Thursday, January 22, 2015

When the Good Guy Loses

Why do bad things happen to good people? In the Bible sometimes the good guy loses—or at least it appears that way at the moment. You will never lose by following God, even if it looks like failure from a human point of view. Here are 6 examples of the “good guy” losing. Interestingly, all names start with the letter J.

1. Jonathan was David’s best friend and was killed in battle by the bad guys, the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:2). The good guy died. Jonathan was King Saul’s son and was heir to the throne, but his death allowed David to become king.

We tend to think everyone is guaranteed 70 years of life but we aren’t guaranteed the next day (see James 4:13-15). Sometimes innocent people die at young ages and God doesn’t explain why. Jonathan is an example of young man who loved God but died seemingly too soon.

2. John the Baptist was thrown into prison for speaking truth and Herod had him beheaded (Mark 6:27). Speaking God’s truth will sometimes result in being persecuted and martyred. He was not a failure but Jesus said he was the greatest prophet (Matt. 11:11).

3. Josiah was a good king but was killed in a battle he shouldn’t have been fighting (2 Chron. 35:20-24). What can we learn from this? Don’t fight battles that God hasn’t called you to fight.

4. Joseph was betrayed and sold into slavery, then was falsely accused and thrown in prison. The Bible says “the Lord was with him” even though his circumstances didn’t look that way. God used his adverse circumstances to get him to the right place and then promoted him to be a ruler in Egypt.

5. James, the brother of John, was imprisoned and put to death with a sword, while Peter was imprisoned and miraculously set free (Acts 12:1-10). Why did God send an angel to set Peter free but not James? God doesn’t have the same plan for everyone so stop comparing your situation with those who seem to have it better.

6. Jesus was sinless but was betrayed, falsely accused, and crucified. God’s plan wasn’t thwarted. He became the Savior and paid for the sins of the world, was resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven and is seated at the right of God the Father.

Sometimes the “good guy and gal” have bad things happen to them, but if you are submitted to the Lord, He always has the last word. Through His amazing sovereignty He will overrule the injustice and use it for His purposes. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  www.makinglifecount.net


Making Life Count Ministries
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Following Jesus by Not Following Jesus

When I first became a Christian I was told that I needed to “follow Jesus.” I wondered, "How am I supposed follow Jesus when He isn't physically on earth anymore?" I found the answer in Mark 5.

A man was so possessed with demons that he could break chains that were used to bind him. Jesus cast the demons out of the man into a herd of pigs, which rushed over a cliff and into the sea. As Jesus was getting into the boat to leave, the formerly demonized man begged to go with Him.

Jesus wouldn’t let him go. Instead, He said, “Go back home to your own people and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19). Jesus knew he could make a bigger impact by sharing his testimony back home rather than going with Him. The man was following Jesus by obeying Him—and not by physically following Him.

How do we follow Jesus today? By obeying God’s Word and the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who indwells all true believers. You don’t have to become a missionary in a foreign country to follow Jesus. You can do the same as this man—share Jesus where you live right now with the people you already know. If everyone would do this we could evangelize the world in a matter of days.


Making Life Count Ministries
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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Secondhand Faith

If you own a secondhand coat, you weren’t the original owner but received it from someone who was. A secondhand faith doesn’t connect directly with God but imitates someone else’s faith. Some Jewish exorcists who were not true believers in Jesus tried to cast out a demon using His name. They said, "I command you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” The evil spirit answered, “Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:13-16). The demon knew their faith wasn’t genuine but was an imitation.

These exorcists saw Paul casting out demons so they copied the words he used. Many people today don’t have genuine saving faith but will say the same words their Christian parents used. Their faith isn’t connected directly with God. They attend church because they were brought up going to church, but they don’t live like they believe in Jesus. They’ve deceived themselves into thinking they are Christians because of their secondhand faith.

Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:14). Someone living at that time was teaching Jesus was Elijah—and even had followers who believed the same thing. These people got their secondhand faith from a false teacher.

Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus said, “Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17). Peter got his firsthand faith from God's direct revelation to him.

Many people will stand before Jesus on Judgment Day and will be shocked to discover that their faith was secondhand (See Matthew 7:17-23). To find out how to have firsthand faith click here.

NEW BIBLE STUDY: “Why did Jesus talk about Himself in third person?” (Matt. 13:41 “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom…”)

Making Life Count Ministries
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Learning to Say No

A man told Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). He was trying to give Jesus a job that His Father hadn’t called to do.

Jesus could have told him, “Okay, I’ll be glad to add another item to my plate. I’m already a counselor, teacher, physician, and miracle worker. I’ll just add lawyer to my list of duties because I don’t have the courage to tell you No.”

Instead of saying that He replied, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?” (Luke 12:14)  Sounds a little bit rude, doesn’t it? But Jesus refused to take on a responsibility that His Father hadn’t given Him. And this is a teachable moment for us. If we are busy doing things that God HASN’T called us to do, then we won’t have time to do what He DOES want us to do.

Many people take on responsibilities at church—not because God wants them to do it, but because someone pressured them into doing it and they didn’t have the courage to say no.
Whenever someone tries to give you a task, ask the Lord if it is something He wants you to do. If He says yes, then do it joyfully. If He says no, then learn to say no. And don’t feel guilty either.
               
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Making Life Count Ministries
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Friday, December 19, 2014

He Came to Feel Your Pain

A farmer made a sign advertising puppies for sale. A little boy read it and said, "Mister, I want to buy one of your puppies." The farmer said, "These puppies cost a lot of money, probably more than you can afford." The little boy said, "I've got 39 cents. Is that enough?"  "Sure," the farmer said. He whistled and called, "Come here, Dolly."

Out from the doghouse and down the ramp came Dolly, followed by four little puppies.  A few seconds later, a fifth dog came out, slipping down the ramp and lagging behind because it had two badly deformed legs. The little boy pointed to the frail dog and said, "I'll take that one!" The farmer knelt down and explained, "Son, you don't want that one. He'll never be able to run and play like the other dogs."

The boy reached down and rolled up his pants leg, revealing his artificial leg. He said, "Mister, I'll never be able to run and play like the other boys either, so that little puppy is going to need someone who understands."

Jesus left heaven and came to earth to experience everything we go through as humans. He felt the sting of rejection, the pull of temptation, the pressure of stress, and the ache of loneliness. "He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest." (Heb. 2:17-18). Hebrews 4:15 adds, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses." Jesus came to die for our sins, but He also came to feel your pain so He can sympathize with you. 

Are you going through a difficult time? He purchased you with His blood because He knew you would need someone who understands. Everything that you're going through, He's already been through in some way. He really does care about you!  www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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Friday, December 12, 2014

When did the Wise Men go to Bethlehem?

Contrary to popular belief, the wise men (magi) didn't go to the manger in Bethlehem to worship Jesus. The Scriptures don’t tell us the exact time of their visit but it was sometime after the shepherds found Him in a manger. By the time the wise men arrived, Joseph and Mary had moved into a house (Matt. 2:11). 

We know that Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the Temple on the 8th day after birth to be dedicated. The Law told them to sacrifice a lamb as an offering for the first-born, but if they could not afford a lamb they could offer two turtledoves (Lev. 12:6-8). Because Joseph and Mary offered two turtledoves (Luke 2:24), we know they were poor at this time—which means that the magi had not yet come and given them the gift of gold. If they had received the gold by this time they would have been rich enough to buy a lamb.

After they made the sacrifice, they returned to Bethlehem. Luke says they went to Nazareth after this but he does not mean immediately. Luke’s account omits the visit of the magi and the fact that Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt because Herod ordered the male babies in Bethlehem to be killed (Matt. 2:13-14). It’s likely that the gift of gold funded their stay in Egypt which could have been two or more years.

Joseph kept his family in Egypt until the death of Herod, which was in the 37th year of his reign, when Jesus was between two and four years old. The exact date cannot be determined.

The Bible does not tell us how many wise men came to worship Jesus. Tradition says there were three magi because three gifts were presented but this is only an assumption. So now you know that the Bible does not say there were three Wise Men and they didn’t visit Him at the manger. However, don’t get upset when you see them depicted in a manger scene display. It’s not a theological problem and the manger scene reminds us that Jesus is the reason for the season. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
Thank you to all who support this discipleship ministry. 
Contributions to Making Life Count Ministries are tax-deductible.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hiding the Light

Jesus said, “Men do not light a candle and put it under a bushel” (Matt. 5:15). Then He said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). He tells us four things:

1. WHAT to do—“Let your light shine”  Letting your light shine is something we choose to do. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), so shining the light means to share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to people living in darkness. You can’t shine your light until you first lighten up.

2. WHERE to shine the light—“before men” That means to shine the light wherever you go. Some people say, “My faith is a private thing. It’s just between me and God.” But Jesus never said faith is a private thing. Neither did Paul or Peter. So who said, “Faith is a private thing”? Satan said it. He wants you to hide it under a bushel so that no one can see it.  

3. HOW to shine the light —“in such a way that they may see your good works” There is a right way and a wrong way, and “in such a way” means to do it the right way. The way we communicate the gospel to others can make a difference in whether they accept it or reject it.
A woman was trying to give medicine to her dog. Every day she tried to force a tablespoon of medicine into the dog’s mouth but the dog would always resist and pull away. One day she knocked over the bottle of medicine and it spilled all over the floor. The dog went over to the puddle and lapped it up! The dog wasn’t resisting the medicine but was resisting the method its owner used—trying to force it down its throat. 
Don’t try to force the gospel down people’s throats. Communicate it in such a way that people will be drawn to God. More flies are caught with honey than vinegar. God loves them and can change their lives, so share it with joy.

4. WHY to shine the light—so they “will glorify your Father in heaven.” When people respond to the message and receive Christ, they end up glorifying God. But if we communicate the message in the wrong way, they may turn away from God.
The weirdest Christian I’ve ever met had a long white beard, wore an unusual looking hat and a coat covered with Jesus buttons. He peddled a bicycle that looked like a small car with signs all over it saying, “Turn or Burn” and “Jesus is Coming Soon.” He would ride it down the street, honk his horn and beat a drum, trying to get everyone to read his signs. Instead of people glorifying God, they thought he was crazy. I’m sure they were thinking, “If I become a Christian, I will have dress up like that, ride a bicycle with signs and beat a drum.” Of course, that’s not true, but that was the message he was sending.
Make a decision to shine your light today--and be sure to do it in the right way. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com   www.makinglifecount.net

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