Remember, we are fighting a spiritual war.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)

We are living in a time of political upheaval. Tempers are charged on either side of the aisle. Everyone feels they have been wronged. Both sides are fighting back, protecting, vouching for, and propelling their candidate to the front.

Let me encourage you not to put your trust in a candidate, political party, or policy. While politics are important, they are not the end all be all. Paul reminds us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood. Instead the battle we are fighting is a spiritual battle. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves for a spiritual war by taking up spiritual armor.

Spiritual wars are not fought with sticks, clubs, swords, or guns. They are fought by following and adhering to God’s Word. Jesus told His disciples to put their swords away. We should put our swords away as well. Attacks, riots, mob violent will not solve the problems we face in our country. Only the gospel and God’s Word will bring the change for which we desperately hope.

Remember, we aren’t fighting against flesh and blood, instead we are fighting a spiritual war, which requires spiritual armor.

How Do You Know If You are Ready for Jesus to Return?

Jesus' Return

How do you know if you are ready for Jesus to return? Different people give different answers. Some say I am an American; while others believe they are ready because they walked an aisle, raised a hand, and said a prayer; still others believe they are ready because they have lived a good life, helping lots of people.

What, however, does the Bible? To be sure, it does not answer in the way most would.

What does the Bible Say?

The Bible tells us that we can know we are ready for Jesus’ return by continually living according to Jesus’ will. The parable of the faithful and unfaithful servant exemplify this idea (Matthew 24:45-51).

In the parable, the faithful servant remained true to his master’s wishes the entire time he was gone, while the unfaithful servant didn’t. Instead of following his master’s will, he followed his own.

So we can know that we are ready for Jesus’ return if we are continually living according to His will.

Why is that so?

Because that is what Jesus’ judgment is based on. You see, Jesus’ judgment isn’t based on some decision we made in the past. Rather it is based on how we are currently living. It is based on our faithfulness.

If we prove ourselves to be faithful to Him at His return by continually living according to His will, then we will experience a joyous reward. If, however, we prove ourselves to be unfaithful to Him at His return by living according to our own will, we will experience eternal torment.

So we show that we are ready for Jesus’ return by continually living according to His will, by continually living as a faithful servant.

Clarification – Not a Works Based Salvation

Now, when I say we are judged according to our faithfulness, I am not advocating a works based salvation. Instead what I am saying is that our works reveal our true nature. The way we live reveals our heart as it really is, which means we can’t just rest in a decision we have made in the past. Instead, we must rest in how we are living for Jesus now.

And so, if you are not living as a faithful servant, if you are not living according to God’s will, if you are not continually growing in your Christian walk and becoming more like Christ, if these things are not taking place in your life, then you are not a faithful servant no matter what decision you made in the past.

It is not about what we “have done” rather it is about what we “are doing.”

I bring this up because a lot of people think they are going to heaven based of some decision they made years ago. While there is a time when our heart is given to Christ, we can’t base our eternal destiny on a decision alone, especially if that decision hasn’t affected the way we live.

Those whose hearts are given to Christ, those who “decide for Christ”, change. They change to become a faithful servant – someone continually living according to Jesus’ will. If that has not happened in your life, then you haven’t given your heart to Jesus. You are not going to experience eternal life because you aren’t a follower of Jesus.

Jesus is looking for followers not just deciders

Sure, you might have changed for a short time, but if you are not living as a Christian now, if you aren’t living as a faithful servant now, then when Jesus returns, you are not going to be rewarded, rather you are going to be punished.

Faithful servants of God are prepared for Jesus’ return, and they show they are prepared by continually living according to Jesus’ will.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you see a continual change in your life, or are you just resting in a decision you made in the past?


Adapted from my sermon: What does it look like to be a faithful servant of God?


Two Reasons the Resurrection is a Necessity


Yesterday was Easter Sunday – the day Christians all over the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave.

But why? Why celebrate the resurrection? Why was it necessary? There are at least two reasons the resurrection is a necessity.

Two Reasons the Resurrection is a Necessity

(1) The resurrection was necessary to prove Jesus’ death actually satisfied God’s wrath.

In Philippians 2, we learn that Jesus is glorified. He is highly exalted and made to be our king because He humbled himself on the cross.

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Php 2:8–11)

Jesus wouldn’t have been resurrected and made our King, He wouldn’t be exalted, if His sacrifice wasn’t sufficient and satisfied God’s wrath.

So Jesus’ resurrection was a necessity because it proves His sacrifice was sufficient to pay for our sins. Without it we are all still damned to hell.

(2) The resurrection was necessary because without it we couldn’t experience eternal life.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians,

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:20-22).

If Christ had not raised from the dead, then we wouldn’t either. Death is the end. Eternal life doesn’t exist. Heaven doesn’t exist.

Thankfully that isn’t true. Thankfully the resurrection happened, which means this world isn’t the end for us. Eternal life is to come. Life in a perfect world, ruled by a perfect King is to come. There is hope. There is something for us to look forward to.

Question for Reflection

  1. What reasons would you give for the necessity of the resurrection?


Post adapted from my sermon: The Seriousness of Sin and the Necessity of the Cross and Resurrection


What is Jesus’ Mission and How Does it Affect Us?


What is Jesus’ mission? How does it affect us? A good summary of Jesus’ mission and how it affects us is found in Ephesians chapter 1. In verses 3-10 we learn three things:

(1) Jesus’ mission was given and prepared before the world was created (3-4; 9-10a)

Everything that has happened in this world is no mystery to God. He knew Adam and Eve would eat the fruit in the garden, that they would rebel against Him. He knew the world would turn out the way it is today.

God was prepared. He had a plan to save His people, so they could experience life with Him. His plan involved Jesus, His Son.

Ephesians 1:3-4 says,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Eph 1:3–4)

And Ephesians 1:9-10a says,

making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time,” (Eph 1:9–10a)

So Jesus’ mission was God given. It was a plan that He and the Father came up with before this world was even created.

(2) Jesus’ mission was to take our punishment for us (7)

As sinners we are separated from God and we deserve His punishment, but Jesus came to die in our place, to take God’s wrath on Himself.

Ephesians 1:7 says,

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” (Eph 1:7)

The way we experience redemption is by Jesus shedding His blood. The way Jesus shed His blood was by being nailed to a cross. While He hung on that cross, the Father’s wrath was poured out on Him. The wrath that we deserve was poured out on Jesus as He hung in our place.

So Jesus’ mission was to take our punishment for us.

(3) Jesus’ mission was to unite us to God for all eternity (10b)

We know this because the second half of Ephesians 10 tells us the plan that was revealed in the fullness of time was,

to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Eph 1:10b)

So Jesus’ mission then is designed to restore all creation back to God. To restore shalom or peace first between us and the Father. Second between us and each other. Third between the Father and creation. Fourth between us and creation.

So Jesus came to unite us to God for all eternity through His shed blood on the cross and this was a mission that started before time even existed.

The Good News

The good news is that all those who would repent of their sin, who would turn from living how they want, admit Jesus is their Savior – that He came to die in their place, and follow Jesus will experience salvation.

So have you done that? Have you turned from your sins to follow Jesus? Have you given your life over to Him? Do you recognize Jesus’ mission was to come and die in your place so that your relationship with the Father could restored?

Or do you deny Jesus’ mission? Do you refuse to repent? Do you refuse to recognize Jesus as the Messiah? The Savior? Do you try to come against Jesus and destroy Him?

Questions for Reflection

  1. What do you believe?
  2. What have you done?
  3. Where are you at?



Post developed from my sermon: Those who Come Against Jesus Don’t Win in the End

True Christians Bear Fruit


Israel was God’s chosen people. They were chosen by God to represent Him to the nation. As God’s chosen people they directly interacted with God, His prophets, and His chosen leaders. If anyone should know God’s will and what He expected of them, it should have been the Israelites.

But even though they knew God’s will and they looked promising, they didn’t live according to His commandments. They didn’t bear fruit. Sure, they were religious. They went to the Temple to worship. They said their prayers. They made sacrifices. They kept the religious festivals, but even in all that they weren’t obedient to God. They didn’t live according to His will because their heart wasn’t given to God.

Since Israel was unfruitful they faced God’s judgment just like the fig tree faced Jesus’ judgment when He found it didn’t bear any fruit in Matthew 21.

What Does Israel’s Actions Teach Us?

Israel’s actions teach 21st Century Christians it is not enough to be Religious. It is not enough to look the part. God doesn’t just want us to use spiritual language or do spiritual things. No, God wants more.

What God Wants

God wants us to give Him our hearts. He wants us to live for Him. He wants us to be a true follower of Jesus. He wants us to be someone who takes what He says and applies it to our lives. He wants us to bear fruit and bring glory to Him.

What Happens If We Don’t Bear Fruit?

If we don’t bear fruit and just live a life of religiosity, we are no better than the Israelites. And we will face the same fate they did – we will face God’s judgment.

A Plea

Don’t be like the Israelites. Don’t be like the fig tree. Truly bear fruit. Truly follow Jesus, that’s what it means to be a Christian. Being a Christian doesn’t just involve saying a prayer or being dunked in a baptistry. Being a Christian means giving your whole life to Jesus. When you give your life to Jesus and follow Him, you will bear fruit.

What Do You Do?

Have you given your life to Jesus? Do you live according to God’s will? Do you follow Jesus? Or do you just come to church on Sunday and do some religious activities because you think you have to in order to appease God, your spouse, or your family? Which one are you?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you the true follower of Jesus who bears fruit?
  2. Or are you the religious person who bears no fruit?



Post adapted from my most recent sermon: The Unexpected Enacted Parable of Jesus

Why Don’t We Pray?


Prayer is something we as the church don’t do often enough.

In his book, Dynamics of Spiritual Life Richard Lovelace provides several elements needed for renewal and revival. One of these elements is Dependent Prayer. In his section on dependent prayer, he writes this:

If all regenerate church members in Western Christendom were to intercede daily simply for the most obvious spiritual concerns visible in their homes, their workplaces, their local churches and denominations, their nations, and the world and the total mission of the body of Christ within it, the transformation which would result would be incalculable.

Not only would God certainly change those situations in response to prayer – we have Christ’s word that if we ask in his name he will do more than we ask or think – but the church’s comprehension of its task would attain an unprecedented sharpness of focus.

Perhaps much of our prayer now should simply be for God to pour out such a spirit of prayer and supplication in the hearts of his people.

I believe Lovelace hits the nail on the head. Prayer is powerful. Prayer changes things. Even though we know that, we don’t focus on prayer.

Why Don’t We Pray?

(1) We don’t realize our special position as God’s children

Those of us who are Christians have been adopted as God’s children. Paul says in Galatians 4:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:4-6)

Christians are God’s children. As God’s children, we have a personal intimate relationship with God. A relationship that gives us direct access to God.

Since we are God’s children, we shouldn’t hesitate to draw near to our King in prayer. But many do. Many hesitate to come to God in prayer. I think it is because they don’t recognize what they have. They don’t recognize the special position and ability they possess as God’s children to come boldly into His throne room.

(2) Our fallen nature constantly pulls us away from prayer

Sinners don’t want anything to do with God. They want to be as far from God as possible.

Even after we are redeemed by Jesus, we still have a sinful nature with which to contend. A sinful nature that would rather us not go to the Lord in prayer.

(3) Our culture pulls us away from prayer

Since the Enlightenment in the 1800’s, things have been lumped into two categories – Feelings and Facts. Prayer, and spiritual things in general, was put into the feelings categories – something we might believe to be true, but aren’t able to prove scientifically.

The feelings category is subjective. When things are made to be subjective, they don’t feel real. Instead they feel phony, which is exactly what elites and influencers of culture say about prayer. It’s phony. It’s something only fanatics do. Us educated types don’t need prayer.

Our culture propagates that idea. Open any influential newspaper – New York Times, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal – and you will see what I mean.

So another reason we don’t prayer is because our culture is constantly pulling us away from it.

(4) We are dependent on ourselves

We believe we can do life without God, that we can handle things on our own. Our results are because of our expertise, talents, and hard work, not God.

When we think in this way, praying seems nice but unnecessary. After all money can do the same thing prayer does, but in less time. So instead praying, we work extra hard to insure success. In this way, we show we depend on ourselves and not God.

(5) We believe we don’t have the time

Culture, especially Western Culture, has taught us time is money. Time idle is time wasted. It is time money could be made. Since prayer is often seen as idle time, it is put on the back burner.

Prayer, however, isn’t idle time. Time spent on our knees is invaluable. Our God is the sovereign Creator and Ruler of all things. So time praying isn’t wasted time. It isn’t idle time. It is instead something we can’t afford not to do.


So as we see there are a number of reasons we don’t pray. Those reasons run the gamut from us not understanding our position before God, to sin pulling us away, to culture’s influence, to self-dependence, or to thinking it is not worth our time. I am sure there are many more, so share your thoughts in the comments.

Question for Reflection

  1. What others reasons would you provide for our lack of prayer?



Dynamics of Spiritual Life by Richard Lovelace