirty humans, even at our best. So are we making God ‘dirty’?

Christ’s blood has washed us clean so that we can be one body with Christ without bringing darkness to God. But are you living your life trying everything you can to bring a stain to God? Just because God has made you clean doesn’t give you permission to go get dirty as you can again. Just because mom washed that shirt with bleach doesn’t mean you can go roll around in the mud again.

Remember that you are the body of Christ, and even though you can’t make God dirty, are you making the image that people see of God dirty? We are ambassador’s to God. Sometimes, the only time people will pay any attention to God is when they watch the actions of His chosen people.

Are you proclaiming the good news that we have witnessed and experienced, or are you trying to muddy it up so you don’t stand out?

1 John 1:6 – “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

Try this: go into a room and turn on all the lights, then walk down the center of the room in complete darkness. You can’t because it’s impossible! Where there is light, the darkness is flushed out so you can’t continue to walk in the darkness.

This does not mean that a Christian is perfect or needs to be perfect. As long as we are in these bodies we will stumble, but if you are following God then you cannot purposely be living in darkness. You cannot be purposely doing things that you know are wrong and trying to hide them. If you follow God, then let Him rule your life, let His light shine through you without you needing to hide anything.

If you are struggling with a sin that continues to haunt you, then expose it. Don’t try to battle it in the dark, bring it to the light for all to see and God is faithful to remove those stains.

1 John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:8-10 – “If we say that we have no sin we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”

Admit that you have sinned; if you can’t think of anything then ask God to reveal it to you. We are never perfect. What divides those who walk in the light from those who don’t is that those who walk in the light admit that they are stained, and without the Light that the father shines on us we would always appear to be stained.

Taking up your cross

Luke 9:18-23

18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?”

19They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.”

20And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”

21But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone,

22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”

23And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Jesus starts by asking a simple question, “Who do the people say that I am?” Peter answers by saying the people think that Jesus is John the Baptist or Elijah, a little different than what we would expect.

Why did people think that Jesus was one of these people?
What did John the Baptist do that would make him seem like Christ?
He walked with God and delivered God’s message.
What did Elijah do that would make him seem like Christ?
He walked with God.

Whose will and mission were these men trying to accomplish, their own? NO, these men were focused entirely on doing the will of the Lord at all costs.

So again, why did the crowd think that Jesus was one of these men? They all lived lives that reflected the will of God as number one.

If they were able to live this type of life without the Holy Spirit, then how much more should we be reflecting the will of the Father with the Holy Spirit indwelling our lives and helping us out?

The next question that Jesus asks is a lot more personal. He asked “Who do *you* say that I am?”
Peter replies by saying “the Christ of God”

What did this mean? Christ wasn’t a name. It was a title meaning messiah or God’s anointed one. Paul was making a confession that he believed that Jesus is God’s chosen Person sent to redeem all of humanity, not just in man’s eyes, but God’s. “the Christ of God” Jesus is sent by God to do His will.

Verse 23 describes three things that we need to come after Jesus.

Deny self – Do not be centered on yourself. Following God means that He is number one in your life, not that you are number one in God’s will. Deny yourself completely, because putting God first and yourself second is still going to distract you from God’s will. You are not a priority at all. If you are focusing on yourself at all then you are not focused fully on God.

Take up your cross – A cross is not a fashion statement. It isn’t meant to be just something you wear around your neck on a necklace. A cross is the unrelenting symbol of death. Where in this verse does it say that if we follow God then we will be blessed with riches and great health and a perfect body? NEVER! Following Christ means we take up our cross and die to ourselves and to the world daily and live only to accomplish the will of the Father at any cost.

Follow Christ – Only after we have died to ourselves can we follow Christ.

Christians, you have a job to do, and it is one that is more important than anything in your life currently.

Evangelizing is super important and we all need to do it, but I’m talking about more than that.

How can we witness to others if we are not following God?
How can we, if our lives do not reflect Christ’s?

John the Baptist and Elijah followed God in their daily lives to the point where people thought Jesus was one of them. How about your life? Does it reflect a life of someone who is truly following God? Or does your life look like everyone else’s?

I heard a frightening saying that I fully believe in.

The number one cause of athiesm in the world today is Christians, who confess Jesus with their lips, but deny him by their lifestyle. – DC Talk

You may be eternally secure in your relationship to God, but how many people are going to hell because they are sickened by or tired of our hypocritical lives?

I know a lot of people who do not believe in God but were raised in church or Christian homes and saw the hypocrisy. Everybody from their parents, church members, deacons, and even pastors did not take up their cross or live lives that reflected Jesus. And now, as a result, many people are athiests and going to hell because of it.

Who can blame them?

How many people are drawn to or turned away from Christianity because of your lifestyle while you claim to follow God? I’m not talking about living perfectly, but does your life reflect the life of Jesus so that others can “see” Him through your life and actions?

Ideas we can use in witnessing to others, and ministering to new Christians

I. Foundation Verses and Their Major Points (in sequential order):

A. Matt. 16:1-4
B. Matt 16:5-12
C. Matt 26:1-13 (esp. v. 10-13)
D. Luke 4:8
E. Luke 4:16-19 (digression)
F. Luke 19:1-10
G. Romans 2:4
H. Matthew 16:26
I. Ephesians 5:1-7
J. Mark 13:28-31

A. Matt 16:1-4
1. Read v. 1-4
2. Explain:
– The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted a sign that Jesus was who
He said He was; Jesus said an adulterous nation seeks a sign.
– The Pharisees and Sadducees naturally thought that God would give them a sign if they were to believe someone who was really the Son of God; Their forefathers Abraham, Moses, etc. had signs from God when God wanted to get His point across.
– Jesus says in v. 4 that the only sign they will get is the same sign the prophet Jonah got – three days in the belly of the beast. Basically, Jesus is talking about His death, burial, and resurrection.
– Jonah was in the belly of the beast three days; Jesus was dead for three days before he resurrected.
– First of all, we learn from this that we have to show those we evangelize to that there will be no sign from God, just because you ask for one; If you say “God, I don’t believe in you, but if you show me a sign, I will believe in you!”, then chances are it won’t happen. You have to accept with faith that Jesus is Lord in order to be saved; Faith is VITAL to becoming a child of God.
– Another point from this is that NOW is the time for repentance! They must know that the Second Coming is imminent.
– Read 1 Cor. 1:21-22 (echos two points: You need faith to be saved, and the Jews request a sign).
– Read Romans 5:1 to echo point of salvation by faith alone
– They need to know also that Jesus’ death on the Cross is the thing which will save them, and the ONLY thing that will save them.

B.
1. Read v. 5-12
2. Explain:
– The disciples thought Jesus was warning them because they did not bring any bread with them; Jesus was actually warning about the “leaven” (doctrine) of the Pharisees – the ways in which they made up rules as they went along.
– When witnessing we need to understand that the idols and false doctrines of the world is what blinds the world from seeing Jesus for who He really is – the Son of God and the Messiah. We need to expose the lies the people we evangelize to are believing in, and the false Messiahs they are focusing on (money, power, sex, drugs, etc.). These false doctrines and lifestyles are clearly wrong to God, and they all server as a distraction from the truth of Jesus Christ being their saviors (as apposed to money, power, sex, drugs, etc.)
– These things are tools the enemy uses (as any other sin) to keep people on the wrong path, so that they feel too guilty about what they do to face their God.
– We need to also warn these people to stay true to themselves and to be careful what kind of leaders they choose, spiritually or otherwise. For there are many false prophets out there, especially in these days where we’re getting closer to Jesus’ second coming.

C. Matthew 26:1-13, (esp. focus on 10-13, give explanation of 1-9)
1. Read said verses
2. Explain:
– In v. 1 – 9 a woman anointed Jesus with expensive oil. The disciples, esp. Judas (as you see in another Gospel where it is more detailed), is upset because the oil could have been sold for money to “give to the poor”. Note, Judas wanted to steal the money.
– In v. 10-13 Jesus tells His disciples that what the woman is doing for him is a benefit to the spread of the Gospel and a memorial onto his burial.
– He also says that what the woman was doing will be a memorial unto her. I understand this to mean that our deeds as Christians and our witnessing will be rewarded when we are in Heaven.
– I also think this to mean that we should preach the Gospel around the world as a memorial unto Christ Jesus. So if we know that we should do it, we should make it clear to those who we convert that it doesn’t stop at becoming a Christian; they should also get acquainted with the word and start evangelizing too.
– This duty to the poor mentioned in these verses is explained in one of our upcoming verses.

D. Luke 4:8
1. Read Luke v. 4:8
2. Explain:
– Jesus was being tempted, but He stood fast, and quotes a very important verse from Deuteronomy: Worship God and Him alone!
– We must make sure we press this upon new Christians. As said before, being a Christian means abandoning any doctrine or “idol” which keeps up from abiding in Christ constantly!

E. Luke 4:16-19 (digression)
1. Read v. 16-19
2. Explain:
– We have an obligation to the same people Jesus preached the Gospel to:
– The spiritually poor
– The spiritually blind
– The broken hearted
– The captives, in order to set them free

F. Luke 19:1-10
1. Read Luke 19:1-10
2. Explain:
– In these verses the man, Zacchaeus did what Jesus had commanded another man to do, and that was sell his possessions to give the money to the poor and right all the wrong he had done.
– We must also teach others by example to do the same thing, especially those who are seeking to become and grow as Christians, because a Christian does that – he helps the needy and rights his wrongs.
– These verses also talk about reclaiming the lost; we must teach others by example to do the same thing!

G. Romans 2:4
1. Read Romans 2:4
2. Explain
– We must teach others to turn away from their sins.
– We must also teach them that failure to repent is a disgrace to the fact that God allows us to repent to show His goodness, instead of immediately punishing us.

H. Matthew 16:26
1. Read Matthew 16:26
2. Explain:
– We must learn to make sacrifices for God
– This pleases God greatly
I. Ephesians 5:1-7
1. Read Ephesians 5:1-7
2. Explain:
– Be an imitator of Christ
– Do not partake in the said activies
J. Mark 13:28-31
1. Read Mark 13:28-31
2. Explain:
– This verse speaks of the Second Coming
– All people, Christian or not, NEED to know that the second coming is imminent and they should spread that message!

Suffering for God

1 Peter 4:1-2Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

Jesus suffered a lot during His ministry, especially near the end. The reason that He suffered was because He stood up for what was righteous and godly, and would not be persuaded by the world or its views.

We need to understand that we are not only to stand up for what is godly and righteous in the first place but expect that because we do we will encounter resistance and persecution.

Imagine that the world and its views are a moving river, and Christians are a rock that stands out above the water, not moved by it. The water constantly rushing past causes damage, erosion and the force of the water can even break off pieces of the rock and then what happens? The rock travels down stream with the current.

We need to be strong, no matter how much the world wants us to follow their current, or how much we get pushed or encounter resistance. We need to stay standing strong.

for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin

Peter was not saying that if you are encountering persecution then you have conquered sin. It’s saying that if you come to the point where you are standing up for what is right enough that the world lashes out at you, then it is likely that you are living a life that is uncompromising in your position to the world.

Also a person who suffers greatly for Christ is likely to have such an impact on their life that they come to the point of hating sin. Persecution tends to give one the desire to serve God even more!

1 Peter 4:3-5For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.
In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.
They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

We spent too much time living like the rest of the world, we don’t need it anymore. Now our main focus needs to be on serving Christ, not any desire of this world. The people in this world are doing things purposely against God; we need to stay far from it. We all used to do the same stuff, trapped in the same sins, but Jesus Christ freed us. We were once lost in this dark world but thank the Lord that he turned on the light for us and showed us the way.

After all of that, why would we want to go back into the darkness? The world will think that we are weird because we do not do what they do. They will make fun of you and make it seem like you are just wasting your time, it’s no big deal if you go to a club with some friends, it’s no harm to just joke around about sex and use crude language. But it is a big deal and God will deal with each and every person one day.

When you are tempted, or someone is making it seem like you are just being silly because of your belief, they may get you to think that it’s no big deal, but it is!!! Don’t give in. Stand up for righteousness, and you will be rewarded in a lot better way than getting a buzz from drinking or from temporary physical pleasures from pornography or adultery.

1 Peter 4:6For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

After Jesus died on the cross, but before the resurrection, Jesus went to Hades to preach to the people that were there. There are two compartments in Hades, one was the place of torture, the other is called Abraham’s bosom. Jesus preached to both compartments, one he preached judgment (Peter mentions it earlier in his letter) the other He preaches the gospel. Even though they (and us now) were judged by men for what they did, because they lived to follow God they were rewarded by God!

Verses 7-11 go slightly off subject before it gets back on track, so I’m going to move on to verse 12 right now. Be sure you go back and read it when we are done though!

1 peter 4:12-13Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

We all know that it’s nothing strange when we are tested or tempted. We go through trials all the time and we need to be prepared for it. Instead of complaining or worrying about it, we need to be glad that we are going down the same road that our Lord did. No matter how hard of a time we have with situations, we do rejoice once we see the glory of God coming through in a situation. No matter how tough we have it, as long as God is receiving Glory then we can rejoice!

1 Peter 4:14If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

We are glorified when we suffer for Christ. Peter even gives a blessing to those who suffer for Him! God’s blessings are so great, aren’t they? By suffering for God, we show that we have the Spirit of God in us.

1 Peter 4:15-16But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

What good is it to suffer for doing wrong? If you are being punished because you murdered someone then you are just like anybody else from the world. But we stand out from the world, we are not like everyone else, we suffer not because we do something wrong, but because we are dedicated to following Christ!

1 Peter 4:17-18For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Now “if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Just because someone goes to church doesn’t make them a Christian. Here we have a warning that there will be judgment among the church. Those who live righteous lives, but don’t follow Christ or abide in Him, those who never put their faith IN Jesus, they will be judged. How much more will the ungodly and those not in churches be judged?

When you think of those being judged, remember that they are spending eternity in Hell! An eternity separated from God. What are you doing to minimize the amount of people that die without God? Are you living comfortably, or living a busy life only to gain wealth for yourself? Or are you doing things to make an impact on the kingdom of God?

1 Peter 4:19Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

Commit yourself fully to the Lord, no matter what those around you think! You will not regret it. I have never heard a Christian say that they are glad they waited so long before they came to Christ. It’s like putting away money for savings, you can never start too early and when you do start, you wish you would have started years before.

We have such a faithful Creator, commit yourself fully to serving Him. No matter how much the world stands in the way or tries to distract you. This will not only help you, but bring Glory to God almighty!

Saving Faith

We all know that it is faith alone in Christ’s sacrifice that saves us, not any work we do. This does not mean, however, that to have faith means that you don’t have to do anything to show it.

James 2:1414 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

James is not contradicting the Biblical teaching that we are saved by faith and not by any works. It’s true that no amount of good works can save you at all. But, what kind of faith does one have if it is never evidenced by works?

Do you see the difference?

Jesus gives us a life changing spirit when we accept Him, so how can someone truly believe and not be affected by that spirit?

Paul even recognized the need for good works when he wrote in Titus 3:8

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

One way to say it is “Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is not alone.”

James 2:15-1715 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Someone who has the love of God filling them will desire to help out a fellow Christian. It does no good to just offer religious advice and then send them on their way. Faith needs to take action, and more than just prayer. Yes it’s true that if we pray for someone God will provide for them, but sometimes he expects US to be that provision.

When someone is in need, prayer alone is not the answer. We need to step up and help out, especially with the most basic of needs. “Be warmed and filled” shows that the person in question knew what the needs were, they just refused to help meet those needs.

If someone has faith, but doesn’t put action to that faith, then what good is it? God has work for us and we need to do it. God filled us with love and we need to display it.

James 2:18-1918 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe, and tremble!

Some people may say that some have the gift of works, and others the gift of faith, or that some are called to works, but this is wrong! Faith is demonstrated through works.

The appeal of James is clear and logical; we can’t “see” someone’s faith, but we can see their works; you can’t see faith without works, but you can demonstrate the reality of faith by works.

Demons believe in God, but they don’t have an active faith. We need to have an active faith.

James 2:20-2420 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

Abraham was justified by faith way before he was asked to act upon it. The action did not develop Abraham’s faith, but it was an evidence of it. If Abraham did not have faith then he would not have had that action. Works and faith need to work hand in hand. Works must accompany a genuine faith because genuine faith is always connected with regeneration.

As Charles Spurgeon said: “The grace that does not change my life will not save my soul.”

James 2:24-2625 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Rahab is another example of someone who was not saved by their actions, but their actions proved that they were saved.
Rahab demonstrated her trust in the God of Israel by hiding the spies and seeking salvation from their God (Joshua 2:8-13), yet her faith did something; her belief in the God of Israel would not have saved her if she had not done something with that faith.

The lesson from Abraham is clear: if we believe in God, we will do what He tells us to do. The lesson from Rahab is also clear: if we believe in God, we will help His people, even at our own expense

Just as you can have a body without life, you can also have faith without works. Both are dead and mean nothing.

Our faith must be accompanied by good works.

Dealing with Discouragement

Definition of Discouragement – To deprive of confidence or hope.
Discouragement also means – Depressed, Despirited, Pessimistic.
Psalm 25:4-5 – Our Hope is in the Lord, we cannot lose our hope.
Psalm 42:11 – Why be downcast; praise God.

Being Discouraged Angers God
Numbers 32:9-11 – Discouragment angers God.

God promises not to leave us
Deuteronomy 31:8 – God PROMISES not to leave or forsake us.

Discouragment And Depression Are Not Natural
Joshua 1:9 – God commands us not to be discouraged.

Since God commands us not to be discouraged, is it a sin to be depressed?