We Are Known By Our Fruits

How do you determine what a person is like? You do it by evaluating what a person does. Jesus said, you know someone by their fruit. He said, “You can identify them by their fruit…that is, the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.

Think about the last sentence…”A good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit.” What kind of fruit are we producing? If we are believers, our lives will produce fruit. Paul said “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…”

So, is the fruit of the spirit evident in our lives? None of us are perfect but our lives should be marked by love and peace and patience and other things. Hatred is not the mark of a Christian. Dishonesty is not the mark of a Christian.

Jesus said, “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” May our lives produce fruit from the spirit and actions that glorify God.

Take Your Candle… Go Light Your World.

Everyone has had the experience of the electricity going out in our homes.  If it happens, at night, you can find yourself stumbling around trying to find a flashlight to help you see where you are going.  If you don’t have a flashlight, you may stumble over something or run into something trying to get around.  When you find a flashlight it provides much needed assistance.

In the Bible, darkness is associated with evil.  We live in a world of darkness.. a world of sin.  Jesus has called us to live in this world of darkness and, to try to make a difference.  We are to provide light in our part of the world as we live for Jesus.

There may be someone you know who is living in darkness.  It could be someone who is not a Christian or, maybe a Christian for whom the lights have gone out in their lives  due to discouragement or a mistake.  Jesus wants us to provide light for them. Jesus said “A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine.”

Kathy Troccoli has a song entitled “Go light your world.”  It goes, in part;

“There is a candle in every soul.  Some brightly burning, Some dark and cold;

There is a spirit, Who brings fire,

Ignites a candle, and makes His home.

“Carry your candle, Run to the darkness,

Seek out the hopeless, confused and torn,

Hold out your candle for all to see it

Take your candle and go light your world,

Take your candle and go light your world.”

Today, take the candle of Jesus’ love and go light your world.

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When Someone Betrays You

Several years ago, I was going through a period where I was receiving some criticism.  It bothered me a lot… in fact, it bothered more than it should have.  I was in the process of learning that the price of leadership is dealing with criticism.

I talked with a Preacher in another state who was a mentor of mine.  As I laid out my situation,,, I was looking for sympathy,, instead, my friend said “Gregg.. Jesus had one who betrayed him.”  He was right.  The Bible says “… From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.”  Judas was one of Jesus inner circle yet, he betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Have you had someone betray you?  Have you had someone who said they were going to do something but didn’t?  Have you had someone lie about you?  It happens and quite possibly, will happen again.  So what do you do?  You keep moving.  You don’t quit.

People will be people and sometimes, quite honestly, they can act like jerks and I’m being nice. 🙂 But, if we throw ourselves a pity party every time someone mis-treats us.. well.. it’s going to be a LONG party and you are never able to move on in life.

So.. if someone has betrayed you.. join the club and by God’s grace, move on.  Don’t stir it or dwell on it.. move on.

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“I’m All In”

“I’m all in.”

That’s a phrase that you hear every so often today.  It’s used when a person has committed themselves to a task.  They might say “I’m all in,” meaning, I want to be a part of this.  I’m making a commitment.

Question for you; What are you “all in” for?  What’s important to you?  What will you re-arrange your schedule for?

Lots of people are “all in” for their favorite team.  We wear shirts with our team logo.. we will buy tickets to see our team play.  Others are “all in” for a civic group.  Others are “all in” a hobby.  Years ago, I read about a man who loved movies. He had seen LOTS of movies.  That’s ok.. but I found myself thinking, “He has wasted LOTS of money and time seeing some bad movies.

What about you?  What are you “all in” for?

The Bible says in the book of Exodus that God caused the death angel to pass over the land of Egypt and took the lives of the firstborn of the Egyptians.  Then, the scripture says, God told Israel  “Dedicate to me every firstborn among the Israelites.” The firstborn were required to remind Israel what their freedom cost.  Years later, God would set apart the Levites as a replacement for the firstborn.

When we decide to follow Jesus, we are giving our lives to Jesus.  We are committing to the Christian life.  We are saying, “Lord, I”m all in.”

All of us have something that we are “all in” for.  Everyone is committed to something.  Many people are committed to themselves.

Today, the Lord is inviting all of us to be “all in.” To commit to following Christ.

There is an old hymn we sing that goes;

“I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, No turning back.”

Then, the song says…

“Though none go with me, I still will follow;

Thought none go with me, I still will follow.

Are you willing today to be “all in” for Christ?  Maybe the Lord has been calling you to step up in commitment but you have been holding back.  Let’s each one of us determine to be “all in” for Jesus.  Living for Christ is one of the greatest decisions you will make.

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Let’s Impact The World For Christ

I’m reading the biography of Steve Jobs.  Early in the formation of Apple, Jobs approached Bill Atkinson about a job.  Atkinson was a doctoral student in neuroscience.  When Jobs approached him about a job, Atkinson declined.  Then, Apple sent him a nonrefundable plane ticket, and he decided to use it and let Jobs persuade him.

Jobs told Atkinson, “We are inventing the future.. Think about surfing on the front edge of a wave.  It’s really exhilarating.  Now think about dog-paddling at the tail end of that wave.  It wouldn’t be near as much fun.  Come down here and make a dent in the universe.”

I really like that last line.  That’s exactly what we as Christians and ministers are called to do.. make a dent in the universe for Jesus.  Today, join me as we try to touch the world for Christ.

Come lay em down.. all your burdens and troubles

There is an expression that has been around for some time that describes how challenging life can be. It is; “The rat race is over; the rats won.” Maybe you feel that way at times…
Life can be a rat race. We have jobs.. we have bills to pay.. we have children to raise.. we have stuff to do. We get up in the morning and we run all day.
This can apply to our Christian lives as well. You accept Christ as your Savior and then, you beging doing stuff to try to please God or to please others. You attend this conference.. you attend this meeting.. you do this and you do that because you are supposed to “do” stuff for God to be pleased with you. Well, at least that’s what you’ve been told, anyway.
Well, let me offer some encouragement.. STOP! Get off the religious treadmill. You don’t have to punch the clock for God to be happy with you. You don’t have to go 24/7/365 for Jesus to love you.
In fact, Jesus said “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30).
There.. Jesus invites us to REST in Him. “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens..” That describes a lot of us, doesn’t it?
It describes the person who messed up royally.. and wonders if they can be forgiven.
It describes the person who is caught up in religious legalism and is trying to follow a set of rules to please God.
It describes the single Mom who is working and trying to raise kids.. by herself.
It describes a lot of people..
So, today.. lay your burdens down.. Jesus invites you to rest. Take a nap. You don’t need to impress anyone.
“Come to Me.. Jesus said..”
Listen to “Neet to Breathe” sing “Lay em down.”
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Nothing In My Hands I Bring… Simply To Thy Cross I Cling

I shared this story at the conclusion of my message yesterday; it is about Sheila Walsh;

In 1992 my life hit the wall. One morning I was sitting on national television and that night I was in the locked ward of a psychiatric hospital. But, as she said, “It was the kindest thing God could have done to me.”
The very first day in the hospital, the psychiatrist asked me, “Who are you?”
“I’m the co-host of the 700 Club.”
“That’s not what I meant,” he said.
“Well, I’m a writer. I’m a singer.”
“That’s not what I meant. Who are you?”
“I don’t have a clue,” I said, and he replied, “Now that’s right, and that’s why you’re here.”
Over a period of time she began to realize that she was measuring herself by what others thought of her.I really thought I had lost everything. My house. My salary. My job. Everything. But I found my life. I discovered at the lowest moment of my life that everything that was true about me, God knew.
After I’d been there about three weeks, I attended a church service. Two nurses went with me, and I sat at the back of this little Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. God spoke to me through a priest I’d never met before, hymns I’d never sung before, passages I don’t remember reading before. But the words of that old hymn described me perfectly: “Nothing in my hands I bring. Simply to thy cross I cling.”

Today.. Jesus wants us.. not our accomplishments.. not our position.. He wants our lives..

What To Do When Someone Doesn’t Care For You

Have you ever had someone get jealous of you? Maybe you are a hard worker and you have done well and someone doesn’t like you because of it. Or, maybe someone just doesn’t care for you and you can’t figure out why.
In the book of Genesis, Jacob worked for a man named Laban for years. During the time Jacob worked for Laban, Laban noticed that Jacob was a good worker and Jacob knew how to breed sheep and other animals and Jacob’s own flock was growing. As it did, Jacob overheard Laban’s sons grumbling because Jacob was doing so well.
So, Jacob called his two wives, Leah and Rachel, to him and he told them to prepare to leave because “I have noticed that your father’s attitude toward me has changed.”
It may be there is someone you are working with, or a neighbor whose attitude toward you has changed. So, what do you do? Many times, people do nothing and sometimes, that’s the best. But, there are times, when you should address it.
Ask to talk with the person. Not in public.. but in private. Maybe ask them to lunch or to have coffee.. Tell them what you think is happening. Ask if you have done anything to offend them? If you do this.. be prepared to hear whatever they may say.. and be willing to admit if you have done something wrong.
God wants us to live in peace with others. There are times when we can’t do anything but, there are times when a good talk.. to clear the air.. so to speak can resolve any animosity between us and someone else.

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