Do You Really Believe In Eternity?

Last week in our discussions in Bible study I asked the question: “Do we really believe in eternity?”  Jesus told us we could tell a tree by it’s fruit. I also believe that we can tell what a person really believes in, where their faith and hope really lies, by looking at what they spend most of their time focusing on.

I drew a time line of eternity on the white board and placed two X’s on a small portion to indicate your birth and your death. (Your life span)  I then challenged the group by asking them, “Do you spend your time investing on rewards you will receive for eternity, or do you mainly focus on the rewards you will receive between these two X’s?”

Eternity

Where you invest your time and resources tells people a lot about your heart.

The Bible tells Christians several things about our life’s focus:

1. You can’t serve two masters.  (Matthew 6:24) You can’t serve God and chase the world.  Jesus is clear here warning you that you will wind up loving one and hating the other.

2. Jesus must come first. (Luke 14:26) You can’t love anyone more than you love Christ, or you aren’t worthy of him.  If having another relationship requires you to walk away from Jesus, then you must be willing to lost that relationship.

3. Store up your treasures in heaven, not here. (Matthew 6:19-21) Invest your time, talents, abilities, and resources on things that matter; the things that will last: heaven and eternity!

Building up your treasures here on earth vs. building your treasures in heaven is like someone thinking that kindergarten is the end all-be all of education.  If someone thought that you would think they were crazy!  To a three year old, kindergarten is a big deal.  To someone in college, it was only the beginning.

When we get to the other side of eternity are you going to look back and regret that you spent all of your time investing in things that only lasted for a blink of an eye?

Someone once told me: “I don’t care as long as I get to heaven.  I don’t care how big my mansion is!”

My wife, Alisa, made a good point by saying, “That’s like someone saying: ‘I don’t care if I live under a bridge, as long as I get to live in America!'”  If you care about your comforts here, don’t you think you want more than “barely making it into heaven?”

God is not a socialist.  The Bible is full of verses that talk about the faithful being rewarded in heaven.  Make no mistake, if you chase after the world here, or even seek after your reward of faithfulness on this earth, that is what you will have.

In Matthew 6:1 Jesus said: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus continued his warning about where you receive your rewards when he said: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus told us plainly about treasure seeking: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Where is your focus on a daily basis?  Are you focusing more on building your empire here or utilizing your talents and abilities to increase the Kingdom of God?  You better choose wisely, because eternity depends on it.

Don’t know how to focus on God’s Kingdom vs. your own empire?  Join us each week at 11:00, and keep reading here.  We are here to show you just that!

Posted in christianity, church, eternity, growth, Jesus, ministry, sprtitual Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

This Ministry Is Focused On You!

Bible Study- menOur discussions in Bible study last Sunday started with us looking at where we wanted to take the college and career class.  Did we want to develop a ministry or leave it as a class to attend on Sundays?  I think the safe thing to do would be just leave it a class, but it really needs to be a ministry.

The years you spend in college and in the early years of your career are some of the most important in your life.  You are finally on your own and are challenging and internalizing all of the things you have been taught your whole life.  Unfortunately, you are surrounded by people who don’t love you like your parents have and still do, and they all have ideas about what you should believe and how you should live your life.  Most of them are about them getting what they want from you.

Mix that with the fact that during these years church ministries seem to lose focus on your lives.  You see, you are a nomadic people.  Much like Abraham in the Bible you guys are wonderers.  Not confused, but very mobile.  One weekend you are here and another you may not be.  The demands of school, social activities, new found freedom and work schedules are pulling you in a hundred different directions.

Because of this, attendance is sporadic at best sometimes.  It’s hard to develop a consistent ministry around sporadic, especially if you measure a successful ministry by “how many attended.”

So here are a few things you need to know about Just Jesus Ministries and our focus on you and your peers:

1. We don’t measure success by how many attended a Bible study or event; we measure it by the interaction of those that were there.

2. We define ministry as “meeting needs.”  If we have a million events with amazing attendance, but aren’t meeting needs- we have failed.  We want to design our teaching and events around your needs.

3. Our primary objective is to develop opportunities for you to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ, which means you will need to know how to apply God’s word to your life.  If you can’t apply what we are talking about, why are we talking about it?

4. Another objective is to develop opportunities for you to network (hang out with people) with other Christians your age.  By doing so we can help you develop a support group of “equally yoked” people that you can depend on and “bear one another’s burdens” as you go through this exciting and stressful time of life.

5. We are not a church. We are a ministry that supports churches that have college and career ministries and those that don’t have an organized ministry, but have college and career aged people attending their church.  That being said, Johnny does teach weekly at 11:00am on Sunday mornings at Piedmont Church.  If you know someone that is not involved in a regular Bible study, anyone is welcome to join us.

This is an important time in your life, and we are here for you!  We want your input into:Bible Study- women

1. What ministry opportunities you want to be involved in.

2. What topics you want to cover during Bible studies

3. What events you think would be the most fun and create more opportunities to gather like minded people to grow and support each other in their relationship with Christ.

Let us know how we can better serve you and your friends!

 

Posted in christianity, chruch, growth, Jesus, ministry, needs, networking, sprtitual

Asking God

Do you ever feel like God’s not listening? Do you find yourself praying less because you aren’t getting the results you were expecting?

With many ministers in America preaching a “name it, claim it” gospel we find ourselves expecting God to do things He never promised us to do. Because of our misunderstanding of the teachings in scripture we find our faith wavering sometimes. That is why it is imperative that we know how to dig into the truth in God’s word, and study it.

This truth is so important we must be willing to forsake everything in order to find it. Unfortunately we too often act like God is the one who is privileged to have us read His word, instead of the other way around.

Last week we studied Matthew 7:7 where Jesus himself said “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (NIV)

Using the tools we’ve been learning to use (the three questions and the blue letter Bible app) we were able to dog much deeper than we have before.

As we broke into groups to find out what Jesus really meant we learned how the Greek words were more intense than the English words they are translated into. For example, in English we often translate the word ask to mean to make a request, but in the Greek it means to beg, to crave or to require.

begging for foodSo when Jesus said “Ask and it will be given to you,” what He was really saying was “if you crave the answer, if you ask as a begger needs food, and ask as if an answer is required, then it will be given to you.”

Are you starting to see the difference?

We can’t be seeking a relationship with God like a guy who is dating three women. The women won’t put up with it, and scripture is pretty clear about those who chase after the world and God. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus plainly states “No one can serve two masters.”

Are you really seeking only God or is God an add on? Do you sacrifice everything to follow Him, or do you follow Jesus when it’s convenient?

Whether or not you have the answer to that question, come join us this Sunday as we continue to dig deep into God’s word, and learn how to apply it to our lives.

This week we will be talking about what it really means to know God.

I think you will be surprised.

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What Are You Chasing After?

listen-to-the-word-of-god1This week we continued our Bible Study on “How To Study God’s Word.”

Last week we began looking at Luke 9:23 “Then he [Jesus] said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Too often we like to think that we can treat Jesus like an “add on” to our lives.  We can chase after the world and still love Jesus, can’t we?  It’s ok, right?  I mean, everyone’s doing it.

It’s true, a lot of people are doing it, but Jesus basically told us that following Him was an all or nothing deal.  He is not going to tolerate being an add on.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at Luke 14:26-27 where Jesus is talking and says to the large crowds following Him: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Does God really want us to hate people?  No.  He wants us to love them, BUT He wants us to love Him more!  You see, we have to be willing to lose everything in order to follow Jesus: friends, spouses, parents, children, siblings and even our own lives.

Remember that concept I called “The Totality of Scripture” last week?  This is where there is a constant theme running through scripture.  With that concept in mind take a look at the story of the rich young ruler: Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Did Jesus hatmen runninge rich people?  No, He just knows that no one can serve two masters.  In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

You can’t chase after the world AND God.  You only get to choose one or the other.  It’s easy to SAY “I will choose God!”  But the real question is: “Which one does your daily life show you are chasing?”

Challenge For The Week:  Pay attention to the activities you are involved in, and the things you talk about when you are with your friends.  Which one does your daily life show YOU are chasing after? 

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The Three Questions To Ask

For the month of August Sunday School times are weird.  We will be meeting at 10:15 in room 103 of the Conference Center.

If you have missed either of the past two weeks in Sunday School here is an overview of what you missed.  We have been studying “How To Study God’s Word” and Johnny shared three questions that can help you dig deeper when you are studying:

  1. What Does It Say?  This is the easiest question to answer as you are just restating the main concepts of what the passage is talking about in your own words.  If the passage has more than one concept, choose one, restate it in your own words and answer the next two questions.
  2. What Does It Mean?  This one is a little generic, but it takes it a little deeper.  What is the writer or person speaking trying to say?  This one usually starts with a sentence like: “As Christians we should…”
  3. How Does it Apply?  This is where the rubber meets the road.  When we answer this question it becomes our personal commitment of how we are going to apply this passage of God’s word to our life.  Be Specific!  These answers usually start with something like: “I will…”

When we dig into scripture we run into the risk of misinterpreting it, or carrying our agenda to scripture in order to prove it instead of allowing scripture to change our agenda.  To help avoid this here are a few tips:

  1. Discover the Context.  Read the passages before and after the verses you are reading.  What is going on that caused the speaker to say what they said, or the writer to write what they wrote?  Just like many conversations in modern day times, scriptures are often misunderstood because they were read out of context.
  2. Compare it to the “Totality of Scripture.”  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  So, don’t be confused by strange teachings.  (Hebrews 13:8-9)  Do other scriptures confirm the conclusions you are drawing from this scripture, or are they saying something different?  The messages throughout scripture are very consistent; if you are reading something that contradicts other scriptures, challenge your interpretation.
  3. Recognize the translation dilemma.  As many of you pointed out today, most languages do not translate perfectly word for word into another language.  The New Testament was written in Greek and The Old Testament was written in Hebrew.  Not a language scholar?  No worries.  Apps like “The Blue Letter Bible” can break down the verse in its original language and give you’re the definitions of the words they used.  (More on that next Sunday!)
  4. Ask.  When in doubt, ask someone you trust.  That is what Johnny and Alisa are here for as well.  If they don’t know the answer, they will join you in your search for the answer.

This Week’s Challenge:  Use the three questions at the top to study Luke 9:23 this week.  Use the four tips above to make sure you are as accurate as possible.  We will discuss your findings next Sunday!

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August 3, 2014 Update

I hope you all enjoyed Jeff last week as he shared with you a different perspective on how to study God’s word. I know he enjoyed his time with you.

This Sunday Alisa and I are back in town! (and no more Sunday trips are on the calendar) We hated having to miss last week, but this trip had been planned and paid for for 6 months.

We will continue our discussion on how to study God’s word. We will be covering a practical outline someone taught Johnny when he was in college that he still uses today.

Bring your smartphones and tablets as we will also be looking at an app that can help you to better understand what the writers of the Bible were saying vs our Americanized interpretation of the English translations.

Bring your friends, and forward this email to anyone you know that might be interested in learning how to study God’s more effectively.

We look forward to seeing you Sunday ay 10:15!

– Johnny

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God Wants A Relationship, Not Religion

Sunday School times have changed!  Through the month of August we will be meeting at 10:15 in room 103

Today we began our discussion on “How To Study God’s Word.”  You guys chose the topic, so that is where we are starting.

If you missed today, here is an overview of our discussion: Through our discussion we uncovered the largest challenges seem to be understanding and applying God’s word to our lives with measuring up typically being the focus of why we are studying God’s word. We seemed to have come through our church experience with the belief that to be a “good Christian” we have to read the Bible on a regular basis.  Although that is true, it is also incomplete as it sets up that performance or “measuring up” type of relationship.

We discussed how God created us from the very beginning because he wanted a relationship with us.  The Bible often describes that relationship like a parent/child relationship. I gave the example of how when my children were born I didn’t expect them to immediately know everything.  I knew that it would take time, I knew that they would make mistakes, and even though there were times I had to discipline them- I always loved them, no matter what. If I (as sinful as I am) can do that for my children, how much more will God do that for us?  It was never about religion; it’s always been about relationship.

Just because mankind keeps turning it into a religion about God, doesn’t mean that is what God wants.  God wants you to know Him, and for you to be close to each other.  He wants you to have a more abundant life.  Fun (without emotional and physical damage) and fulfillment (without co-dependence on others).  That is why we read the Bible, and it needs to be in the forefront of our minds as we read it.

Our Challenge This Week: Read your Bible through the eyes of a relationship, not through the eyes of condemnation and measuring up.  Look at how scripture helps us develop a better relationship with God.  As you discover them, write down those tips, or ways to develop a closer relationship with God.

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New Teachers For College and Career

Johnny and Alisa ChristmasJohnny and Alisa are the new Sunday School teachers for the college and career class at Piedmont.  They have been married for 25 years and have 4 children.

I (Johnny) am an ordained minister and have been working with young people for over 25 years.  I have a non-profit organization that coaches teenagers, college students and young adults.  I also own my own business working with companies as an executive coach and trainer.  My passion is to help people understand who they are, what their gifts are and how to enjoy life more.

Alisa is a stay at home mom and home-schools our younger two children.  Before having children she was a teacher in the public school system.  She loves to cook (which you will learn soon enough!) and also works with me in our company as the customer care coordinator.  (She keeps me straight.)  She just loves people, and although you won’t see her take center stage that often, you will find that her gift of hospitality is a perfect match for my giftedness.

We are excited about the opportunity to work with you guys.  This isn’t a “fill in” teaching job.  We have been praying for a LONG time about how to develop a ministry reaching out to the college and career aged people in our community.  When we were asked to consider taking over the Sunday school class, it was a perfect opportunity for us to move forward with the vision God had given us.

We look forward to getting to know you and growing with you as we journey together on this path.  This is going to be more than a Sunday school class.  It’s the beginning of a ministry.  We are going to have a lot of fun!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

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