The Great “I Am”…

The Great “I Am”

Here is the question for this morning. Who or Whom in your life is the Great “I Am”? When it comes down to it there are only two choices. It is either self or God. First and foremost, we must decide to be honest with ourselves. Our actions of the day typically are the great indicators of who or Who I have chosen to serve today. Did I start the day with prayer and some form of devotion? Is my goal today to broaden my worth or to assist others? Those type of questions will reveal what my answer to our first question is. Of course, once again, it requires I be brutally honest with myself.

Jesus offers us eternal reward, happiness, fulfillment and all the treasures that this world and self cannot. It will help us make the correct choice if we reflect on Who Jesus is. In God’s scriptures Jesus is given titles such as; The Word, Lamb of God, Son of God, Truth, Bread of Life, Resurrection, Vine and of course ‘I Am’. The name of Jesus and His titles affirm His preexistence and deity. The beauty being that He desires a relationship with us again that our sin broke. Listen to Jesus words recorded in the Gospel of John and His offer to us. Then you make the choice;

  • John 6:35 “And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst”
  • John 8:12 “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
  • John 10:7 “Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep'”
  • John 10:11-14 ” I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”
  • John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
  • John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
  • John 14:1,2 ” “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit”

Peer pressure and the expectations and controls of the society around us can influence our choices. That having been said we must remember that it remains our choice. We can never blame anyone or anything for the choices we make.

I Cor 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Joshua is a great example of making choices that are dramatically different than the society and peers who surrounded him. Out of a couple of million people of his generation who God rescued from Egypt he was one of only two who made the choice to serve God and could enter the promised land. Yes, I said two out of a couple of million. Wow, what a great example for us. So, what was his choice? Joshua choose to serve the great ‘I AM’. I am sure for Joshua it would have been easier to go with the flow and the crowd but he knew that is not what God wanted from his life. Listen to the stand he took and be assured you can do the same. Even when everyone around you objects!

Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites (your country, state, city, etc.), in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Who or Whom in your life is the Great “I Am” this morning? Put your check mark on one or the other.

_____ Jesus

_____ Self

We Live in Perilous Times…

We Live in Perilous Times!

Jesus said He would return a second time so we can count on it. He first came as a Lamb to be sacrificed for our sins. He will come again as a Lion to put an end to sin and satan.

The only question is, when will He return?

As with all events that affect our lives the word of God holds the answers.

Listen to some of the clues signaling that Jesus return is drawing near.

Some signs of the 2nd coming of Jesus!!

II Tim 3:1-3 “But know this that in the last days perilous times will
come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than
lovers of God.”

Sounds a whole lot like the age we live in.

Mat 24:4-8 “And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man lead you astray. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and shall lead many astray. And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you be not troubled: for these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places. But all these things are the beginning of travail’.”

Don’t be afraid of the signs but also don’t be unaware of them!

Psalm 40:31 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the
nations I will be exalted in the earth.”

So where is Jesus now?

John 14:2-3 “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

The question to ask yourself and to ask those around us is.

Have you been ‘Born Again’ so that Jesus is preparing that place for you?

What was your answer? If you are not sure of your eternal destiny then the 2nd coming of Jesus either brings fear or it seems foolish to you. After all, things seem to be as they were thousands of years ago. Or are they? Those that see or think of it as being foolish most likely are not saved (born again). Our reason for being on this earth is to give the gospel to those in that condition. To do so you must first be ‘born again’.

I Cor 2:14 “Now the natural (unsaved) man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged”

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Creation vs Evolution…

Gen 1:1 “In the beginning God created …”

Gen 1:26,27 “The God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our Likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.

Creation vs Evolution…

A group of scientists and engineers got together and decided since they can make machines and robots do almost anything, and were able to clone, that God was no longer needed.

They sent an engineer and a scientist to confront God with their finding.

God listened patiently and kindly and said He understood their feelings.

However, He would like to challenge them with the simple making of a human being the way it was in the beginning.

The two took the challenge. God said now remember this will be from scratch. They agreed.

God bent down and picked up a handful of dirt. The engineer and scientist bent down to get a handful of dirt.

God said “You need to create the dirt first”.

Do you find it sad when you see all the TV and school philosophies being conveyed that we began as something other than, “Let us make man in Our image”?

Who do you suppose would push that logic?

I Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walks about seeking whom he may devour.”

Gen 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The Golden Phone reaching to God…

Truth and humor for your day.

Psalm 66:19,20 “But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the
voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer,
nor His mercy from me.”

The Golden Phone reaching to God…

A man in Topeka, Kansas, decided to write a book about churches
around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco, and started
working east from there. Going to a very large church, he began taking
photographs and making notes. He spotted a golden telephone on the
vestibule wall and was intrigued with a sign which read “$10,000 a
minute.”

Seeking out the pastor he asked about the phone and the sign. The
Pastor answered that this golden phone is, in fact, a direct line to
Heaven and if he pays the price he can talk directly to God. The man
thanked the pastor and continued on his way.

As he continued to visit churches in Seattle, Austin, Greensboro,
Chicago, Milwaukee, and all around the United States, he found more
phones, with the same sign, and the same answer from each pastor.

Finally, he arrived in Iowa. Upon entering a church in Marshalltown,
Iowa, behold, he saw the usual golden telephone. But THIS time, the sign
read, “calls: 35 cents.” Fascinated, he asked to talk to the pastor.
“Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country and in each
church I have found this golden telephone and have been told it is a
direct line to Heaven and that I could talk to God, but, in the other
churches the cost was $10,000 a minute. Your sign reads 35 cents a call.
Why?”

The pastor, smiling benignly, replied,
“Son, you’re in Iowa now………………it’s a local call.”

If you are reading this and live outside of Iowa please do not be offended

and miss what the real message is……
Change Iowa to your state and all is well. The key is that our Lord
loves to communicate with us!!!!!!!!! How fortunate we are.

And most importantly we are saved by grace through faith with no additives required!

I Peter 5:7 “Casting all of your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

The Cliff of Life…

Faith is an important word in the Bible. We are first saved by grace through faith and after we have trusted Christ to be our Savior versus our Church and/or deeds we are then supposed to walk by faith. That concept is definitely not one that you will hear taught by most of the philosophers and teachers of this world.

What step in your life will require you this morning to place your faith in a sovereign God who created you this morning? Do you struggle to let go?

Faith and obedience go hand in hand. How are you doing this morning?

II Cor 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

The Cliff of Life…

*********************************************************************

A man named Jack was walking along a steep cliff one day when he accidentally got too close to the edge and fell. On the way down he grabbed a branch, which temporarily stopped his fall.

He looked down and to his horror saw that the canyon fell straight down for more than a thousand feet. He couldn’t hang onto the branch forever, and there was no way for him to climb up the steep wall of the cliff.

So Jack began yelling for help, hoping that someone passing by would hear him and lower a rope or something.

“HELP! HELP! Is anyone up there? HELP!” He yelled for hours, but no one heard him. He was about to give up when he heard a voice.

“Jack, Jack. Can you hear me?”

“Yes, yes! I can hear you. I’m down here!”

“I can see you, Jack. Are you all right?”

“Yes, but . . . Who are you, and where are you?”

“I am the Lord, Jack. I’m everywhere.”

“The Lord? You mean, GOD?”

“That’s Me.”

“God, please help me! I promise if You’ll get me down from here, I’ll stop sinning. I’ll be a really good person. I’ll serve You for the rest of my life.”

“Easy on the promises, Jack. Let’s just get you down from there; then we can talk. Now, here’s what I want you to do. Listen carefully.”

I’ll do anything, Lord. Just tell me what to do.”

“Okay. Let go of the branch.”

“What?”

“I said, let go of the branch. Just trust Me. Let go.”

There was a long silence. Finally Jack yelled, “HELP! HELP! IS ANYONE ELSE UP THERE?”

Have you ever felt like Jack? We say that we want to know the will of God, but when we find out what it is, we can’t handle it. It sounds too scary, too difficult. We decide to look elsewhere. The story of jack and letting go sounds a bit extreme but how many times does performing God’s
will seem extreme?

When He says, “Let go of the things that stand between you and Me, and trust Me with your life,” it sounds pretty scary. But when we let go, we find freedom and safety in His hands.” And the peace that passes understanding does not occur until we let go!

How strong is your faith in the LORD this morning? Do you trust Him to be in control of the events in your life today?

Hebrews 11:6a “But without faith it is impossible to please Him…”

God knows ALL…

Mat 11:28,29 “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and
I will give you rest.

Who knows?

When you are tired and discouraged from fruitless efforts…

God knows how hard you have tried.

When you’ve cried so long and your heart is in anguish…

God has counted your tears.

If you feel that your life is on hold and time has passed you by…

God is waiting with you.

When you’re lonely and your friends are too busy even for a phone call…

God is by your side.

When you think you’ve tried everything and don’t know where to turn…
God has a solution.

When nothing makes sense and you are confused or frustrated…

God has the answer.

If suddenly your outlook is brighter and you find traces of hope…

God has sustained you.

When things are going well and you have much to be thankful for..

God has blessed you.

When something joyful happens and you are filled with awe…

God has smiled upon you.

When you have a purpose to fulfill and a dream to follow…

God has opened your eyes and called you by name.

When you realize life is for eternity and only Jesus can save you…

God awaits your calling upon His Son to save you.

Remember that wherever you are or whatever you are facing…GOD KNOWS!

Mat 11:28,29 “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and
I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am
gently and lowly of heart, and you will find rest unto your soul.”

Handling Suffering as a Christian…

James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 4:13-15 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Handling Suffering as a Christian

The title of today’s challenge sounds a bit strange. And if you are not a ‘born again’ Christian you have no chance of understanding and accepting it. We live in a world where many teach that health, wealth, prosperity and the total absence of suffering brings fulfillment. And of course our fleshly nature totally agrees with that thought. There are even teachers professing to be ‘born again’ that teach the same. They teach that to experience otherwise reflects a weak faith or sin. While it can be a result of sin the scriptures never proclaim that if we suffer for the gospels sake it is a lack of faith. Actually it is just the opposite.

When we are drawn to Jesus as our Savior and we dig into His word to find meaning for our lives and we hear that, “”Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Wow, that stops us dead in our tracks. Many, who never study and never grow from the milk of God’s word to being able to handle the meat of God’s word never even address this question.

Can it really be true? If I am to live for my Savior who died for me can I expect some level of persecution? The answer from scripture is a loud yes. If the world disliked and even hated Jesus and we profess what He professed then the world will not like us either. That’s a tough one to swallow. Like you my flesh prefers that people would like me. And what if I am experiencing zero persecution. Does that mean my spiritual priorities are not correct? Yes, that could be the case. Ouch! We can only know that by asking God to answer that question and then we must do something contrary to our fleshly wills. We must truly be open to the answer. Remember the answers to prayer are yes, no and wait. Yes, is not the only option God has. When I hear no or wait it does not mean that God did not answer my prayer.

There are promises in the word of God that don’t seem much like promises to many believers. Persecution is one of them. Scripture proclaims that all whose purpose of heart is to live godly lives in this present world shall (certainly) suffer persecution, as did their Lord. Maybe we contemplate such verses and think they should say something like, “And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall be appreciated for their goodness and rewarded with approval, good health and fortune while in this world.”

The Holy Spirit through Paul said to the Philippians, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” We probably would be more comfortable if that were to read, “For unto you it is given…not only to believe on him, but also to be blessed with health, wealth and prosperity.” But it doesn’t say that. Reading and allowing the Word of God to change our lives are two entirely different things. Are you a reader only? Ouch, another convicting question.

So why would I want to be open to persecution??? As noted in James we are in this life but for a short time. Our lives are but a vapor that comes and disappears quickly. Our time to serve our Lord is short. This time on earth is but a grain of sand on the beach in comparison to eternity. And if you are a believer you will spend eternity with God. There is also a judgment seat or awards ceremony for believers. The judgment seat is not to judge our sins that Jesus took care of but to award us for services rendered while on this earth. I would rather hear, ‘well done’, than to hear how I missed the prize or to hear a silence because of lack of commitment on my part while on this earth.

We are to serve out of obedience. Disobedience is viewed by God as a tragic sin. Check it out over and over in scripture in both the OT and the NT. God never accepts disobedience. Our sins are washed away by Jesus blood so my salvation is secure. While works cannot save us they are very important after being ‘born again’. Serving Jesus while on this earth is now or should now be my focus! And when done correctly it will bring some level of persecution.

Remember persecution comes in many different ways including verbal, lost friendships, physical punishment, lost job opportunities, etc. In America at least for now the verbal, peer pressure and life style issues are the greatest persecution we see. So maybe all is not lost with that slap in the face that you just received, literal or figurative. Pray and think before you allow your fleshly frustration to take over. It may be that you are doing exactly what you should be for His glory!!!!!

Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”