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Tag: faith

Hard Sayings of Jesus

Don’t let anything — however shocking — keep you from Jesus

Written by Dan Lee on 12/06/2018
Series: Weekly Devotional
Tags: Confusion, Identity, Jesus, Discipleship, Lord
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Matthew 7:28–29
God’s Word, the Bible, is full of promises and comforting words. But in both the Old and New Testaments we find words that challenge rather than comfort us, or even cause us to be troubled or confused. 

Some of Jesus’ words are hard because His goal was not our happiness in this life, but our sanctification. That is, that we live holy lives that bring glory to Him. 

Let’s allow the difficulty of some of God’s words cause us to praise Him in faith, knowing that His wisdom and knowledge are infinite and perfect. And let us rejoice, knowing that though we see Him only dimly now through a clouded glass, we will soon see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12). 

Here are a few of Jesus’ hard sayings, with a short explanation of each. I trust they will help you know and follow Him better.

No. 1: Eat His flesh and drink His blood
“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:53-54)

This is one of Jesus’ most famous hard sayings. Many of his followers left him after hearing it, and the disciples even said, “This is a hard saying” (John 6:60). 

We also know that some critics, taking the words literally, accused Christians of being cannibals. So what did Jesus mean when he said these words?

Jesus was not instructing people to literally eat his flesh and drink his blood, but that his body and blood, broken and shed for us on the cross, were going to be life-giving and nourishing for all who believed in him. Later, during the Last Supper, He explained further:

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said,  ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Matthew 26:26-28)

So in saying that His followers were to “eat his flesh” and “drink His blood,” Jesus was telling us that we must take Him — His very life — into ourselves to receive His forgiveness. And to this day, we celebrate Holy Communion as a remembrance of His sacrifice.

No. 2: Hate your family and yourself
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

Is Jesus, the God of Love, really telling us to hate? No! Jesus here is using hyperbole, or exaggeration, to make His point. We know that He never endorsed breaking any of the Ten Commandments, including “Honor your father and mother.” 

Jesus is saying that, in comparison to the love and devotion He deserves, any other love, including for ourselves, should look like hatred. He calls us to learn to love Him so deeply and to obey Him so completely, that any human allegiance, even the desire to preserve one’s life, looks like hate in comparison. 

Jesus told us in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one this, than that someone lay down his life for his friends.” And of course, He demonstrated this when He went to the cross, laying down His own life for the forgiveness of mankind.

No. 3: Tear out your eye
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)

Here’s another use of hyperbole. Jesus is telling us here that if anything keeps us from following him, it requires drastic action. Our very eternal destiny may be at stake. 

In practical terms, it means that I may need to end that dating relationship that keeps drawing me into sin. Or, I may need to quit my job if my boss demands that I cheat. To avoid sin, God might ask me to enroll in a different school or even move to another city. That’s how important that is to Him. We should be desperate to live holy lives, in the power of His Holy Spirit. 

Were Jesus' teachings hard, radical, even shocking? Yes! They still have great power to give us reason to worry about indifference toward Him. As Missionary Hudson Taylor reportedly said: "Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all." As you encounter other difficult sayings in God’s Word, always trust that He, and His words, are faithful and true. And as you dig a little deeper and ask for His wisdom, He will teach and guide you, enabling you to live a life that glorifies Him. 

Pray this week:
Lord Jesus, as your disciples said, who else would I turn to? You have the words of eternal life. However challenging your call is to me, I will love and follow you, because you are my only hope.

For you, what is the hardest thing about following Jesus? Write for prayer and help.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Ways God Meets Your Needs

Jesus promises to meet your needs

Written by Ruth on 11/12/2018

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: NeedFaithContentmentFaithfulness


Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

Do you trust God to meet your needs and direct your life His way, or demand them your way?

Today, let’s talk about a Bible character named Elizabeth as an example of how God meets our needs. 

Elizabeth's circumstances

Luke 1:5 – In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

Luke 1:7 – But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 

Elizabeth had a need which had consequences for her marriage as well as for her connection with other people around her — she could not have children. She had probably given up on this dream since she was now old enough that having a child was no longer possible. Yet, her deep need remained in her heart. While the Bible does not tell us this, I am sure she wept with her husband many times over this lack in their family.

When you have a need, what do you do about it? What do you think would happen if you would ask and trust Jesus to know and solve your need His way?

Elizabeth’s Faith

Luke 1:13 – But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 

Luke 1:24 – After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden…

When her husband returned home from his time of serving in the temple, Elizabeth must have been afraid because of the change in him — he could not speak. But he must have written God’s promise to him and her, because we know she knew all about what the angel had said to him.

Then it happened — she was pregnant! She was going to have a baby even when it was impossible because of her age. Did she hide herself because she did not want to be the subject of gossip in her town? How do you hide what Jesus is doing in your life?

Elizabeth’s Happiness

Luke 1:36 – And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 

Luke 1:39-41 – In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 

When Mary, a young woman who was also pregnant by a miracle, came to visit Elizabeth, however, Elizabeth began to rejoice in the miracle God had given her. But an interesting thing to see here is that Elizabeth was not jealous of Mary! Elizabeth did not want the honor Mary had received, she just remained glad of her own miracle.

When something good happens to you, and then you see something better happen to someone else, how do you respond to either God or the other person?

Elizabeth’s Faithfulness

Luke 1:57 – Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 

Luke 1:58-62 – And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but [Elizabeth] answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 

Elizabeth followed God’s plan for her child even though everyone around her urged her to do what tradition expected. Naming the child should have followed their rules, but God had said they should follow His plan instead.


Pray this week:

Lord Jesus, help me to be faithful to Your will for my life, no matter how impossible it seems, or how much others urge me to follow a different path.


When God asks you to do something that does not follow the traditions or plans others around you expect, how do you choose?
 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Do you have children? Teach Them

Do you have children?

Written by Hope on 03/11/2013

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: DisciplesLife Change


 

"Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

 

Do you have children? If so, you might know that the Bible instructs us to "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). Taking a new Christian on a path of discipleship can be compared to teaching or training a child. Jesus said, "Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn't receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it" (Mark 10:14-15).

Faith Like a Child

Jesus taught, "unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 18:3). He said, "anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf is welcoming Me" (Matthew 18:5); your service to a new believer is an act of service to the Lord! But we must be careful to teach only what is in God’s Word. Jesus warned that it would be better to die than to "cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin" (Matthew 18:6).

Gift from the Lord

God loves and highly values every person. His Word tells us that "children are a gift from the Lord" (Psalm 127:3). Your disciple, believing in God with faith like a child's, is also a valuable person to the Lord. Like a child, they can turn to you to gain knowledge of the Lord. If you teach your disciple the ways of the Lord while he or she is "young" in faith, they may be more likely to follow the Lord all their life. Be encouraged: "Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, 'You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings'" (John 8:31).

Prayer, Care, and Share Jesus

"Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you!”

Scripture: Matthew 28:19-20

One of the most exciting ways we hope your faith is strengthened when learning from the Prayer, Care and Share Jesus guide (PCS) is by becoming more confident when sharing Jesus with others.

When you do lead someone to Christ, you might even feel led to share what you’ve learned in the PCS guide. It can be a great discipleship tool!

In Matthew 28: 19-20, Jesus commands us to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey (not just know) all of Jesus' commandments.

When you walk someone through accepting Jesus in their life, it’s a great idea to start the discipleship process right away — "teaching the new believer to obey everything Jesus commanded." You can also get them connected to a church or community of faith. You might not be able or feel led to be the one to disciple the new believer. But, you can help them find a way to get discipled by connecting with someone or a Christian community or church. When I have led people to Christ whom I won’t see again, such as taxi drivers or flight attendants, I have prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to orchestrate their follow-up.

You can teach them about things that Jesus teaches in the Bible like baptism, reading the Bible, prayer, involvement in a community of believers (such as a church or house church); taking communion (remembering Christ in the way he commanded us); and sanctification ("go and sin no more." John 8:11).These are not all of Jesus' teachings, but they are a good start for your new believer.

This week, start praying about your role in someone’s life as a discipleship mentor. Ask for guidance, wisdom and compassion.


Pray this week:

That your children and disciples will remain faithful to the Lord all their life.


Do you have questions about being a teacher? 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

How To Share Your Faith With Your Friends

Do you really love your friends if you don’t tell them about Jesus?

Written by GodLife on 12/04/2016
Series: Weekly Devotional
Tags: Evangelism, Heaven, Hell, Hope, Jesus
So I tell you today that I am not guilty if any of you don’t believe. I haven’t let anyone keep me from telling you everything God wants you to do.

Acts 20:26-27
My little daughter’s friend was playing at our home one day. Suddenly, I shouted “no!” and she burst into tears. Why? She was about to put a fork into a nearby electrical outlet. I hated to upset her, but her little life was too precious to risk, and her parents trusted me to protect her.

Are your friends precious to you? Do you know that God holds us responsible for one another? He tells us, “If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths.” (Ezekiel 3:18) If worries are keeping you from sharing your faith with your friends, these simple ideas can help overcome those fears:

Be Prepared
Think about how a discussion might go. You can’t expect to agree on everything, can you? A former U.S. President said, “If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.” Don't be afraid to disagree sometimes, especially about important things. Be ready to share hope with others. (1 Peter 3:15) God tells us to make a stand, “having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace;” (Ephesians 6:15). Valuing friends means even more than this…

Be Compelling
It is good to memorize a gospel presentation, so that you include all the main points. But don't just repeat the words. Tell your friend that this news is too good to keep to yourself. Jesus said, “go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23). Don’t give up easily — and don’t be afraid to let your urgency show.

Be Creative
A standard approach may help with a stranger. But if you know someone well, share in a way that will relate best to them. “And have mercy on those who are wavering—save them by snatching them out of the fire; but on others have mercy with fear—hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23). Starting gently works best for some, while a warning about judgment works better for others.

Sharing Jesus with your friends can bring discomfort for a moment. But don’t let it keep you from telling them about God's love for them. Imagine the joy of seeing them embrace Jesus — or the regret of knowing you kept your hope a secret, locked behind silent lips.

Pray this week:
Lord Jesus, the love that sent you to the cross for my friend is the only hope he or she has. Please prepare me to bring that message, and prepare him or her to hear and receive it.

If a building was on fire, would anything keep you from warning those within? If a cure for a deadly disease was available, would you keep it secret? What keeps you from speaking to others about Jesus? 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member