Being with Jesus

Written by: Tim Wood

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.   (Acts 4:13 ESV)

 The Sanhedrin Council, (they in verse 13), witnessed boldness in Peter and John. This is interesting because just a few weeks prior to Acts 4, Peter had denied Jesus before a young girl. No boldness whatsoever. He wept bitterly and fled in fear. Now, he’s filled with boldness. Now he’s teaching in front of the most educated people in his culture. Now he has an audience with the “power” people and he delivers a powerful message.

Compared to their audience, Peter and John had little education. Compared to their audience, Peter and John were common. They were average. But these “A listers” were astonished at Peter and John. Why?

They recognized that they had been with Jesus. They understood that Peter and John had learned from the Master of masters. It was more than just knowledge of him. It was more than just a casual relationship.  Being with Jesus produced a dynamic power in them that transformed them from the inside out. It had nothing to do with money or education or status. It had everything to do with them being with Jesus, following him on a daily basis.

Being around Jesus is not being with Jesus. Being around Christians is not being with Jesus. Being around Christian events is not being with Jesus. Being around the church is not being with Jesus. Being with Jesus is being filled with His truth and His grace in such a way that it changes you. It’s believing in Him in such a way that rivers of living water flow from us.

Have you ever felt like you are over your head when it comes to serving? Have you ever felt unqualified when it comes to matters of faith? Unprepared when it comes to being bold for Jesus? This verse offers practical hope to you. It’s not talent or education or wealth or status that qualifies someone to do great things for God. It’s being with Jesus. And that’s something we all can do.

Focus on God in your life

Written by: Tim Wood

Every day is an opportunity to focus on God. I can get up in the morning and set my mind on the love and goodness of God.  Here are three ways to positively set your mind on God.

1) God is with you.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Psalm 145: 18-19 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

No matter what you’re going to face today; God is with you.  What a truth to claim at the start of every day!

2) God is in you.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (ESV).

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (NLT).

“God is working in you.” The word “working” in Greek is the word energos, from which we get the word “energy.” God is the energy driver in your life. You’re not just going on willpower. You’re not just going on your own power. God says he will give you the power you need.

3) God is for you.

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (ESV)

God is for me every day. His power is for me. His presence is with me. His promises are for me. God is allowing goodness and mercy to follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6).

Every morning, get up and claim this truth about God in your life. God, you are with me. God, you are in me. God, you are for me. What a way to start the day.

The Esau Syndrome

Written by: Tim Wood

Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.  (Hebrews 12:16-17 The Message)

The story of Esau is one of the saddest stories the Bible. In Genesis 25, we read that one-day Esau came home, famished from hunting, only to see that his brother, Jacob, had made a stew. Esau demanded that Jacob feed him. Jacob responded by offering a trade – Jacob would give Esau his stew, if Esau gave Jacob his birthright (note: a birthright was the right to inheritance and the spiritual leadership of the family). Here’s the crazy part, Esau gave Jacob what he asked. It seems so strange that Esau would sacrifice something so valuable for a bowl of soup, but he’s not the only one who has surrendered God’s blessing because of a craving for something less.

Our culture places high value on instant gratification. If you have an appetite for something satisfy it now. In doing so, we trade what is eternal for something that is temporary. We trade God’s blessing for a quick fix.

Let’s take seriously the admonition in 2 Corinthians 4:18 – “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Keep Praying God's Word

Written by: Tim Wood

We should never give up on prayer. We should never under estimate the power of prayer. When we pray according to God’s will our prayers are unstoppable.

Jesus made this promise: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7 ESV).

My eyes tend to gaze upon the phrase, “ask whatever you wish.” I like that part. I gravitate toward that part. I have a lot of wishes. We tend to quickly pass over let my words abide in you and settle in on ask whatever you wish. Prayer is letting the word of Jesus abide in us. It’s walking in fellowship with God and His word. Prayer is asking from God what His word reveals to us.

First John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” There it is again: we ask according to his will.

We should never back down on asking. We should never stop praying.  Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). Notice the escalation of intensity. Asking then seeking then knocking.  Praying the word and will of God gets aggressive. It’s gritty. Think of Jacob who wrestled with the Lord. He wouldn’t let go until God blessed him. When you are praying the word of God, don’t let go until God blesses you.

Don’t give up. Keep praying in the will and the word of God.

 

 

Five promises from God to you

Written by: Tim Wood

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

There are five wonderful promises in this verse:

1)  God is with you. No matter where you are, no matter how you are feeling, God is in your midst. He’s near. Note the personal possessive pronoun "your!" If Scripture did not say God was our God, we would not dare even hope for such a thing! And yet Jehovah is our God, because of our covenant relationship with His Son.

2) God is mighty. He will deliver us. He will save us. Nothing is impossible with him and nothing is too difficult for him. God is able. Whatever you are facing right now, God is able to deliver you.

3) God rejoices over you with gladness. Those two words “over you” are incomprehensible. How can a holy, righteous God rejoice over an imperfect person like me? The only possible answer is that my life is hidden in His Son Jesus Christ. God sees His Son in me and He rejoices over me.

4) God will quiet me with his love. God’s love is eternal. God’s love is unconditional. God’s love is vast. Nothing can separate me from God’s love. When I set my mind on the love of God it has a quieting effect on my soul. The word “quiet” can also be translated renew. Contemplating God’s love brings renewal to me.

5) God rejoices over me with loud singing.  Do you realize that God is a singing God? Think about this. The same God who spoke the cosmos into existence sings over us.  God’s spoken word is powerfully productive. What does his song produce in us?

 Five awesome promises from God to you. Will you stand on his promises today?