If I Loved Jesus, I Would …

Sunset at Guincho Beach (Cascais-Portugal) Photo by: Mark J Booth
Sunset at Guincho Beach (Cascais-Portugal) Photo by: Mark J Booth

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”  (John 21:16) This question addressed to Peter three times, is perhaps the most searching of all questions made by Jesus Christ.  This question also penetrates the deepest recesses of my soul.  Yes, I may say I love Jesus.  Yes, I may think I love Jesus, but do I truly love Him?  He first loved me, but am I loving Him in return?

  • If I loved Jesus, I would believe and trust in His Word..
  • If I loved Jesus, I would repent of my sin and accept Him as my Lord and Savior.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would enjoy walking with Him every day.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would pour out my heart to Him.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would enjoy opening up His Word and listening to Him every day.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would share His love with my family, friends and others.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would seek to please Him in all that I say, think and do.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would forgive others as He has forgiven me.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would obey Him, no matter the consequences.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would trust him with every area of my life.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would love others as He has loved me.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would serve Him wherever He would call me
  • If I loved Jesus, I would live each day to bring honor and glory to Him.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would love my wife, as He loves the church.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would raise my children to know Him and love Him.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would look forward to being with Him in heaven.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would quickly confess my sins unto Him.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would give him thanks for all of His blessings in my life.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would meditate upon His words, His titles and His attributes.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would be content and not have a complaining spirit.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would love His church, of which He is the Head.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would make him the priority relationship in my life..
  • If I loved Jesus, I would sing praises unto Him because He is worthy.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would seek His guidance in every decision I make.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would find refuge in Him during the trials of my life.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would learn to wait upon Him when I get impatient.
  • If I loved Jesus, I would cast all of my cares upon Him because He does care.

“Dear Lord Jesus, your love is beyond anything I can comprehend.  I don’t deserve to be loved by you. You have been extremely patient and merciful unto me.  As I reflect upon my love for you, I can see that I have fallen far short of loving you with all of my heart, my soul and my mind.  I know that you are easy to love; and yet I find it so difficult to love you as I ought.  My selfishness, my pride, my desires and my lack of faith keep me from pouring out my love to you.  Please forgive me for my lack of love towards you. Thank you for not quitting on me. Thank you for your continued work in my life.  Thank you for the fact that one day when I see you face to face, I will love you as I ought.  Though I know my love is incomplete now, I want to say: “I love you, Lord.”

Have I Forgotten Him?

The Canadian Rockies-Photo By: Mark J. Booth

During this time of year, everybody is busy.  Maybe, we are too busy.  We can easily forget Jesus Christ in all that we are doing.  Jesus longs to keep us close to Himself.  He longs to walk with us daily.  We get busy with family, friends, work, and even church and we can quickly forget Jesus Christ.

  • I look for salvation, but I forget the Savior.
  • I look for comfort, but I forget the Comforter
  • I look for blessings, but I forget the One who Blesses.
  • I look for promises, but I forget the Promised One
  • I look for guidance, but I forget the Guide.
  • I look for provision, but I forget the Provider
  • I look for protection, but I forget the Protector
  • I look for love, but I forget the Lover of My Soul.
  • I look for strength, but I forget the All-Powerful One.
  • I look for peace, but I forget the Giver of Peace.

The early church also had a tendency to forget the Lord Jesus Christ.   The Book of Revelation was written to seven churches.  Five of these churches showed some definite signs of forgetting Jesus.  Here is a verse that can refocus our thoughts and affections upon Our Lord Jesus Christ.  “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Revelation 1:5)

1. Jesus Christ is Our Deliverer.  “And from Jesus Christ”  The name “Christ” is the word “Messiah” in Greek.  This word has the idea of deliverer.  Jesus came to deliver us from sin, death, and the devil.  We no longer have to live under the penalty and dominion of sin because we have a new life in Jesus Christ.  We have new life in order to pursue a close love relationship with Jesus Christ.

2. Jesus Christ is our Faithful Witness.  “who is the faithful witness”. Jesus came to earth primarily to die on the cross for our sin; however, He also came to teach us the truth.  Through Him, we learn the truth about God, ourselves, the future, the way of salvation, and many other important subjects.  Our relationship with Christ enables us to see God and life more clearly.

3. Jesus Christ is the Conqueror of Death. “the first begotten of the dead”.   As a pastor, I have done many funerals.  These funerals are sad occasions; yet because of Christ’s resurrection, we know that there is hope.  Death, for the believer in Christ, is the doorway to the presence of the Lord and Heaven.  We don’t need to fear death when we walk with the One who conquered death.  

The Garden Tomb-Jerusalem: Photo by Mark J. Booth

4. Jesus Christ is Sovereign.  “the prince of the kings of the earth.” Jesus is greater than  any earthly ruler.  No matter what happens in our nation, we know that Jesus is ultimately in control.  One day, Jesus Christ will return to earth to reign over all those who have believed upon Him.  The whole Book of Revelation is about the events before and after His coming.   No matter what happens in our lives, we can remember that Jesus is ultimately in control.

5. Jesus Christ is the Source of Love.  “Unto Him that loved us,”  We don’t deserve His love; yet He loves us.  The more we know Him, the more we will understand His love and the ways of His love.  When we are full of anxiety, fear, discontentment and discouragement, these are signs that we have forgotten Jesus Christ and His great love for us. 

6. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World.  “And washed us from our sins in his own blood.”  As the song writer wrote: “Nothing can wash away my sins, but the blood of Jesus.”  Jesus took our place on the cross.  His love is a love of action.  He not only tells us that He loves us, but He showed His love by dying on the cross for our sins.  He alone saves us from our sin. “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

Many in the early church were religious, but they had forgotten Jesus Christ.  Have we forgotten Him?  Have we forgotten all that He is and has done?  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

“Dear Lord, I have the tendency to forget you amidst all that goes in my life.  I may seek what you can give me, but I forget you.  Help me, to seek you above all else.  Thank you for all that you are and all that you have done. Amen”

Five Things that Will not Change after Today’s Election

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Election Day is finally here. The money has been spent by the candidates,  The commercials are done.  The phone calls have ended.  Now, it is up to the American people to decide who will lead our nation for the next four years.

Tomorrow, there will be joy for many people and there will be sadness for many others. Whether your candidate wins or loses, it is important that we remember that the most important things in life will not change after today.

1. Jesus Christ has not changed. He is still the Savior of the world.  He is still the Good Shepherd that cares for His sheep.  He still is “the way, the truth and the life.”  Our presidents change, governmental policies change, but Jesus Christ is our Rock who will never change.  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:7)

2. The Word of God has not change.  The laws of our land may change.  The Supreme Court may uphold laws or reject them. However in the midst of our changing laws, God’s Word never changes.  The promises of God do not change.  The doctrines of the Word of God do not change.  The Word of God should always remain in our hearts. “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97)

3. The Promise of Christ’s Second Coming has not changed.  One day, there will be no elections. There will be only one ruler, Jesus Christ.  The promise of His coming is seen throughout the Word of God.  “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”  (Revelation 19:16)  When Jesus reigns, it will be with total righteousness!

4. The Mission of the Church has not changed.  The mission of the church is not to change society by political means.  We often get carried away with politics that we forget that our main mission is to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christ’s final command has not changed.  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  (Matthew 28:19) The Gospel changes people, but we mustn’t let people change the Gospel.

5. God’s plan for the family has not changed.   Our laws may change concerning marriage, but we can still follow what God’s Word says concerning our family.  Yes, husbands and wives are to love another. We can still be committed to the permanance of our own marriage. The family can still worship the Lord together. The family can still be a place of learning about the Lord and life itself.  God’s view and purpose for your family will not change after this election.  

No matter who wins the election tonight, I am fully confident that God is on the throne.  His Word has not changed.  His plan has not changed.  This is a great time to put our focus back on those things that are above.  “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God!”

‘Dear Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you.  I do not what the future holds for my life or for our nation, but I do know that your ways are best.  Help me, to surrender my heart completely unto you. Amen”

Enjoying Life or Enduring Life?

Evening Sky-Photo by: Mark J. Booth

The jail cell was damp and cold.  The quality of the food was dismal.  The Apostle Paul didn’t know if he would soon be executed.  How could he enjoy life in the midst of such dismal circumstances?

The Apostle Paul faced many trying times in his life, but he enjoyed life instead of enduring life.  Many of us no longer enjoy life. We complain about our circumstances. Self-pity controls our thought patterns.  Anxiety keeps us from enjoying God’s presence.  We have the idea that enjoying life is based upon our circumstances.  Paul’s circumstances were dismal in the Roman jail; yet he enjoyed his life.  Let’s look at why Paul enjoyed life even while he was suffering in a Roman jail.

1. Paul enjoyed his life because he had a purpose in life.  “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:1)

Many people don’t have a life purpose.  They have a vague idea that they should be doing something for themselves, for their family. and for their community; however, they have no real purpose.  Paul enjoyed his life because he had a purpose!  His purpose was to serve His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Paul enjoyed life because he knew that he belonged to the King of Kings. Paul wasn’t pulled in many different directions.  He received his directions from Christ.  He even understood that his time in prison was for the glory of His Master.  He wrote in another letter.  “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ”.   We will enjoy life when we live each day in light of the fact that “I am a servant of Jesus Christ”.

2. Paul enjoyed his life because he experienced God’s grace and peace.  “Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:2)  

Paul wasn’t alone in his jail cell.  The Lord was with him.  Paul enjoyed his life because he was aware of God’s presence even in the most difficult of times.  God’s grace enabled Paul not only to survive in his trials, but also to thrive.  God’s peace gave him the knowledge that no matter what was happening in his life, God was in control.  We enjoy  life when we experience God’s grace and peace in even the greatest storm of our life.

3. Paul enjoyed his life because he invested his life in others“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,” (Philippians 1:3)

Even in prison, Paul was ministering to others.  He wrote his letter to the believers at Philippi to encourage them.  He was willing to sacrifice his life for others.  He prayed for others.  He shared the Word of God with others.  He loved others.  Paul didn’t focus upon his problems, but he used his problems as a means of ministering to others.  There is great enjoyment in seeing God use us in the lives of others.  We minister to others through our testimony, our prayers, our words of encouragement, our expressions of love, and our sharing the truths of God’s Word.

4. Paul enjoyed his life, because he understood that his trials brought glory to God.  “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12)

Paul’s time in jail was part of God’s overall plan.  God used Paul as a witness to the many people with whom he came into contact.  God also used Paul’s imprisonment to encourage other believers to go out and share the gospel.  God doesn’t allow things to enter into our lives for our harm, but for the good of ourselves and others.  We can enjoy life when we surrender to God’s purpose for our trial.

5. Paul enjoyed his life because he knew the future.  “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Paul showed joy even in facing death, because he knew that death was the door through which he would enter heaven.  We enjoy our life on earth when we live for Christ and keep our focus upon the eternal reward that waits for us in heaven.  When we live our lives for ourselves, our focus is upon this life alone.  Paul saw the big picture, do we?

“Dear Lord, I often feel as though I am enduring life.  I focus on my problems.  I focus on my needs.  I focus on the faults of others. Thank you for Paul’s example to me of a man who enjoyed his life in spite of the dire circumstances he faced.  Please help to enjoy my life in you regardless of the circumstances that I face. Thank you for your great patience and love towards me.  Amen”

Making the Debates Personal

Photo by: The Washington Post

The first two debates are now history.  The debates have been helpful to hear the candidates and learn their positions.  They have also been helpful to see how the candidates interact with each other. Many people have written about the debates, but no one has asked the question:  “What can we learn about ourselves from the debates?”  Here are several questions that we can ask to help us make these debates personal.

1. What is the most important thing in my life? 

The debates, thus far, have focused a lot upon our economy.  The candidates in their own way are saying that money is the most element for being a happy, contented citizen. Is this correct? God says:  “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

When money becomes the main focus in our life, it keeps us from focusing upon God.  Jesus understood this when He said:  “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
The Lord desires our focus to be upon Him, anything else can quickly become an idol in our life.

2. Do I have a fear of man or a fear of God? 

The candidates use the debates to state their positions to please a certain group of people.  The candidates develop a fear of man because they are looking for votes.  We can often be controlled by the fear of man as well.  The Bible says: “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25) The fear of man keeps us from pleasing God.  It keeps us from serving God fully.

True freedom is found when we have a fear of God instead of a fear of man.  When we fear God, He is the one that we need to please. “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:7) Unlike the politicians, the opinion of others should not enslave our thoughts and actions.  We find true freedom in submission to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

3. Do I build people up or do I tear them down?

The debates have illustrated the great art of tearing down another person to build up one self.  We find this to be great entertainment.  We cheer for “our side” to win.  Is it Biblical to tear down another person?  Is this pleasing to God?  Do we have the habit of running over people?  There are many examples in the Bible of people who made it their goal to tear people down.  Ahab hated Elijah.  Saul was out to get David.  Satan wanted to destroy Jesus’ ministry.

Unlike the candidates, we are to seek to build up others.  The word “discourage” has the idea of taking the heart out of a person.  Encouragement means “to put the heart into a person” Barnabas was a biblical character who encouraged others.  He encouraged the early church by his example. He encouraged Paul by befriending him.  He encouraged the church at Antioch by his teaching.  He encouraged John Mark by helping to restore him after his failure.  Love means to encourage others.  We don’t see a lot of love in the debates, but do we see this love and encouragement in our own lives?

4. Am I self-centered or God-centered?

By listening to the debates, you would think that Americans are the most self-centered people in the world.  Our politicians keep trying to pander to what each of us wants.  They appeal to our selfish nature.  I haven’t heard President Kennedy’s quote: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

It is easy for a Christian to develop this attitude of self-centeredness in this culture: however Christ has called his disciples to a life of self-denial.  “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.” (Matthew 16:24).  Our lives are to be centered upon Christ.  Our goal is not to follow our desires, but His will. 

5. Am I more concerned about my physical well-being or my spiritual well-being?

One of the greatest issues of the debates and this campaign is the health care crisis in this nation.  Yes, we do have crisis in America concerning our health care. The physical health of Americans in general is quite poor.  However, the greatest crisis is not the physical well-being of Americans, but our spiritual well-being.

How healthy am I spiritually is a question, that we often neglect.  God is very concerned about our spiritual health.  He has given us His Word as food that will nourish our soul.  Here are some questions to help us evaluate our spiritual health:

  • Do I truly desire to walk with God daily?
  • Do I read the Bible with an open heart and mind?
  • Am I quick to obey the commands of Christ?
  • Do I quickly confess my sins to God?
  • Do I love God with all of my heart?
  • Do I love others as God loves me?

There are two more debates in this election cycle.  However, let’s not just look at President   Obama and Governor Romney in these debates, but also we need to think about our own lives and our relationship with God

“Dear Lord, I am thankful that I live in a nation in which I can worship you freely.  I also thank you for the great salvation that I have in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to view this life from your perspective.  Help me to center my life upon you because it is easy to take my focus from you.  While you are working in my life, please guide the leaders of our nation to make wise decisions. Amen”

A Sunny Way to Start the Day(Psalm 19)

The early morning sky over Sydney, Australia: Photo by: Mark J. Booth

How we begin each day not only affects us, but also affects those around us.  How can we start the day in the right way?  In Psalm 19, God shares the example of one of His greatest creations, the sun.  The sun as it begins each day teaches us many lessons.

Once, Sharon and I had the joy of staying a couple of days in a bed and breakfast on the shores of Lake Huron.  One morning, we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise over the lake.  The sunrise brought the hope of a new day. It brought a renewed sense of the glory of God, and caused us to reflect anew upon the beauty of God’s creation.

A sunrise is one of God’s masterpieces.  Psalm 19:4-6 says: “In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,  Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it:and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.”

The sun begins the day with great joy and purpose.  It fulfills God’s plan every day. Also, it brings warmth to all of us who live upon the earth.  The sun glorifies God in all that it does.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament showeth his handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1)
What about us?  How can we live each day like the sun? How can we bring glory to God?

The heavens declaring God’s Glory from the sky: Photo by: Mark J. Booth

1. The sun rejoices as it begins each new day.  (“Rejoiceth as a strong man”)
How do we begin our day?  Do we begin the day with dread?  Do we begin the day with anger?  Do we begin the day with a complaining spirit?  Have we tried rejoicing as a way to start the day?  Our joy is not based upon circumstances, but upon our relationship with Jesus Christ.  A joyful start to the day will help us through the difficulties of the day, will bring glory to God, and will brighten the lives of other people.

2. The sun fulfills God’s purpose for each day.  (“His circuit unto the ends of it”)
The sun willingly performs the task that God has given unto it.  The sun doesn’t complain.  It doesn’t get praise.  It doesn’t doubt God’s plan.  How about God’s purpose for our lives?  Are we seeking to fulfill God’s plan for our lives?  God has a great plan for each of us.  It began with our salvation in Jesus Christ and will continue for all eternity.  Daily, we have a choice: “Will I fulfill God’s plan for my life, or will I fulfill my plan for my life?”

3. The sun ministers unto others. (“There is nothing hid from the heat thereof”)
The sun brings warmth, light and a sense of beauty to all of us.  Every day, we have an opportunity to bring warmth into the lives of those around us.  We can encourage others with our words and actions.  We can share God’s love with those that God brings into our lives.  Every day is an opportunity to brighten the lives of those around us.

Each new day is a gift from God.  We have the opportunity to rejoice in the Lord, to follow God’s plan and to brighten the lives of others.  Don’t let the clouds of fear, doubt, anger and self-pity keep you from shining brightly before God and others.  Whose life will you brighten today?