Thursday, September 05, 2013

Copycat Christianity

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1
This passage of scripture helps us understand what a Christian truly is called to be - an imitator of Christ. We are His disciples and so we do what He did and we say what He said. We act and even think like Jesus now because we are His disciples and because our lives are now hidden in Him, no longer our own, but His. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who now lives in us.

As we do life this way, we can confidently and matter-of-factly encourage others to imitate us. It is not ego or pride. Rather, it is discipleship; it is kingdom living. Like the Apostle Paul, let’s be true Christians and practice “copycat” Christianity by imitating our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In doing this, we are glorifying God, living out our new identity, and discipling others.

Lord, show me where I am not imitating you. Show me those areas of my life where I am doing it my own way and not Your way. Lead me in Your way everlasting. I choose to come into agreement with You and to be an imitator.

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Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a Spirit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. Pastor Eric Jones is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

ARE YOU A PEOPLE PLEASER?

Conventional wisdom says that we shouldn’t be people pleasers. However, the Apostle Paul proudly declares, “I try to please everyone in everything I do.”

Yes, Paul sought to be a people pleaser. Why? Well, Paul let’s us know that he engages in people pleasing so that he can create a platform on which to share Christ with others. Paul puts others before himself, serves them, tries to please them, and even lays down his owns rights so that they might be willing to hear and receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Notice that Paul is not gaining favor with man in order to promote himself or to obtain personal gain. Rather, it is all for the kingdom of God and for the reward of Jesus’ suffering.

Likewise, we are called to be people pleasers for the Lord that the Gospel might be received and that many would be saved.
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. – 1 Corinthians 10:31-33, ESV

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Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a Spirit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. Pastor Eric Jones is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer.

Friday, August 16, 2013

For My Brother

Just because God allows me to do something and my conscience is clear, does not mean that I should do it. The Apostle Paul tells the church in Corinth that when we do something that causes our brother to fall into sin, it results in us actually sinning against Christ.

This is true even when the thing that I did was allowable and my conscience was clear to do it. For instance, I may have a clear conscience before the Lord that it is ok for me to have a drink of alcohol from time to time. But if my drinking alcohol causes my brother to be tempted to use alcohol in a sinful way, then I have in fact caused my brother to stumble and thus have sinned against Christ.

I cannot live in a vacuum as if I am the center of the universe, because what I do affects others. What I do can either build others up or tear them down. It can benefit my brother or it can break him. Therefore, I must not only live for God and myself, but also for my brother. Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is to love God. Then he told us that the second is like the first – love your brother.

Lord, show me those things that I should lay down for my brother and give me the grace to do it.

9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.– 1 Corinthians 8:9-13
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Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a Spirit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. Pastor Eric Jones is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Obedience is a Joy

In my study through 1 Corinthians this morning, I stopped and contemplated this passage:
19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. - 1 Corinthians 7:19
So, the Apostle Paul is telling the church that keeping God's commands counts. However, I find a common belief among Christians to be that obedience is optional. Some would propose that while obedience to God is better than disobedience, in the end it isn't a major factor. But, this is not what God's Word presents. I am reminded of Jesus has said:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. - John 14:15
"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” - John 14:21
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have keptmy Father's commandments and abide in his love. - John 15:10
Obedience is an act of true love and it gets to the core of our relationship with Jesus. Obedience isn't bad. It's not works-based religion. Rather, it is the evidence of real love. And so, while outward religious acts like circumcision are optional, the circumcision of our heart is not optional and it is made evident in obedience.

Often we look at obedience as a bad thing, as something we have to do. I propose we need new thinking about obedience. We need to look at it from God's perspective and see obedience as a joy. It is a joy to love Jesus and so it is a joy to obey Him. This little change of perspective can make a world of difference. 

Lord, instruct me and guide me in obedience. Help me grow in it. Let obedience be evident in my life for it is my joy to obey. Thank you for your grace that teaches me obedience and empowers me to walk in it. 

Friday, August 02, 2013

Talk is Cheap. Show Me the Power:

The Apostle Paul was intense and in this scripture he is calling out a group of big talkers who were lacking the ability to back up their talk.
19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. - 1 Corinthians 4:19-20
What we believe is important and what we profess is important. However, if we don’t live it out and display the power of our beliefs, then we are missing the kingdom of God.

As the church, we can talk all we want about the love of God and His power. But, if we don’t also demonstrate God’s love and power, we are just full of hot air. It’s one thing to talk a big talk, it’s another thing to walk it out. And it is in walking it out that we actually bring God’s kingdom for all to see.

I propose that the world has heard plenty of talk from the church in America. They are ready to see the power, the evidence, the love, the miracles, and the real deal.
“You can talk all you want, but can you back it up? I want to see this kingdom of God, not just hear about it.”
And so, the Apostle Paul is reminding us that talk is cheap as he declares that it is time to rumble. It’s time for the church to stop simply talking; it’s time to show the power of God’s kingdom on this earth.

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Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a Spirit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. Pastor Eric Jones is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer.

Monday, July 29, 2013

JUST ADD WATER

Earlier this summer, one of my sprinkler heads broke. I figured that I would get around to fixing it soon enough. However, time flew by and the evidence began to show that the repair had obviously not been made. The grass quickly turned from a beautiful green, to an unattractive brown, and finally settled in on its new identity: dirt spots.

The look was so bad that I became ashamed for people to even see my backyard. And so, I had a choice to make. Would I keep living this way or would I address the problem? Procrastination set in as I imagined that the repair would be difficult, that the cost would be high, and that it would take a lot of my time. Meanwhile, the dirt spots were expanding, while the grass was retreating. However, one Saturday morning, I took action. I went to Home Depot, bought the parts and went to work on it. The repair took less than 30 minutes and the cost of the sprinkler head was less than $15. The water was once again flowing.

However, the question remained, would the grass grow back? The fear that I had forever ruined my backyard was upon me. Had I allowed things to get so bad that I was doomed to forever have dirt spots? Was the damage irreversible? At this time, all I could do was water. And so I did. I watered daily. I kept the soil moist. And to my surprise and great joy, the grass returned. It didn’t take a year or even a month. Within one week, the grass had returned; the beauty was back; my backyard was redeemed.

Like my backyard, we were created to be beautiful and full of life, but we need to be watered. We need to be watered with God’s Word and with His presence – the fullness of His Spirit. If we fail to water our lives in this manner, things will get ugly and parts of us will die. However, if this has happened in your life, it doesn’t have to remain this way. Just add water and you will see the life and the beauty return. And it won’t take as long as you might think. God’s grace is powerful and the Lord is able to make all things beautiful again.

So, JUST ADD WATER!

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Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a Spirit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. Pastor Eric Jones is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Want Truth? Then Be Filled with the Spirit

In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, the Apostle Paul presents us with the reality that God's truth cannot be fully comprehended or realized without walking in the fullness of the Spirit.

Here are a few excerpts from this passage of scripture:
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
11b So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
13a we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit
As believers, we can actually create intricate doctrines in our "human wisdom." While this wisdom may appear theologically sound and logically make sense, it will fall well short of the depth of wisdom Paul is telling us we have available if we walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

So, if we want want more Truth, then we want more of the Holy Spirit. If we restrict the Holy Spirit or the "things of the Spirit of God" like His gifts, then we will be limiting the wisdom, understanding, and Truth of God in our lives.

Holy Spirit, I continue to invite Your fullness into my life. I want all of You and all that You have. Lead me and guide me into all Truth. Open my eyes to the deeper things. I am Yours.

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Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a Spirit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. Pastor Eric Jones is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action

and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, - 1 Corinthians 1:4
What I say is important, but what I do is more important; more specifically, the evidence of what I allow God to do in me and through me. As a pastor, good teaching and preaching are necessary, but without the visible move of the Holy Spirit and His power in my life, the results of ministry will always be less-than. Could this be what so much of the church is missing? Is the lack of the demonstration of the Spirit and power the reason we are not seeing wide scale revival in our generation?

Lord, I always want it to be about You and not me. I want to always make room for You to move and for Your power to be displayed. I thank You for the evidence of the Spirit and power in my life, but I want more. I don't want to inhibit, I want to exhibit. I want Your glory to be shown forth in me and through me. Let my words be fewer and let Your glory be greater in my life. Let me decrease while Your presence and power increase so that You will be glorified and so that You will receive the full reward of Your suffering.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Boasting in the Lord

"Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 1:31
Lord, I recognize that in my own strength, in my own wisdom, and in my own flesh I am weak, foolish, and can do no good thing. However, I also recognize that I am no longer my own, but I am  Christ's. I am a new creation living in a whole new reality. Therefore, I have the strength of God and the wisdom of the Lord because I walk by the Spirit, filled with God's powerful grace. I can now do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me. I can even tell a mountain to be removed and it will. 

This blows my mind and humbles me to the core. The God of the universe cares for me, He is mindful of me, He would do this for me simply because I am now His son through Christ Jesus. So on this day, I boast in the Lord and His goodness. He is strong and mighty. He is my God. Therefore, this day I will live, not out of my own imaginary strength, but instead out of His strength and who I am in Christ. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thinking God's Way

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. - 1 Corinthians 1:18

Lord, Your Word is powerful. Your way of thinking is right. And so, I submit my life to you; I submit my mind to You. I desire to always think Your way about all things. I determine to approach every moment with the mind of Christ for only in this reality will I be approaching life with the wisdom and power of God. And only in this manner of thinking will I be able to truly show others the love of Christ.

May all personal wisdom, faulty thinking, and distorted views be destroyed in my life and may Your wisdom continue to rise up. Lord, I want to think Your way about everything. I want to think Your way about everyone. I want to think Your way about myself. I want to think Your way about You. And so I submit my mind to You again this day. Be glorified in my thinking. For I am confident that the power of God will continue to grow and show in me and through me as I remain resolute in my meditation on "the Word of the Cross."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thankful for God's Powerful Grace

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Lord, Your grace is powerful. It is transforming me and I desire more. God, I don't want to lack any of what You have for me in Christ Jesus. May Your grace take full affect in my life; may it complete its work; may it mold me and make me into the man You created me to be. May Your grace continue to chisel away the old and smooth out the rough edges; may it put to death the flesh so that I might walk only in the Spirit being fully alive in Christ. I thank You that because of Your powerful grace, I can walk in every spiritual gift. And so I eagerly desire to grow in all gifts - "not lacking any." God, You are good, You are faithful, and Your grace is truly amazing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Did you just blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

“but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” – Mark 3:29

This statement from the mouth of our Savior, Jesus, seems to frustrate many Christians and even theologians. Obviously blaspheming the Holy Spirit is a serious sin and something that no sincere follower of Christ would ever want to do.

There has been a lot of argument and speculation about what is involved in blaspheming the Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus has given us much insight in His statements contextually recorded in Mark 3:20-30. You see, just before Jesus warns against blaspheming the Holy Spirit, He is accused of being possessed by Beelzebul, the prince of demons. The teachers of the law are attributing Jesus’ powerful act of casting out demons to the devil instead of to the Holy Spirit. God was moving in a different way and the religious people didn’t recognize it and couldn’t explain it and so they foolishly attributed it to demons.

Unfortunately, there are people today (especially all over the internet) that are very causally and very quickly doing this very thing. They hear a minister, a church, or a fellow Christian describing how they believe God has moved in their gathering with healings, prophesy, or miraculous signs and wonders. Then, without even firsthand knowledge, they instantly attribute that experience to something other than the Holy Spirit. Often they even say that it must be demonic.

Wow, this is dangerous ground that they are treading. However, these self-proclaimed experts at how God does and does not move believe they are taking the high road. They believe they are “protecting” the church from heresy. I appreciate the concern, but much more care must be taken.

I am not saying that people don’t abuse ministry and in very rare cases “make things up” or at time just miss it. I am also not saying that Satan doesn’t masquerade as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11). But we must remember that God moves in marvelous, miraculous, and even mysterious ways. So, much care must be taken and clarity must be present in order to not attribute the move of the Holy Spirit to demons. Let us proceed with extreme caution and not blaspheme God.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Divine Appointment

Throughout the Bible there are examples of divine appointments. For instance, Luke’s account of Philip’s divinely guided encounter with the Ethiopian recorded in Acts 8. Maybe you have heard one of those fascinating mission-field stories of people coming out of the African bush asking missionaries to tell them about Jesus.

Well, God continues to divinely orchestrate meetings where one of His disciples crosses the path of another and great things happen. I just had one of those divine appointments this week. Here’s the story…

I had just dropped my two eldest sons off at the local “rec club” to play some basketball. On the way home I decided to stop at Walgreens and grab a cold iced tea. While waiting at the checkout counter, I overheard a man purchasing sandals at the amazingly low price of $1 per pair. I couldn’t resist, I had to take advantage of this great deal. So instead of leaving with my tea, I set it down on the counter and spent the next several minutes hunting for some $1 sandals.

After finding three pair of sandals (they weren’t all for me) I got back in line. While waiting, I noticed a woman who looked vaguely familiar to me. I asked her where we might know each other? She didn’t know. I told her my name. It didn’t register with her. Probably because I was looking a little different as I was dressed in my white v-neck t-shirt, jeans shorts, and flip flops. She then told me her name. It clicked; I play basketball every Sunday evening with her adult son.

I asked her how her son was doing? She proceeded to inform me that he was having a tough time because his father, her husband, was in hospice and struggling with late stage cancer. He only had a couple days remaining. My flesh wanted to simply say, “I’m so sorry” and then leave. But God had bigger plans.

I asked her if I could pray for her. She said yes. I asked if we could pray right here and right now. She said please. So, outside the front door of Walgreens, as people were coming and going, we sought the Lord and laid this burden at His feet. During the prayer she began to weep and tightly hold my hand. The Lord was ministering His love to her. He was reminding her of His love, mercy, and faithfulness. God was doing precious “heart work.”

This was a divine appointment. I had not planned on being at Walgreens. I should have left minutes earlier with my iced tea in hand. But God had a plan. He had an assignment for me. He wanted to pour out His love on one of His children. I was blessed to be His hands and feet.

I drove away from this divine appointment with my eyes filled with tears and my mouth filled with thanksgiving for being allowed to be part of such a tender and profound appointment. What a privilege. God is good.

I encourage you to ask the Lord for your divine appointment. And be ready, be obedient, and watch God work through you and in you.

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Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a spirit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. Pastor Eric Jones is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer.

Monday, August 13, 2012

ARE YOU DIFFERENT?

It is popular today for Christians to want to “fit in” with the world in the name of “relevance”. This sounds good, but it is not Biblical Christianity. As followers of Christ, we are called to be different, because we are different. God's Word reminds us that we are “aliens, strangers, a peculiar people. ” We are different because we have been changed by the powerful grace of Jesus Christ. We don't fit-in with the world, because we don’t live for what the world lives for any longer, rather, we live for God & for His glory. We have separated ourselves unto the Lord.

For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 “Therefore come out from them (the world) and be separate, says the Lord.
 Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, 
says the Lord Almighty.” – 2 Corinthians 6:16b-18

Does this mean that we ignore the lost and the lonely? Not at all. Jesus set the example for us. We are called to seek out the lost and the lonely and to bring them into God's family. But we don't have to look like the world to minister to the lost and the lonely. We don't have to fit-in and be socially relevant. Someone who is lost and lonely isn't looking for more lost and lonely, they are looking for something different. They aren't looking for a church that looks like more of the world. Rather, they are looking for a church that looks like Jesus.

The early church of Acts shows us that it is when we live out the "different" life in Christ Jesus that we will actually attract the lost and the lonely. Acts 2:42-47 paints a picture of Christians living life different from the world around them. And it is precisely this difference that attracted others. In fact it says that, "God added to their numbers daily those being saved." This is because the true seekers are looking for different, they are looking for real people who have been really changed.

Are you "fitting in" or are you different?


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This is a small excerpt from my latest sermon called "I'm Committed." You can listen to the entire sermon online at EvidentLife.org.

Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a spirit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. Pastor Eric Jones is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer. 

Sunday, August 05, 2012

The Power of Confession

Confession moves us forward into the future that God has for us. Confession opens the door to blessings from the Lord and allows us to experience more of Him. A person who does not practice confession is someone who will miss much of what God has for them.

When I talk about confession, I am talking about two things: (1) confessing our sin and our need for the Lord & (2) confessing God's goodness towards us. This can be done individually between you and God and it can also be done corporately.
13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. 14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble. - Proverbs 28:13-14
The person who practices confession will experience prosperity: in whatever form God decides to prosper them - in their soul or physically or both. The person who humbles themselves before the Lord through confessing their sins to Him will find mercy. The person who has a healthy "fear" of the Lord will find blessing. While the person who hardens their heart and does not humble themselves before God will end up living a rough life. 
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. – James 4:10
Are you ready for God to lift you up? Are you ready to move forward in the destiny that God has for you? Then intentionally and regularly engage in times of confessing your sins to the Lord and confessing God's goodness toward you. This act of humility will take you to a whole 'notha level with God.

When we confess our sin to God, His response is not to yell at us, beat us up, mock us, and drag us through the streets. He doesn't sneer at us and say, "I will make you pay." No! Jesus has already paid the price of our sins. He was already dragged through the streets and beaten. God's response to our confession of sin is forgiveness, restoration, and moving on in Him. HE LOVES US.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9
Do you know the joy of forgiveness? If not, then practice confession and you will experience this kind of deep joy and peace. 

Why not not right now? Get alone with your loving Heavenly Father. Confess your sin and your dependance on Him. Confess His goodness towards you and experience the power of confession.

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Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a spirit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. Pastor Eric Jones is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Whole Lot of Hating Going On

Looking at the headlines these days is a reminder that the world hates Jesus as well as those who lift up His name and His precepts. Not much has changed in the last 2,000 years.
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. - John 15:18
It has been amazing to watch the aggressive, hate-filled, venomous reaction from the world to a man politely expressing his conviction about what God has said about marriage.

Along the same lines... It is crazy how the world defends sin and mocks righteousness. Everything is upside down.
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. - Romans 1:28
We desperately need revival in this nation that was founded by great men who had a healthy fear of the Lord, a respect for God's Word, and a love for Jesus. Wake up church, pray, and lift up the name of Jesus. He is the only solution and the only resolution. Jesus is the answer.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Responding to the "Dark (K)Night"

My heart has been grieving over the news of the shootings this morning in Colorado. I have been in prayer for those who have lost loved ones. This was truly a "Dark Knight" in our nation. Lord, bring healing.

How should a nation respond to this kind of evil? Many will react to this tragic display of violence by crying out for more gun control. This is misguided. This is not the solution. This tragic shooting was ultimately the result of the original "Dark Knight", Satan himself, having his way. It was a result of a depraved mind and of evil going unchecked. The problem isn't with guns, instead the issue is found in the condition of the heart and the soul of a nation that has been hardened as it has slowly been turning its back on God - promoting evil and violence instead of standing up for righteousness and goodness.

So now what? How will we respond to this tragedy? We must grieve. We must show love to those who have lost loved ones. Then we must take action. Not with more rules and laws, but with a change of heart. We must get to the root of the problem. We must get to the heart level. We must address the darkness that has been allowed to creep into the soul of this nation. Government isn't the solution, God is.
We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. - John Adams (our 2nd President)
How do you expel darkness? You turn on the light. How does a nation battle against this kind of darkness? It once again shines the bright light of Jesus Christ. As a nation, we need to stop our constant promotion of evil and violence. We need to stand up and demand righteousness. We need to call out evil and remove it from our society. And we need to bring Jesus back into our public square; back into our schools; back into our work places; back into our land.

Only God can cause good to come from this. Only Jesus can bring peace. He is the only solution and He is the only resolution. So as the people of God, we must take our direction from 2 Chronicles 7:14
"if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:14
Lord, forgive our sin, bring Your light, and heal our land. We need you Jesus.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I WIll Not Fear

Fear can be a powerful tool in the hands of our adversary. If we give into it, it can cause us to freeze up or run away. Fear is the opposite of faith.

Here are some examples of what happens when we give into fear:
  • People don’t share Christ with a coworker who is lost because they FEAR losing their job. (Like there is some code of separation of church and work)
  • People don’t call evil out as evil (like abortion) because they FEAR what people may think (may lose some friends – too radical) 
  • People don’t go on a short-term mission because they FEAR being called into the mission field full-time.
  • People don’t pursue ministry because they FEAR not having enough money. 
  • People don’t pursue the gifts of the Holy Spirit because they FEAR being thought of as kooky or extreme. (Or what if God really shows up, then what?) 
Faith is believing God and therefore remaining in Him and doing what He has called us to do. Fear is believing the lies of the enemy and running from the destiny God has for your life. Fear distracts us while faith focuses us on the calling of God and has us proclaiming - Let’s Do It.

I have always loved the words to this timeless worship song taken from Isaiah 54:17
No weapon formed against us shall prosper 
All those who rise up against us shall fall. 
I WILL NOT FEAR what the devil may bring me. 
I am a servant of God. 
I am a servant of God.
As followers of Christ, we must remember who we are. We are God’s children. We are the victorious church. We are about our Father’s business and the enemy can’t stop us.

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Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a spirit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. Pastor Eric Jones is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Called to be PEACEMAKERS

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9
It is interesting that it is the peacemakers that Jesus says will be in the family of God: His children. It is a reminder that there is no room for strife in God’s family. Selfishness, greed, division, and infighting must be left at the door.

We are all called to be peacemakers. How? Here a few ideas...
  • By focusing on GIVING instead of GETTING. 
  • By laying down our own rights and doing what is right. 
  • By being like Jesus and giving up our own rights, our own lives, and being the servant of all. 
  • By thinking the BEST of one another and wanting the BEST for one another. 
In so many words, could Jesus (in Matthew 5:9) also be saying that if we are not peacemakers and instead a strife-makers that we won’t be children of God. A sobering possibility. But we will not fear because we have chosen to be like Christ - the Prince of Peace.

Living as peacemakers isn’t easy. Our flesh fights against it. But by God’s powerful grace, we can do this. We can be peacemakers. We can live free from strife. And we can be called “children of God.”

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Eric Jones is the Lead Pastor of Evident Life Church: a sprit filled, Bible based, family integrated church in Gilbert, Arizona. www.EvidentLife.org. Eric is also the Director of the East Valley House of Prayer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Evident Life Church is Almost 3 Years Old

It's hard to believe that we are closing in on three years since we launched Evident Life Church in Gilbert, Arizona. God has been extremely faithful to us. We are blessed by His great love and the love of our incredible church family members. For our anniversary in September, I hope to write a short summary of our first three years; all of the victories and challenges that have us in awe of God's goodness and His grace. Let's get ready for the celebration as we thank our Lord for what He has done and for what He has yet to do.


In the meantime... Are you looking for a spirit filled, Bible based church in the East Valley - near Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, or Queen Creek? Evident Life Church is a spirit-filled church located in Gilbert, Arizona. Our facility is in the Gilbert Town Square. Our major cross streets are Gilbert Rd & Warner Rd. Our Sunday morning service time is at 10:00AM. We also have midweek gatherings and prayer meetings. Check out the rest of our website for more information about Evident Life Church.


Evident Life Church 1040 S. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, AZ 85296

Monday, July 09, 2012

Some Good Medicine

You have heard it said, "A thankful heart is good medicine." Well, it's true. Throughout the scriptures we are encouraged to be thankful. For instance:

In Colossians 2:7 we are encouraged to be "overflowing with thankfulness."
In Ephesians 5:20 we are told to "always give thanks to God."
In Psalm 100 we are reminded to "enter His courts with thanksgiving in our hearts..."

We have a choice. We can focus on the negative and be consumed with despair, frustration, and anger. Or we can choose to look at the goodness of God and focus on the positive. This will lead to a heart of thanksgiving and a place of joy and peace. It will also bring life and hope into a hurting world.

Let's stop cursing the darkness and instead bring the light. One way we can bring the light of Christ Jesus into this world is to live everyday out of the place of thanksgiving. I challenge you to stop focusing on everything that is wrong and instead focus on what is good.

Let us be people who are overflowing with thankfulness for "the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. "

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Gospel of Grace Changes Things - FOR REAL

Peoples lives are changing all over the world because of the powerful grace of Jesus Christ. I mean real change is happening. People are walking away from anger, pornography, alcoholism, drug addiction, fornication, and gossip. Marriages are being restored and families are being saved. All because some people are beginning to understand God's grace in ALL its truth. As a pastor, I am blessed to see these kind of life-changing miracles happen and it's awesome!

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. - Colossians 1:6

God is so good that He has given us a grace that changes things for real: in the here-and-now. It is a grace that justifies us, but it also sanctifies us. It is a grace that forgives us, but also empowers us to not go back to that sin. It is a grace that brings us real freedom and crushes the power of sin. And as the Apostle Paul said, it is a grace that bears much fruit.

Do you know this kind of grace? You can. Ask the Holy Spirit to open up your understanding. Read God's Word and see this powerful grace all over the pages of scripture. And then embrace it. Walk in it. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, then the same power that raised Christ from the dead is in you. Now that's grace.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Loving God with Our Emotions:

You have heard it said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" - Mark 12:30. Jesus is telling us to love God with our everything. He is admonishing us to love God with our emotions (heart), our inner-man (soul), our intellect (mind), and our actions (strength). Loving God involves all of these expressions.

With such a clear directive from our Savior, it is surprising that there is a segment of the evangelical community that continues to shun loving God with our emotions. These teachers indirectly and sometimes intentionally tell people that an emotional experience with the Lord or an expression of emotions toward the Lord is somehow "less than" or even heretical and unbiblical. This argument often surrounds the selection of corporate worship songs.

Where does this war against emotions come from? It does not come from the Bible or the heart of God. I often wonder if the people who instruct against loving God with our emotions are people who have issues expressing their emotions and therefore have created an emotionless world and theology.

Again, Jesus instructs us to love God with our emotions. In the greek, the word "heart" is regarded as the seat of emotion, feeling, impulse, affection, desire. The Lord created us to experience and to express emotions. He gave us these qualities because He created us in His image and He created us in order to love Him rightly. King David is called "the man after God's heart." King David was a man of emotions. Just read the Psalms. In many ways, the Psalms were given to us by God to encourage and highlight the involvement of our emotions in our love of HIm. Our passionate God created us to be passionate. He wants more than just our dutiful service and our understanding of His truth - He also wants our emotions.

Loving God and worshipping HIm must include our everything: emotions, inner-man, intellect, and actions. To diminish any of these expressions of love is to rob people of the relationship God created them to have with Him. To diminish and discourage any of these expressions, including the involvement of our emotions, is to rob the Lord of the complete love from His precious children for which His Son gave His life. God loves it when we get emotional for Him and because of Him.

While it can be dangerous and ill advised to base our doctrine on emotions and feelings, it is also dangerous and ill advised to allow our doctrine to remove our emotions from our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who do you crave time with: family or God?

In my last post I wrote about craving the Lord. We are called to make the Lord our number one passion. There are noble things in this world. For instance, parenting is extremely noble; it is a blessing from the Lord and a responsibility too. Culture and even the church tells me as a parent to crave time with my kids. I agree that I should desire to spend time with my children and to invest into them. However, nowhere in the Bible does it tell me to “crave” time with my kids. Nowhere in the Bible does it tell me to make time with my kids the most important thing in my life.

Hang with me here…

As we study God’s Word, we see a common theme that tells us to crave the Lord, to make Him our treasure, to seek Him first, to make Him our deep desire. We must give our lives, our first, and our best to the Lord. Nothing else can take His place and nothing else should be allowed to rob us of our time with God and our passion for the Lord. Not even our families.

While God’s Word does teach us to invest our everything in Him and in His kingdom, it also teaches us that we should not do this on our own. We are not called to simply go off on our own and get as much of God for ourselves and let everyone else fend for themselves. Rather, we are called to bring others along with us on this amazing journey. We are called to make disciples. And our family members, our children, should be at the top of the list of those we are bringing along with us on this journey.

So go after God with all that is within you. Chase after Him. Pursue the Lord. Crave pure spiritual milk. Let your family watch you live for the Lord. Teach them what it means to live for God. Show them with your life, your actions, your priorities, and your investments what it looks like to crave the Lord. Teach your children what is really important. Leave an eternal legacy of generations that live life for God and crave the Lord. Your children are watching and learning.

Go after the Lord with your everything and bring your family along for the ride. Your family time will be rich because it will be time pursuing the Lord together. Your family will be built up in the Lord, you will create God-sized family memories, your legacy will stand the test of time, and the Lord will be glorified.

I trust you understand the heart of this message is not to spend less time with your family, rather it is a call to an amazing family adventure in pursuit of the Lord. This is how we truly, "raise up our children in the way that they should go."

What are You Craving?

What are you craving? God’s Word tells us in 1 Peter 2:2 to crave “pure spiritual milk.” That pure spiritual milk is the Lord Himself. Are you finding a craving in your heart for God - to know Him better, to grow closer to Him?

This can be a challenge for us today because there are so many things in our lives that cry out for attention, that take our energy, and consume our passions. But Peter reminds us that the one who is truly born again, will long for the presence of the Lord; and not just long for Him on Sunday mornings alone.

We must reject the Sunday morning only, spectator mentality of the Christian faith. Being a Christian is not dependent upon, nor is it summed up by simply attending a church service and looking bored with the preacher. That isn't what it means to be a follower of Christ. Following Christ is living dynamically. It's a craving for God, to know God, to be excited about God. It’s an all-consuming passion for Him.

Indifference and lukewarmness is very dangerous. We hear this from too many people these days, “if I have time, if it works out, if I've got the money, if I'm not doing anything else… then I will go after God with my everything.” We can’t give God our leftovers.

A little baby not only desires its mother's milk, but that baby has a powerful, instinctive urge for that milk. This is what Peter is talking about here… having an URGE, a craving, a passion for the Lord, for His Presence, His truth, His Word, His Ways.

If you're a believer, are you craving the Lord?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

FINDING JOY

Let me tell you a little secret... true joy is found in holiness; in being "set apart" for the things of the Lord. When we set ourselves apart from the things of this world and consecrate ourselves unto the Lord, we find joy. I was reminded of this truth as I was reading in Ezra chapter 6. After rebuilding the temple, those who had separated themselves from the unclean practices of the world in order to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, found so much joy that they celebrated and feasted for seven days. It was only those who had pursued holiness that were participants in this great celebration. Those who set themselves apart for the things of the Lord and leave behind the things of this world, get to participate in the things of God and enjoy the blessings and presence of the Lord. This is where true joy is found - in the Lord.

Most people think of obedience to the Lord as "downer" and something that will make life boring. Others think that mixing some things of this world in with the things of God is an acceptable way of living and that God is totally cool with it. These are lies and believing these lies is keeping people from experiencing true joy, true peace, and a satisfied life. We have to remember that the Lord does not get cozy with worldliness.

I contend that there is no real joy apart from the Lord. Yes, there may be temporary experiences of happiness that feel like joy. But true and lasting joy that penetrates the soul and gives life to the spirit only comes from the Lord and this joy is only experienced by those who are setting themselves apart for Him and Him alone. When we compromise in the area of obedience, we cheat ourselves of real joy. When we engage in the things of this world that do not glorify the Lord, it costs us greatly. It costs us the joy of the Lord. However, when we purpose to consecrate ourselves unto God and when we aggressively set ourselves apart from the unclean practices of this world, the joy of the Lord fills us up and becomes our portion. Are you ready to exchange the junk of this world for the joy of the Lord? I am.

I leave you with the words of Jesus:
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. 10 If you obey My commands (holiness), you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. 11 I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." - John 15:9-11

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

LEAVING A LEGACY

What are we passing down to our children; to the next generation? What will be our legacy? Be assured, how we live our lives is sending a strong message to those who follow us. Are we showing them how to gain wealth, financial success, prosperity, a career OR are we showing them how to touch the heart of God? There is nothing wrong with wealth, financial success, prosperity, or a career. However, none of these are eternal. They are all temporal and they all pass away. None of these pursuits even compare to touching the very heart of God and beholding His beauty.

So, what are we investing in today? What are we dedicated to? What example are we giving to our children and the generation that is looking up to us for direction? Do they see us diligently and with great zeal seeking the Lord or do they see us dedicated to other things? Again, we are showing our children what is important every day by how we spend our time and where we invest our resources. What are we passing down to our children? What will be our legacy?

Jesus should be our example. He was about His Father's business. What are we about? Our children are watching and they are learning. What are we seeking first? Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Can you really say that you are seeking first HIs kingdom and His righteousness? What would your kids say you are seeking first? What will be your legacy?

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Biblical Key to Answered Prayer:

Why do the prayers of some seem to always be answered, while the prayers of others don’t? Is it because some people know what to say and how to say it? Is there a trick to seeing our prayers answered or is it just the luck of the draw?

Well, we know that the Lord is sovereign and perfect in all He does. He will answer the prayers that He wants to answer; those prayers that are “according to His will.” But it also looks like the Bible doesn’t guarantee everyone equal access to the Lord and equal results in prayer.

Check out these passages of scripture and notice how obedience and righteousness are correlated to answered prayers. How much more of God’s kingdom would we experience if we embraced the sanctified and obedient lifestyle Christ died for us to live?

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” - James 5:16

O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name.” - Nehemiah 1:11

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” - 2 Chronicles 7:14

These are just a few passages that make this correlation. God’s Word is full of this truth. I contend that we will see great revival, the kingdom of God will come in greater measure, and our prayers will be answered when the church embraces obedience and righteousness.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Two Different Responses to God

Studying the first couple chapters of 1 Samuel outlines two very different responses to God. These chapters are a good reminder that the Lord blesses those who honor Him as He did for Hannah and her son Samuel. However, it is also a very poignant reminder that the Lord rebukes and punishes those who dishonor Him and sin against Him like Eli and his two sons. God doesn't mess around with sin. God doesn't turn a blind eye to sin. He hates sin and there are real consequences to our sin.

Some say that this is just "the God of the Old Testament" and that now "the God of the New Testament", is the God of love and mercy. People talk themselves into believing that somehow God has changed and is now ok with sin. This is crazy talk. God is the same yesterday today and forever. He has not changed. He has hated sin from the beginning and He still hates it. He has punished sin from the beginning and He still does. He is holy and righteous and cannot have anything to do with sin.

So, because of His great love for us, God sent His Son Jesus in order to kill sin. The work of Christ on Calvary has given everyone the opportunity to be free from the grip and consequences of sin. It begins with forgiveness, but doesn't stop there. The grace of Jesus Christ isn't simply about forgiveness. No! It is much more powerful and effective than that. The grace of Jesus Christ gives us victory over sin so that we no longer are controlled by it and therefore walk away from it.

Yes, all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. This is why we need Jesus so that the life of sin will be broken and we will truly be made new creations in Christ Jesus as we respond to Him in faith and repentance. Jesus gives us all we need to respond to God as Hannah did, with honor and love instead of how Eli and his sons responded to God with dishonor and sin.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dreams Come True

While reading 1 Samuel 1 this morning, I was reminded of how God can really move in our lives and birth new things in us when we are willing to submit these things to the Lord and set them aside for His glory. Is there something you have been desiring for a long time? Try doing what Hannah did. She prayed. She cried out to God and then she submitted it to the Lord. She laid her desires and dreams before the Lord and consecrated them to Him. Hannah no longer wanted a son just for herself. Rather, she wanted a son for the glory of God. And this is when everything changed and God moved in her life. This is when her dreams came true.

So, what are you dreaming for: a spouse, a new job, a spiritual gift such as prophesy, the ability to play the guitar or piano, finances, influence among your peers?

I believe we will see many more of our desires and dreams come to pass when they are submitted to the Lord, when they line up with His perfect will, and when they are given over to Him for His glory.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

God's Response to Confession

When we confess our sin to God, His response is not to yell at us, beat us up, mock us, and drag us through the streets. He doesn't sneer at us and say, "I will make you pay." No! Jesus has already paid. God's response to our confession of sin is forgiveness. HE LOVES US. Do you know the joy of forgiveness?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Are Your Hands Tied?

Ministering without the presence and power of the fullness of the Holy Spirit would be like trying to play a basketball game with your hands tied behind your back. Sure you'd be on the court, but you would have a very difficult time scoring any points.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Ultimate Blessing

Read Psalm 23. You know... "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want..." Get out your Bible right now and read the whole Psalm.

Ok, what is the blessing in this passage of scripture? Is it the green pastures? The quiet waters? How about the restoration of our souls? We would agree that the valley of darkness isn't the blessing. But, what about the table set for us before our enemies?

It is clear that while many of these can be looked upon as blessings, they are not the primary blessing revealed to us by the Psalmist. The primary blessing is our Shepherd. The Shepherd is the constant throughout this Psalm and throughout our lives. No matter what the circumstance, our Shepherd is always right there with us - through the good and the bad. He is the constant and He is the ultimate blessing.

When we have our Shepherd, we lack nothing and we want nothing, because He is our everything.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Encounter Before Execution

I just finished teaching from the 23rd. Psalm. This passage of scripture is very familiar to most Christians. Maybe too familiar. Maybe this familiarity actually causes us to overlook some amazing truths.

Here is one truth from Psalm 23 that I fear is too often missed:
Notice that Psalm 23 does not begin with activity, but with the restoration of our souls. This is a reminder of how the Christian life is to be lived. We begin by resting in Christ and out of the restoration of our soul comes activity. Many Christians, and many churches, have this backwards. Many Christians lead with ministry. Out of their good intentions they get busy with activity, attending church meetings, executing programs, planning budgets, and teaching Sunday school before getting filled and restored by Him. Sadly, this leads to "burn out" and disappointment. It is the result of execution before encounter.

A sure sign that we have missed the point is when our activity in the church becomes a replacement for prayerful devotion to the One who called us here in the first place. Jesus has called us first to worship, and secondly to work. We must never reverse this order. When it gets reversed, we miss the reality that Christianity is primarily a relationship, not a religion. You see, we are here to enjoy our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Again, when we take a deeper look, we see that Psalm 23 is about the blessings of being in a relationship with the Shepherd - Jesus Christ. Remember to daily encounter the Lord so that He can restore your soul. Then, execute His kingdom plans with passion, confidence, and power.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Leading by Example & Encounter

Jesus called us to make disciples. This means that we are supposed to lead people closer and closer to their Savior King - Jesus Christ. How do we do this? How do we help others explore and realize the deeper things of God? Well, we can't take anyone someplace that we haven't already been ourselves. To lead means, "to show the way to by going in advance." We must be people who are passionately chasing after more of Jesus - more of His truth, more of His grace, and more of His presence in our lives. It's leading by example and leading by encounter.
The Holy Spirit is raising up shepherds to teach God's people to live after His own heart. They will feed others from the reality they encounter through their own unyielding personal pursuit of God. They will only be able to shepherd others because they have given themselves wholly to the great Shepherd. - Mike Bickle

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Christian Patriotism - Psalm 33:12

WE NEED REAL PATRIOTS! When we make God our Lord, then we who are Christians can be the kind of patriots our nation desperately needs. Is there such a thing as Christian patriotism? I think there is.

Let me argue that in light of the truth found in the 33rd Psalm,
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” – Psalm 33:12
there is really no other kind of patriotism. For you see, if we desire to be people who bring blessing upon our nation; if we want to be people who contribute to the betterment of our nation, then there is really only one way… promote Christ, fear the Lord, and make Him the Lord of our lives and of our nation.

True patriots will do whatever they can do in order to make our nation one whose God is the Lord. For you see, without making God our Lord, any “good thing” we do is done in vain. True patriotism begins with the fear of the Lord and the glorification of the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Finding Delight in God's Word - Psalm 1:2

We build on yesterday's post from Psalm 1. The Psalmist, in verse 2, continues by instructing us that true happiness, the blessed life, is found by those who are really “INTO” God’s Word.
Blessed is the man whose.. delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. - Psalm 1:2
In other words, blessings pour out upon us when we have filled ourselves with God’s Word. True happiness is the result of finding pleasure in God’s Word. Day and night allowing God’s Word to fill our thoughts, penetrate our hearts, and consume our lives. Seeking guidance and strength from God’s Law rather than from the wisdom and follies of this lost world. The Follower of Christ has learned to make God's Word his delight. The Blessed person finds pleasure and life in God’s Word.

To some it is boring, but to you it is exciting.
To some it is dull, but to you it is delightful.
To some it is fantasy, but to you it is fact.
To some it is information, but to you it is inspiration.
To some it is optional, but to you it is necessary for life.

How close should we get?

In my previous post about Psalm 1:1, "It's a Slippery Slope", I discussed the Psalmist's warning that who we hang out with matters greatly and what we listen to shapes us.

But, should our response to this warning be to completely ignore sinners? Do we run from them? Do we leave them to fend for themselves? How close should we get? It is clear that we are called to minister to the lost. We are called to share the gospel with sinners. Jesus said that it is the sick (meaning the sinner) that needs a doctor (needs salvation). Jesus Himself ministered to sinners, but He did not have close relationship with them. Rather, He had close relationship and spent the vast majority of His time with His disciples – those who meditated on God’s Word and were hungry for more of Him.

So, who should we minister to? Those who are far from God. What kind of close friends should we pick? Let's rephrase Psalm 1:1 1 into something positive rather than something negative to find the answer to this question. “Blessed, (happy in God) are the those who walk in the counsel of the holy, who stand in the way of the righteous, who sit in the seat of worshipers.”

Thursday, July 08, 2010

It's a Slippery Slope - Psalm 1:1

1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. – Psalm 1:1

Look at the progression that is outlined in this verse. Look at how we can get sucked into a life of ungodliness that robs us from the blessed life.

1. The blessed or happy man does not WALK in the counsel of the wicked. Walk is a term that suggests passing by, casually “checking it out”.

2. The blessed or happy man does not STAND in the way of sinners. The Hebrew word for stand has the idea of actually mixing in, standing among, sinners. Can you see the progression here? The casual passerby slows down and now takes his stand with the sinner.

3. The blessed or happy man also does not SIT in the seat of mockers. This suggests something more permanent, an abiding, a settling down. You’re all in. It’s bad news. It pulls you in and the next thing you know, you’re in bed with the enemy.

The Psalmist is telling us that we find true blessing and true happiness when we don’t walk, stand, or sit with the ungodly.

Quoting a well-known proverb, the Apostle Paul warns us…
Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." - 1 Corinthians 15:33
Entertaining ungodliness and/or hanging out with the wrong people results in anything but blessing and happiness.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Do we believe?

Belief has got to be more than a thought, more than a mental ascension, more than a feeling. When we truly believe in something, we step out and take action based on that belief. Our beliefs determine our actions. For the Christian, belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for our sins, forgave us, and has given us His grace… changes everything. It changes everything.

This kind of sincere belief will result in radical action. We can no longer go on living the way we used to live. We can no longer be comfortable living for temporal, earthly, and fleshly things. Pride, lust, selfishness, and greed begin to fall off… because we believe. We have a deep desire to obey the King of Kings who ransomed us from eternal separation from God. We become desperate for more of God and we willingly lay down our rights and our very lives for Jesus Christ. Truly believing changes everything. Our worldview changes, our desires change, our lives change – for real!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Make Giving Common

3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. - Matthew 6:3-4
Jesus is encouraging us to allow giving to be so much about God and also so common in our lives that it becomes second nature. Remember our second nature is who we are when we live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. It is who we are because we have been radically changed by the grace and presence of Christ. Where we don’t even think about keeping track of what, how often, or how much we give. We don't add it up in our minds so that we become proud of our own generosity.

We shouldn’t keep the account. God does that. He sees everything and He records it all. And, do you know what he will do? He will reward us.



Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Orchestra

God showed me a picture this morning of a massive orchestra and told me that this orchestra is His church. The orchestra is made of up many kinds of musicians playing all kinds of instruments that are all needed in order to produce the beautiful music that has been written by the composer – God. Jesus stands as the conductor and masterfully brings the orchestra to life as He calls each of the musicians to play their part at the perfect time. The musicians must keep their eyes on the conductor as He calls for a crescendo, points out a rest in the music, speeds up the tempo, and emphatically points for the crash of the cymbals.

The music produced by this orchestra is beautiful and is moving heaven and earth. However, there is something missing. What is it? It appears as though there are orchestra members who are absent, there are also members who are not holding their instruments, and other members are not playing because they are missing their cues from the conductor while their eyes are looking elsewhere.

We are the orchestra, Jesus is the conductor, and God has a part for us to play. We must first show up. Then we must take hold of the instrument assigned to us. Finally, we must keep our eyes on the conductor and follow His lead - not letting our attention be compromised, but always looking at our conductor and taking our cues only from Him. God has created beautiful music for us to play together and we all have a part to play. What a privilege to be a member of God’s orchestra.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jettison the Junk

Memory Verse:
“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” - Matthew 5:30

Big Idea:
Jesus is calling us to jettison the junk. He is emphatically urging us to remove anything from our lives that competes with Him and causes us to sin. Jesus loves us and wants us to be free from the grip of sin and to live forever in His arms of love. What does Jesus mean by these radical statements? Is He advocating self-mutilation? Let me quickly say no. Remember, Jesus is concerned with our hearts. He knows that cutting off a hand won’t truly make you pure. However, He is using shock and awe in order to make a serious point. He is waking us up and calling us to get rid of the things that cause us to sin.

In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus is telling us that we have a role to play. We are called to take action and to take the necessary steps to remove those things from our lives that cause us to fall into sin. We must remember that God’s grace OPERATES powerfully in our lives and His grace also calls us to CO-OPERATE with His work in our lives.

We live in a culture where people love their sin. They are so comfortable with sin that they fill their minds and ultimately their hearts with it on a regular basis as they watch TV, go to movies, or surf the internet. We lie to ourselves and say we can handle it, but we can’t. What we put in us affects us and either builds us up or tears us down. It either brings us life or brings us death. It either glorifies God or it offends Him. What we look at matters. What we listen to matters. Where we go matters. Who we hang out with matters. It either builds us up and promotes holiness or it tears us down and breeds sin. We need more of the stuff that promotes holiness and lifts up the name of Jesus. And we need to remove those things from our lives that breed sin, that draw us away from God and into sin, that entice us to commit spiritual adultery and forget our first love – Jesus Christ. We have all we need in Christ Jesus to jettison the junk and live for God.

Scripture and Discussion Questions: Read the Bible passage(s) and discuss the questions.
1. Matthew 5:29-30 – How serious is Jesus about removing the things from our lives that cause us to sin? Who is supposed to throw away the things that lead to sin? What kind of things can cause us to fall into sin?
2. Colossians 3:1-10 – Why are we able to jettison the junk that leads to sin? Have you experienced how God’s grace empowers you to say no to temptation? Share them and write them down.
3. Philippians 4:8 – How do you feel after filling yourself with these kinds of things? Make a list of things that you can add to your life or increase in your life that lead to God instead of to sin.

Kids Corner:
Talk to your children about the need to stay away from things that cause them to sin. Have your child get a handful of dirt and then have them bring it into the house and run around. What happens to the dirt? It gets all over the house and makes things dirty. (Sorry parents, maybe you will just want to talk them through this one.) Talk with them about how bringing dirt inside can often make things dirty and even ruin things. However, keeping the dirt outside keeps things clean. Now explain to them how this relates to other things in their lives. Explain how what they look at and what they listen to can have this kind of effect on their lives. God tells us to stay away from the dirty things in the world that can mess up our lives.

Prayer Time:
Have a discussion with God about what you have just studied. Ask God to expose those things in your life that pull you away from Him and breed sinfulness. Ask for forgiveness and ask God to help you jettison the junk. God has promised that His grace gives us all we need to say no to sin and yes to Him. God’s grace is more powerful than temptation and sin. If you have given your life to Christ, His grace is in you. Live in His powerful grace and let it free you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Go Deep

Memory Verse:
“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.” - Matthew 5:22

Big Idea:
Jesus uses the topic of murder in His sermon to remind us that it’s not about the letter of the law; rather, it’s all about the heart. Yes, our actions matter and our words matter, but ultimately, it’s about the condition of our hearts that really matters.

Jesus affirms that murder is wrong – it is sinful. However, He takes it deeper and tells us that our words can also be sinful. In fact, Jesus tells us that calling someone bad names and speaking evil towards them is the equivalent of murder. Calling someone a “fool” is so bad because our words matter, and they “have the power of life and death.” But Jesus keeps going deeper and also tells us that anger is equivalent to murder. Anger is a sin, and Jesus shows us that murder actually starts with anger. Anger is the root. Anger is at the heart of the matter. What you are in your heart is who you really are. So, what’s in your heart? Let me remind you that if you are in Christ Jesus, He is in your heart. If Christ is in your heart, you have a new heart that is powered by His amazing grace. You have all you need for Life and Godliness. You can GO DEEP without fear because that is where Jesus is.

Finally, where there has been anger or any other sin, there is a need for reconciliation. God loves reconciliation. He desires it so much so that He sent Christ Jesus to pay the ultimate price for our reconciliation. He reconciled us to our Father God. Jesus loves people and He wants us to be reconciled with one another. He wants us to forgive one another and love one another. Listen to the voice of Jesus and respond to His call to GO DEEP!

Scripture and Discussion Questions: Read the Bible passage(s) and discuss the questions.
1. Matthew 5:21-22 – Do our actions matter to God? Why is God even more interested with what’s in our hearts? How can a changed heart change our actions?
2. Proverbs 18:21 & James 3:9-12 – Have you ever been the recipient of hurtful words? Do you see how words can cause severe damage to a person? How can a heart that is purified by Christ affect how we speak to others and how we treat others? Make it a point this week to speak life.
3. Matthew 5:23-26 & Romans 12:18 – Why is reconciliation so important? How can unforgiveness affect our relationship with God? Have you ever tried to reconcile, but the other party wasn’t interested? What should you do? Ask God to reveal anyone you to be reconciled with.

Kids Corner:
Talk to your children about how we need to remove sin from our lives, but we must go deeper than what we just see. We must deal with sin at the root level or else it might come back. Now, it’s time to do some gardening. Find some weeds that need to be pulled and tell your children that the weeds are like sin, they don’t belong and they can make things look ugly and actually kill the good plants. Cut the top of a weed off and then talk to your children about how that weed will grow back because the root is still there. Now help your child pull some weeds – root and all. Explain how that weed won’t grow back and that when we allow God to pull the sin out of our lives, roots and all, that the sin can be gone and not return.

Prayer Time:
Have a discussion with God about what you have just studied. Ask God to examine your heart and to reveal any corruptness or impurity that is present at your heart level. Repent. Ask for God’s powerful grace to purify your heart and to separate you from the junk that had attached to your heart. The grace of Jesus is amazing and powerful and will purify a heart that is surrendered to Him. Do not be afraid. Jesus is at the heart level and He is full of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love. GO DEEP!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Whole Notha' Level

Memory Verse:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” - Matthew 5:17

Big Idea:
Jesus very clearly tells us that He didn’t come to “do away” with the law and bring a new law. Rather, Jesus tells us that He came to fulfill the law and to fulfill all the prophecies that proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. The law represents the character of God. The Law represents the righteous requirements of God. The law has not changed just as God has not changed. However, scripture tells us that we have a new covenant in Jesus Christ because only in Christ can we fully meet the requirements of the law. This new covenant is all about the heart. God wants our hearts, and when He has our hearts, we can live for Him like we couldn’t before - because of Christ.

With Christ, it is different. When we accept Him as our sacrifice, we not only receive forgiveness, but we are actually made into new creations. The old passes away and the new comes. Our hearts are filled with His grace that gives us what we need to live for God in a new way. Jesus takes it to a “whole notha’ level”. He fulfills the law.

God’s grace changes our hearts and empowers us to live for God - to live for righteousness and say no to evil. Sin is dead in us and we can now walk in newness of life because the work of Christ on the cross is complete and fulfills the law. The grace of Jesus Christ is powerful! The law hasn’t gone anywhere. God’s requirements remain the same. God still requires holiness and righteous living. However, in Christ “we now have all we need for life and godliness” - 2 Peter 1:3.

Scripture and Discussion Questions: Read the Bible passage(s) and discuss the questions.
1. Matthew 5:17-20 – Why is the Law still good? How did Jesus fulfill the Law? How did Jesus fulfilling the Law change everything? What does it mean to you and your daily life?
2. Ezekiel 11:19-20 – Why did we need a new heart? How does a new heart of flesh change us? Have you experienced an ability to follow the commandments of God since receiving your new heart in Christ?
3. Titus 2:11-12 –Beyond forgiveness, what does God’s grace do for Christ-followers? What areas of your life need a dose of this kind of grace? Take hold of God’s grace and in faith ask God for deliverance.

Kids Corner:
Setup a racecourse or an obstacle course in your backyard or in your living room. Race your children. Have fun with it. Next, tell your children that they can only hop on one leg for this next race. Then have one final race using both legs again. Read Matthew 5:17-20 and ask your children the following questions: (1) Was it easier to run with both legs or just one? (2) Where you faster with one or two legs? (3) Can you run longer one two legs or using just one? Talk to your children about the new covenant in Christ Jesus where He fulfilled the law which means we have His powerful grace that has two spiritual legs – one leg provides for our forgiveness while the other leg empowers us to say no to sin and to live for God. Read Titus 2:11-12 again and talk about how God’s grace helps them do the right thing.

Prayer Time:
Have a discussion with God about what you have just studied. Repent if you have only looked to His grace for forgiveness and not for the power to say no to sin. You are forgiven. Now confess Titus 2:11-12 and thank God for the new covenant in Christ Jesus that both forgives you and empowers you to kill sin and break bondage. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any area where you need God’s grace to break bondage. Ask God for His grace to destroy that bondage, sin, habit, or lie from the enemy. Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law and in Him you have all you need for life and godliness. It is by His grace.