Daily Dose on Hiatus Until 12/9/2012

November 3, 2012

Peace, blessing, and grace unto you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior. 

Beloved, due to an unforseen situation that has arisen the Daily Dose will be on hiatus until Sunday, December 9, 2012.  At that time, we will continue on with the “Leadership Worth Following” series.

May the Lord bless you, keep you, guide you, strengthen you, and make His face to shine upon you and your loved ones always.

Your brother in Christ,

 

 

 

Rev Jason Thurwanger

Leadership Worth Following – (Part 1 Conclusion) – Having the Right Ingredients

November 2, 2012

(Originally posted on 8/26/12)

Peace, blessing, and grace unto you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior who alone is able to present us blameless to God the Father. Welcome back from the 1-week hiatus of the Daily Dose, brothers & sisters! We are blessed by your presence todayJ

Thus far, brothers & sisters, we have discussed how unquestionable character/integrity is really the foundation for most of the rest of the ingredients that make up effective leadership. Last time we were together we talked about how faith is the firm and secure ground upon which the foundation of character/integrity lays. Today we will talk about the rest of the ingredients that are vital to becoming/identifying a strong and effective leader. Without further delay then, let’s jump right in, shall we?

Beloved, one core reality about a leader that most people don’t really consider is that a person can only lead if others are willing to follow the leadership that he or she provides. We are not likely to decide to follow a person who is volatile, completely unpredictable, and less than transparent/honest with us, correct? It is of critical importance that we be able to trust those that would lead us. Sneakiness may help advance a deception for a while, but it only tears down any semblance of leadership over time. We need trustworthiness from our leaders. There will never be a time that a leader’s followers will agree with him or her on every decision made. This only serves to increase the importance that the leader be deemed genuinely trustworthy by his or her followers. It is this very trust that will enable and encourage those following the leader to rally around the leader’s decisions, even when those decisions are contrary to what the followers themselves would have normally done. People must be able to trust your character/integrity, but they also must be able to trust your intentions, your soundness of mind, your decision-making ability, etc. Do not ever allow yourselves to fall into the belief that as long as you are honest most of the time, then people will see you as trustworthy. In the long run, this is simply not true. Those who follow you must see that whether dealing with a high-visibility item, or whether dealing with minor matters, you remain trustworthy in all. If those you wish do lead see you wave on certain things, they will come to trust you with nothing. If you want to build trust with people, you must continually provide them with examples that show that such trust is well founded and well invested in you. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” – Luke 16:10 (KJV)

Another key quality that is an essential ingredient in identifying/becoming a strong & effective leader is a strong work ethic. The Truth is that people are not drawn to laziness or slothfulness. It is imperative that we display a strong work ethic so that there is evidence that we are driven to accomplish the mission/task at hand and not merely seeking for others to do it for us. Furthermore, the presence of a strong work ethic is of vital importance in gaining the trust of those we would wish to lead. Our work ethic helps shine a different kind of light on our intentions, rather than leaving folks to only wonder/speculate about our intentions/character through our inactivity. An involved leader that shows that he or she is willing to “jump in the trenches” to put the work in and shore things up is a leader that will elicit the same from the others they lead by the example that he or she sets, while also displaying a willingness to commit himself or herself to achieving the end goal. The Truth of the matter is simply that we oftentimes will reap what we reap based on what we have sown. If we are slothful/lazy as leaders we will reap the consequences and the pain of that decision. However, if we embrace and display a strong work ethic that clearly evidences our focus on achieving the mission, we position ourselves to reap the rewards of such effort. In this vein, consider the following passage from Scripture:

“He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” – Proverbs 10:4 (KJV)

The message is crystal clear here, right beloved? What we put in is what we will get out. If we truly want to realize the best yield, then we must be good, attentive, and involved stewards of the field.

Of course, hand in hand with a strong work ethic goes dependability. It is imperative to establishing trust with those you lead to show that you are dependable. While this includes showing up in the flesh, it encompasses even more than that. Total dependability also means carrying yourself in such a manner that people can depend you to be mentally/emotionally stable, patient, and focused on the matter(s) at hand. It does you no good to be present in the body but absent in the mind. Being highly dependable enables a strong and effective leader to be exactly the leader he or she needs to be for his or her followers for the specific situation being dealt with at that particular moment in time. This means that whether those you lead need a motivator, a teacher, an inspiring presence, a disciplinarian, or a partner, they can count on you being there to meet that need.

In order to be sure that you can provide that level of dependability to your charges, it is extremely necessary that we exercise self-discipline into our daily approach. Beloved, we are all human, and as such, we are all prone to the same assortment of emotions, urges, etc. However, part of what enables a strong and effective leader to provide leadership worth following is the presence of self-discipline and the willingness to use it as necessary. The Truth is, precious one, that we can provide absolutely sage advice/guidance, and we can espouse and champion the most noble of principles, but if we do not adhere to such wisdom ourselves then all that we utter is deemed to be lies, hypocrisy, and gibberish by others. A lack of self-discipline marries well with a course of self-destruction. If we are to lead, then we must lead by example. That includes exemplifying self-discipline in embracing and staying the appropriate path, rather than going “off road” when tempted to do so. Consider the following synopsis of this concept written by the apostle Paul:

“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” – 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (KJV)

In other words, brothers & sisters, we are to practice what we preach. We are to utilize self-discipline to stay on the path that the Lord leads us on, and by so doing, we present ourselves as credible. A leader that does not take his or her own prescriptions is a leader who is destined for a very short shelf life. Why? Beloved, over the long haul, people will not follow that type of leadership, which is not really leadership at all. Those who would normally follow end up seeing that leadership figure in a very negative light. Furthermore, if people are going on a journey they want to do so knowing that their wagon (their lives/fates) are hitched to a reliable horse (leader) that has the strength to successfully bring them through the journey. There aren’t too many people that will embrace a suicide mission represented by following the lead of someone bent on self-destruction as a result of rejecting to utilize self-control. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28 (KJV)

Beloved, in the old days, a city without walls was considered easy prey for any/all takers. The bottom line is that if we insist on trying to lead without incorporating self-discipline, the portrait of our leadership will be one of ruins rather than one of beauty.

Precious one, oftentimes when someone is pursuing a leadership role, he or she does so envisioning the extra money, prestige, latitude, and respect that will come with that role. Rarely do people give nearly as much thought to the less “attractive” aspects of truly fulfilling a leadership role. In reality, when you weigh the perceived positive rewards of moving into a leadership position against the potential costs, it is not unusual for the scales to be in balance, if not slightly skewed toward the costs. If you are not willing to embrace those costs, any success you have as a leader will be very limited and exceedingly short-lived. It is absolutely imperative that you be willing to embrace and meet challenges. Why? Well, beloved, and endless supply of challenges will come your way no matter what. If you are in the frame of mind to embrace the challenges that arise, you will be able to much more effectively deal with them. If you back away, or get worn down by such challenges, the same will overrun you.

In order to maintain a firm willingness to address all challenges as they come, it is imperative that you be completely committed and have an ironclad resolve. “We can” has to give way to “We will” with absolutely zero equivocation/vacillation. I know it sounds cliché’ but failure must never be an option. We must understand that every single problem as a solution. Sometimes the price we have to pay to realize that solution and resolution can be pretty steep, but we must be willing to pay that price. Adversity will be a constant visitor throughout the tenure of your leadership, and you must be willing to meet that adversity at the door. God never told us we would not face pain in life. On the contrary actually, Jesus told us we would suffer for Him, but He also told us we would never be alone. We have to be willing to exercise the faith to acknowledge His persistence presence, be reassured by His perfect promise, and persevere through all of the adversity that will come our way. All the while, we are to be strengthened by the Almighty so that we may ultimately overcome the adversity all around us. How do we do this when things get so bad? Consider what the apostle Paul told us:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (KJV)

Don’t just believe in God, precious one! Believe Him. There is a very real difference. However, if you cling to His Word and trust in Him, He will not disappoint you. Remember how Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, because they were jealous of their father’s favoritism towards Joseph? It would have been perfectly normal for Joseph to assess his situation, decide he was truly doomed and give in. Instead, he trusted in God and believed that God would provide a Way. Joseph was not disappointed, as he eventually became the primary ruler in Egypt, after Pharaoh himself. Beloved, the Lord gives you so many real-life examples of how he can take any situation, regardless of how dire it seems, and turn it to good. Have the faith to believe Him, the self-discipline to patiently wait for Him, and the resolve to persevere, and you will be able to meet each instance of adversity that comes your way. You will also be able to do so with a more positive frame of mind, understanding that through such trials the Lord helps you develop even more. Always remember:

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” – James 1:2-4 (KJV)

No matter the size or scope of the issue(s) you are facing, never forget that you serve the Lord God Almighty. There is no challenge, or set of challenges/adversity, that exceeds His ability to help you overcome.

Yet another key ingredient that is an integral part of the recipe for strong and effective leadership is humility. Someone in a leadership position that is arrogant, proud, and loud is not a dynamic leader. He or she is usually just a self-aggrandizing idiot that is seeking primarily personal gain. Beloved, being in a position of leadership over people who have chosen/been designated to follow us does not make us their better. It merely formalizes that we are their designated/chosen leaders. Though our roles are different from those we lead our mission should be identical, and that mission should not focus on elevating our own position. We should never strive to highlight and/or elongate the gap between the position of the leader and the followers, because such a gap is truly perilous and not prestigious. Instead, we should always look to draw closer those who follow us. We want them to serve with us and not for us. These distinctions are critical ones to make in order to maintain a healthy sense of humility. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” – 1 Peter 5:5-7 (KJV)

Brothers & sisters, do not look to “pump up” your own image of yourself as the leader of your followers. Know that by being a humble and faithful leader of others God will establish your leadership and your standing amongst those you lead. Propping up yourself will never allow a healthy dose of humility to exist. You can only lift yourself as high and for as long as your individual strength allows. Truthfully, we all know that our own strength is so limited that this would represent a small moment in time. However, if the Lord hold you up, the “shelf life” of your leadership will be greatly elongated, for He has more than the strength necessary hold you in that leadership position indefinitely.

Being humble will also enable you to be much more compassionate and merciful to those that you are charged with leading. You will not perceive your followers as your subjects; rather you will treasure them as your purpose. The Truth is that neither you nor those who follow you will be infallible. We are all human, and we are prone to making mistakes. We serve a God who has shown a strong and storied propensity for giving second chances. It is critical that we display this same propensity, but we will only do so successfully by embracing compassion and mercy. We are all reliant on God’s mercy. Within that, those we lead are reliant on our mercy when they make mistakes and/or fall short of our expectations. Similarly, we are reliant on the mercy of our followers, as there will be times when we also make mistakes and/or fall short of their expectations. People will embrace merciful and compassionate leadership. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.” – Proverbs 20:28 (KJV)

Just as we cannot expect mercy from God without also being willing to be merciful ourselves, we cannot expect those we lead to be merciful with us if we are not also willing to be merciful with them. This only makes sense, right beloved? I mean, ideally people will reflect the leadership they follow, otherwise, they clearly do not relate to that leadership and won’t follow it for long. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” – Matthew 5:7 (KJV)

When those we lead fall short of our expectations, let compassion compel us to lift them up again and help them to find surer footing. The Lord chose to show each of us compassion and mercy rather than contempt and condemnation. We ought to also then show that same compassion and mercy to those that we lead. To say that they don’t deserve it is hypocritical. None of us deserve the Lord’s compassion and mercy, yet we all thankfully are willing to receive it and revel in it. Yet, we need to realize that the Lord has shown us compassion and mercy not only for our own sakes; rather the Lord has shown us compassion and mercy also so that we might be better as doing the same with others. We are, after all, to be the Body of Christ. With that in mind, please consider the following passage from Scripture:

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)

Finally, beloved, it is extremely important to understand that our leadership is never intended to be all about ourselves. Truly strong and effective leaders are completely selfless. We are not to worry about covering ourselves, nor are we to be concerned with preserving our positions of leadership. Our mandate is to serve and glorify Him, while also serving those that we are charged with leading. That’s right, precious one. We are to serve those that we lead rather than to be served by them. We should not be concerned with highlighting ourselves as leaders; rather we should be focused on helping those we lead with growing and developing in their roles and in their lives. CYA has to give way to willingness to embrace self-sacrifice in order to effectively guide and serve those we lead. Consider the following passage from Scripture as stated by the most selfless Leader we can ever know, Jesus Christ:

“But Jesus called them to Him, and saith unto them, ‘Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:42-45 (KJV)

Isn’t it interesting that so often when we think of a promotion to a leadership/higher leadership position, we only tend to think of the extra remuneration/compensation that accompanies that promotion? However, what we fail to notice is the willingness to sacrifice even more in order to adequately fulfill that leadership role. Sometimes that cost is borne in the form of money, time, opportunity, relationships, our health, and in some cases, that sacrifice even involves being willing to give our lives for those that we lead. Does that sound like too high a price to pay? Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11 (KJV)

We know who the Good Shepherd is, right? He is none other than Jesus Christ. Paying the ultimate price in order to effectively lead those who follow us should not be too high a price for any of us to pay. It is the price that Jesus paid to save each and everyone one of us that accepts Him as our Lord & Savior. To possess an unwillingness to make such a sacrifice, if necessary, if to show a different set of priorities than what He has shown us. The most important person in our lives is to be none other than the Lord God Almighty. Just as He gave all for us, we also ought to be willing to give all for Him if called upon to do so. If we are not, then it means there is something, or someone, else that we esteem higher than Him. The danger in that being the case is that whatever, or whoever, that is that we esteem higher unwittingly has become our false god. Worshipping a false god means rejecting the one true God, despite whatever we proclaim with our lips. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” – John 12:25 (KJV)

Never forget, beloved, that the Lord has shown us exactly what the greatest love of all looks like when He gave Himself in order to save us. Likewise, Jesus also told us ahead of the crucifixion that such selflessness represented the most powerful love in existence when He said:

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13 (KJV)

Beloved, if you are to be a selfless leader with an abundance of mercy and compassion for those you lead, then you must love those that you lead even if you don’t always love what they do. Beloved, throughout the history of mankind we have disappointed God many, many times. There were times, quite frankly, where the Lord didn’t like us very much and where He absolutely hated the sins we were embracing. However, also know this: even when God didn’t like us very much, He never stopped loving us completely. Do you get it, precious one? Even when you don’t really like someone, you can still love him or her. The Lord showed us this Truth when He gave His live to save us while we were still His enemies. Beloved, be selfless leaders, and forego ego and pride in order to be faithful and dutiful servants of those that you lead. Do not lord over them and hold them in their place. Instead, lift them up and draw them closer to you. Don’t do so for a paycheck. Do so to glorify Him, and because He has done the same with you. Consider the following passage of Scripture:

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” – 1 Peter 5:2-3 (KJV)

When the Lord offered to give King Solomon whatever he should ask for, do you remember what Solomon requested of the Lord? He did not ask for riches, prestige, or to hold onto the throne. His focus was not on serving himself at all. Instead, his focus was on his people as he asked the following of the Lord:

“Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?” – 1 Kings 3:9 (KJV)

Beloved, if we truly want to identify/become strong and effective leaders, these are the key ingredients that are absolutely “must haves” in the base of the recipe. There are certainly additional elements/ingredients that can be added in providing a unique twist, but the recipe absolutely has to have the ingredients we have discussed together. Identifying/becoming a strong leader will mean all of these ingredients being present, and it will move you one step closer to finding/providing leadership worth following. The Lord has given us a blueprint, and He is the greatest Leader of all time. It is now up to us to follow that blueprint. He has given us what we need to know. Now we need to be good stewards/leaders and follow His perfect guidance. Leadership is a very significant and sober responsibility, and it is one that we ought to embrace. The best way to position yourself to lead others well is to follow & serve Him faithfully. May we all do so at every opportunity.

If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior, but you would like to do so now, please join me in praying the following prayer:

“Lord God Almighty, I know that I am a sinner and that I am lost. I know that I need to be saved from sin, but I also know that I can’t save myself. Lord Jesus, I know that only You can save me. I know that You paid for my salvation with Your own life and blood on the cross. I know that when You rose from the grave on the third day, You conquered death and provided everlasting life to all who trust in You. I now lay down my life and let go of my pride, my vanity and every other sin that has kept me from You. From this moment on, Lord Jesus, I completely trust my life to You. I open my heart to You, Lord. Please come into my heart. Please forgive me of all of my sins, and please accept me as Your child. From this point on, I commit my life to You. Please guide me and provide me strength as I begin to live the rest of my life for You. In Your precious and matchless name I pray. Amen.”

Precious one, if you just prayed that prayer sincerely then you are now a born-again child of God. This very moment is the first moment of your new life that you will live for Jesus. Your sins of the past have been forgiven you, and God has removed the record of iniquities from you as far as the east is from the west. Praise God! Welcome to the family! Though you will still face much adversity in this life, you will never again face it alone. I would encourage you to commit yourself to your relationship with the Lord by studying His Word every day (Bible), seeking fellowship with your newfound brothers and sisters in Christ (Christians), and communicating frequently with the Lord (prayer).

I want to thank you for joining us for today’s message. I hope you will be able to join us for the next message in the “Leadership Worth Following” series next week.

If ever I can be of assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can either email me @revjasont@gmail.com, you can leave a message in the “Comments” section below, or you can call me anytime @ 520-288-9261. If you don’t reach me live, please leave me a voice mail. I will return your call as soon as possible. It is always a blessing to hear from you.

Enjoy this blessed day that the Lord has made. Bless and praise His name at every opportunity, and share Him just as freely as you have received Him with all that you encounter! Truly blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

May the Lord bless you, keep you, guide you, strengthen you, and make His face to shine upon you and your loved ones always. May the perfect peace found in Jesus Christ permeate every area of your life.

Your brother in Christ,

 

 

 

Rev Jason Thurwanger

 

Leadership Worth Following – (Part 1 cont.) – Having the Right Ingredients

November 1, 2012

(Originally posted on 8/12/12)

Peace, blessing, & grace unto you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior! Welcome, and thank you for joining with us today.

Brothers & sisters, we began talking last week about the importance of having the right ingredients when looking to become/identify a quality leader. The ingredient we discussed first was character/integrity, as it represents the foundation for so many of the other necessary ingredients/characteristics to also be able to take hold. Today we will focus on another necessary ingredient that is absolutely vital to quality leadership. Just taking a moment to review, the following represents the entire list of ingredients that are necessary for strong and effective leadership to be present:

  • Unquestionable character/integrity
  • Trustworthiness
  • Strong work ethic
  • High degree of dependability
  • Compassion in abundance
  • Merciful
  • Humble
  • Needs to possess self discipline
  • Must be committed & have ironclad resolve
  • Must be willing to embrace challenges
  • Complete selflessness
  • Must have a servant’s heart and mind
  • Completely faithful

So we can be agreed that without unquestionable character/integrity, we are missing the foundation necessary to acquire the other ingredients that make for strong & effective leadership. However, it is also important to make sure the foundation is set on secure ground. I mean, you wouldn’t build a strong foundation for a house on top of sand, right? If you set your foundation on sand, it would slide away when the waters came in during a flood, and your house would be no more. We all know that life’s “floods” can come at any point in our lives. Beloved, our foundation has to be under-girded and anchored down, so that when the various “floods” and “storms” of life come our way, we can be assured that our foundation is locked in place and is not going to start drifting away. Only one of the ingredients has the ability to be that anchor for our foundation, and that ingredient is faith.

Brothers & sisters, being completely faithful is absolutely necessary to ensure that our character/integrity is immovable and unshakeable. Without faith, you may be able to give the appearance of possessing character/integrity, but it will only be an appearance. Why? Well, beloved, if you don’t have faith your character/integrity will only last until you find yourself going through the most intense trials of your life. At that point, we would tend to revert to a “survival of the fittest” mentality as we look for any possible way in which to preserve ourselves since we wouldn’t believe that there is any greater help available to us from above. However, with faith, we know that we can ride out the storm. We know that we can overcome any adversity that comes our way, because we know that Jesus Christ is greater than the sum of all of our problems/trials. As the apostle Paul expressed:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

Faith helps us to understand that Christ Jesus is the Calmer of the Storm. Furthermore, we know that the Lord intends good for us and not evil and that He will be with us throughout the trials we face in life and will preserve us. As God told the prophet Jeremiah after the nation of Israel had been taken captive:

“’For I know the thoughts that I think toward you’, saith the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.’” – Jeremiah 29:11-13 (KJV)

With ironclad faith, beloved, we tend to worry far less by choosing instead to pray much moreJ We know that we serve a good God that will see us through thick and thin. Even in the event that we are in a situation that could possibly imperil our physical well-being, we are comforted by knowing that we are assured life in Christ that not even Death itself can snuff out. As Jesus told us when He was speaking with Nicodemus:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:16-17 (KJV)

Jesus even went so far as to tell us not to be troubled, because He was going ahead to set up a place or us in our eternal home so that we would eventually return to be with Him when our time in this life is over and it is time to transition to everlasting life. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3 (KJV)

Furthermore, beloved, we know that the eternal life and home that Jesus speaks of will be in a place that is wonderful beyond our ability to even comprehend. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“But as it is written, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’” – 1 Corinthians 2:9 (KJV)

So, precious one, we know that our eternal home with the Lord will be great beyond imagination. That’s pretty awesome, amen? If you think so, also remember some of the things that we do know will be true of our life with the Lord when we go to be with Him for eternity, such as detailed in the following passage from Scripture:

“And I head a great voice out of heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.’” – Revelation 21:3-4 (KJV)

Praise God!!! Doesn’t your heart just burst with joy when you read that? Beloved, the strength we draw from God and the promises and assurances that He has given us propels us to embrace the very character/integrity that emboldens us to live life in the manner in which He would have us live it. When we realize what we have in Him, we are not as likely to abandon our character/integrity in order to cling to what we have in this world. If we have to choose between keeping our job and compromising our principles, or maintaining our character/integrity and possibly being removed from our job, faith strengthens us to make the right decision. Do not give up what God offers in favor of the flawed offerings of this tainted and fallen world!

Precious one, understanding that God has blessed us, still blesses us, and will bless us for eternity to be in His presence is key to making sure that your foundation of character/integrity is built on solid ground. We will be tested all throughout our lives. Sometimes those tests will involve our careers, our relationships, our opportunities to advance in this world, as well as many other things we will be tested with. The situations and circumstances may change, but our faith in the Lord should not waver. We live in a changing world, beloved, but we serve a God that will never change. Regardless of our challenges/trials, we can be comforted in knowing that the Lord will not leave us. As noted in this passage from Scripture:

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” – Hebrews 13:8 (KJV)

Truly unshakeable commitment and conviction to maintaining your character/integrity is only possible through unshakeable faith in the Lord our God. Without the blessed assurances that come with our faith in Him, there is not a single one of us who would have the strength on our own to maintain our character/integrity in the face of all that this world throws at us. This is especially true in cases where our very lives in the flesh are at stake. However, with faith, the entire world can come against us, yet we will not be moved nor made to cower. Why? Well, beloved, even if the whole world were to come against us, it would be outmatched. Consider Jesus’ own words when He gave us this assurance:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (KJV)

Thank the Lord God Almighty that through Him, we can overcome the world as wellJ Praise God!!!

If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior, but you would like to do so right now, I want to ask you to join me in praying the following prayer:

“Lord God Almighty, I know that I am a sinner and that I am lost. I know that I need to be saved from sin, but I also know that I can’t save myself. Lord Jesus, I know that only You can save me. I know that You paid for my salvation with Your own life and blood on the cross. I know that when You rose from the grave on the third day, You conquered death and provided everlasting life to all who trust in You. I now lay down my life and let go of my pride, my vanity and every other sin that has kept me from You. From this moment on, Lord Jesus, I completely trust my life to You. I open my heart to You, Lord. Please come into my heart. Please forgive me of all of my sins, and please accept me as Your child. From this point on, I commit my life to You. Please guide me and provide me strength as I begin to live the rest of my life for You. In Your precious and matchless name I pray. Amen.”

Beloved, if you just prayed that prayer sincerely, and with an open heart, then I am now blessed to welcome you to the eternal family of Jesus Christ! We are so happy to have you with us! You will still face trials in this life, but you will never again face them alone. You have been spiritually born-again, and the stains of your past sins have been washed away. I want to encourage you to actively commit yourself to getting to know the Lord better by communicating with Him frequently (prayer), studying His Word daily (Bible), and by seeking fellowship with your newfound brothers and sisters in Christ (fellow Christians). There is no more important relationship you can ever have than the one that you have with God. Devote yourself to Him and to growing in your relationship with Him.

If ever I can be of assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can either email me @ revjasont@gmail.com, you can leave a message in the “Comments” section below, or you can call me anytime @ 520-288-9261. If you don’t reach me live, please leave me a voice mail. I will return your call as soon as possible. It is always a blessing to hear from you.

I want to genuinely thank you for joining us today. It is an awesome blessing each time you join us! I hope you will be able to join us for next week’s message where we will finish discussing all of the remaining “ingredients” necessary in becoming/identifying a strong & effective leader, as we continue on in the “Leadership Worth Following” series.

Enjoy this blessed day that the Lord has made. Bless and praise His name at every opportunity, and share Him just as freely as you have received Him with all that you encounter! Truly blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

May the Lord bless you, keep you, guide you, strengthen you, and make His face to shine upon you and your loved ones always. May your heart and mind always stay focused on Jesus who is the only One that can keep you from stumbling and who alone is able to present you blameless to the Father.

Your brother in Christ,

 

 

 

Rev Jason Thurwanger

Leadership Worth Following – (Part 1) – Having the Right Ingredients

October 31, 2012

(Originally posted on 8/5/12)

Peace, blessing, and grace unto you in the matchless name of Jesus Christ our Lord & Saviors. We are profoundly blessed to have you with us once again today.

Brothers & sisters, can we all agree that we can’t make lemonade with milk? Have you ever had a mango shake that made completely out of bananas? The answer to both questions is pretty obvious, right? The point is that whatever you are making will require that you use the proper ingredients. Otherwise, you are making something entirely different. As a matter of fact, using the wrong ingredients will often lead to the final product being something completely unpalatable. So it is with leadership, beloved. There are certain ingredients that must be found in the recipe that makes up a good leader. Without those ingredients, you end up with a person in a leadership role that is simply not capable to lead. The end result is both painful and predictable. Keep in mind that we are not even talking about skill, brothers & sisters. We are simply talking about a person possessing the necessary characteristics required to provide sound leadership. Possessing the necessary characteristics enables a person to acquire & hone the necessary skills a leader needs to develop, and provides the impetus for those skills to be utilized properly.

As we prepare to discuss each of the necessary ingredients that a strong leader must have, let’s start off by identifying just what exactly the core ingredients of a strong leader are, shall we? Every recipe allows for a little variance based on the style of chef/cook, but there are also “core” ingredients that absolutely must be included in order for the recipe to work. The characteristics/ingredients that are a must for any strong and effective leader are as follows:

  • Unquestionable character/integrity
  • Trustworthiness
  • Strong work ethic
  • High degree of dependability
  • Compassion in abundance
  • Merciful
  • Humble
  • Needs to possess self discipline
  • Must be committed & have ironclad resolve
  • Must be willing to embrace challenges
  • Complete selflessness
  • Must have a servant’s heart and mind
  • Completely faithful

Precious one, if you take any single one of these characteristics/ingredients away, you will have not be left with someone who has the ability to provide strong and effective leadership on a regular basis. As you can see, there are numerous ingredients for us to discuss in greater detail. However, today we are going to focus on just one: character. Beloved, without character we don’t even have the foundation required to acquire the other necessary ingredients. The very character of a person display who he or she truly is at his or her very core, and that character will determine his or her ability to possess the remaining ingredients necessary to be a truly strong and effective leader.

Beloved, a person of strong character/integrity will commit himself or herself to doing the right thing, regardless of the cost. This is extremely important, beloved! If we really critically think about it, when is it appropriate to do that which we know to be wrong? The answer is simple and straightforward: never. The answer to this question is not dependent upon the situation. It is always appropriate to do that which we know to be right rather than giving into worldly pressures in order to make our own road to travel much smoother. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2 (KJV)

While many will agree with that passage from Scripture and will follow it with a well-voiced “amen”, there are not nearly as many that will execute the instruction that this passage provides. In some cases, people will feel that in order to maintain a friendship they need to be less than honest with their friend. There are other cases where people will try to improve their job security, and possibility enhance their career pathing options, by simply “playing ball” and foregoing what is right in favor of what is convenient and commonly accepted. There are many other examples we could discuss, but I think you get the point. The fact is that most people will agree that it is more important to do the right thing than it is to conform to the wishes of this world. Unfortunately most of those same people will say this while they are also conforming to the wishes/expectations of this world in order to “get along” better. Why is this? Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.” – Proverbs 19:1 (KJV)

Does that passage make sense to you, beloved? There are a couple of different things I want you to take away from this passage. First, this passage is clearly speaking to the spiritual implications of acting with integrity rather than acting without it. Obviously, it is within the Lord’s will for each of us to operate with character/integrity in everything we do. By honoring God’s will we are spiritually blessed as we choose to serve God, rather than looking to revel in what this world has to offer. Secondly, however, is that a person that maintains his or her integrity despite being poor is much less likely to fall for “fool’s gold” and is much more likely to discern that which is truly precious and is worth pursuing. In other words, there are plenty of lines that he or she will not cross in order to achieve a loftier existence in this world. While that person may not ever get out of material/financial poverty in this life, he or she will experience a complete absence of poverty once he or she has gone home to be with the Lord. On the other hand, the person that will lie, cheat, and steal in order to “get ahead” in this life will do so at the peril of his or her eternal disposition.

Beloved, let’s say that you have a parent who is struggling to pay the rent, put food on the table, and meet all of their other financial obligations. One day, this parent is going for a walk to try and clear his or her head and think things over. Rent is due in 2 days, and the refrigerator is empty. Unfortunately, the parent only has enough money to buy one more meal. The weight on this parent’s mind is very burdensome, as he or she tries to figure out what they are going to do. All of a sudden, the parent notices someone get up from a park bench and start to walk away. However, the parent also notices that the person walking away has accidentally left their purse behind. As the parent reaches the purse, he or she notices an envelope inside that has more than enough money for the parent to pay the rent, buy groceries, and pay all of his or her other bills. The parent now has a choice to make. The choice will reflect his or her character, or the choice will reflect the complete absence of his or her character. You see, beloved, integrity is not possessed in degrees; rather it is an all or nothing proposition. Let’s discuss the two main choices the person has and the implications of each.

The first option, and the one that most people would pursue, would be to keep the money for himself or herself rather than giving it back. In such an instance the person would attempt to rationalize and justify their decision by pointing out that while he or she wouldn’t normally do this, they (and their family) are in a dire situation. He or she would tell themselves that they “need” this money in order to take care of their family. Now if the person who forgot her purse was dressed nicely, the parent might even take a step further by trying to explain to himself or herself that the other person obviously has more than he or she needs. Therefore, the parent reasons that she will not really be adversely affected by losing the amount of money in the purse, since she obviously has plenty more to draw from. Finally, many of these same people will try and pervert any semblance of the Truth by actually offering a token “thanks” to the Lord for providing this “blessing” to meet his or her needs. Such sentiments are not genuine in nature and are merely intended to try and cover someone’s lack of faith and character/integrity, by trying to define the decision to keep the money for himself or herself as being God’s will. Of course, nothing could be further from the Truth. Doing the right thing is never at odds with God’s will; rather doing the right thing is always perfectly aligned with God’s will. Subsequently, though, the person keeps the money and uses it to pay the rent, buy groceries, and pay the other bills. Then the next time that parent finds himself or herself in the same situation, they return to explore worldly devices that will meet their needs again. All the while he or she draws further away from the Lord.

The second option is the one that far fewer people would pursue, and this is the decision to pick up the purse (and its contents) and return it to the rightful owner. Perhaps that person would then offer you a cash reward, and perhaps they wouldn’t. Either way is entirely beside the point. The point is that the parent in dire financial straits recognizes that his or her well being, and the well being of his or her family, is not dependent upon taking from someone else that which does not belong to them. Instead, that parent decides to do the right thing, and this glorifies God and honors His will in a very profound way. This parent does not give up what he or she wants most (to do the right thing and honor God) in favor of what he or she wants right now (to have immediate financial relief). This person puts his or her trust in the God that will always be there for him or her and the family rather than trusting in the flawed and sinful devices of this world. Subsequently, the Lord eventually provides a Way for that parent and his or her family. While that parent may be viewed as foolish by the world, the Lord views that parent as an obedient and precious child of God that He will provide for in His own way at just the right time. This person has drawn closer to the Lord by acting with character/integrity and living by faith.

Precious one, which option would you have chosen? You don’t need to share your answer with me. You and God already know the answer to that question. If you would have chosen option #1, and many people have, pray to the Lord and ask Him for the strength to choose option #2 at every opportunity moving forward. The Lord will never forsaken nor abandon those who only seek to glorify Him and His blessed name and to do His will by acting consistently with character/integrity and living by faith. Quite on the contrary, He will only more abundantly bless you for so doing.

Brothers & sisters, do not erroneously believe that the world will honor you for acting with character and always choosing to do the right thing. Why? Well, beloved, if you commit yourself to always acting with character and doing that which is right and appropriate to do you will automatically shine a light on the flawed ways/values of this world. The world does not respond kindly to being exposed. You will be persecuted rather than celebrated. Rather than being comforted and assured, the world will seek to “pull the rug out from under you”. This world will hate you and revile you for always doing the right thing, because by doing so you show that the riches this world has to offer is really nothing more than “fool’s gold”. The world will not love you not because you are not lovable; on the contrary the world does not know what true love is since it sources from God on high rather than from the depths below. On the other hand, hatred is a worldly resource in plenteous supply and the world will not refrain from pouring a steady stream of hatred at you for rejecting its flawed riches in favor of the true riches found only with the Lord.

Character counts, beloved, but it also costs. Character can cost you promotions, raises, friends, family, your freedom, and it can even cost you your life in this world. Nonetheless, we are to always commit ourselves to doing that which is right, regardless of the situation. Consider the following told to us by Jesus who knows everything about the costs associated with doing the right thing:

“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’” – Matthew 16:24-26 (KJV)

Beloved, there is nothing I can say that will make the point as clearly as Jesus did in that passage from Scripture. Will you sacrifice your eternal disposition, and possibly that of your loved ones, by refusing to live with character in order to “fit in” with this dying, degenerating, and decaying world in which we presently live? Or, will you choose to do the right thing and put your trust in the Lord that He will sustain you and give you and your loved that which is necessary to pass through the fires of this life? The answer is important, because it will show whom you truly serve and who you really are. The choice is critically important, but it is one that only you can make. Choose wisely.

Brothers & sisters, do not subscribe to the lie that we can be one person at work and a completely different person at home. It is simply not true. While it is definitely true that we may dress and speak differently based on whether we are at work or at home, but we are the same person in either place. It is a very dangerous lie to buy into when we think we can live as a servant of Satan at work, but we can effectively be a child of God at home. It’s rubbish, beloved. The Truth is that our character/integrity follows us wherever we go. The same person of character that we are, or are not, at home is the same person of character that we are, or are not, when we are at work. Never forget that character shows who we truly are at our core, and our core does not change based on working hours versus off-work times.

Precious one, if the entire world should come against you and encircle you menacingly as a result of you choosing to honor God and to live with character/integrity, do not fear. The Lord will give you all you need to stand strong in the day of battle. Furthermore, with God on your side, the world may outnumber you, but it can never overpower you. The world’s hatred & contempt will never be any match for the Lord’s love and compassion. Though we exist in the world for a time, we live in the Lord forever. Choose to be of the Lord and live in the Lord, and He will light your paths and give you all that you need to go on until it is time to go home to HimJ

Never forget that character is often best exemplified when you are in a situation where you can seemingly get away with anything, but your forego getting away with “anything” in favor of doing the right thing. If you ever wonder who you are, examine yourself in such situations. No one else defines your character. Only you choose who you are and whether you will choose to embrace character/integrity or not. May you always follow the Lord’s guidance, which will always lead you to the right decision. Let us lift each other up in prayer that we each always possess and follow one truly lifetime guaranteed moral compass that is supplied only through Christ. As the apostle Paul wrote:

“Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” – Hebrews 13:18 (KJV)

The keyword there, beloved, is willingly. It is always up to us to live with integrity/character, or to leave it behind. To choose to leave it behind is to choose to leave God and His will behind. Don’t put yourself in such a position to be left behind when the faithful go home to be with the Lord.

If you are ready to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please join me in praying the following prayer:

“Lord God Almighty, I know that I am a sinner and that I am lost. I know that I need to be saved from sin, but I also know that I can’t save myself. Lord Jesus, I know that only You can save me. I know that You paid for my salvation with Your own life and blood on the cross. I know that when You rose from the grave on the third day, You conquered death and provided everlasting life to all who trust in You. I now lay down my life and let go of my pride, my vanity and every other sin that has kept me from You. From this moment on, Lord Jesus, I completely trust my life to You. I open my heart to You, Lord. Please come into my heart. Please forgive me of all of my sins, and please accept me as Your child. From this point on, I commit my life to You. Please guide me and provide me strength as I begin to live the rest of my life for You. In Your precious and matchless name I pray. Amen.”

Beloved, if you just prayed that prayer sincerely then you need to know that you are now starting your new life in Jesus Christ. The stains of your past sins have been washed away, and you have now been spiritually born again. You have now arisen from the spiritual graveyard in which you existed up into this point. You will still much adversity in this world, but you will never again face it alone. You will never have a relationship nearly as important as the one that you have just established with the Lord God Almighty. I want to encourage you to treasure this relationship and to commit yourself to growing this priceless relationship. You can do this by communicating with the Lord frequently (prayer), getting to know Him better through studying daily His Word (Bible), and by enjoying regular communication with your new brothers and sisters in Christ (Christians). We are so happy to have you, precious one! Welcome to the family!

Brothers & sisters, I want to thank you for joining us for this week’s message. We will continue with the next segment of “Part 1 – Having the Right Ingredients” next week, as we talk about several of the other ingredients necessary to find, or to establish, leadership worth following.

If ever I can support you through prayer, or in any other way that I am able, please don’t hesitate to call me @ 520-288-9261, by using the “Comments” section at the end of each message, or by emailing me directly at revjasont @ gmail.com. It is always a blessing to support you in any way we can.

Go forth, and enjoy the rest of this blessed day that the Lord has made. Live your life as a living sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord God Almighty!

May you have a blessed, safe, and happy week!

May the Lord bless you, keep you, guide you, strengthen you, and make His face to shine upon you and your loved ones always. May the love and peace of Jesus Christ fill every single area of your life and your being.

Your brother in Christ,

 

 

 

Rev Jason Thurwanger

Leadership Worth Following – Introduction

October 30, 2012

(Originally posted on 7/29/12)

Peace, blessing, and abundant grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior!  Thank you so much for taking the time to join us todayJ

Brothers & sisters, the topic of leadership is one that always generates a great deal of discussion.  Whether discussing the notable leaders of history, the leaders of our present day, the prospective leaders of the future, or even just the various leadership styles, there is no shortage of viewpoints on the matter.  We are a world full of experts on the topic of leadership, and yet, the world we live in continually suffers from a lack of sound and effective leadership.  Why is this?  Well, beloved, the primary reasons for the shortage of effective leadership are as follows:

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Price prohibitions
  • Emotion
  • Lack of character & integrity
  • Pride
  • Lack of commitment & resolve
  • Distorted focus
  • Decision-making ability
  • Faith
  • Discipline

In the coming weeks we are going to discuss each of these areas, and more, as we create an abundantly clear picture of how to recognize, and how to provide, sound and effective leadership that is worth embracing.  Today’s message serves as the introduction to the “Leadership Worth Following” series, and I pray that you will be enlightened and blessed as we work our way through these discussions on this most important topic.

Beloved, whether we consider our careers, our social lives, or even whether just looking at our home lives the presence of quality leadership is extremely important.  Whether we are the leader, or the one seeking a strong leader to embrace, it is critically important that we understand how to recognize leadership that is truly worth following.  The leaders we follow will have a critical impact on our families and on our lives, so we need to make sure that we are able to identify people that possess the qualities that will enable them to fulfill the leadership we are seeking.  At the time those of us in leadership need to understand and embrace all that is entailed in providing the best leadership possible to those whom we have been entrusted to lead.  Leadership is a solemn responsibility that should never be taken lightly and should never be taken for granted.

Precious one, do you aspire to fulfill a leadership position?  Perhaps you are already in a leadership position, but you are struggling to find your “center of balance” and get your feet under you so that you can better lead those who are following you.  Maybe you are not looking to fulfill a leadership position.  Instead, you may be looking for how you can better identify leadership worth following so that you can begin receiving the guidance that you have been seeking.  Whether you are trying to identify leadership worth voting for (i.e. in a presidential election, congressional election, etc), or whether you are trying to find sound leadership in your spiritual life (i.e. a church with sound teaching, etc), or for any other area of life that you are looking to find quality leadership for, I want to assure you that you will find these discussion well worth taking part in.

Beloved, we will work through this topic methodically, and we will discuss each critical element of leadership worth following in extensive detail.  We will discuss quality leaders of the past and present, as well as those who represent leadership gone astray.  We will discuss various leadership styles, while analyzing each.  We will talk in great detail about each of the key ingredients that make up leadership worth following.  Lastly, but most importantly, we will discuss the role of Christ Jesus in this process, because there is no greater impact you will find than the one that He can make.  I look forward to having this discussion with you and to sharing in the exploration and discovery that we will engage in while identifying leadership that is truly worth following.

If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior, but you would like to do so right now, please join me in praying the following prayer:

“Lord God Almighty, I know that I am a sinner and that I am lost.  I know that I need to be saved from sin, but I also know that I can’t save myself.  Lord Jesus, I know that only You can save me.  I know that You paid for my salvation with Your own life and blood on the cross.  I know that when You rose from the grave on the third day, You conquered death and provided everlasting life to all who trust in You.  I now lay down my life and let go of my pride, my vanity and every other sin that has kept me from You.  From this moment on, Lord Jesus, I completely trust my life to You.  I open my heart to You, Lord.  Please come into my heart.  Please forgive me of all of my sins, and please accept me as Your child.  From this point on, I commit my life to You.  Please guide me and provide me strength as I begin to live the rest of my life for You.  In Your precious and matchless name I pray.  Amen.”

Beloved, if you just prayed that prayer sincerely and genuinely, you can know that you are now saved and that you have been born-again as a child of God.  Even though you have now given your life to the Lord, you will still face many trials in your life.  The good news is that you will never again walk alone, precious one.  Every problem you have, or ever will have, just became manageable.  You are now equipped to overcome even the greatest adversity.  Welcome to the family!  I would encourage you to commit yourself to your relationship with the Lord by studying His Word every day (Bible), seeking fellowship with your newfound brothers and sisters in Christ (Christians), and communicating frequently with the Lord (prayer).  Your relationship with the Lord is the most important relationship you will ever have.  Commit yourself to growing in your relationship with Him, and He will help you to do so.

If ever I can be of assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  You can either email me @ revjasont@gmail.com, you can leave a message in the “Comments” section below, or you can call me anytime @ 520-288-9261.  If you don’t reach me live, please leave me a voice mail.  I will return your call as soon as possible.  It is always a blessing to hear from you.

I want to thank you for joining us for today’s message.

Enjoy this blessed day that the Lord has made.  Bless and praise His name at every opportunity, and share Him just as freely as you have received Him with everyone that you encounter!  Truly blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

May the Lord bless you, keep you, guide you, strengthen you, and make His face to shine upon you and your loved ones always.  May your heart and mind always stay focused on Jesus who is the only One that can keep you from stumbling and who alone is able to present you blameless to the Father.

Your brother in Christ,

 

 

 

Rev Jason Thurwanger

What is Meant to Praise Should Not be Used to Poison

October 29, 2012

(Originally posted on 7/23/12)

Peace, blessing, and grace unto you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior.

Precious one, we were all created to carry and fulfill different roles in life. However, the commonality amongst all of our intended roles is that we were all created to glorify God & His blessed name. Part of what we are all to do is offer sincere and heartfelt praise to the Lord. He alone is worthy of all our praise. With that being said, what is meant to praise should not be used to poison. Do you wonder where I’m going with this? Well, let’s get started with today’s discussion and see where it takes usJ

Beloved, we offer praise from our heart, and we voice it with our mouths, right? Right. Maybe we shout our praise, whisper it, and/or maybe we offer praise in the form of song. Whichever form of praise we offer is precious and acceptable to the Lord, as long as it is heartfelt, sincere, and is not offered as a mere formality. There’s one more thing: praise and poison do not mix. The Lord does not receive well praise that is offered from a mouth that regularly stores and disperses venom. The Lord God Almighty does not seek praise and worship from an active and committed soldier of Satan. If we are unwilling and unable to refrain from using our mouths to spread profanity, gossip, lying, and other hateful/hurtful things, then we need to re-evaluate which master we actually serve. Why? Well, beloved, if we are content to continue using our mouths to spread this poison then the one Master that we are not serving is the Lord God Almighty, because such poison is an abomination in His eyes. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be.  Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” – James 3:10-11 (KJV)

Beloved, oftentimes we utter something ugly only to later try and minimize what we said by saying, “I was just upset”, or “those were just words”. The problem with such statements is that they are lies. The Truth is that what comes out of our mouths is oftentimes a very accurate gauge of that which resides in our hearts. As Jesus taught us:

“And He called the multitude, and said unto them, ‘Hear, and understand:  Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.’” – Matthew 15:10-11 (KJV)

When we constantly utter profanities, lies, take part in gossip, or issue hateful speech we provide a clear view into a dark heart. We show that we have a heart that the Lord has not been invited into, and what we proclaim to be faith ends up being nothing more than hypocrisy and confusion. For if we were truly faithful, then we would utilize our mouths to honor and praise God, to spread His Word, and to build up others rather than to do the work of Satan by trying to destroy and tear others down. How are we to draw others to Christ if we speak as Satan? How are we to convince our brothers & sisters that we want to help them find the spiritual healing they need if we are constantly barraging them, or others, with verbal abuse? Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29 (KJV)

Brothers & sisters, let us not stir up strife amongst others or ourselves by taking part gossip. Even if a person makes himself or herself a prime target for gossip by the manner in which he or she carries himself or herself, we ought to refrain from gossiping about that person. Does that person need others to fan the flames of adversity and contempt, or would he or she benefit from someone extending a helping hand to show them how to resolve the issue that perhaps bring out their worst? It’s easy to pile on to someone who seems to “deserve” it, beloved. However, that does not mean it is appropriate to do so. Rather than fanning the flames of conflict by gossiping about that person, we ought to pray for him or her. Instead of offering that person isolation and additional adversity by gossiping about them, perhaps we can better do our Master’s work by offering a helping hand that just may compel that person one step closer to finding the Prince of Peace. Consider the following passage of Scripture:

“Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out:  so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” – Proverbs 26:20 (KJV)

Beloved, we must accept the Truth that oftentimes conflict escalates and continues on as a result of the fuel it receives from our mouths. If someone is complicating our personal life, or if it is someone complicating our work life, we ought to seek to refrain from gossiping about that person. It is far better instead to forgive that person, pray for that person, and extend the hand of reconciliation to that person so that we might repair a relationship that has broken down. Even if that person refuses to stop the damaging and hurtful things they are doing, we still have the strength to forgive that person and pray for that person. In short, we can still have compassion on the person who grieves us, just as the Lord had compassion on us when we grieved Him before being reconciled to Him through Christ Jesus.

Precious one, the words we say do in fact matter a great deal. It is not that the words in and of themselves are so important; rather it is what those words reveal about what is in our hearts that matters. If our hearts are full of anger, deception, malice, and vengeance, then our hearts are missing love, mercy, and compassion. May this never be so.

I know, brothers & sisters, that we all struggle to keep our mouths in check. We all have our hands full trying to repel the urge to give in to an instant, emotional desire to strike back at someone who has hurt us. I myself struggle with this even to this day. Yet, this is a struggle that we must be willing to overcome through Christ, in order to be obedient to our Lord while also trying to reach our antagonist for Christ. How do we expect a non-believer to seek grace if we do not introduce him or her to grace by offering that (grace, mercy, and forgiveness) which we have been given when we were reconciled to the Lord? Additionally, beloved, we must remember that there will come a day when we each have to appear in front of the judgment seat of Christ, and we will have to give an account of our lives and of that which proceeded from our mouths. Can you imagine standing in front of the Lord and trying to justify why we chose not to extend to our “enemy” that which He extended to us while we were still His “enemies”? Make no mistake about it, precious one, in that we will have to answer for our words and our works when we appear before the Lord. Consider the following teaching on this matter that Jesus spoke to us when He said:

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” – Matthew 12:36-37 (KJV)

Beloved, let us refuse to embrace the same human nature that indulges resentment, hatred, bitterness, lying, gossiping, and many other poisons, and let us embrace and extend the love, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, and grace that we have been blessed to receive. May we exercise sound discretion in deciding what to allow to pass through our lips. When we feel compelled to give voice to that which does not glorify God, may we pray to Him to purge the iniquities residing in our heart from us that we may serve Him well. Controlling one’s own mouth is not an easy matter, as so much that we utter is uttered in the moment of raw emotion. We need help in making sure that what proceeds from our mouth is acceptable to the Lord, and we ought to each ask Him to help us learn to speak only that which is worth speaking. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my Strength, and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14 (KJV)

Precious one, let us commit ourselves to always utilize our mouths to praise the Lord and to share His gospel. May we always use our speech to help guide others to the Lord rather than pushing them farther away.

If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, but you would like to right now, please join me in praying the following prayer:

“Lord God Almighty, I know that I am a sinner and that I am lost.  I know that I need to be saved from sin, but I also know that I can’t save myself.  Lord Jesus, I know that only You can save me.  I know that You paid for my salvation with Your own life and blood on the cross.  I know that when You rose from the grave on the third day, You conquered death and provided everlasting life to all who trust in You.  I now lay down my life and let go of my pride, my vanity and every other sin that has kept me from You.  From this moment on, Lord Jesus, I completely trust my life to You.  I open my heart to You, Lord.  Please come into my heart.  Please forgive me of all of my sins, and please accept me as Your child.  From this point on, I commit my life to You.  Please guide me and provide me strength as I begin to live the rest of my life for You.  In Your precious and matchless name I pray.  Amen.”

Beloved, if you just prayed that prayer sincerely then you are now a born-again child of God. This very moment is the first moment of your new life that you will live for Jesus. Your sins of the past have been forgiven you, and God has removed the record of iniquities from you as far as the east is from the west. You will still face much adversity in this life, but you will never again face it alone. I would encourage you to commit yourself to your relationship with the Lord by studying His Word every day (Bible), seeking fellowship with your newfound brothers and sisters in Christ (Christians), and communicating frequently with the Lord (prayer).

I want to thank you for joining us for this week’s message. I hope that you will be able to join us for the series titled, “Leadership Worth Following”.

If ever I can be of assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can either email me @ revjasont@gmail.com, you can leave a message in the “Comments” section below, or you can call me anytime @ 520-288-9261. If you don’t reach me live, please leave me a voice mail. I will return your call as soon as possible. You are never a burden. It is always a blessing to hear from you and to support you in any way I am able.

May the Lord bless you, keep you, guide you, strengthen you, and make His face to shine upon you and your loved ones always. May the words that proceed from your mouth always glorify God and draw others closer to Him.

Your brother in Christ,

 

 

 

Rev Jason Thurwanger

Replacing Futility with Humility

October 28, 2012

(Originally posted on 7/15/2012)

Peace, blessing & abundant grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior. Welcome back, brothers & sisters! We are blessed beyond measure to have you with us once again.

Beloved, there are times in life where I believe we are all taken back a bit by the sheer vanity of humanity, even when that vanity is present in our own selves. The word “vanity” has its roots in the Latin word “vanitas“, which has several definitions. Please consider the following 3 definitions:

  • “Excessive pride in oneself or one’s appearance; character or quality of being vain.” – (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary)
  • “That which is vain; anything empty, visionary, unreal, or unsubstantial; fruitless desire or effort; trifling labor productive of no good; empty pleasure; vain pursuit; idle show; unsubstantial enjoyment.” – (Webster Dictionary)
  • “The quality of being valueless or futile.” – (Princeton’s WordNet)

Beloved, do any of these definitions sound appealing? No, of course they don’t! Why not? Well, because when you really see vanity for what it is you realize that it is completely and utterly futile. Vanity propels us on a never-ending chase to achieve that which is superficial and/or illusory in nature. So why do we do it? Well, beloved, the truth is we do it, because we are vain and prideful. I’m sorry, but that is the Truth. We don’t readily acknowledge it is being vain and prideful, because those are not qualities that are generally well received. Instead, we attempt to disguise our vanity and pride by using words/phrases like the following:

  • Having a strong sense of self-worth
  • Being confident
  • Self-esteem
  • Being conscious of our appearance
  • Appearing professional
  • Appearances matter
  • Making a good impression
  • Being well-maintained
  • Staying current
  • Changing with the times
  • Making yourself presentable

Precious one, the list goes on and on. Just looking at the list provided here, we can see that depending on which descriptor(s) we use we attempt to justify our vanity and pride by making it sound practical, logical, honorable, and in some cases, even therapeutic. Yes, we are capable of being very creative in trying to deceive ourselves into masking our vanity and pride as something more than what it is. Beloved, this does not change the bottom line: it is all nothing more than utter futility. Don’t think so? Let’s discuss a few examples, shall we?

Brothers & sister, how many times in life do we see woman who seemingly never stop applying makeup. Have you ever walked by someone multiple times, and each time they had a little hand held mirror out and were examining their appearance. You walk by and see one time, and then you walk by an hour later, and you see the same thing. When you see the person 30 minutes later they are looking at themselves in that mirror, and it just seems to continue on and on. As the person looks at himself or herself in the mirror more and more, he or she reaches for a brush or some other item and they attempt to fix the “blemishes” they are finding. On and on this goes as the person is never satisfied that they have perfected their appearance.

So then when the person is off work, they go shopping. The person decides that he or she needs a new pair of shoes, but they don’t just need any old pair of shoes. No, not at all. Instead of buying a pair of shoes that will simply meet his or her needs and present an appropriate appearance, he or she is more concerned with buying a pair of shoes that is nearly half a month’s rent check (only being a little facetious). It doesn’t even matter whether the shoes wear well on the person, or are expected to last a long time. What matters is that these are the “in” shoes to have if he or she wants to be considered to be “in fashion”. Maybe the shoes aren’t extremely comfortable, and maybe they don’t really fit quite right: it doesn’t matter to that person, because he or she has now achieved “the look”. The only problem is that 3 days later there is a new shoe that is all the rage, and that expensive pair of uncomfortable shoes he or she bought is already “outdated”. Now the scrimping and scraping of every last dollar starts again in earnest so that he or she can get the new trendy shoes and once again be “in fashion”. Finally, he or she is able to buy those shoes. What happens next? The following week a new fashion trend begins and he or she is once again “outdated”. Wash, rinse, & repeat. So the cycle continues.

Another example of the futility of vanity & pride has to do with the cell phone industry. How many of us have had more than 1-2 cell phones in the last 5 years? Why? Did our cell phones stop working? Usually, not. Usually, we just want to have the “latest technology” in order to “stay current”. This makes sense, right? Well, in most cases it really doesn’t. Beloved, whether you call me from the latest Iphone, Android, or from an old rotary dial phone, we are still going to get the chance to talk. Now someone might say, “Well, but with the newest phone I can stream more video and get better resolution on my pictures.” Really, precious one? Let’s be honest in asking ourselves how much value that really adds. How much video do you really want to watch on a screen the size of the palm of your hand, rather than watching on a normal size television screen or computer monitor? As far as picture resolution improving by some slightly perceptible amount, is that really going to enhance the memory of the experience being captured in the picture at all? No, it’s not. Frankly, most people switch out their cell phones yearly for no better reason than to be seen with the latest and greatest toy.

One more example is the person that buys a really expensive automobile that they can barely afford. When you ask why they bought such a pricey ride, they respond that they want to travel “in style”. The only problem is that once they make the monthly loan payment each month, after paying all of their other living expenses, they don’t have enough money left to buy enough gas to do more than travel back and forth to work. Subsequently, they sit in their driveway endlessly washing and cleaning their trophy car that they can’t afford to take anywhere to do any of the basic things that they can no longer afford to do. They look very impressive standing proudly next to their shiny and expensive car, taking pictures to post online and send to people in order to give the impression that they have “arrived”. Every month they scrape every last penny together to make the payment, and substitute getting out and around with “staying in” because they can’t afford to go anywhere. All the while, they cast superior glances at their next door neighbor who drives a 20 year old car full of dents and rust because of the “clunker” that their neighbor has to drive. What they miss is that their neighbor can still afford to visit family and friends in their “clunker”, because they are not living beyond their means and are not saddled with a financially oppressive car payment that leaves them too strapped to actually utilize their car regularly for transportation.

The bottom line, beloved, is that in order to rid our own selves of the vanity of humanity we need to embrace intellectual and spiritual sanity. Vanity & pride are nothing more than futility. We must replace this futility with a healthy dose of humility. We must see ourselves as we truly are rather than only focusing on whom we wish we could be. The word “humility” derives from the Latin word “humilitis”, which means “to be humble”. Taking it a step further, the word “humilitis” is derived from the root word “humilit”, which means “low”. Think about that for a moment, beloved. Consider the following definitions for the word “humble” offered by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

  • “not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive”
  • “reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission”
  • “a. a ranking low in a hierarchy or scale: insignificant, unpretentious b. not costly or luxurious”

We can see that the difference between being humble versus being vain & proud is like night and day, right? Notice that there is nothing in these definitions of being humble that alludes to self-confidence, self-respect, self-esteem, nor self-assuredness. Do you notice a real key here? There is nothing about being humble that really has much to do with “self” anything at all. Where vanity and pride are focused entirely on packing, presenting, and elevating oneself, humility involves giving deference to others instead without trying to project either superiority or even equanimity.

The Truth is, beloved, that we can never attain the superficial and illusory promises/visions that vanity and pride compel us to pursue. That is exactly what makes vanity and pride so completely futile. On the other hand, humility doesn’t compel us to achieve a certain status, appearance, or level in life. Humility compels us to know the Truth and to see ourselves for our shortcomings and our flaws. Yes, we see the positives, too, but we are very mindful of the blemishes. This keeps us “grounded” and sends ego looking for a home elsewhere.

Why is it so vitally important for us to see ourselves as we are? Well, precious one, only by seeing ourselves as we truly are will we ever realize just how much we need the Lord in order to become the people that He created us to be. The world has gotten very creative in its deceptions by pushing a common lie that we have all heard, and oftentimes repeated ourselves, many times throughout our lives. You know what that lie is? Here it is, beloved: We were created in God’s image. Now admit it, some of you are a little shocked by my claim that this is a lie, aren’t you? We have not only heard many times throughout our lifetimes that we are created in God’s image, but we have also heard many times while in church, right? Yes, we have. That is only evidence of the effectiveness of this particular deception. Brothers & sisters, read the Scriptures for yourselves rather than relying on someone else to spoon-feed it to you! The Scriptures do talk about being made in God’s image, but you know what? It was Adam that was made in God’s image. The serpent deceived Adam & Eve, however, into believing that they could become equal with God by eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. Disobedience was not their first sin. Their first sin was swelling up with vanity and pride at the prospect of being equal to God based on the illusory promise that the serpent made. This first sin of vanity and pride then compelled them to be disobedient (the second sin) and eat the forbidden fruit. At that point, beloved, everything changed.

Where Adam had been made in the image of God, once Adam & Eve sinned, the image changed. Why do I say that? Well, precious one, how couldn’t it change? Adam & Eve were stained by sin. God has never once sinned. Adam & Eve’s image became stained after their sin, and this was why they were ejected from the Garden of Eden. This is also when they both received an expiration date. In other words, when Adam was created, he was not created with death as part of the picture. He was created to live forever. However, once he sinned, then death became part of the equation. Why? Well as the apostle Paul wrote:

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23 (KJV)

Throughout the Scriptures God repeatedly makes known to us that death is the only payment acceptable for sin. This is why Christ had to suffer death on the Cross; not for His own sins, because He had no sin. If we were to truly pay for our own sins, we would experience both physical and spiritual death that would condemn us to be lost for eternity. Why? Well, beloved, because the stain of our sins is a stain that does not come out with scrubbing. We simply do not have enough righteousness in ourselves to wash away the stain of sin at the point of death. In other words, our payment is insufficient, because where there is sin there is not holiness. In order to rise to eternal life to be with the Lord forever we must no longer be marked with the stain of sin. We don’t have the funds in our personal accounts to pay that cleaning bill. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;” – 2 Corinthians 3:5 (KJV)

You see, beloved, true humility helps us to understand that we are not “good enough” on our own to enter into the presence of the Lord for all of eternity. No matter how many nice things we do for others, no matter how loudly and fervently we give praise to the Lord, and no matter how many other good deed we do the Truth is that none of it will ever be enough to wash us of the stains of the sins that we commit. The only One with the cleaning power to rid us of the stains of sin is none other than Jesus Christ alone. That’s it, beloved. While all roads are said to lead to Rome, there is only one Way to eternal salvation and that Way is Jesus Christ. So how can Christ dying on the Cross be sufficient to pay for all the sins of mankind? Precious one, the answer is both easy and complex depending on how well you understand the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).

We will explore the topic of the Holy Trinity in much deeper detail in a future message. In short, however, you must understand that during Jesus’ time on earth, He was fully man. He experienced all the things that other human beings experienced (i.e. pain, suffering, laughter, hunger, thirst, etc). Yet, while Jesus was always fully man, He also never stopped being fully God, either. Coffee creamer might be ½ and ½, but our Lord & Savior lived fully as both man and God during His time on this earth. Jesus may have been “born in a manger”, but that was only His physical birth into this world. Jesus came from eternity and from heaven in order to live among us here. Do remember one of the occasions where when Jesus identified Himself, the people wanted to stone Him? Let me refresh your memory, with the following passage from Scripture:

“’Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead?  And the prophets are dead:  whom makest Thou Thyself?’  Jesus answered, ‘If I honour Myself, My honour is nothing:  it is My Father that honoureth Me; of whom ye say, that He is your God:  Yet ye have not known Him; but I know Him:  and if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you:  but I know Him, and keep His saying.  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day:  and he saw it, and was glad.’  Then said the Jews unto Him, ‘Thou are not yet fifty years old, and has Thou seen Abraham?’  Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.” – John 8:53-58 (KJV)

I pray that the Lord is opening your heart to understand the true significance of that passage of Scripture and the Truth of who Jesus really is. If so, then you understand that when Jesus suffered the cross to pay for our sins with His life, it was truly the Lord God Almighty that was offering up His life to save us! That, beloved, is how just one death has the power to cleanse all of us by paying all of our sin debts. Tide detergent will not remove the stain of our sins. Only the blood of the sinless Lamb of God can wash away the stain of our sins, and wash those stains away this blood will, but first we have to submit ourselves to the Cleaner of our souls so that we can be cleansed.

Brothers & sisters, once Adam & Eve sinned all of us who were born afterwards were born into a sin nature as sons & daughters of Adam and Eve. We all live, or used to live, abiding by the flawed laws of human nature. Where Adam had been created in God’s image, we were born into the image of Adam. We go through our lives living as children of Adam unless there comes a time where we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior. Upon accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior, we are “born again” spiritually as children of God. We then forego further adherence to the laws of human nature as we begin to live consciously in God’s grace and mercy instead. At this point, the Lord starts “working” on remaking us into His image by gradually changing us as we continue to grow in the faith. It’s not a physical re-imaging; rather it is a spiritual one. He conducts this work in us throughout our lives, and we are finally “finished” being remade when we enter our glorified bodies and begin to spend eternity in His presence. Praise God!

Beloved, keep in mind that Jesus could have come off that Cross any time He chose. Frankly, He could have delivered Himself from going up on that Cross. He certainly had the power and the resources to defend Himself. As the Christ, He certainly had the authority to stop us in our tracks, but He didn’t. You and I both know what He did. He gave Himself in submission in order to save us. As the apostle Paul wrote:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8 (KJV)

Brothers & sisters, the very One who made all of Creation had the ability to have forgone all of trials, torture, misery, and ultimately death, that He experienced for us, but He didn’t. As Paul notes, “He humbled Himself”. Think about how resistant we are to humble ourselves in different situations, whether they be in work or in our personal lives. We insist on asserting ourselves, showing we have spines, and maintaining our dignity. Our pride in the false and over-inflated image of who we are is more important to us than following Christ’s example of humility. Precious one, when someone has a history of bad choices, addictions, or some other repetitive pattern of self-destructive behavior, what is the first thing that needs to happen in order to see them get on the road to recovery? They need to admit they have a problem, right? And so it is with us, beloved. If we honestly hope to ever be the men and women that God made us to be, we must first acknowledge that we are not yet that person and that we have fallen far short of being that person. God is not fooled. Regardless of how we present ourselves, God sees us as we really are. Consider the following example that Jesus shared with us to illustrate how we are to humble ourselves before the Lord:

“And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other:  for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’” – Luke 18:9-14 (KJV)

If we refuse to acknowledge our sinful selves and our shortcomings then how can we expect God to work in us? God will not reward the delusional, but He most definitely will hear & respond to the truly repentant confessional. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“But He giveth more grace.  Wherefore He saith, ‘God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.’” – James 4:6 (KJV)

Beloved, it is a blessed revelation to see ourselves as we truly are. This compels call out to the Lord with a strong sense of humility. When God sees us on the ground you know what He does, don’t you? He spiritually lifts us up. He will teach us how to walk the path leading home, but we must be willing to follow His lead. By living in submission to the Lord and His perfect will, our decisions get much better as they are not clouded by the deceitful promises of vanity & pride. Instead we see clearly who and what we are and are not, but more importantly, we understand that the Lord is the All-sufficiency that more than compensates for our personal insufficiencies. This reduces the allure of vain promises, as we realize that in Christ we have all we could ever need and more than we could ever hope for. This helps our footing become surer as we continue our journey through life without allowing pride & vanity to lead us to do things we know to be wrong. Consider the following passage from Scripture:

When pride cometh, then cometh shame:  but with the lowly is wisdom.” – Proverbs 11:2 (KJV)

Beloved, let us commit ourselves to forego the unattainable, superficial, and illusory pursuits of pride & vanity. Once and for all, we need to make a steadfast commitment to replace that mindless futility with blessed humility. May the Lord bless us to see that the most impressive fashion is not embodied by the person wearing the latest designer clothing; rather it is the mother and father getting their clothing at a second hand store so that they can have money left over to better supply their children’s needs, while also helping others in need. May we be blessed to see the perfect picture of beauty does not involve mascara, makeup, lipstick, biceps, and expensive hairstyle, or any those type of things; rather the perfect picture of beauty & love is described by the prophet Isaiah in the following passage of Scripture:

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry gound:  He hath no form nor comelineness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:  and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.  Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:  yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities:  the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:2-5 (KJV)

Precious one, the Lord God Almighty allowed Himself to be beaten beyond physical recognition and to then be murdered on the Cross in order to save you and I from ourselves and from our sins. He has never needed us, but we can’t expect to enter eternal life without Him. He did what He did for us, because He loves us. That, beloved, is the perfection of beauty, and that is the greatest show of love you and I will ever experience.

Brothers & sisters, let me tell you right now that I am more flawed that most people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I am extremely uncomfortable receiving compliments, “thank you’s”, and the like. Precious one, I know who I am, and I know that I am certainly no one worth celebrating. I deserve no praise, and I deserve absolutely no honor. I have known success in life, but I have also known failure on more than one occasion.  Having a self-image of perfection will never be a problem I have, because I understand just too clearly just how flawed I am. However, after humbly falling at the foot of the Cross and submitting myself to God’s will several years ago, the Lord helped me understand something else that I am: I am forgiven! So are you if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior! Praise God!

Beloved, I will be a work of progress until the day I go home to be with the Lord, just as you will. That being said, I am definitely a different man than I used to be, and that is a very good thing. By the grace of God one day I will eventually fully become the man that God always intended for me to be when He created me.

Precious one, if you ever begin to feel pride swell up within you, just think of Jesus on that Cross, and remember that it was our sins that put Him there. Realize that the only way we could be saved from eternal damnation was for God to literally offer His own life and to die for us. And then rejoice in knowing that just as Christ rose from the grave on the third day, we will also be blessed to live on after death as a result of Jesus sharing His victory with all who accept Him as Lord & Savior!

If you are ready to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please join me in praying the following prayer:

“Lord God Almighty, I know that I am a sinner and that I am lost.  I know that I need to be saved from sin, but I also know that I can’t save myself.  Lord Jesus, I know that only You can save me.  I know that You paid for my salvation with Your own life and blood on the cross.  I know that when You rose from the grave on the third day, You conquered death and provided everlasting life to all who trust in You.  I now lay down my life and let go of my pride, my vanity and every other sin that has kept me from You.  From this moment on, Lord Jesus, I completely trust my life to You.  I open my heart to You, Lord.  Please come into my heart.  Please forgive me of all of my sins, and please accept me as Your child.  From this point on, I commit my life to You.  Please guide me and provide me strength as I begin to live the rest of my life for You.  In Your precious and matchless name I pray.  Amen.”

Beloved, if you just prayed that prayer sincerely then you are now spiritually born anew in Christ Jesus. The stains of your past sins have been washed away. You may still have to face the consequences of some of your past mistakes, but the Lord will strengthen and sustain you to face and endure those consequences. Furthermore, though you will still face new trials and tribulation throughout the rest of your life, you will never again do so alone. The Lord is with you now, and through Him there is nothing too big for you to face and deal with. I want to encourage you to commit yourself to growing in your new relationship with the Lord by studying His Word every single day (Bible), communicating with Him frequently (prayer), while seeking out fellowship with your new brothers and sisters in Christ (Christians). Your relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship you will ever have, and I would encourage you to treat it that way. I want to welcome you to the eternal family of Jesus Christ! The angels in heaven are rejoicing at your decision to accept Jesus the Christ as your Lord and Savior.

I want to thank you for joining us for today’s message. I sincerely hope that you are able to join us. It is always a blessing to have you with us!

I want to thank everyone that prayed for me over the last week as I am recovering from some ailments. There is no better way we can ever support one another than through prayer.

Go and enjoy this blessed day that the Lord has made! Share the Lord and His bless Word just as freely as you have been blessed to receive.

If ever I can be of assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It is always a blessing to support you in prayer and in any other way that I am able. You are precious in God’s eyes. He loves you, and so do I. You can reach me by phone @ 520-288-9261, by email @ revjasont@gmail.com, or through the “Comments” section under this message.

May the Lord bless you, keep you, guide you, strengthen you, and make His face to shine upon you and your loved ones always. May you always embrace a spirit of humility and reject the deceitful temptations of vanity and pride.

Your brother in Christ,

 

 

 

Rev Jason Thurwanger

Defeating Despair

October 27, 2012

(Originally posted on 7/1/2012)

Peace & blessing unto you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior!  We are blessed to have you with us once again on this fine day that the Lord has made.

Brothers & sisters, have you ever felt that you were at your wit’s end?  In this life we all face challenges/adversity that at times makes us feel completely overwhelmed.  There are some of you joining us for this message that feel the weight of life’s burdens is too much for you.  You feel that you have been treading water for as long as you can, and you fear that you can’t tread water much longer.  The weight of these burdens is tied so tightly to you that you feel yourself beginning to drown and unable to breathe.  You have tried everything you know how to try, but you still feel yourself sinking.  The bad news is that as human beings we tend to allow despair to take up residence in our hearts during times of significant trouble/trial.  The good news is that we do actually have access to the means to defeat despair whenever it starts knocking on the door of our hearts.  Today we will discuss 3 keys to defeating despair, regardless of the circumstances.  Let’s get started, shall we?

Key #1 – Prayer

Beloved, the first key to defeating despair is to incorporate continual prayer into our lives.  Have you ever noticed that we tend to turn to prayer only when all other options have been exhausted?  We need to be honest with ourselves and question internally why this is.  The answer that we will come up with is that constantly using prayer as a last resort is a result of a lack of faith.  That’s a pretty strong statement, right?  However, it is also a very true statement.  When dealing with adversity/challenges in our lives we will turn to every other alternative we can think of before we will turn to God.  Once all other options have been exhausted, we utter a statement to the effect of “Well, all I can do now is pray.”  There are two problems with that statement, and they are as follows:

  • Prayer should always be our first option.  We will find no better resource and no better counsel than that which the Lord provides.  Period.  By welcoming the Lord into each situation of our lives we may be surprised to find that following His leading will keep other issues from piling up.  Why?  Well, precious one, there is no more reliable resource than the Lord.  His timing is always perfect, and His remedies are always right.  Furthermore, He loves you and wants to bless you, prosper you, and give you a real future.  Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“’For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ saith the LORD, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.’” – Jeremiah 29:11-13 (KJV)

By turning to Him, and Him alone, in faith you are glorifying Him.  He will guide you in the steps you should take.

  • The statement above (“Well, all I can do now is pray.”), in and of itself shows a lack of faith.  When we utter such ignorance we are in essence saying, “I have no hope, so I might as well try prayer since none of the solutions I pursued worked.”  So, in essence in this mindset we turn to prayer as a “check the box” formality that we do not expect to yield sufficient results.  We utter that statement more to show our resignation and desperation when, in fact, prayer should be made to the Lord with a very confident expectation that He will be our Wise Counselor and our all-sufficient help in our time of need.

Precious one, when we turn to our checkbook, friends, family, drugs, or any other alternative in our times of trial, we are showing where our actual faith lies.  The problem with this is that our faith should be in the Lord God Almighty only.  We are not to set up false gods by turning to substitutes, first, in our times of trial.  Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” – Isaiah 45:22 (KJV)

If we are truly to live and walk by faith, then our first option should always be reaching out to God through prayer.  We can pray anytime of day.  As I have matured in my walk with the Lord I have actually been surprised as my tendency to turn to continual prayer ever single day.  Between traditional praying, silent prayers, and the utterances that the Holy Spirit makes on our behalf, we truly are able to interact with the Lord all through the day.  When you think about it, brothers & sisters, why shouldn’t we continually communicate with the Lord?  He is always with us.  Always.  If we only communicate with Him at the beginning & end of the day and/or when we are at church each week, then we are ignoring Him the rest of the time.  Frankly, that just doesn’t make sense, and it seems very awkward to not interact with Him. 

If you were inundated with financial pressures, and you suddenly came into $5 million you would seamlessly leverage that resource to pay your bills and relieve those pressures, right?  Well in God we have a resource that is much greater than any dollar amount we could create and is invaluable yet we do not readily turn to Him to help us deal with the pressures/challenges/trials of life.

Beloved, there is nothing wrong with using other resources in order to address life’s challenges.  However, we should first seek the Lord through prayer.  He will help steer us to the right resources and will guide us in how we should leverage each.  The Lord will provide us with an answer and with completely reliable guidance if we will only trust Him, reach out to Him in faith, and open our hearts and minds to receive His response(s).  Always remember that praying involves more than just listing our “wish list” to God.  We actually should be spending a significant amount of our time in prayer listening to Him.  He will speak to us in many different ways.  It is critical that we pray with an open heart and an open mind to receive whatever answer(s) He provides.

Key #2 – Perspective

Brothers & sisters, it is absolutely critical that we keep the proper perspective in life, especially when dealing with significant trials/challenges/adversity.  The Truth is that when we lose the proper perspective, we give way to unhealthy and unnecessary fears as our minds are overwhelmed by the enormity of the adversity we are facing.  What happens next is predictable, miserable and sometimes even tragic.  When our minds become overwhelmed with worst-case scenarios we begin to see everything that can go wrong.  Subsequently, our minds start a steep slide down into the abyss of despair, and our hearts follow right along.  We begin making fear-based decisions that are full of negative emotion but that are void of meaningful thought and steadfast faith.  These decisions turn out poorly leading the mountain of adversity we were facing in the beginning to become an all-consuming, debilitating world of despair in the end.  We begin to realize our worst fears as a result of having unwittingly positioned ourselves to turn worst-case scenarios into miserable realities.

Precious one, much of this can be avoided by first faithfully turning to the Lord in prayer and keeping our minds stayed on Him in order to maintain the proper perspective.  Beloved, the Lord is not only willing to offer us eternal salvation:  On the contrary, the Lord will provide us with daily salvation when facing our present struggles if only we will ask Him to.  Consider the following passage from Scripture, penned by the apostle Paul through the inspiration of the Lord:

“Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” – Hebrews 7:25 (KJV)

The Truth is that regardless of whether the trials we are going through are a result of our own poor decisions/sins, or whether we are going through those trials as a result of factors out of our control, the Lord God Almighty is bigger than any challenge, or collection of challenges, that we could ever face.

We briefly mentioned earlier that we tend not to turn to the Lord first, because we can’t fathom how He can possibly provide personal attention to a world made up of over 6 billion people.  Well, beloved, there’s no need to struggle with fathoming His ability to do so any further.  I am happy to tell you how He is able to hear and respond to every single prayer we utter unto Him.  So here it is:  He is God!  That’s it, brothers & sisters.  He completed all of creation in 6 days, leaving the 7th day as a day of rest.  Furthermore, we also appropriately refer to Him as the “Almighty“.  What does that mean?  Well, being the “Almighty” would seem to stipulate that God is capable of doing all things and anything.  There is no task too large and/or complicated for Him to handle.  This includes multi-tasking.  God is actually the most effective multi-tasker you will ever have the opportunity to know.  Making all of creation in less than a week, while also being able to be everywhere at all times, while also being capable of all things suddenly makes it pretty clear that we need not worry about helping advise God on how He can manage His caseload.  To borrow a popular phrase from today’s culture, “He’s got this“, and know that He most certainly does.

Now, does this mean that in times of trial we are going to be spared having to experience some pain in order to get to resolution?  No, not at all.  Beloved, not once in the Bible does the Lord ever state that He will deliver you from all trials/tribulations.  However, what God does promise us repeatedly throughout His Word is that He will never abandon nor forsake us.  He will see us through the trials that we must face and will ultimately deliver us in the most meaningful way.  Consider the following passage from Scripture:

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we areperplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (KJV)

Beloved, the storms of this life may toss us to and from and violently batter and bruise us, but the Lord will be our Anchor that keeps us from being lost in the storm.  Yes, we will be tested, and we will be battered.  However, the Lord will also see that we are preserved and ultimately delivered.  He will be our Calm in the midst of the storm, and He will ultimately be the Calmer of the storm(s) that will eventually pass, as all storms do.  He will not, however, spare us from having to experience the storm, nor should He.  There are two reasons that He should not spare us from the storm entirely, and they are as follows:

  • First, we end up in most storms as a result of having charted the course to run into them with the poor decisions/sins we have committed.  While Jesus spared us from facing the full consequences of our actions (the consequence of sin is death), we should not be spared from having to face any consequences for our sins/poor choices.
  • Secondly, even if we are experiencing storms in our life that are not the result of our own sins/poor choices, when exactly would our faith be tried and perfected if we did not have to use it?  When we feel like we are going through the furnace, we are not entirely wrong.  In many instances we are going through a flaming furnace of adversity.  However, rather than worrying about being burned, we need to change our perspective to one that understands that our faith is being refined and strengthened.  We should not be seeking for the Lord to spare us from having to go through the storm; rather we should be seeking Him to sustain us and outfit us to weather the storm.  The apostle Paul was facing considerable distress, and he sought the Lord to deliver him in his time of duress.  Did the Lord immediately spare Paul from his circumstances?  No.  Consider the following account, penned by the apostle Paul, as well as the Lord’s reason for not immediately sparing him from this adversity:

“And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (KJV)

Beloved, we really need not shrink away from the trials of this life, nor do we need to roll into an emotional/mental/spiritual fetal position when confronted by adversity.  When the storms roll in, understand that experiencing the storms is going to be vital to helping your faith become weather proof.  Rather than running for a spiritual storm cellar, take the opportunity to dance in the rain for the Lord will be with you.  Furthermore, through Christ, you will come out of these storms stronger than you went into them.

Brothers & sisters, even when the wisdom of the world tells you that you are facing challenges you can’t overcome, understand that the world is speaking of its own.  In other words, while it is true that left to our own strength & wisdom we would find a seemingly endless torrent of situations that we cannot navigate successfully when relying on ourselves, the Truth is that we need not rely on ourselves.  We know we are flawed and extremely limited in what we can and cannot do on our own.  However, we know the One for whom limitations do not exist.  The world does not know Him, but all who have accepted Him as Lord & Savior know Him well.  His name is Jesus, and He is the Lord’s Christ.  He is both the Father and the Son (John 10:30 – KJV).  The Lord makes His power available to all who trust in Him.  When we live in the flesh, we are limited by the flesh.  When we live in Christ, who is the Lord God Almighty, those limitations no longer exist.  For this reason, we find the following passage from Scripture:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

This is the Truth, precious one.  All who trust in Christ will ultimately even share in His victory over death and ascend to eternal life as a result of His transformation of us into something we could not have become without Him.  Christ alone can present us as righteous and holy by presenting us as blameless after we are cleansed of the stains of our sins when we are washed by the blood of the Lamb.  Praise God!

Just remember, beloved, no problem we can face can ever match or exceed the power of the one true God that we serve.  It will help you to keep perspective to also remember that as long as we remain steadfast in the Lord, He will never allow us to face more than we can bear, regardless of how much it feels to the contrary.  We cannot always trust our feelings, but we can always trust the God who has never lied nor failed to deliver on His promises.

Key #3 – Patience & Perseverance

Precious one, we have talked about the first 2 keys to defeating despair, so we are now ready to talk about the 3rd key:  patience & perseverance.  This 3rd key can be very troublesome for us.  We live in a microwave world where people want everything 5 minutes ago.  We routinely sacrifice what we want most for what we want now, as a result of impatience and impulsiveness.  As a result, we often find ourselves with a deficit of hope and a surplus of regret.  Even when turning to the Lord in prayer first, and adopting a proper perspective, all will be for naught without activating this 3rd key of patience and perseverance.  Without this 3rd key, we will cease our prayers when answers don’t come quickly enough for our liking, and we will not be able to sustain the proper perspective as hope vacates our hearts and minds so that despair has a place to take root.

Beloved, I know that it can be very hard at times to be patient and to persevere.  Sometimes, we just get tired, right?  Whether the storms are in the office, in the home, in the church, or in some other area of life is beside the point.  Sometimes we just feel worn down and begin to let frustration, aggravation, and resignation replace any semblance of a confident expectation that we have for a solution.  As we are dealing with life’s storms we are getting battered and bruised, and when we don’t receive relief within “x” amount of time, we begin to doubt whether relief will come at all.  I think we can all relate to having experienced this in our lives.  The good news is that there is an alternative.  You want to know what that alternative is?  Here you go:  Wait on the Lord.  Think about what that 4-word statement really means, precious one, because understanding that statement is vital if you are to successfully live by it.

Waiting on the Lord does not mean that we should be idle, twiddling our thumbs while we wait for God to deliver us from adversity.  What it does mean is faithfully following His Blueprint (Bible) for how we are to live our lives, and following the guidance that He provides us through inspiration and prayer, while patiently believing that He will ultimately deliver us.  I will promise you right now that if you do this, you will not be disappointed.  The trick is obediently doing this.  We tend to be patient for “x” amount of time before we ultimately conclude that we have been patient enough.  What we need to understand is that we are not equipped to adequately judge how long we should be patient, because we don’t know what remedy the Lord has in mind.  God tells us through His Word that His ways are not our ways.  In that same vein, He does not adhere to the same concept of time that we adhere to.  As the apostle Peter pointed out:

“”But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – 2 Peter 3:8 (KJV)

Beloved, the only reason that we think we can assign a specific time to be patient for the Lord to answer our prayers is because we already have specific answers in mind.  Yet, the Lord may answer us in a way that we had not considered.  Since we don’t know how He will answer us, we cannot have an accurate expectation for when He will answer our prayers.  We need to display patience that is unconditional and that can not be quantified.  Waiting on the Lord means exactly that:  Waiting on the Lord.  We know two things for certain that will be true of the answer(s) God provides, and those two things are as follows:

  • God’s timing will be perfect.  He truly sees the “big picture”, and He owns the same.  God has never been too late in order for the appropriate outcome to be achieved.
  • The answer will be the best remedy possible.  The Lord does not have a history of providing the right answers most of the time.  God provides the correct answer 100% of the time.  What He purposes comes to pass, and He is the Author of all true knowledge and wisdom.

So, precious one, when you are feeling the drain of constantly facing turmoil, and you begin to feel yourself wearing down, call on the Lord.  Rest in the Lord and ask Him to revive you.  I promise you that He will.  Jesus told us:

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 (KJV)

Does this mean that Jesus will press a “pause” button so that we suddenly get to take a break from facing the trials that have worn us down in life?  Absolutely not.  What it does mean is that He will give us spiritual, mental, and emotional rest in Him as we continue to confront the issues that are present in our lives.  How is this possible?  Well, beloved, that’s an easy question to answer.  We can rest in the Lord by resting in the assurances that He gives us.  We know He will answer our prayers, we know He will see us through our times of trial, and we know that He has a wonderful eternal plan for us that will ultimately be void of all of the strife of this life.  Knowing all of this refreshes our soul and gives us the spiritual, emotional, and mental “rest” we need from the seeming unending & demanding nature of the trials in front of us.  We no longer feel controlled by those trials, and we in essence become bulletproof in ways that supersede the flesh, because we know that we are in His hands.  Beloved, there is no better place that any one of us can ever be.

So we need to patiently wait on the Lord as we persevere through the trials that we face in this life.  By being patient and persevering we are also displaying and living our faith in the Lord God Almighty.  Hope is not merely a wish; rather real hope means having a confident expectation.  If we show patience without limitation, and perseverance in the face of all adversity, then hope is evident in us as we have a confident expectation that the Lord will provide us with the answers to our prayers, and ultimately, the deliverance that we seek.  If we did not have faith, we would have an inclination to abandon both patience and perseverance, as both qualities would be pointless.  Again, if we truly want to live and walk by faith then we need to face the trials of life understanding that the Lord will fulfill all of His promises to us.  We need to live believing God rather than believing in His existence.  We know God’s Word has never come back null and void, and it never will.  Therefore, display endless patience and steadfast perseverance in the face of adversity, remembering the following assurance from the one true God:

“Hast thou not known?  hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?  there is no searching of His understanding.  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV)

Precious one, adversity will come at us throughout our lifetimes, regardless of whether we think we “deserve” it or not.  It is a part of life, and it is a very necessary part of life for the reasons we discussed today.  Therefore, do not shrink away from adversity/trials/challenges.  Every problem we face has a solution.  We are blessed to be loved by the ultimate Problem Solver.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and He wants you to experience His perfect peace in the midst of adversity.  He wants to strengthen you to repel despair by clinging with an ironclad grip to the hope He has given you.  Call on the Lord, and place your burdens at the cross.  While you will not be exempted from experiencing trials in this life, Jesus will give you all that you need to overcome every trial you will ever face.

If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, but you would like to right now, please join me in praying the following prayer:

“Lord God Almighty, I know that I am a sinner and that I am lost.  I know that I need to be saved from sin, but I also know that I can’t save myself.  Lord Jesus, I know that only You can save me.  I know that You paid for my salvation with Your own life and blood on the cross.  I know that when You rose from the grave on the third day, You conquered death and provided everlasting life to all who trust in You.  I now lay down my life and let go of my pride, my vanity and every other sin that has kept me from You.  From this moment on, Lord Jesus, I completely trust my life to You.  I open my heart to You, Lord.  Please come into my heart.  Please forgive me of all of my sins, and please accept me as Your child.  From this point on, I commit my life to You.  Please guide me and provide me strength as I begin to live the rest of my life for You.  In Your precious and matchless name I pray.  Amen.”

Precious one, if you just prayed that prayer sincerely then you are now a born-again child of God.  This very moment is the first moment of your new life that you will live for Jesus.  Your sins of the past have been forgiven you, and God has removed the record of iniquities from you as far as the east is from the west.  Praise God!  Welcome to the family!  Though you will still face much adversity in this life, you will never again face it alone.  I would encourage you to commit yourself to your relationship with the Lord by studying His Word every day (Bible), seeking fellowship with your newfound brothers and sisters in Christ (Christians), and communicating frequently with the Lord (prayer).

I want to thank you for joining us for today’s message.  I hope that you will be able to join us for our next message.

If ever I can be of assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  You can either email me @ revjasont@gmail.com, you can leave a message in the “Comments” section below, or you can call me anytime @ 520-288-9261.  If you don’t reach me live, please leave me a voice mail.  I will return your call as soon as possible.  It is always a blessing to hear from you.

Enjoy this blessed day that the Lord has made.  Bless and praise His name at every opportunity, and share Him just as freely as you have received Him with all that you encounter!  Truly blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

May the Lord bless you, keep you, guide you, strengthen you, and make His face to shine upon you and your loved ones always.  May your heart and mind always remained stayed on the Lord.

Your brother in Christ,

 

 

 

Rev Jason Thurwanger

Comfort in the Midst of Grief

October 26, 2012

(Originally posted on 6/24/2012)

Peace & blessing unto you and your household in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior.  Welcome back, brothers and sisters.

Beloved, the Lord impressed on my heart very clearly exactly what this message was to be about for this week.  I pray that today’s message will bless your heart, comfort you, and enable you to comfort others more effectively.  Precious one, today we are going to talk about dealing with grieving the death of a loved one.  I know that this is a very painful and sensitive subject for many people, including myself.  Yet, this is a discussion well worth having, as grief sometimes can cloud our ability to see and think clearly.  This then can lead to some very unfortunate choices that yield severe repercussions.  While we should definitely grieve the passing of a loved one, we should also remember the blessed assurance we have in the Lord.  Jesus said during the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are they that mourn:  for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4 (KJV)

I know that many of you are dealing with the grief brought on by the death of a loved one.  The timing of today’s message is no accident.  The Lord wants to comfort you and give you peace in the midst of this time of trial in your life.  As the following passage from Scripture reminds us about the Lord:

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3 (KJV)

Please open your heart and mind during today’s discussion and receive that which the Lord has to share with you.

Beloved, when my wife and I “lost” the 1st of 3 children over the years that went to be with the Lord, we were devastated.  The pain and anguish that we experienced was crushing and all-consuming.  We existed in a river of tears that threatened to wash us away and drown us.  To say that I wept like a baby is probably not a fair assessment to the infants of the world, as such a statement would overstate the tears that a typical bay sheds.  I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.  There was no hope, and there was certainly no comfort.  It was only after accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord & Savior a few years later that my heart and my mind changed course.  As I studied God’s Word, the Lord touched my heart and blessed me to truly understand His blessed assurance that we would be with our child again one day and that our child was not “lost” at all.  My heart leapt for joy when the Lord would lead me to passages from Scripture such as this one from the apostle Paul:

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (KJV)

Passages from Scripture such as this helped to lift a tremendous burden of hopelessness from me.  My despair was replaced with the blessed assurance of the Lord that we would know our child for all of eternity.  The Truth is that our baby was not “lost“; rather our little one had passed on to be with the Lord.  This changed things a great deal, as understanding this difference had a profound impact on our lives, as well as how we would handle such adversity in the future.

The Lord led me to the story of Job.  For anyone not familiar with Job’s story, I would strongly encourage you to read this book in the Bible.  Job was extremely wealthy and well respected by his fellow man.  However, Satan was given permission by God to test Job’s faith.  In the process of doing so, Job’s worldly wealth was wiped out by calamity, and his sons & daughters perished.  Job was absolutely distraught, and he proceeded to fall into a deep pit of despair that was suffocating him.  Eventually, Job came to a much better understanding of himself, the extent of his righteousness, and the Lord.  When the Lord restored Job’s worldly wealth, He restored to him double the wealth he previously had.  However, the Lord blessed Job with the same number of sons & daughters that he had previously.  Why didn’t God restore to Job twice as many children?  The answer is easy, beloved.  Job’s original children that had perished were not lost to him.  While they had passed on, they were not eternally lost.  Subsequently, the Lord had doubled Job’s children by blessing him with the same number of children once again.  Between the children Job had that had gone on to be with the Lord and the children that were living in his presence, Job had twice as many sons & daughters as he initially had.  While I had read the bible cover to cover numerous times before coming to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord & Savior, I never understood this until the Lord helped me see this after I became a Christian.

Over the years, my wife and I had 2 more children go to be with the Lord ahead of us.  We grieved a great deal each time, and we felt immense pain.  However, despair and hopelessness never again entered the equation.  As we have dealt with the death of these loved ones, as well as the passing of numerous other loved ones, we have been steadied and comforted by the blessed assurance we have in the Lord.  When my Dad passed in December, I grieved at his passing.  Yet, knowing that he had gone home to be with our Savior comforted me.  His physical ailments could no longer inflict pain and misery upon him.  The Lord had freed him from the chains of a body that had been ravaged by many trials over the years.  My Dad was finally pain-free and at peace.  I grieved, but I grieved with hope and with something else:  joy.  Yes, beloved, joy.

Some may find it odd to hear someone claim to grieve with joy, but that is exactly what I have learned to do.  How?  Why?  Well, precious one, why not?  The Truth is that any and all chains that could bind my loved ones that have passed on have been broken.  That includes the most intimidating of all chains that we are faced with:  death.

Consider a mother at a park watching her child play.  All of a sudden her child comes running to her while screaming and crying.  When the mother asks her child what is wrong, the child tells her that a bee has just stung them.  The mother sees the sting and the ensuing swelling.  She removes the bee’s stinger from the wound and begins to comfort and calm her child down when all of a sudden the bee starts buzzing around the child again.  The child is terrified at the prospect of being stung again and becomes hysterical.  The mother envelopes her beloved child in her arms and says, “It’s okay, baby.  There’s nothing to worry about.  That bee can only sting you once, then it loses its stinger.  That bee can’t hurt you anymore.”  Once the child understands that the bee can do no more harm, the grip of fear that had hold of the child is released.  The paralysis of terror at the prospect of the bee’s sting is replaced with boldness on the part of the child.

Precious one, so it is also with death.  Just as a bee loses its ability to sting us after it stings us once, so also does death lose its ability to sting the redeemed of the Lord a second time.  Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?’” – 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (KJV)

The Truth is that though we believers will each experience death, we will also experience resurrection to eternal life.  This reduces death to being a transitional life event rather than being the end of our lives.  So it is also for our loved ones who have passed on.  Though each has experienced death, they then followed that transitional life event by rising once again to life.  However, the life they have now is one that will never end.  Better yet, this everlasting life will be void of all of the pitfalls that we experience in our present lives.  Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:  for the former things are passed away.” – Revelation 21:4 (KJV)

That sounds like a pretty awesome existence.  I want to ask you a question, beloved, and I want you to seriously contemplate it.  Do you honestly believe that anyone who has passed on to be with the Lord, and experienced the sweet release from the chains of this world described in that passage from Scripture, has wished that they were here on this earth instead of being in the presence of the Lord?  Think about how important it is to us for our loved ones to experience the best that life has to offer and to be happy.  Well, precious one, the passage above is just one illustration of the very best that the Life has to offer, and it is a place full of happiness and rejoicing.  Following up on my previous comment about experiencing joy in the midst of grief, does this help you understand what I meant?  Our loved ones will experience no more pain, no more sorrow, no more strife, or struggles.  Knowing that your loved one’s new life will be filled with only positive experiences for all of eternity is certainly a justifiable reason to feel joy in the midst of your grieving.

Beloved, I know it hurts to not have your loved one with you right now.  I know that many people have tried to comfort you by saying something to the effect of “They’re in a better place now“, and similar statements.  Though you know that this is true, you also know the hurt that you so profoundly feel.  Precious one, it’s okay to feel that pain.  People tell you that the pain will go away with time, but that’s not entirely true.  The Truth is that sometimes we carry the pain with us for the rest of our lives on this earth.  To this day, I feel the pain that comes from the passing of each of my loved ones, especially our babies.  However, when my sadness at not being with our 3 children that have gone home to the Lord is tempered by knowing that they are with the Father that will always love them and will never fail them.  Though they are not in my arms, I know they are in God’s hands.  That is definitely comforting, because I know that those are the most loving and secure hands of all.

Loved one, God knows the pain you feel, and He understands your sorrow.  It is possible for you to be comforted by His blessed assurance while still feeling significant pain at the passing of a loved one.  That doesn’t mean that you are weak or that you don’t have faith.  You know what that means?  It means that the love you feel for the one who passed on is enduring, powerful, and has not waned with time.  True love it too strong to be broken or ebbed by death.  There’s nothing wrong with feeling sadness at the fact that you cannot snuggle your significant other anymore, or enjoy an outing with that loved one anymore.  We miss their company.  There is nothing wrong with that, beloved.  As long as you are grieving with hope, and possibly with joy, then your grieving can be very healthy.

With that being said, precious one, it is important for you to understand that life does go on for both of you.  Your loved one has not ceased to live.  He/she has just ceased to live in this world.  However, he/she lives in a much better place, as we understand when we read the Scripture above.  In addition to living in that better place with the Lord, our loved ones also continue to live on in our hearts and minds.  At the same point, beloved, we also must continue to live.  Marriage is a precious and sacred lifelong commitment between a man and a woman.  It is not, however, a suicide pact.  In other words, when the husband or wife passes on, it should not be the end of the road for the remaining spouse.  If a widow/widower decides not to remarry, or to even date again, that’s completely fine.  On the other hand, if the remaining spouse does eventually decide to date again, and possibly remarry, that is fine, too.  There is no betrayal of that spouse’s marriage vows involved in the equation.  Moving on in life does not mean that we love our spouses, or our children that have passed on, or our parents that have passed on, etc any less.  What it does mean is that the Lord is still giving us breath, so we ought to use it properly by continuing to live rather than merely being content to exist while we wait for death.

Beloved, when we go to be with the Lord we will no longer live as husband and wife.  The only bride will be the Church, and the only groom will be Jesus Christ.  Yes, we will be reunited with loved ones, but we will all be brothers and sisters.  In that same way, while there will be many sons & daughters in Heaven, there will only be one Father.  I will no longer be Dad to my sons & daughters when we go home to be with the Lord; rather we will become brothers and sisters in Christ for all of eternity.

Precious one, not a single one of our loved ones that trusted their lives to the Lord are lost to us.  Not one.  We know where they are, and we know Who they are with.  They are with the Creator and Lover of our souls.  Furthermore, we know the Way that will lead us home to a reunion with them, and that Way is Jesus Christ.  Throughout all of human history the Lord has never once failed to fulfill a single promise He has made.  His Word has never once come back null and void, and it never will.  Friends, don’t merely believe in God.  That in and of itself doesn’t mean anything.  Remember that even Satan believes that God exists.  Instead, I want to challenge you to truly believe God.  Are you willing to be comforted in the midst of your grief, loved one?  If so, listen to Jesus’ eternal promise to you and I, as He spoke it to us:

“Let not your heart be troubled:  ye believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions:  if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” – John 14:1-3 (KJV)

Beloved, the day will come when this blessed reunion is called together once and for all.  We are able to live our lives knowing that this blessed assurance will come to pass.  There is only one Way to RSVP to this reunion, and that Way is by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Living a “good” life is not enough.  Doing good deeds is not enough.  Spreading the Word of God is not enough to gain admittance.  Each one of us that enters eternal life with the Lord will only be able to do so as a result of having accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior in this life.  The only death that is tragic is the death of an unbeliever that rejected the payment that Jesus Christ made for each of us on the Cross.  As Jesus told us:

“Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me’” – John 14:6 (KJV)

Now some will argue that they don’t think it’s fair to have to make a decision for Christ or to face an eternity of torture, torment, and separation from God.  They are correct.  There’s nothing fair about it.  If our fate were to be based on fairness, frankly none of us would go home to be with the Lord.  Beloved, there was nothing fair about the sinless and only begotten Son of God having to suffer and die for our sins.  Yet, that is exactly what He did, and in the process He saved us from the “fairness” that would have eternally condemned us.  Receive the love that He has for you and accept the payment that He has made on your behalf at the Cross by asking Jesus Christ to be your Lord & Savior right now.  With one choice, you have the ability to claim victory over death and to RSVP to the most wonderful reunion that will ever take place.  The choice is yours, precious one.  Choose wisely.

If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, but you are ready to at this time, please join me in praying the following prayer:

“Lord God Almighty, I know that I am a sinner and that I am lost.  I know that I need to be saved from sin, but I also know that I can’t save myself.  Lord Jesus, I know that only You can save me.  I know that You paid for my salvation with Your own life and blood on the cross.  I know that when You rose from the grave on the third day, You conquered death and provided everlasting life to all who trust in You.  I now lay down my life and let go of my pride, my vanity and every other sin that has kept me from You.  From this moment on, Lord Jesus, I completely trust my life to You.  I open my heart to You, Lord.  Please come into my heart.  Please forgive me of all of my sins, and please accept me as Your child.  From this point on, I commit my life to You.  Please guide me and provide me strength as I begin to live the rest of my life for You.  In Your precious and matchless name I pray.  Amen.”

Precious one, if you just sincerely prayed that prayer, then I have a something I would like to say to you:  Welcome home!  You are now counted among the redeemed of the Lord, and your family just got much larger.  You will still face trials and adversity in this world, but you will never again face them alone.  I want to encourage you to get to know the Lord better by communicating with Him frequently through prayer, by studying His Word (Bible), and by seeking out fellowship with your new brothers and sisters in Christ (all Christians).  Beloved, you have now RSVP’d to the greatest and most joyous reunion that will ever take place when the Lord calls the redeemed home to be with Him for all of eternity.

Thank you for joining us for this week’s message.  I hope and pray that you will be able to join us for next week’s message, as well.

If ever I can support you through prayer, or in any other way that I am able, please don’t hesitate to call me @ 520-288-9261, or by using the “Comments” section at the end of each message, or by emailing me at revjasont @ gmail.com.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Have a wonderful day on this glorious and blessed day that the Lord has made.  Go forth and share readily that which the Lord God Almighty has given you.

May the perfect peace of Christ Jesus reside in each of your homes and throughout every area of your lives.  May the Lord bless you, keep you, guide you, strengthen you, and make His face to shine upon you and your loved ones always.

Your brother in Christ,

 

 

 

Rev Jason Thurwanger

Giving that Which We Hope to Receive

October 25, 2012

(Originally posted on 6/17/2012)

Peace and blessing unto you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior.  Welcome back, brothers & sisters!  We are blessed to have you with us once again todayJ

Beloved, why are we so hesitant to give to others that which we have been blessed to receive from the Lord?  Why do we insist on embracing hypocrisy in our lives?  On Sundays we tend to sit in a church pew, or perhaps worship the Lord at home, and we rejoice in the mercy that the Lord has shown us.  However, Monday through Saturday we live life as though the mercy that He has given us is intended to be a private gift for us alone.  We attempt to use witty lines with people with whom we have a “score to settle“.  One of those witty lines goes something like this:  “You better pray you find a way to make this right.  Otherwise, you are going to find out that while God is merciful, I am not.”  We think that lines such as this make us sound tough, shrewd, and intelligent.  The Truth is that such utterances only reveal weakness, pride, and stupidity.  The other thing that such statements reveal is that we are not aligned with the Lord God Almighty.  This is a very real problem, and it is the topic of our discussion today.  Without further adieu, let’s get started.

Brothers & sisters, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior we are to accept Him into our hearts.  I want to clear up some confusion on the nature of doing so:  We are not to invite the Lord into our hearts for a visit; rather we invite Him to take up permanent residence in our hearts.  Why do we do this?  Well, beloved, prior to accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior, we displayed what kind of lives we were capable of leading without Him in our hearts, right?  So if Jesus has a permanent place in our heart, then the manner in which we live our lives should evidence His presence within us.  When we ask Jesus into our heart, we do not ask Him to accept this new residence “as is”.  Instead, when we ask Him into our hearts we do so understanding that our hearts are in need of a serious makeover.  We should then trust Jesus to be at the controls of this overhaul, right?  Right.

Precious one, through Jesus’ teachings, as well as the manner in which He led His life among us both provide us with a blueprint that we are to follow.  The servant should follow his or her Master’s lead.  Jesus showed mercy in abundance, time and again, to people just like you and I.  Furthermore, He exhorted us to show mercy to one another many times throughout His ministry on this earth.  Do you remember the Sermon on the Mount?  This is the most widely known sermon ever delivered as the Living Word of God shared these precious teachings with us all.  Here is what Jesus said about mercy:

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” – Matthew 5:7 (KJV)

You will notice the clarity of His statement here.  There is nothing ambiguous in what Jesus spoke.  Now there are many people who will say, either out loud or in their hearts, “Well, He didn’t say that only the merciful would obtain mercy.”  Such thinking pains my heart, as it is stubborn, prideful, and just downright wrong.  The Truth is that if any of us expect to receive mercy when we are judged, then we need to have embraced mercy as something that we showed others willingly.  If you disagree, then you have not been studying the Word of God (Bible).  The following is the elongated version of Jesus’ teaching on mercy during the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Luke Chapter 6:

“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged:  condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned:  forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” – Luke 6:36-37 (KJV)

Again, the message that Jesus is giving us here is abundantly clear and does not require any clarification. Yet, there are still some people who will miss the implied message in these two passages from Scripture that mercy will be given only to those who are merciful. Why? Well, in short, some people will miss this simply because the heart of man is all too often full of evil rather than being full of Christ Jesus. However, consider the following parable that Jesus shared with us while speaking of mercy, and notice that there is nothing left to be implied:

“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.  But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.  The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.’  Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.  But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence:  and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me that thou owest.’  And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.’  And he would not:  but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.  Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, ‘O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:  Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?’  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.  So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” – Matthew 18:23-35 (KJV)

Well, there you have it, brothers & sisters. Here Jesus comes straight out and tells us that if we do not show mercy to others, then we should not expect to be shown mercy ourselves. He could not make it any clearer. Now don’t interpret this to mean that you can earn mercy by being merciful, because that is not the case. Does that confuse you? It shouldn’t. Let me explain.

Precious one, mercy is given by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior, as the apostle Paul pointed out. We cannot earn mercy. However, without being merciful to others we will not receive mercy ourselves. Does that make sense? Yes, it most certainly does. You see, beloved, if we have truly accepted Christ Jesus into our hearts as our Lord & Savior then our lives should evidence the He taught us to lead them, right? If we are being faithful servants, then we follow the lead of our Master (Jesus). It’s safe to say that our Master is the ultimate champion of unconditional mercy, so then we ought to also be merciful. If we are not merciful, then it shows that we haven’t really given our lives to the Lord. That would mean that we serve a different master. If Jesus Christ is not our Master then we are not saved. The reason that we must be merciful in order to obtain mercy is because by being merciful we are truly being faithful servants of the Lord, and it is evidence that we have sincerely accepted Him as our Master. If we have truly invited and accepted Jesus into our hearts, then we will be merciful as His will guides our steps/decisions.

Beloved, I know that showing mercy does not “come naturally” and that it can be very hard to forgive in different situations. However, mercy does come supernaturally through the Lord. He will strengthen us to extend mercy to those who have transgressed against us most grievously if we will only ask Him to help us do so. If we then have the ability to extend mercy to another, regardless of the nature of the offense/debt, then the only thing left for us to resolve is our willingness to do so.

I have found that when I am challenged to be willing to forgive someone I need only remember that my sins drove the nails into His hands and feet and necessitated Jesus having to suffer the cross to save me by paying my sin debt. I want to strongly encourage you to remember the same thing, because it is true of us all. It wasn’t the Romans or the Jews that crucified Jesus. It was every single one of us that crucified the Lord, because we have all sinned and fallen short of perfection. We persecuted Him, tormented Him, mocked Him, scorned Him, caused Him excruciating pain, crucified Him, and we rejected Him. We did all this to Jesus even though He had not wronged us in any way. As a matter of fact, up to that point He had only attempt to teach us, healed us, and shown us love and compassion. How did Jesus respond to our transgressions against Him? Jesus didn’t lash out at us, and He didn’t “settle the score” with us. Instead, He prayed that the Father would forgive us and extend mercy unto us. He rose from the grave on the third day, defeating death and extending us the opportunity to share in His victory and be with Him for eternity. Knowing this, whom exactly can we not be willing to show mercy to? Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any:  even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” – Colossians 3:13 (KJV)

Beloved, if we claim to be Christians we must be merciful. To be anything less than willing to extend mercy to others, regardless of the situation, would be the pinnacle of hypocrisy. Let His presence in our hearts shine forth from us like a beacon on a hill by committing ourselves to be willing to extend to others the love, compassion, and mercy that Jesus has extended to us.

Perhaps you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior, but you are considering doing so. Maybe the only thing that keeps you from taking the leap of faith to the foot of the Cross is that you are convinced that the multitude and/or grievous nature of your sins makes you unworthy of God’s love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. Precious one, if you are plagued by these thoughts/feelings I want to encourage you to reject them, because they are nothing more than a lie being perpetuated by the enemy of your soul (Satan). The Truth is this: If you would have been the only sinner on the earth, Jesus would have suffered the crucifixion in order to save you. You are precious to Him. Whether you are 20 years old, 45, 70, or 80 is beside the point. Whether you have committed adultery, murder, theft, or any of a multitude of other sins is completely beside the point. What you need to understand is this:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9 (KJV)

Beloved, Jesus is calling out to you through the ages right now with His arms outstretched to welcome you into His loving embrace. He knows the pain you have experienced, and He wants to ease that pain. He knows the fears that torment you, and He is willing and able to relieve those fears. The Lord knows the confusion that has dominated your heart and mind, and He wants to replace that confusion with clarity. The Prince of Peace stands ready to replace your anxieties with the most perfect peace possible. Don’t let the debt of your past sins keep you from Him any longer. Jesus has paid the debt for those sins in full, and in so doing He has knocked down the wall that those sins built up between you and Him. It’s time for you to come home, precious one.

If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, but you are ready to do so right now, please join me in praying the following prayer:

“Lord God Almighty, I know that I am a sinner and that I am lost.  I know that I need to be saved from sin, but I also know that I can’t save myself.  Lord Jesus, I know that only You can save me.  I know that You paid for my salvation with Your own life and blood on the cross.  I know that when You rose from the grave on the third day, You conquered death and provided everlasting life to all who trust in You.  I now lay down my life and let go of my pride, my vanity and every other sin that has kept me from You.  From this moment on, Lord Jesus, I completely trust my life to You.  I open my heart to You, Lord.  Please come into my heart.  Please forgive me of all of my sins, and please accept me as Your child.  From this point on, I commit my life to You.  Please guide me and provide me strength as I begin to live the rest of my life for You.  In Your precious and matchless name I pray.  Amen.”

Precious one, if you just prayed that prayer sincerely then you are now a born-again child of God! Welcome to the family! All of your stains of past sins have been washed away by the blood of the Lamb of God (Jesus). You are now beginning your new life for Him. Get to know Him better by communicating with Him frequently (prayer), studying the Word of God (Bible), and by seeking fellowship with your new brothers and sisters in Christ (Christians). Beloved, the world will still put you through much adversity and tribulation, but you will never again face it alone. With Jesus on your side, you will never truly be outnumbered or overpowered by any level of adversity. Seek to glorify Him and His blessed name always!

Thank you for joining us for today’s message. I hope you will be able to join us for next week’s discussion, as well.

Go and enjoy this blessed day that the Lord has made. Glorify Him and His blessed name at every opportunity! If ever I can support you through prayer, or in any other way that I am able, please don’t hesitate to call me @ 520-288-9261, or by using the “Comments” section at the end of each message, or by emailing me at revjasont @ gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

May the Lord bless you, keep you, guide you, strengthen you and make His face to shine upon you and your loved ones always. May you always be merciful to others, just as the Lord God Almighty has been merciful to you.

Your brother in Christ,

 

 

 

Rev Jason Thurwanger


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