4 Benefits for Christians in This Age

 

Out in the world today, we see a lot of bold claims made by companies. They promise you weight loss, happiness, wealth, status, and anything else that you can think up. What is their purpose in making these bold claims? They want your money. Many of the times the claims are flat out lies and at best they deliver only a fraction of what was promised. What about Christianity? Does the Bible make big claims like companies do?

Personally, I think the Bible makes a lot of claims about those who put their faith in God. But the logical follow up question to that statement is  – are they true? So in this blog post I want to set out to show you four claims the Bible makes about the benefits a Christian receives in this age. The fact that we are talking about this age is important. Obviously a Christian has a major benefit in the age to come with eternal life and the kingdom. However, I want to focus on this life and how being a Christian makes our lives better, now. The four benefits to being a Christian are peace, purpose, perspective, and people.

Peace is a commodity of which the world is in short order. It seems that mental illness is all over the news with illnesses like depression and anxiety sweeping over our nation. Christianity promises to those who put their faith in God that they can find peace. Look at Philippians 4:6-7, “6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul, talking to the people of Philippi, is saying that if we hand over our anxiety to God through prayer and thanksgiving in return we will receive peace that surpasses all comprehension. I love how Paul makes the point to say that this peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. I think Christianity has the best solution for finding peace in this life.

1 Peter 2 9

Purpose is an elusive things that some people spend their whole lives searching out. I truly think that people thrive the most when they are living a life after the purpose for which God created them. If you are looking for purpose look at 1 Peter 2:9-10 which says, “9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” First look at verse 10 where it says, “you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God”. In other words, once you had no identity and no purpose but now you are the people of God and you have a purpose. The purpose statement is at the end of verse 9, “so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”. I think when we are giving the good news to people, and that is our driving purpose, we find fulfillment with our lives. What could be better than helping someone change their life forever?

Perspective can be a tricky thing to find, especially perspective that is trustworthy and true. Let’s talk about the world’s perspective on one of the most difficult things we deal with in life, death. To the world, death is crushing, scary, oppressive, breaking, and most of all final. The world has no hope when it comes to death but the Bible offers a better perspective on death. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says, “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” If you are a Christian, you are offered a perspective on death that doesn’t include fear but instead centers on hope. Don’t get me wrong, death is still a painful and difficult event but it isn’t crushing for Christians. To me, 1 Thessalonians 4 is a clarifying and liberating passage. Because of the Bible I am freed from the fear of death. Christianity offers us a better perspective on death and a whole multitude of other things.

People, who doesn’t want a people to call their own? Community is an essential part of human flourishing and Christians absolutely crush the competition when it comes to community. Look at what Jesus says in Mark 10:29-30, “29 Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.’” In this present age we will receive 100 times the family that we currently have. This doesn’t mean that all of a sudden our family multiples by 100. What it means is that those who are Christians become our family. You are probably familiar with the term family of God. It is short hand for the community of believers that form one large family all around the world. When I walk into church I know that those people have my back, they love me, they support me, and they are my family.

Maybe now you are asking how can I be sure that these claims actually hold up under pressure? Are these claims made by the Bible like the false claims made by big companies? If you are curious about the validity of the Bible, just ask a long time Christian that you know. They will tell you about the peace they have felt in their lives when there should not have been peace. They will tell you about the purpose they have found. They will tell you about how the Bible has shifted their perspectives for the better. They will tell you about the community that they have in the family of God.

If you are looking for peace, purpose, perspective, or a people I think you should give Christianity a serious look. Maybe you have been on the fence about dedicating your life to Christ or maybe you have fallen away and aren’t where you want to be with God. Either way there is a better life out there, it just takes commitment. You need to commit to following God wherever He leads and you need to put your trust in Jesus. If you are thinking about dedicating or rededicating your life to Christ find a pastor or Christian you trust and talk to them about how following God can change your life for the better.

-Josiah Cain

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Temptation

Mark Chapter 1

Mark 1 13a

This week we begin a journey into the Gospel of Mark, reading just one chapter a day.  Jesus has much to teach us about being different.  Instead of hearing from just one writer this week – we get to hear from 7 young people as they inspire us to follow Jesus.  

“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness,  and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Mark 1:9-13 (NIV)

In these verses, we see God having favor with Jesus as well as Jesus being tempted. We just came back from Fuel and it’s so easy to go back to life as we know it and to maintain the same habits. We will be tempted both now and throughout the year. However, the theme this year was different and regardless of a Fuel theme, we should strive each year to become a better version of ourselves upon going home.

Let us pray:

“God, we praise you for such a powerful week at Fuel. We’re grateful for the things you’ve laid on our hearts and for the Godly relationships that have been created and strengthened through fellowship. We ask that you would help us act in accordance with your will and help us fulfill the commitment that we made to be different in our personal lives as well as in our communities.”

Until next year, brothers and sisters in Christ.

~Caitie Wood

In All Circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5

i thess 5 16-18

This is one of my favorite scriptures.  Esther has learned to love her enemies (v 15).

As friends, Esther and I have fallen in love with verse 16, 17 & 18.  We have both learned to pray more and more through the day and to give thanks in everything.

 

Application:

Memorize verse 16, 17 & 18 and use them at least a dozen times a day.  Pray even about the smallest requests and be thankful for everything in every circumstance.

 

Esther & Paul

Enough

Ephesians 2

2

Every Sunday since before I was born, my family has gathered at my grandma’s house for an after-church lunch. It’s a grandiose affair with a lavish spread of food, a fancy tablecloth, and ALWAYS dessert. My littlest cousin, Greta, prides herself on being Grandma’s helper in the kitchen each Sunday. By no means is she qualified to even step foot in a kitchen—she tries to lick the frosting off the chocolate cake, has a fair share of spills, and screams when not allowed to cut the watermelon. Despite her lack of skills and tact, she is the most willing and enthusiastic helper. While my grandma certainly doesn’t need her help, I think her heart bursts into a million little pieces when little Greta pulls up her stool to the counter with wide eyes and ready hands.

Sometimes I feel a lot like a toddler in the kitchen, like I’m not enough. The truth of the matter is that I wasn’t enough.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

The story doesn’t end there. I am made enough because of who God is and what Jesus did for me.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.(Ephesians 2:4-5)

We can choose to wallow in our inadequacy, or we can embrace grace. I’ve seen the joy that comes when we let go of the burden of not being enough in the beaming smile of a little girl with chocolate frosting on her nose. You are so enough that God wants to use you for His Kingdom.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.(Ephesians 2:10)

No matter the lies the world whispers in your ear, never stop pulling up your stool to the counter. Roll up your sleeves and do all the things God prepared for you. He’s more honored by your attempts than He is concerned about your results. Frankly, He could go infinity gauntlet style and snap His fingers to accomplish anything He wanted to by Himself. That same God is head-over-heels in love with you.

My friend, you measure up. You have what it takes. You’re enough. Now go do something.

-Mackenzie McClain

But how do I know what my Spiritual Gift is?

1 Corinthians 12

1 Cor 12 27

Do you ever think God sits up in heaven, listening to us, and just smacks his forehead?  I do.

Think about this:  He is so amazingly gracious and wonderful that He supernaturally equips believers with gifts to make life better for all of us.  But instead of doing that…we sit around and take Spiritual gift inventories.

Head smack.

1 Corinthians 12: 4-7

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

Want to know how God has gifted you?  Here’s the super-complicated, algorithm-created, surefire way to find out.  Ready?

Try stuff.

Ta-da!

Seriously.  Try stuff.  See what fills your bucket.  What makes you light up.  What energizes, instead of drains you?

All believers are called to serve in lots of ways.  We’re all expected to demonstrate some amount of wisdom, knowledge, faith and discernment.  We are all supposed to serve through giving, helping, teaching, and working.

While I can serve by mowing the lawn or doing dishes, I don’t feel particularly pumped after doing so.  But my friend Cheryl does.  Serving others in these ways invigorates her and motivates her to do more.

Cheryl will step in and lead a class if needed, but she doesn’t love it.  I love (insert many hearts here) it.  Teaching fills my bucket, it drains hers.

So put down the Spiritual gift inventory and start doing.  Ask God to help you find your sweet spot.  I’ll bet He won’t say no.

“you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

 

-Susan Landry

Disunity – Defeated Already

1 Corinthians 6

1 Corinthians 6 7

Today we will be taking a look at 1 Corinthians 6

 

In chapter 5 Paul taught that it is not right for those in the Church to judge those who are not in the Church because they are not held to the same standards that we have ascribed to.  Similarly in chapter 6 Paul says that it is not right for those outside of the Church to be making judgements on arguments between those in the Church. If we have Christ’s love in us and if we are living according to his wisdom as Paul teaches we should, then we should be able to have reconciliation with our brothers and sisters in Christ without having to go to court. It is understandable that we will have disagreements in the Church, and feelings will get hurt, but Christ forgave the men who crucified him while he was still hanging on the cross.  If he can do that then we can forgive the people in our Church. It is a shame on the Church when we cannot be reconciled to each other. When that happens Paul says in verse seven that “you have been completely defeated already”. We know from Ephesians 6:12 that this fight that we are in is against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” and for that reason we need to put on the full armor of God. But if we cannot unite as the Body of Christ then there is no point, we have already lost the battle.

 

One of Paul’s main goals in his letter to the Corinthians was to bring unity.  Many of the situations in Corinth Paul was asking one of the sides to give in graciously, even though they were not wrong, in order to bring peace.  Later in chapter 6 verse 7 it says “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” We should seek unity in the Body over being right, or having justice.  Jesus’ death was the greatest injustice in the world, and we are called to take up our crosses and follow him, we should not be surprised if we have to endure some injustice along the way.

 

Yours in peace

Chris Mattison

Don’t be Mutton

John 10

John 10 14

In John chapter 10, we find Jesus telling a story about shepherds and sheep.  A person who is hired to protect the sheep will run away when his own life is in danger (like when a wolf comes), and abandons the sheep.  The true shepherd will put his life in harm’s way to defend his sheep.  Then we find this gem in verses 14 through 18:

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

I see a couple of things in these verses that I’d like to comment on.

We all know that we are his sheep, and that Jesus laid down his life for his sheep.  We may be less focused on Jesus’ comment that he has other sheep not of this sheep pen that will listen to his voice and be part of the same flock.  In Jesus’ day, he was talking with the Jews, who thought they were the exclusive people who could have a relationship with God.  Jesus was pointing out that non-Jews would also come to God through Jesus.

Then we see this phrase in verse 17 that says God loves Jesus because Jesus is going to lay down his life.  I believe Jesus was saying that it was his decision whether or not to completely obey God.  He had the authority to obey, and lose his life.  He also had the authority to disobey, and retain his life.  My interpretation for all of this is:  Jesus had complete free will to do whatever he chose to do, just like we have free will.  It’s just that Jesus always chose to do God’s will.  This is exemplified in Jesus’ willingness to follow God’s will, no matter what, even to the point of suffering and dying.  And God loves that fact about Jesus.  (As an aside, this attribute of Jesus is undoubtedly why God said, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased, listen to him.”)

You might be thinking, “This is a nice story, but how does it apply to me?”

I’m glad you asked.

First, I want God to be pleased with me.  And I project from this story that if I am obedient to God like Jesus was obedient to God, I will please God.  So, I’d like to challenge you to be completely obedient to God as well.

Second, I might tend to think, like the Jews, that I, or my church, or my denomination have an exclusive relationship with God.  I need to remember that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, not me, and he (not me) gets to decide who are and who are not his sheep.

Finally, we see from this passage that Jesus knows his sheep, and his sheep know him.  Wolves are prowling around outside the sheep pen.  If you’re not in the protection of the pen, being protected by the Shepherd, you’re going to be mutton.  So if you don’t know Jesus, there’s no time like today.

-Steve Mattison