Jesus is Worth the Stones

God Gold of the Day

19 Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. 20 But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.”

-Acts 14:19-20

I’ve been hooked on these verses in Acts after hearing them preached this past Sunday. We see in the book of Acts already in chapter 1, verse 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Verse 8 shows us Jesus giving the gift of the Holy Spirit to all those that believe in Him. Jesus shows us that we have been given this awesome power dwelling within us and the reason why we would need this power from God. To witness, spread the name of Christ across the world and continue in the ministry Jesus had began on earth. We have the power, we have the purpose, what’s next?

When you keep reading into Acts you see so many awesome examples from these early Christians going city to city preaching the Good News of Christ to all those around them. You also see that people are completely amazed at this Good News, but some didn’t take so kindly to hearing this Gospel message that challenged their beliefs. Chapter 14 of Acts we see Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey to spread the Good News to each city they went in. They preached all over the city and what’s pretty crazy is they know there is opposition awaiting them by doing this so when they would go into a city, “The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers (Acts 14:1).” These two men straight to the Jewish synagogue first to preach the Gospel of Christ. They could have went anywhere else in the city but they chose to go to the place where they would face the most opposition from Jews who believed another story from God. Why would they walk right in to the jaws of rejection and the pit of persecution??? 

That’s what I asked when I read this because I did what most of us do these days, look at the bad, the negative possibilities, the place out of my comfort zone closer to harm. I looked at that because it’s scary. But what gave these men the courage to walk right into the place where they were in the most danger and least wanted? They believed the truth about what Christ had done for them, they believed the truth that they have been given the power of the Holy Spirit within them to speak boldly and confidently about Christ even in the face of opposition. They also kept the PURPOSE Christ had given them to be a witness for His name to as many as possible. Their hearts and vision were aligned with God’s will, I’m sure they saw the possible opposition and danger but what they saw that was even bigger was a group of people who were in need of hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. They knew that those people had the chance to have their lives changed completely and given LIFE for the first time by coming to faith in Christ so the GLORY of the MISSION and PURPOSE Jesus had set them on was bigger than their fear, bigger than any danger, rejection or opposition they could ever face, bigger than any physical harm they may endure. Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and the chance to see others come to know Jesus personally, for them to have the gift of eternity and experiencing the powerful and life-changing love of Christ was BIGGER than anything and everything!!

What an awesome example these guys set for us as believers. In these verses, their example was brought out even BIGGER for us. A crowd of some Jews that had already caused some trouble for Barnabas and Paul had heard of their preaching in this town, they schemed against the two men and got the crowds on their side. Then they stoned Paul. Dragged Paul out of the town. To the disciples Paul looked dead.

It’s cool to look at their example, see the positive influence Christ was having through them in people’s lives but how hard do you think it was for these men, during the awful, painful harm they faced, how could they remember the good in such a bad moment? Honestly, sitting in a seat personally and a culture around us that screams “comfortable Christianity.” How could we read that and say, “yeah, I would do the same thing if I was in that situation.” But the truth is we’re not, being in the Bible belt of the South, or anywhere really, we can’t talk much about being rejected or persecuted from sharing the Good News because we are facing opposition telling us to stay in our comfort zone. Lies such as, “you can be comfortable and be a Christian.” If we aren’t going out of our comfort zone, how will we ever truly see lives changed? How can we ever experience Christ in the fullest of ways, living a life that says, “the mission that Christ has given me to share Him with the world, it’s worth whatever I have to go through to accomplish it.” I heard someone say this the other day and it may hurt to hear but it’s the truth of where our churchy culture has gone, “we’d rather send money to missionaries and local ministries to do all the dirty work while we sit comfortably on our church pews.”

It’s convicted me greatly to realize how comfortable I am, how lazy and not really caring about living out the purpose God has given me through the power of the Holy Spirit to do it. As a follower of Jesus Christ, it isn’t the preacher’s job, the missionaries job or any other ministry calling, we’ve ALL been called to the same mission, to do the work of Christ sharing the love of Christ to all those who are around us, to do the work that gets nasty, dirty, filled with a lot of rejection, opposition and sometimes even blood in some cases. We have to ask ourselves honestly without giving and “oh yeah of course it is” response like I myself have done so many times. Is Christ worth it? Is sharing the GREATEST news about what the GREATEST name has done and watching people have the GREATEST relationship with such a loving Savior, IS IT NOT WORTH IT? IS IT NOT WORTH ANYTHING or IS IT WORTH ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!!!!!!

You know what the right answer is but take an honest look at how you daily pursue Christ and daily pursue the mission to take Christ to others? We can be blinded by our comfort sometimes that we overlook the truth about who Christ has called us to be!

In these verses, the examples set by Paul and Barnabas come to a head. The struggle for them is realer than ever, they’ve went through it all. Rejection, persecution, opposition and physical harm. Paul literally gets beat to the pulp by stones. Think for a second how badly that hurt?!? But then at the lowest point where we would almost gurantee from our human comfort-seeking perspective. Paul is dead, or he is really hurt and should just stay down, and if he ever gets up from this beating then they need to run as far away as they possibly can, but…….

he got up and went back into the town”

WHAT?!?!? NOOO WAY?!?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! How could one man go through all that, almost dying then get up and walk back into the same town with the same people that just tried to kill him for his faith?!?! In the midst of any struggle we face in life, there will be moments when we get beat down to the point of what feels like death, but the big thing to takeaway from this is, WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FACE THE OPPOSITION THAT YOU’VE ALREADY BEEN TOLD IS COMING? I look back at so many times in my life and because of a few times of getting beat down, I fear failing so I stay away from it, stay comfortable. But this fight we’re in, this AWESOME mission Christ has given us, the power of the Holy Spirit that He has given us, that changes everything that happened yesterday and gives us the power, the purpose, and strength to attack the most harmful places first, go to the Synagogue, go right to the root of the problem! Then when it looks like all has failed because you are getting hit worse than ever, getting talked harshly about by people around you because of your faith, when things of this world makes you look dead, YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEEL DEAD AND MORE IMPORTANTLY YOU DON’T HAVE TO ACT DEAD!!!! Why? Because YOU are alive in Christ!!! Forever and always!!! He’s given us everything we need, He’s given us a mission, directions to go and what to say when we get there, He’s given us Himself. What are we waiting on?

Is Gospel of Jesus Christ that saved your life worth enough to you that you will go out of your way, suffer and endure through opposition, to share with someone else, to give them the message that Christ died for them to hear? When you get beat down, you wnat to give up, remember that lives are at stake, remember that you’ve got the Spirit of God inside of you, remember that Christ IS WORTH IT, in fact, He’s more than worth it. So walk into town today, do what you’ve been called to do, if they try to kick you out and beat you down, by the powerful name of Jesus Christ in the obedience to this Kingdom mission, STAND! WALK BACK INTO TOWN!

Power Given. Purpose Driven.

God Gold of the Day

“8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

Was going to keep going in Colossians like I promised but I’ve been learning some awesome Gold at church lately that I’m so excited to share! I’ll go ahead and warn you, as much as I’d love to plan out and script these messages for you. God doesn’t work on my time and His timing and intervention is always 100x better than anything I could ever create! Hope these next few messages from Acts brings some big time BOLDNESS to your lives and moves you from comfortable Christian to a follower of Christ who is on the move, living for the Gospel and the spread of it!

This verse from Acts is kind of like a foundation verse for the whole book of Acts! Beyond all the stories of men doing amazing things for God, how they show us examples of living this life with Christ and for Christ. Acts 1:8 shows us HOW these men do what they do and WHY they do what they do.

First we’ll look at the HOW?

The Holy Spirit. I could just leave it there but I’ll explain, so during this time Jesus had just died, raised from the grave and these disciples were sitting around looking at each other clueless as what to do next. Christ comes on the scene and speaks a life changing, power giving Promise to them. Yes, Jesus, who has died and been resurrected shows up to speak to these guys in person. Sounds crazy but it’s just Jesus! It shows how capable and loving He is to come back and give these guys some direction and a promise to hold onto while they sat in their cluelessness.

HOW do these believers do what they do throughout this book of Acts? Sharing the Good News of the Gospel, preaching and telling people about Christ, performing amazing miracles? The HOW is in the first part of this verse, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;.”

When one receives Christ into their lives, just as these disciples had, Jesus has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit living within us. The same Holy Spirit that worked through Christ during His earthly Ministry allowing Him to speak truth, love without limits and face a lot of persecution and turmoil surrounding Him. That same Holy Spirit lives within every born again believer!!!! The inflow of the Holy Spirit, the power of God at work within us, that inflow causes the outflow of our lives to change in a lot of big ways. Having the power of the Holy Spirit living within me is something I’ve overlooked throughout my life with Christ and overlooking the power we have, it makes it really hard to live FOR Christ.

The Holy Spirit enables us to do more than we could ever possibly do on our own. And we see in the second part of the verses after seeing the HOW in living this life not only with Christ but FOR Christ, we see the WHY?

Why would we need this power? Because without it, with out the power of God flowing within us, we are incapable of doing anything. In the second part of these verses we see the WHY, “and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The inflow of the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives allows us to accomplish greater than we could ever do alone. With the inflow of Jesus’ power, comes the outflow of Jesus’s purpose in our lives.

Jesus says the HOW in the first half of verse 8, and in the second part He gives the WHY! He gives the disciples and us direction here on what to do, what the mission is, what the primary purpose is for this gift of power from the Holy Spirit. To WITNESS!!!

Jesus didn’t stop working after the resurrection, He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit so through us He can continue to do what He did in His Ministry here on earth, telling others of the Good News! The power of the Holy Spirit gives us help in so many areas, reading and understanding God’s Word, living more like Christ on the daily, the wisdom and discernment in that guides and controls our thoughts and actions. But in all those smaller things, which are all necessary to grow in, all that leads to the bigger overall specific purpose that Jesus has given us. To WITNESS.

To share Him and the Good News that He died, bled, and rose from the grave to give us! In the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus entrusts to live in this power for the lives around us. It’s the fact that Jesus has given us everything we need to do anything possible and the one, big thing He tells us to do, the grand, huge, ultimate life mission that He’s given us, be honest, how much do we really use this power for the purpose in which Jesus gave it??? I’ll be honest. Outside of these messages, I struggle in Witness. I may have a conversation about faith here and there but sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News that changed my life completely around in the most awesome of ways. I’ll be honest and tell you that I fail to witness 9 times out of 10 but seeing this truth, seeing HOW Jesus has given us this great gift of power from God Himself through the Holy Spirit and the mission to be BOLD in witness for Him, it makes me question everything that I say I stand for when I am really just laying down looking up at the awesome opportunity Jesus has set before me.

It’s convicting for sure but I don’t want it to just hit you in your or my gut and feel bad for a minute then go back to living this comfortable Christian life like we have been doing. I pray that God speaks His truth so powerfully through these next few messages on examples of living a life with Christ that changes lives for Christ, that we don’t just feel bad but we move. We move from conviction to application, from life to LIVING and showing, telling, and yelling to others the Good News that’s changed our lives and how Jesus’ love can do the same for theirs! Let’s take this in and get prepared to move in the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus has given us so we can live out the purpose that Jesus has left us with!!!

 

Astronaut? Show Me

God Gold of the Day

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”/ Genesis 2:15-17

Got to spend some time with my buddy Troy in the Word yesterday preparing for a Bible study. It was probably like 15 minutes in and we were both just sitting there jaw dropped just completely mind blown at the truths we were seeing about God in His Word. I guess the main reason we were so taken back is thinking about the times we don’t spend in God’s Word. Even sending these messages daily, a lot of days I’m just picking verses that fit my life not opening up God’s Word and seeing what life-giving truth He has for me. After actually opening up His Word and digging into it, I highly recommend that route! After a couple of hours we both left strengthened, sharper, and just daggum excited about life and the LIFE God has given us! I make that challenge to you to dig into God’s Word because I know how easy it is not to and what life is like without that truth so I encourage you to dig in and I ask you to continue encouraging me to do the same. That’s what we’re here for, to encourage and push each other forward in life and closer to the Lord.

We were digging into the Gospel to share over the next couple of weeks at our Bible study that foundation story of Good News that God has given us to build our lives on. Like I said, we can both admit that spending time in the Word isn’t something we do well so we both kind of looked at each other, thinking, “the Gospel, where do we even begin?” For such an important truth in our lives, the story of Jesus Christ that gave us life and life eternally,  wouldn’t you think if it’s something you’re going to build your life off of or claim yourself as a follower of Jesus, then you should probably know every piece and every root to the Gospel that you so strongly believe right? Yeah, well me and Troy learned quickly yesterday that we’ve spent so much time claiming and thinking our life was founded on the Gospel but soon found out that there is so much more to it this beautiful story than we could ever imagine. It’s pretty much like claiming to be an astronaut for NASA because I mean it sounds super cool when you tell people. They think you are the highly skilled space man who knows how to get to space and that obviously puts you in a another stratosphere when others here that. But, when you get strapped in to the driver’s seat of that space craft, do you even know how to drive it? Do you even know the first move to make in cranking that rocket up? Have you ever even been to space? It sounded cool and others may have thought more of you but this big time truth you claim to tell everyone and put as the foundation to your whole life and all your beliefs on, it’s easy to claim you’re an astronaut, it’s easy to claim you follow Jesus Christ, but in all honesty can you even drive the space ship of the Gospel that God has given you as a vehicle not just to carry you up to eternal life one day, but eternal and abundant life here and now? Pretty convicting truth.

We didn’t know where to start with the Gospel because we were astronauts with no clue how to drive the rocket, so we figured, “hey, let’s start at the beginning, in Genesis.” We noticed something really cool about God in these verses. In the context of these verses God had just created the earth, all the animals, every part of everything and created the first man, Adam. God being perfect and Holy, created man in perfection, He created us to be with Him and walk in perfect fellowship with Him. Think about that, God being the good God He is wanted nothing but good for His creation of man. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden, another beautiful part of God’s perfect creation and when I say He walked in perfect fellowship with God, He literally physically walked and hung out with God in the Garden.

So in these verses we see God’s goodness, love, and grace on full display to the first man and what’s cool is that God still feels this way towards me and you today. He put Adam over taking care of the Garden and working in it. He gave him purpose in life and a chance to serve the God who created Him through serving the Garden as a caretaker. Then we see God tells Adam, ” You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;.” Now we see that God has given us purpose, He then gives us provision by giving access to eat of any tree in the Garden. And think about that for a second, God’s creation is perfect and the Garden was perfect, just imagine how good that fruit was that God provided Adam access to!!! It was probably a whole lot better than what we find at grocery stores these days. So in God’s immense love for man, He provides Adam and us with purpose in life, giving us direction to move in and the chance to serve. Then in God’s love we see Him give provision giving us everything we need to continue striving and serving out our purpose on this earth, and some super delicious fruit!!! It’s so cool looking at that God told Adam point blank the way to complete and abundant LIFE with God, He provided Adam with everything He needed to live this perfect life and walk in perfect fellowship with the awesome, perfect and powerful Creator. LIFE to the fullest. 

God has provided us with the same Word of LIFE from Him, He’s given us everything we need to see how to walk out life in the fullest and highest of ways. He’s given us the keys to the space ship, He has shown us everything we need to know through His Word on how to drive that rocket into space and whip through the stars. He has given us EVERYTHING to lift us up BUT, then in verse 17 God mentions there’s one tree not to be eaten of. The tree of knowledge of good and evil. We see how God wants nothing but the best for us, He wants nothing more than for us to have life and life to the fullest and in His love He gives us the keys and instruction to LIFE.

I saw this at first, and you can easily think, well if God wanted the best for us and Him being the creator, why would He put this forbidden tree in the Garden that causes death? God didn’t create this tree as bad, but God being all-knowing and sovereign as He is, He knew that the serpent, Satan, who had resisted God many times before was there waiting to tempt Adam and Eve to resist God too by eating of the tree. This is such an awesome picture of God’s grace to us, He doesn’t hide His commands from us. He tells us point blank through His Word the way to life and encourages us to walk in it. And in His grace, God knowing about the upcoming meeting with Satan’s temptation, He gives Adam a warning not to eat of this tree. He tells Adam straight up that eating this tree will lead to death. How awesome is that? We serve a God who loves us so much that He doesn’t just tell us about the good life with Him but He warns us of the temptation and attacks ahead from the evil one. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).” Satan brings sin and death into the world, he’ll do anything he can to entice us and tempt us to resist God and follow him instead. Satan is the “evil” part about the tree, he is the darkness that it talks about here in 1 John. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).

God created us with perfect fellowship with Him, He created us as perfect and good, to live with God who is completely and fully light. Eating of this tree would give Adam and Eve the knowledge of evil when all they knew was good because all they knew was God. God is light, perfect and holy, sin and darkness make it impossible to come before God in perfect fellowship because that darkness of sin separates us from God. It causes a division between us and God. We see God’s love and grace towards us so deeply in this passage and how powerful His Word is. His Word literally breathes life into me and you, points us in the direction of our perfect and loving Creator. His Word also warns us against the schemes from the evil one, Satan. God warns us because He doesn’t want us to experience sin, separation from Him and all the havoc that darkness brings into our lives. God wants nothing but good for me and you, He wants nothing but perfect fellowship with Him, a life to the fullest. I pray this elevates and brings you to a higher and mightier view of God and His loving and faithful relationship to us. I also hope this challenges you like it has me to dig into God’s Word to experience more of Him and the life He brings to us, but also prepare you for the temptations and attacks from the evil one.

What’s crazy is this is only the beginning of the story of the Gospel. The root of who we are and who God is, and also showing our need for Him. I highly recommend digging into God’s Word and not just say you’re a Christian. Actually find out what God has done, who He is and why this good news of the Gospel truly is soooo GOOD! It’s easy to claim to be an astronaut but can you even drive the rocket? Can you even get to space? Challenge your beliefs and challenge your faith. See what God has for you, after seeing this, you know it’s nothing but GOOD!!!

God Gold Foundation

God Gold of the Day

Instead of the usual Son-day Surprise, I felt the need to share the story behind these messages. Just in case you ever wonder why I write these long, sometimes “too long”, wild messages everyday I wanted to share my heart and intentions behind these words. This is the background and foundation to the messages about the One who has changed my life forever.

The “God Gold of the Day” got it’s start when a close friend asked me to help him stay accountable in the Word and life. Being new in my faith, I had no idea what I was doing but it didn’t take long and the pure Gold God revealed to me turned my world upside down. I was coming into these messages and His Word for the first true time in my life. I had grown up in church throughout my younger years but being a “Christian” was nothing more than a title I walked around with because it looked good on my reputation. I had no idea what being a follower of Christ really was or how awesome a relationship with Him would be. Coming from a life of living in whatever way pleased Jordan the most, always trying to be so different than the status quo, I thought I was really living. It turned out my thought of what “living” was and being “different” led me into a lot of dark places and pulling others down with me as I went. When Jesus opened up my eyes to see that He had been there the whole time with open, loving arms, carrying me through my years of wild, worldly, and careless living, I was stunned at how wrong I was but most of all by His love. No matter what I tried from the buffet the world offered I always ended up with that empty feeling, a void that I couldn’t seem to fill until Jesus. He filled that void like nothing I’ve ever imagined, the empty brokenness turned to freedom and hope. Jesus blew my socks off to see what a true “Christian” was which was so much different than the image the world painted for me. I had wanted to be different so badly that I ended up swimming downstream with the rest of the fishes of the world, comfortably floating with the current. I was jaw dropped when I realized that following Jesus was more different than anyone could get and after learning of the truth that He loved me enough to die for me and give me a another way of living, another LIFE, I couldn’t help but want more. Jesus turned my world upside down, I went from spending my time in places, doing things that let’s just say, they weren’t all that great, to walking into a life of ministry. WHAT?!? Yeah, I was probably more shocked than anyone and to be honest it’s still hard to wrap my head around it. I obviously hadn’t spent much time in the Word and had no clue what to do in this new life with Jesus or even what page of God’s Word to start on.  I had a lot of old habits and demons to fight from my old life and the start of these messages, where it was taking a piece of Scripture then just writing whatever God brought up. These messages, seeing the truth and power in God’s Word and God in general, He transformed my life, completely took me apart, broke down my old ways of thinking and began to rebuild. I share that part to let you know that its not about what you know, it’s all about Who you know, and its amazing that He can take the most broken of people, people much more broken than I was and make something so beautiful. If you are just getting started and don’t know where to start, start with His literal Word spoken directly to you and He’ll take care of the rest.

So my buddy asked me to start an accountability message with Him and I wasn’t sure what to even say in the message but we just started sending stuff back and forth. It was simply sending a daily text to him sharing experiences, a piece of scripture, then really digging in deep to what God was speaking through that. As much as I was learning from those messages, I figured I would keep hitting send and if somebody gained anything from God’s Word and my experiences then it’d be worth sharing! It’s funny looking back at it, I had no intention of making these messages a thing because I just couldn’t stop doing them after the mind blown learning God was taking me through. If it was up to me I would have never kept hitting send or sharing messages everyday but thank God it’s not up to me. God had other plans and continued to grow the number of people receiving the God Gold message. I still just sit there kind of stunned when someone asks to receive the God Gold but it’s a testament to Christ and what He’s capable of doing even in a dude as clueless as I was and still am. I never in a million years thought I would be sending out messages like this but because of Jesus Christ and the work He continues to do daily in my life, everything I thought I’d be doing before 22 pretty much got thrown out the window. The only mission I have now is to share Christ in whatever way I can. Instead of pulling others down into the darkness with me He’s given me a second chance at LIFE. To walk out my days with Him and help show others that despite their past, the addictions, the hopelessness, they too have the same chance for Christ to lead them out of the darkness and into the light of His eternal LIFE.

The main purpose for spreading God’s Gold in bigger and better ways isn’t for any personal gain or to have my name anywhere near it. Besides, Christ is the only good part about me so I pray He will be magnified above all else. It’s all about Christ. The mission is to spread the Gold, spread Christ and the Gospel to as many as possible so that one life at a time can be impacted and transformed by the amazing love of Jesus Christ the way mine has been. I still type for myself and the learning God grows me through in His Word and experiences but as the Lord continues to move, seeing the opportunity to spread Christ even more and help other fellow believer’s in the similar struggles we face together. I’m amazed and so thankful to be able to type and send these. As the messages will always be the same, the mission continues to grow and whether that is through these online platforms or taking the God Gold to the streets as forms of outreach. However God decides to do that is good with me but I just want you to know how big of a role you play in this mission. Your support and the sharing of God Golds is doing a mighty work in my life and the Kingdom. Also, when you share and support this mission, don’t do it for me, do it for Christ and the spread of His Good News to reach others in need of hearing it because He’s the foundation, He’s the only reason these get sent out and He’s the only part of the mission that matters in the God Gold, our lives or any other ministry with Him at the lead. I pray that these devotion messages are an encouragement to you and move you closer to Christ as you walk out this adventure of life with Him and I pray for each and every person who reads this. Also, please pray for me to keep this foundation front and center as I type each message. I’ve seen how easy it can be to lose focus on Who all this is really about and there’s too many lives at stake to take the spread of this Good News lightly. Funny thing is, I still have no clue what I’m doing but the Lord continues to amaze me each and every day.