Give what is Due

For whatever reason, many today, as has been the course of history, try to catch Christians in a moment in which they can discredit them of their claims.  This is much like what we see in Matthew 22 when the Pharisees found a moment of what they perceived as weakness for Jesus and attempted to discredit him and cause uproar.

In Matthew 22 we see Jesus telling a parable of a wedding feast, encouraging the people in attendance with a story of a King who was willing to let any come to the wedding feast of his son after the original guests of the wedding were no-shows.  This story that Jesus told included that a man who did come did not come dressed for the wedding and was cast out as well.  In verse 15, we see the Pharisees attempt to cause uproar and find reason to discredit Jesus.

“Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.” – Matthew 22:15-22 (ESV)

They ask Jesus whether you should pay taxes to Caesar, and Jesus makes a bold statement that we must dig deeper into to see what He was really saying.  Jesus asks for a coin, and turns the question back to them asking who is depicted on the coin.  The answer comes from the men, “Caesar;” Jesus then replies for them to give Caesar what is Caesar’s and give God what is God’s.

What Jesus was saying here was that the coin has the picture of Caesar on it so give it to him, but upon further look, Jesus was making the same statement of us in the second part of His answer.

Jesus was bringing it back to God in a way that we often miss in this account from scripture.  In Genesis we see that God says, “Let us make man in our own image.”  Jesus is reminding them of this when he says, “Give God what is God’s.”  He was saying, you bear the image of God, so in the same way you should give to Caesar that which is his and pay your taxes; you should give to God your life because you were created in His image.

I challenge you today in this.  Take a look at your life and see if you are living as you should.  Are you giving to God what is His?  Are you living a life that exemplifies Christ and embraces the image in which you were created?  As we see here, we were created in the image of God, so just as Jesus said to give to Caesar that which is his, we must do the same with that which is God’s.  That which belongs to God is each one of us, because we are created in His image, we are created with His likeness upon us, and our lives belong to Him.  Live today like you are the image of God.

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Eating Crow

If you’ve ever heard or used the term “Eat Crow” then you likely know where this is going, but it may not be exactly what you’re thinking…

That being said, I must first start off giving an apology to any, and every, one that I have ever offended by spouting off out of frustration before allowing God to form my thoughts into encouraging and worthwhile statements; meaning, I realize, and have come to realize that I have said a number of things that have caused regret in my life; saying things I have heard or reacting before giving myself time to even assess a situation, or if I have said something that wasn’t intended the way it was taken,  I am quite sorry.

This apology is extended to anyone who I have caused any type of heartache and difficulty to…no matter what it is or why…I ask for your forgiveness…

I say this, because for us to move forward in life we must find redemption…and over the past few weeks I have come to realize a need for myself to self-evaluate and truly examine the heart of the issue…my heart in the issue.

That being said…I also realize that we need not beat ourselves up over things that we realize were mistakes once the moment is passed…and believe me…we have all done this…we have all eaten crow at some point in our lives.

We are not unlike some of the closest to Jesus, however; just look at the story of Peter…How much Crow did he have to eat after telling Jesus that he would not deny him?

Take a lesson from Peter, or Paul…Or maybe look at Job, David, Noah, Adam and Eve…in fact, many of the Biblical accounts of those who we consider saints of the Scripture made mistakes, but it was through those mistakes that God developed them into who they became.

It is with this in mind that I have been thinking and praying on three verses out of the book of Ephesians:

“Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3, CSB)”

We must bear burdens, not cause them.  We must take account in our own lives for our own actions.  Live worthy of the calling you have received…or, as the KJV puts it, the vocation to which you are called. The only way we can move forward in life is with a unity of the Spirit, bonded in peace…let’s face it….Crow really doesn’t taste that good, so what do you say we remove it from our diets?

Distracted Living

Let’s face it…almost all of us have a cell phone.

Lately I have been noticing something more and more in my own life, and honestly, I have seen evidence of it around also…that is the increased usage of cell phones, more specifically, smart phones.  They’re all the rage…they’re in just about everyone’s hands from 10 to 90, and the reality of it is that it has our attention.

Many of us (myself included) feel lost without our phone attached to us in some way…we almost can’t function without our phone.  We spend more than 4 hours a day focused on that small screen looking up news, texting, calling, browsing social media, and more.  A recent study showed that the average American adult uses the cell phone 4-5 hours a day and sends and receives around 1,000 text messages daily…

Where this really started to hit home for me is that I have realized that my phone usage has begun to be such a part of my daily routine that even my prayer life has taken a hit because of this modern marvel.  This began to bother me, because Prayer should be something that we are focused continually on.  In fact, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul tells us that God’s will for us in Jesus is to, “Rejoice always, Pray continually, and be thankful in all circumstances.”

When we begin replacing these things, they begin to suffer…we begin to allow these things to take a back seat to posting that new Facebook status or Instagram post. No matter how many times we post something and say, “#Blessed” or “#Thankful”, it isn’t the same.  We must rejoice always and be in constant conversation with God…that is His will for us in Christ.

It also tells us to be thankful IN, not for, all circumstances…that means we may be going through a difficult time, but that isn’t time for us to take it to Facebook and let everyone know how awful our neighbor is or how bad we have it…it is a time to hit our knees and pray, being grateful and rejoicing that God has given us an opportunity to see Him work in our lives.

Let’s drop the distracted living, put down our phones, and turn to Christ.  If we want to see things improve in this world, we must take steps to remove the distractions that take our focus off of Him and allow Him to lead us….it’s hard to see where He is leading you with your head down in your phone.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life…no one comes to the Father except by me.” – Jesus (John 14:6)

Faith that Heals

“For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.” – Matthew 9:21-22 (NKJV)

These two verses have been a focus of my studies lately, trying to get a grip on exactly what we can learn from this woman and her actions…and as the scene has played over and over in my mind, one realization I have come to is that two things happened here that can show us some great things about the God we serve.

First, the woman knew that if she could just get close enough to touch his garment she could find healing. She just wanted to find peace and comfort from 12 years of sickness, so she decided that she needed to be near Jesus.  She knew that just being in His presence would help…and we all feel that way, whether we know it or not.  How do I know this? Because we begin to pray when the going gets tough…whether we truly believe it will work or not, we give it a shot, right?

But that being said, the second thing that we see may show us why our prayers seem to go unanswered…Jesus answered her and told her to, “Be of good cheer…your faith has made you well.”  He didn’t say to her that he was glad she was able to touch him, he told her that her faith had made her well…HER FAITH is what brought her to his presence in the first place…and when there, she put action to it and realized that she could be healed if in his presence and by faith…she believed it would happen and it did.  She went away and was well from that point forward.

Do you have the faith that heals? Are you struggling through life in such a way that you may say a prayer, but may not believe in its power?

We must have the faith to approach his presence with a desire to simply touch his garment…to be healed by his power because we know he’s the great healer….We must seek his presence in our lives and know healing will come…because after all, it was her faith that made her well, and it will be your faith that will heal you in your time of trouble and need.

God has given us His Spirit and His Word to be that presence in our lives today, we must submit to His authority in our lives, seek the cleansing He offers, and allow Him to do what is needed.  He has given us the promise never to leave us nor forsake us, and he has given us each other for encouragement and support.  Approach Him with faith today!

Signs of the Times

I’ve spent a lot of time studying lately on scripture that leads us up to the return of Christ…and something interesting that I came across recently got my attention…

In Matthew 24 we see Jesus answer his disciples when they ask what the signs of the end of the age will be, and Jesus lays out a number of things…but I find a few things interesting here that I wanted to share this week.

Verses 4-14 show us a very vivid answer to the question of what we can expect to happen…but he opens the statement with two very key instructions: 1-Pay attention that you are not deceived and 2-Do not be troubled or alarmed.

Why would Jesus instruct his disciples to pay attention about the deceptions that may happen around them? Why would he tell them not to be alarmed? Because, deception will pull you away from where you are supposed to be…almost like smoke and mirrors of the enemy to keep your attention away from what is really going on around you.  When you are alarmed and surprised by the things happening around you, you have a tendency to find yourself trying to fix what is happening….but Jesus says, these things must happen.

This leads me past the “beginning of sorrows” into the meat of what Jesus is saying…the troubles we see and hear about have to happen before the end…but in verse 10 we can see exactly where we may be…I found this verse intriguing given the climate around us in the world today…

“There will be many who are offended, many will betray one another, and many will hate one another.”

We need to stop joining in the battle of the offended, stop being surprised by what is going on around us, and start loving as Christ loved, knowing that the world will turn to their own ways…but a couple verses later we see the promise for those in Christ.

“He who endures to the end, he is the one that will be saved.” – Matthew 24:13

Endure to the end, and stop being distracted and alarmed by what is happening around you today….Jesus told us it would happen and that we would see things happen, but encouraged us to endure to the end…Stay strong and love one another, do not be deceived and do not be troubled.

Death at the Door

Death is one thing that I’ve been faced with a lot lately…in reality, we have all faced it in one way or another.  In fact, we have heard the statement that, “Life is tough, no one gets out alive.”

This has been a thought that I have considered over the past few days and have begun to really think through some parts of it…and I honestly do not agree with the statement like I used to.  What I have realized is that we have been promised something that we have forgotten, that is that we have been promised is that life will not end for us when we are centered in Christ.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we find a promise that we can rest assured in…this is where I have found my comfort recently in these difficult times we face…that is that when someone close to us passes away, we are forced to deal with the reality of death….we are forced to face our own mortality at times…we are forced to take inventory of our own lives and realize what might happen should we also pass on…are we ready to take that final step to LIFE?

The scripture reads: “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout , with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (NASB)”

We have a promise of a life to come…so that leads me to know, through faith in Christ, that death is not the end of life, but the beginning…death is simply our entering the door to the eternal promise that Christ has prepared us a place and we go there to be with Him…we enter into LIFE.  This tells me that if you are in Christ, not only do you get out Alive, but better than ever….you achieve what you live your life to achieve.  You reach your final goal…a LIFE with Christ Himself for eternity.

I believe it is high time for us to stop thinking that death is the end all, be all for those who are in Christ…but we must also realize that if we are not in Christ then we will find that death is the end of our opportunity to know Christ as He desires to be known…

Do you know Christ? Do you have a personal relationship? If the answer to either of these questions is no…I urge you today to find a relationship with the one who died for you on a cross…a death to defeat death and offer life…a death that offered salvation…a death that leaves us with this statement about our lives…

“For me to live is Christ…and to die is gain!” Galatians 2:20

The Savior wants to know you today…do you want to know Him?

Who or What are you Voting for?

I have heard this question many times over the past couple of weeks, whether in the form of a question, or in the actual answers that some are giving, and it has broken my heart to see some of the things that are being said…Please continue reading before you write me off on this article.

First things first, I encourage everyone to vote. You do have a voice…do not let it be stifled because you feel that your vote will not count. One penny doesn’t equal a lot of money, but when a number of pennies are put together it can grow into a great amount of money…Second, I can think of no better way to state it than I already have in a Facebook post from earlier in the week:

“We are acting no better than the two candidates digging up and bickering about the past that had already happened and worrying about a future that has yet to happen. We have this moment that we can do something about….THIS MOMENT ALONE…and after this moment is gone we have another. At this point I am praying and even more undecided about who I should vote for based on all the talk and am earnestly praying about who to vote for…and I would urge each of you to put down your phones and push away your keyboards and do the same.

Vote with your conscience! Not with the media…not with your friends…vote for yourself and stop all the arguing. We are the UNITED STATES of America, yet right now we seem like the UNTIED States. Show our unity and not our division. We have allowed the media and politics to completely divide and dictate how we feel and how we act. They tell us that there is a problem, but the problem is the lies that are being passed off as truths. Please pray that we will wake up and see what is happening and pray for guidance in this election season. Stop buying into the lies that you have to vote for this or for that…and don’t buy the farce that a vote for a third party is a vote against a major candidate.

Do we even realize that people have lost homes and lives because of flooding? Or is all we care about these two egotistical candidates who are acting like preschool children and playing a game of “I know you are but what am I?”

God, have mercy on us! Pray for unity and pray for revival!!”

You DO have a voice! Let it be heard in November….let HIM be heard in November!