Why Should I Love Jesus Christ?

What did Christ really do for us?

1.) He left heaven and came to earth

In heaven, hundreds of thousands of angels worshiped Jesus. He stood among them in complete and glorious splendor. But even more wonderful than all of that, He lived with the Father Himself; He saw, walked, and talked with the Creator, the Perfectly Good One. He had everything He needed in heaven, yet He left it for not a day, not a few months, but thirty-three years.

Not only did He leave this wonderful home with the Father, He traded it for a horrendous one; one where corruption, hate, murder, adultery, paganism, idolatry, and violence ran rampant. A home where from birth, His life would be hunted. He dwelt among the poor and lived as though He was poor—for us.

2.) He loved us

Jesus laid hands on the untouchables and outcasts; lepers, the blind, the lame, adulteresses, tax collectors, and He healed them.

He taught us what following God really looks like. He revealed to us the very character, the very heart of God. Instead of demanding to be served, He served and gave up His life—for us.

3.) He suffered the reproach of the cross

Christ was fully aware that He would be beaten, ridiculed, rejected, arrested, and eventually crucified yet He did not forsake God’s plan, but embraced it—for us.

4.) He defeated sin and death

Not only did Jesus make a way for forgiveness through His perfect life and sacrifice, opening the gates of heaven for all who wish to enter through Him, but He also conquered sin and death—the very power of Satan that kept the human race bound since the days of Adam and Eve. Before Christ died, we were helpless to sin’s control over our life, and victims of mortality. But through His willing sacrifice and resurrection from the grave, Christ frees all those who trust in Him from the devil’s works. Jesus brought deliverance, both now and eternally—for us.

5.) He gives us everything we need in the midst of this dark world

Peace:

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. (‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭27‬ NKJV)

Joy:

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (‭John‬ ‭15‬:‭11‬ NKJV)

Hope:

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast … (Hebrews‬ ‭6‬:‭19‬ NKJV)

Companionship:

I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (‭Matthew‬ ‭28‬:‭20‬ NKJV)

6.) He rewards us

As if all the fore-mentioned wasn’t enough, Jesus offers us heavenly rewards, gifts that never perish, treasures that never rust. He promises a crown, the right to drink from living waters in heaven, and healing fruit to eat; gates of pearls, and streets of gold to walk upon.

There’s so much Jesus Christ has done for us. Do we love Him with all our heart? Are we thankful to Him every day? Do we really understand how worthy He is, and thus live for His glory?

May you and I both grasp the depth of Christ’s love and how worthy He is of our complete devotion. This is what life is about for the Christian—loving Christ for who He is and what He’s done.

I’m a Christian, But I Don’t Want You To Know I’m Struggling

Sometimes, most times—often times—our fear of being vulnerable is rooted in pride or the fear of man. Both are a snare.

But as Christians, that’s one of our crosses to bear, something we are commanded to do: be transparent. And here’s the irony of it all: it’s only after we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to be real, that healing and deliverance comes.

Some of us are tangled up in chains. We hide our shackles beneath long-sleeved coats and pants, blind to the fact that when we gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ, there’s keys in the midst, keys that are just waiting to set us free.

It is for our benefit that God commands us to be honest with our struggles.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (‭James‬ ‭5‬:‭16‬)

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (‭Galatians‬ ‭6‬:‭1-2‬)

We all are going through some trial or struggle and could really use prayer support. This transparency among each other promotes love and true edification. It also leads to a deeper understanding of God’s love and power because as James says, confession coupled with prayer brings healing. But if you can’t be real with one another, you’ll stay stuck in whatever it is Christ died to liberate you from. On the outside you’ll put on a smile, while on the inside you’re dying.

You don’t need to die! You don’t need to put on a show. Most discerning Christians can see through that anyway, and you will never fool Christ. He sees your brokenness and greatly desires to heal it, but it must be on His terms: vulnerability, transparency. Christ died so you can be made alive. What a shame, what a waste to throw that gift away, to reject it for vanity’s sake because you want to protect your ego.

Christianity is a brutally honest walk. There’s no room for fakers. And if you keep it up long enough, out of love and a desire for you to be healed, Christ will eventually expose you. If you don’t want to fess up, God will display what you’ve been hiding in darkness.

“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. (‭Luke‬ ‭8‬:‭16-17‬)

Confess to your brethren now before things get worse for you. The only thing you’ll regret is not having done so sooner.

Grace to you,

Natasha

I’m A Christian, But I Don’t Want To Be “Just” A Wife And Mother

My sister in Christ who is in a relationship and preparing for marriage shared something with me this morning that the Lord is working on in her, and it’s worth sharing.

She and her boyfriend are taking premarital classes with a pastor and are in the Love and Respect phase. Sir Jonathan and I likewise read Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book (Love and Respect) together during our premarital days. It really opens your eyes to how women need love and men need respect and how to give and communicate those essential actions.

So her boyfriend ends up telling her one day: “The way you’re speaking to me is disrespectful.” She goes to the Lord about it, and He tells her: “Imagine he was Jesus. Would you speak to him the same way?”

This poignant question definitely convicted her. I thought it was such a fine lesson from the Holy Spirit that all women of God should contemplate when speaking to others, especially the opposite sex.

“Don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”-Romans 12:2

In America, there is an ever-increasing feminist agenda that is ironically becoming more and more hostile to the essence of womanhood and especially hostile toward men.

To think this pervasive mindset that saturates the media has no affect on us Christian women whatsoever is to be naive at best, and prideful at worst. But there’s another message that on the surface seems innocent, but is a worldly concept—not a Christ-like one—and that is this whole, “Chase your dreams,” notion. When this notion is not submitted to Christ, it can also tie into that hostile feminist attitude and manifest itself in disrespect.

I’ve seen this time and again with my precious sisters in Christ, and I’ve experienced it too. They desire marriage and children, a godly desire that is engrained in every woman’s DNA no matter how much they try to suppress it, but there’s a competing desire, one that can very well be ungodly.

A lot of Christian women think they need their own ministry or career. They have dreams of using this ministry to make disciples. But when that dream becomes “threatened” by marriage and children, they can get defensive and disrespectful to their male counterpart.

I’m not saying every dream we christian women have is a worldly desire. The dream can very well be from God, but we must be open to His timing. I RARELY see women under forty running a ministry. Most of the time, they’re wives who have already raised their children, and are now freed up to team with their husbands to start a ministry.

God can give you a dream like He gave Joseph, but not fulfill that dream until years and years of preparation and dying to yourself. And if we are not willing to lay that dream down for the sake of serving others, namely, our husband and children, that’s pride and it is dishonoring to God. His Word teaches us in Philippians 2:4 to not only look out for our own interests, but that of others as well, and Christ said in order to be great we must become least of all and servant of all.

The proverbs 31 woman sold clothes and fields, earning a profit, but her first obligation was to her husband and children and that’s really what she was highly praised for—caring for her family and household. But the feminist movement devalues stay-at-home mothers and exalts busy, unmarried, career women. There’s an exaltation of self, and a message that putting your dreams on hold to serve your husband and children is degrading when in reality, it’s extremely Christ-like and fruitful.

There’s no higher calling than making disciples for Jesus. A mother’s role is so critical to building God’s kingdom He makes sure the Word emphasizes her role over and over; Malachi 2:15, Titus 2:4-5, Proverbs 31:27-29, Psalm 127:3.

My prayer is that you would see with God’s eyes, not our society’s; that your mind would be transformed, not conformed to the pattern of the world. Feminism is an exaltation of self, it is not a Christ-like movement of serving others. It’s all about self—my wants, my dreams, me, me, me, and it has become so demonic it is now the biggest vehicle for promoting the murder of innocent babies in their mothers’ womb.

Please keep reading God’s Word. Let Him teach you and give you discernment. Be willing to put your dreams on hold for the greater good of your husband and children. Putting others before yourself is very pleasing to the Lord, submitting to your husband, raising your children to be godly, that is what He desires most because that—marriage—is what exemplifies His relationship with us most. And it is also a great tool God uses to equip us for ministry. If we as Christian women can die to ourselves and serve our husband and children, we can die to ourselves and better serve other women we desire to minister to in the future.

Lastly, let us not forget marriage and child-rearing ARE ministries—extremely important ones. When you study God’s Word, you see just how much He values this ministry. As women, we have incredible worth and purpose, and it’s not for the reasons the world perpetuates.

May you discover the beauty and honor in being a woman who walks in her Heavenly Father’s will.

Grace and peace to you,

Natasha

How Can I Follow Jesus In A Relevant Way Today

“Many pastors are making converts, but not disciples.”

“Only 30% of people attend church regularly. Many say they don’t go to church because they don’t find it relevant.”

Practicality. How can I live like Jesus? Over and over we hear messages about salvation. It’s great to be reminded of Christ’s love for us as displayed on the cross at Calvary, but we need relevancy. We need to know how to apply Scripture to our life today. Jesus said His word will never pass away. It’s as relevant in the 21st century as it was 2000 years ago and beyond. So here’s my practical advice from a few verses I read this morning: be ready for what’s coming.

You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. (‭Luke‬ ‭21‬:‭17-19‬ ESV)

“You’ll be hated by all”; that’s encouraging. Jesus then says, but not a hair of your head will perish. I don’t think He means the hair on these mortal, death-plagued bodies, because two verses earlier He says some of His disciples will indeed be killed, but I believe He’s speaking of our resurrected bodies, reminding us to look ahead to eternity and the Day of the Lord when Christ returns and we all are resurrected into immortal, imperishable bodies. Then Jesus ends with, “by your endurance you will gain your lives.” He is preparing us for hardship, for serious, serious persecution. In order to be prepared for the persecution every Christian will eventually face, we need to set our minds on eternity—not the now.

After continuing His teaching, telling us of all the terrible plagues and famines and wars that are going to happen, Jesus ends with:

“Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth. But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.” (‭Luke‬ ‭21‬:‭34-36‬ HCSB)

So let’s start to do this now. Why place our hope in a shaky rapture doctrine when Jesus clearly teaches us to put our hope in the resurrection at the last day? We need to be prepared for the worst, not the best or easiest scenario.

We need to:

1.) Be alert at all times

What does this look like practically for you? Stay sober. Don’t get caught up in too much entertainment. Don’t drown yourself in career. Stay in the Word and be aware of what is happening in our world because there are clear signs that show us His return is nearer and nearer and we need to be ready to face Him.

2.) Pray

This is the most practical thing any Christian can do, but many of us don’t pray as fervently as we are commanded to. We need to pray for strength, that no matter what happens, we won’t lose hope, but endure till the end. We need to pray that we are worthy to stand before Christ, because there is a standard, and how unbiblical it is to think confession alone will get us into His eternal presence. I’m not preaching works based salvation, but more so “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Don’t take it for granted, don’t think you can sin all you want and still be spotless before God who searches hearts and knows all things. He does say we Christians will be judged too and there are certain sins (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) that will keep us out of heaven, and Hebrews says that we cannot abuse His grace or we can expect a “consuming fire that will devour [God’s] adversaries.”

So stand firm, family. We see our first amendment rights are continuing to be trampled on by the Obama administration. We need to stay alert and keep praying every day. May I and you be found worthy on the Day of the Lord and may I meet all of you in heaven. I pray we all endure, because Jesus says the love of many will grow cold and a great falling away of the church will happen before He returns. I pray you and me are not apart of that falling, but that we rise together in glorious bodies and attain salvation to be with our Lord forever. And may we choose to imitate Jesus today in our pursuit of prayer:

So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. (‭Luke‬ ‭5‬:‭16‬ NKJV)

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (‭Luke‬ ‭6‬:‭12‬ NKJV)

Love you and praying for you,

Natasha

Loving Ourself First Isn’t A Jesus Teaching

Jesus didn’t teach us to love ourselves. That’s quite a self-serving, self-first notion. He actually taught the opposite:

“The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (‭John‬ ‭12‬:‭25‬ HCSB)

What He emphasized instead was:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭22‬:‭37-39‬ HCSB)

He didn’t need to teach us how to love ourselves. Many of us already do naturally. We look out for our interests, our wants, our happiness, our dreams. But Jesus wants us to love God first, and then love others as we love ourselves, caring and looking out for them. This is what pleases Him, this is what we all were made for: to love God and love one another.

We were created to be loved by God and to walk with Him. We are made in His image. When we imitate Him, that is when we discover our purpose and meaning. And there is no greater destiny than to share and enjoy Love Himself. Are you walking in your true destiny?

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What You Do Can’t Get You Into Heaven, But What You Do Can Keep You Out Of It

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭8-9‬)

Indeed, no matter how boast-worthy we deem our good works, they can never surpass what Christ did for us: living a morally perfect life and then offering up His perfect life as a perfect sacrifice for our sins upon the cross. But, what we do can most certainly keep us out of heaven—even if we profess Christ as Savior and Lord.

This is a very popular verse in the church today, however, it is only the first half of this verse that is popular, while the second half is usually never even mentioned:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭1‬ NKJV)

There is an obvious clause in this verse: the necessity for not walking according to our flesh but according to the Holy Spirit.

The bible is clear:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭19-21‬ NKJV)

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭5-9‬ NKJV)

“Once saved, always saved,” is a pervasive false doctrine that has infected the church and defiled her. This notion proposes that no matter what, when you give your life to Jesus, you are going to heaven. But we must abide in Christ, we must continue fighting the good fight if we are to be with our Lord. Even Jesus affirmed this truth when He said in both Matthew 10:22 and 24:13, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

We must endure. Jesus says in the previous verse in chapter 24 that the love of many will grow cold. You can start strong on the narrow path of life, but end up on the wide road of destruction. Jesus also affirmed this in His parable of the seeds; some seed (the gospel) fell on rocky ground and these are those who accept Christ immediately, but do not have their roots grown deep in the faith so when trials come they fall away, and for others, the seed falls among thorns and after a while, the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches draws them away.

Jesus was ardent about His disciples abiding in Him, remaining in His teaching, strengthening their faith and producing good fruit. But how many hear the gospel and “accept it,” only to continue doing the same sins they did before, but believe they’re still going to heaven because, “once saved, always saved?”

Salvation is not empty, it is not ineffective. Salvation brings about transformation in the life of the surrendered, and the fruits of his salvation become evident to all.

May we take heed this warning from our brother, Paul, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified (II Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭5‬), and: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” (Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭12‬)

Jesus Is Supposed To Transform You

“Abstain from every form of evil.” (I Thessalonians 5:22 NKJV)

When I looked up the original word for “form,” I discovered it included the outward appearance of something. This verse isn’t just speaking about avoiding being involved with evil, but even just the appearance of evil; if it can look like you’re doing evil.

I would say that’s a pretty high standard, wouldn’t you? But if you are familiar with Scripture, you’d know there’s an emphasis on “walking worthy of the Lord,” and being “blameless.” Another verse says we are Christ’s representatives. That’s a big deal, a huge deal.

Jesus was morally perfect, completely blameless in all of His conduct. To represent that can seem impossible to many people, and it is—if you don’t have the Holy Spirit.

Christ came to utterly transform us, but, there is one major obstacle to the process of complete transformation: self.

Jesus told His audience that whoever wanted to follow Him needed to pick up his cross, deny himself, and follow Him. There is a prerequisite before a person can be transformed by Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit: surrender. And I’m not talking partial surrender or lip-service, but true-blue, Jesus have it all, I’m done with my sins, my ideas, my desires, and I’m going to let You be my Master surrender.

I think there’s a few kinds of people. There are those who are interested in what Christ has to offer. Maybe they hear a sermon, or a friend tells them about Jesus, and they like the sound of forgiveness, grace, love, purpose, and escape from hell. But they are not aware of the depth of Christ’s love for them, and His perfect goodness, so they doubt if the Christian life is really all that satisfying, or they believe Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one can get to the Father except through Him, but they’re afraid of the unknown. Both have the solution to their problem in truly grasping that God is not a mean dictator, but rather a loving Father. And like loving earthly fathers discipline their children for their benefit, God even more so disciplines out of complete knowledge and understanding of what is absolutely best for you. Once this truth is grasped, it is easier to surrender.

But then there are those who truly just want fire-insurance. They believe in hell and don’t want to live there for eternity, so they confess Christ as Savior and Lord, but they never surrender. They maybe start a religious routine of attending church and going to a bible study, but they continue sinning and doing what they want to do. Tragically, Jesus says of these kinds of people:

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭22-27‬ NKJV)

Jesus didn’t come just to save people from hell, He came to save them from being bound by hell. He defeated sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, and expects those who follow Him in surrender to do the same, not relying on their strength, but on His.

There’s loads of Scriptures on us being holy and different from those who do not know God, primarily how we love Him and one another. But love doesn’t harm, it isn’t selfish, it isn’t lustful or envious or prideful. Love keeps its clothes on and hands off until marriage. Love respects and does not belittle. Love doesn’t lie. Love doesn’t steal, it gives. Love isn’t out of control.

I feel for my generation because there’s so much blasphemy in “churches” today; people getting drunk, having premarital sex, dressing immodestly, cussing, lying, gossiping. These are not fruits of the Holy Spirit, but of the flesh, and it all leads to death. There’s these buildings with pastors who use Jesus’ name and some of the bible and then call themselves His church, when really, their heart isn’t surrendered. They treat His grace as something common and abuse it by continuing to sin and leading their congregation to sin. They talk about reaching the world, but they are still of it! They cannot save souls, but only draw them to themselves. They aren’t bringing people to Christ, they’re bringing them to themselves. It seems the majority of church-goers act like, look like, and talk like those who don’t know Jesus. They don’t realize that there is supposed to be a genuine life transformation; mind, heart, and soul, from the inside out we are truly new. Therefore, they not only miss out on genuine communion with God, but they also are on the wide path of destruction, rather than on the path to life.

The bible speaks of a “great falling away” of the church, and I believe this is the time it speaks of. More and more pastors are rising up, twisting or denying scripture, accepting sin and rejecting the power of Christ to really transform lives. Many are being led to hell and don’t even know it. Then, when someone confronts these pastors or the sin in their congregations, they are called judgmental and shooed out or silenced. The bible says those who do this have their just judgment coming.

But I know God is good. He seeks the heart that is truly hungry for Him, the person who is sick of following their own way and really wants to know Him. These He delivers, He “exalts the humble and gives them grace, but resists the proud.” Jesus visits these people and they surrender and become transformed. And that’s my prayer for you: that just like He visited me on February 22nd, 2009 and began radically transforming my life, that the same would happen for you. That you would come to know the depth and height and length and width of Christ’s love for you, and discover His good, pleasing, perfect and acceptable plans for your life. That by His power, you will be healed and through His Holy Spirit, be able to defeat the sin in your life. Then you too can be able to share Him with others and partner with Him in truly saving souls, storing up great rewards in heaven. But the best reward will be experiencing God here on earth, really experiencing Him; His love, His joy, His power, His grace, His leading, His favor.

If you’ll only surrender.

The New Way To Handle Sin In Other’s Lives

A number of people in the Church have created a new system of getting people out of sin, and too many good-willed Christians are buying into this unbiblical notion of “encouraging the sinner.” Speaking life is good yes, but in what context? When someone is sinning? Paul addressed the Corinthians very sternly about their acceptance of someone sinning among them. He didn’t tell them to speak life over them. He told them:

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:4-5 NKJV)

When you sin, you are in death because the bible itself says sin brings death. Those in sin need to know they are not walking in life and need to repent from their sin that is destroying them in order to begin walking in life. There is a time to be more firm and a time to be more gentle, depending on the sinner, but you are never to avoid speaking the truth about sin and how the Holy God hates it. Mind you, He hates it because it is the greatest offense to Him and His purpose for us as living beings: to glorify and imitate Him, to be like Him. Whenever we sin, we misrepresent God and slander His holy character. God is love, God is good, God is many wonderful things, but He particularly emphasizes His holiness.

Hearing the truth doesn’t cause people to stay stuck in their sin. There is freedom in the truth. Jesus taught that light exposes darkness and those who love darkness will stay there by their own choosing, not because the truth of their sin made them stay there. Once light is shed on darkness, a choice is to be made that all of us, by God’s granting, are able to make, for He gave us free will: Choose Him or choose self.

I know people who stay stuck in sin because they don’t fear God because no one has really confronted them on it, but only encouraged them. But when God sent His prophets to the Jews because they were sinning against Him, God had the prophet call out ALL of their sins. God labeled them and then delivered harsh judgment.

People must be warned. There is a time for everything, and when someone is sinning, it is NOT the time for encouragement.

Mega Church Vs. Home Church

It is truly an incredible blessing to have a pastor who could easily follow the recent trend and form a mega church, but who instead desires intimate discipleship and fellowship and to see God move powerfully through us, to love and serve practically the community and one another. It’s not about numbers, it’s about making solid, strong disciples. He’d rather have ten on fire for Jesus, than ten thousand faithful church service attendees who are not on fire for the Lord.

Many (not all) pastors are so concerned about bringing in the masses that they neglect the few they have now, thinking a forty minute sermon is enough when truly, christianity is about family; extremely close relationships with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, being there for one another, holding each other accountable, building each other up. It’s not about spoon-feeding a message and then going about your day. I think a lot of these pastors have unwittingly turned church into a business rather than a loving and close-knit community of transformed lives.

Family, pray. I hope you aren’t in a church with leadership that doesn’t truly care tenderly for the flock. I pray you’re involved with a group of believers that meet at someone’s home, where it is more intimate and people can receive prayer and deliverance and personal encouragement, not just an often times generic sermon for thousands.

If you don’t have that, maybe pray about starting one of your own. That’s how the first church did things. They met at people’s homes and built strong relationships with their family in Christ and truly loved one another. Jesus said the world will know we’re His disciples by the way we love one another. But how can we do that in a mega-church setting where you go to service and then leave right after? Unless you serve there, then it becomes a little more intimate but even then, it’s not like you’re truly getting built up and ministering to each other, you are serving others which is great, but the body of Christ is supposed to build each other up too.

This close friendship and accountability is largely missing in our current church culture, but it is vital to our growth in the faith and in love. What do you think? Do you agree? Are you apart of a large church and feeling lonely? Are you in the service-attending routine, but don’t have genuine, close friendships with other believers that you can confess to and count on? Or are you also apart of a wonderful and thriving home church?

As the end draws near, the day gets darker. I highly doubt when anti-Christ shows his true colors there will still be public church buildings. I believe the church will be forced to go underground, like many today and in the days of the apostles. What a tragedy it will be if you have no one to cling to in that time, no one you know who has an open home for believers to gather together. I pray you find that, or create your own home church before it’s too late.

Whatever’s Got You Down, This Should Lift You Up

Two nights ago, I fellowshipped with four brethren in Christ at Publix. First with the cashier, who was from Trinidad. She walked around the counter and gave me a hug. It was a beautiful exchange of loving encouragement. Then, as I’m walking out, another Publix worker starts saying, “Hallelujah, hallelujah,” and cheering me on (I presume he witnessed me and the cashier’s exchange and I was proclaiming how I hoped all came to know that Christ is Lord and they need Him to go to heaven.” So I asked him, “Are you a Christian,” he said, “Oh yes I am.” He was from India. So we fellowshipped briefly, and I continue outside. As I’m waiting for hubby, I begin singing, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Yet another, young Publix worker approaches, riding one of those automatic carts for the disabled, and we begin to fellowship. He was of Latin descent. Then lastly, he drives away, and a gentleman walks out of the Publix. I just felt compelled to bless him so I do, “God bless you.” He returns the blessing and continues to his car. Hubby comes out and we head to our car, only to discover the man I just blessed happened to park right next to us. After putting his groceries away, he comes around and says, “You know lots of times people bless, but it’s just like they say it to say it, but you sounded like you really meant it.” So then we fellowship. He’s a Christian Haitian. I was so encouraged by all of my family in Christ and so blessed by the instant love and encouragement pouring from our hearts and kindred spirits in Christ. It reminded me of heaven, when Revelation says there’s a multitude from every nation before the throne of God, praising Him.

To be honest, I was briefly discouraged about finances as I came to the cashier, but I decided to preach the gospel and that’s when I discovered the cashier was already saved and she actually was blessed by my boldness and needed that encouragement, telling me how she was down all day because her mother has Alzheimer disease. And I just left Publix so filled with joy. I was reminded by God that this life is not about being able to afford all the food you want and being free from money concerns. It’s about expanding the kingdom of God and loving your brothers and sisters in Christ, and seeking to encourage them. All of this is so temporary. I can die tomorrow and be free from all my financial concerns. I live for the afterlife, for heaven, my true home, where I’ll be eternally set. If I’m [American] poor all my life here, so be it. It’s but a moment in light of eternity.

So my dear beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus the Lord, I encourage you today to keep your mind on heavenly things, not on things of the earth. These temporary afflictions are nothing but fleeting shadows, and they even produce in us the perseverance we need in order to continue walking with Christ.

This world is getting darker, but by God’s grace we have the light of Christ. Though money may disappear on bills, family or friends may forsake us, and a job may be lost, God will never leave us. He is our ever-present help in time of need and in time of security. Christ loves us and suffered poverty, He had no home, He suffered persecution; the very ones He created hated Him, He suffered physical abuse and ultimately an agonizing death.

He’s been through everything you’re going through yet never sinned. He is thus able to empathize with you and strengthen you. And though it is contrary to the fleshly mind, the mindset of the world, we are blessed to suffer for our Lord. He chastens only those who are indeed His children, and He counts us worthy to share in His suffering that we too may experience the closeness and dependency He experienced on the Father and share in His holiness. Then we’ll get the true riches found in heaven, incorruptible and everlasting.

But our greatest reward is being able to see the Father and Christ face-to-face, the one who gave up everything for us. To have His precious, scarred hands wipe our tears away and to have Him be our loving and caring King eternal. We will never again suffer lack or feel pain. Our bodies will be glorious and immortal like Christ’s. O, the riches and the glory that await those of us who endure the trials and tribulations of this life and cling to our blessed Savior. We have nothing to fear, for Christ has given us everything we need and more. I love you family.

“Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, And the thirsty land springs of water; In the habitation of jackals, where each lay, There shall be grass with reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and a road, And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, But it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, Shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; It shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there, And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (‭Isaiah‬ ‭35‬:‭3-10‬ NKJV)