Needing something real

Acts 4:18-20 NASB  And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  (19)  But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;  (20)  for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

The disciples were in trouble because they were turning Jerusalem upside down with the preaching about Jesus and the resurrection. Jealousy fueled the priest and the religious leader’s passion as they began to persecute the early leaders and believers. This story is astounding to me, as I look at Peter and John with their reaction towards the religious authorities. Only a few short weeks earlier they watched the Jews push the Romans into crucifying Jesus and they themselves ran and hid for fear of the Jews. Is there anything to keep them from performing the same action upon them as they did upon Jesus? However, there is something different about the disciples this time around. They are talking to the religious leaders and exclaiming, “We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” If you have any desire to stand up for Jesus then you must have something that is real as it pertains to your relationship with Christ. A person can sit in a pew on Sunday; however, that person can be just as far away from Jesus as the as the atheist. Being in church makes you a Christian as much as being in a garage makes you a car. If you think that you are going to stand up in the midst of persecution, ridicule, or problems with a Sunday religion then you have another thing coming to your life. If we are not actively walking with Jesus and have something real in our life then we will be like the chocolate left in the sun…soft. Do you have a relationship with Jesus that is real and vibrant? Has the Holy Spirit touched your life in such a powerful manner that you cannot stop speaking about what you have “seen and heard”? Dear Lord, I need You to draw my life closer to Yours. I need you because I desire to stand up for Your name even when it goes against societal norms. I pray that You are so real to the readers of this email that they cannot stop speaking about what they have seen and heard about You, Your love, grace, forgiveness, and power! Amen!

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

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An earthly mindset

An earthly mindset

Acts 1:4-8 NASB  Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me;  (5)  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  (6)  So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”  (7)  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;  (8)  but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Have you ever had a conversation with someone but you were on two totally different topics. Jesus was talking with the disciples about going back to Jerusalem to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit. However, the disciples were still focused on the Messiah coming to town on a tall white horse and setting up the kingdom of Israel as a world power. They could not have had it any more wrong. Jesus did not come to force people to serve Him but to serve Him out of love and commitment. In essence Jesus is telling the disciples to not worry about things that do not concern them. The only thing that they needed to worry about was walking in power so that the Kingdom of God would go into all of the world. We have a tendency to worry too much about earthly things while spiritual things suffer. We must admit that we are more concerned with our day to day activities, vacations, houses, cars, insurance, retirement, sports and etc. than we are about Jesus and His activities in and around our life and not to mention around the world. I wonder how things would change in our life, family, church, and nation if we became concerned with what God was doing and truly desired for the Holy Spirit to move in a miraculous manner. Are you more concerned with the earthly than you are the Spiritual? Dear God, we need you to move in our lives. Please help us to focus upon You and what You desire to do in our life, family, church, and nation because You desire to move and transform everything that You touch.

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

Worry about yourself

Worry about yourself

John 21:18-22 NASB  “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”  (19)  Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”  (20)  Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”  (21)  So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?”  (22)  Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

You may apply this as you see fit; however, most people are very nosy. We love to put our noses into everyone else’s business. We will listen to conversations that are being carried on around us so that we might get the latest scoop. We will ask people if someone else is okay because we want to get the latest information. We will read our Facebook friend’s post to link things together about certain situations. Now I am not clumping us all together because you may not really care about gossiping or finding out the latest about a certain person. However, we typically put our noses where they do not belong. Jesus was just talking to Peter about feeding the sheep when Peter asked about John. Peter was being nosy. Jesus gave Peter a vague answer and said, “Follow Me.” In essence Jesus told Peter, “What concern is it of yours in what I do with John? Why don’t you just worry about yourself and follow Me.” A situation some time ago taught me a very valuable lesson. If you are concerned about a person then go to that person and ask. Having talked to the person in no way gives you license to discuss the information or share your concerns with anyone else. I personally think that if we attempt to keep ourselves in following Jesus then we have a full-time job. What do you think that Jesus might say to us? I can hear in my imagination as Jesus would say, “Marcus, if I desire to bless someone else or use someone is a special way in the ministry, what is that to you? Marcus, all you need to do is follow Me and I will bless you in just the right manner so that the name of Jesus is glorified through your life.” Maybe if we worried more about our own spiritual walk than that of our neighbor then the Holy Spirit might accomplish the will of God through our daily life. Maybe Christ is asking you the same thing this morning…How is your walk with Christ? (And this has nothing to do with what your friend, neighbor, or co-worker is or is not doing) Are you following Him?

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

Wrong place, Wrong choice

Wrong place, Wrong choice

2 Samuel 11:1-4 NASB  Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.  (2)  Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.  (3)  So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”  (4)  David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house.

Is it really possible to be in the wrong place so that it leads to wrong choices in life?  I can remember being a teenager and doing just that because I wanted to sort of fit in with my circle of friends. I was involved with some things in life because I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong people. The writer states that it was the time when kings went out to battle; however, David stayed back at his house. It is in the midst of this situation where David is involved with an adulterous situation. One might say that David might have not committed adultery if he had of been out on the battle field with Israel, which is where he was supposed to be in the first place. It is through this turn of events that David views Bathsheba bathing, which results in not only committed adultery but David lied and committed murder. Can we place ourselves in compromising situations that have the potential of destroying our lives and testimony? You had better believe it because it can happen and has happened to disbelieving Christians who thought that they were stronger than they really were. I think that it is good to perform introspection or inventory of our lives from time to time to assure that my circle of friends, actions, behaviors, motives, and places that I visit are not compromising my relationship or testimony with Jesus. I have heard testimonies of Christians who found themselves in precarious situations make the following statement, “How in the world did I get here?” The answer to the previous question is “slowly” and by being in the wrong place while making the wrong choices. I am sure that we both desire to place ourselves into situations where God dwells with us and His name is glorified in all of our actions, attitudes, behaviors, and choices in life.

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

Bearing fruit….

Bearing fruit

John 15:5 NASB  “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

We used to have a pear tree in our backyard that was rather fruitful. They were cooking pears, which were perfect for canning. I can remember Sherin and some other ladies made some awesome pear preserves. The pears were so large and bountiful that they would weigh down the limbs so much that they would touch the ground and some of the limbs would break.  This tree produced so many pears that many from the church and neighborhood would come to get them. Jesus gives us some vital information in this passage pertaining the production of proper fruit. We cannot produce spiritual fruit on our own as we need to be abiding in Jesus before that can happen. A person bearing their own fruit is about as easy as the limb of a tree producing its own fruit after it has been cut off from the tree. What is this fruit we are supposed to be bearing? This special fruit could be Galatians 5:22-23 NASB “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  (23)  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” It could be souls as Mark 1:17 NASB “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.'” This fruit could be Philippians 1:11 NASB “having been filled with the fruit of righteousness (right living or holiness) which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” I think that it would be good to ask ourselves a very deep question. Does my life produce the proper fruit? If my life does not reflect Galatians 5:22-23, Mark 1:17, or Philippians 1:11 then I may need to check my abiding in Jesus. However, since we are abiding in Christ then let the Holy Spirit begin to bear much fruit through our life so that the world might be able to see Jesus through us and come to know Him as their Savior.

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

Sweet Peace

Sweet peace

Psalms 119:50 NASB  This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.

Where is your happy place? I mean the place where you go to get away from the problems of the day. Places where you can breathe and just let your problems go away for a little while. There used to be a commercial for Calgon where they would say, “Calgon – take me away!” It was supposedly something that you could put into your bathwater that would take you away from all of the problems of the day.  I particularly love sitting on the beach to watch the sunrise or be there at sunset. I can either look out at the water or close my eyes and listen to the waves as the cool breeze calms one’s life. The psalmist desires to instruct us to look to a deeper place for comfort in the midst of our daily trials. God’s Word ought to be the place that encourages us, excites us, comforts us, and challenges our lives. God’s Word is filled with encouraging stories that keeps us fighting the good fight. The Word is filled with precious promises to keep up looking for the hand of God to move in our situations. Since God has moved in the past then He has not changed and He is able to move once again. I particularly love Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God desires that our lives be filled with peace and joy as our focus is upon Him and not the world. If we allow problems to disrupt God’s peace that is guarding our hearts then our joy will quickly follow. Let us focus upon keeping God’s peace intact in our lives as we focus upon God’s Word to keep us encouraged.

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

Sshh…Don’t worry…It’s okay

Sshh…Don’t worry…It’s Okay

John 14:27 (NASB) Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Have you ever had to calm your child’s heart down in a troubling situation? Both my daughter and son have been in situations where someone said hurtful things or acted in a hurtful manner. As a parent your heart is breaking for them; however, you know that in the bigger picture everything is okay. Their mother and I respond by giving them reassuring hugs of comfort, a warm “I love you,” and an encouraging “It’s going to be okay.” They may still feel the pain from the situation; however, at least they know that they have two people in their corner fighting with them, loving them, and supporting them through every pain and hurtful situation. Notice that Jesus gives us His peace and not the peace of the world. Jesus’ peace reaches deep within the heart of man and allows us to stay in a place of the calm, reassuring love of God. I particularly love Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This is a place of total trust and submission unto the Lord and He will take our difficult situations and guard us so that our peace will be the foundation of our life. I challenge you to look only to Jesus because He desires to give you a peace that will keep you through the storms of life. Please do not trust in this world’s peace because it is fleeting and it will fail you. Place your trust in the Rock that will sustain you through every trail, temptation, and discouraging situation. This type of living will allow the world to be able to see Jesus and know that He is the only hope.

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs