NEW BOOK: “Jesus Is…”

Kindle & Paperback Editions

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Ryan+Stratton+jesus+is&ref=nb_sb_noss

“Who do you say Jesus is? Some say he was just a good person. Some say he was a prophet. Others say he didn’t exist. CS Lewis says, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He’d be either a lunatic on a level with a man who says he’s a poached egg or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” It is important for us to know who Jesus is because this is who we are being formed into. We are not forming Jesus into ourselves, but rather he is recreating us to make us into his image.

This 8 chapter book goes over the big moments of Jesus’ life to help us see how the life of Jesus is still impacting our life today. The next time you’re asked “Who is Jesus?” you can have some answers to help people understand the power of the Risen Christ that is with us always and who is giving us our identity.”

Being Known

Read Acts 9:32-43 here.

What would you like to be known for? This is something I believe we all think about more than we care to admit. Now, I’m not talking about how we want to be remembered after was pass away and move on to life eternal. I’m talking about here and now. How would you like people to talk about you? To know you?

We see this all the time. People want to be known for something, so they’ll start a new business, donate to charity, be active in church, write, work in certain jobs. It is important to us, at least on some level, for us to be known. We want to be the people others come to. But we should be careful too. If we are trying to be known for something, it is too easy to be jealous for what we perceive other people to have, strive to be perfect and refuse to show imperfection, work more for ourselves than for our family or improving society.

As we grow in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ and commit our work to Him, suddenly what we do have greater purpose and joy. It is incredible how God uses the work we do to bring Him glory and give us everything we need. Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.” (CEB) and Proverbs 16:3 states, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (NIV).

Continuing on with our study through the book of Acts, we come back to the Apostle Peter. Peter as committed his life to the Jesus Christ. He has committed all of his work as well. There was no separate designation because Peter knew that his entire life is better lived when it’s lived with and for Jesus Christ.

Too often we miss that point. We can go on thinking and living in ways that say we are working for a purpose and what we do after work is for another purpose. To be known in our communities is to understand that everything we do is connected. For example, if at our “job” we do not smile, are not happy, undermine or talk bad about our co-workers, it will be difficult for people to believe you can do great things in your free time. On the other hand, if we work hard (whether we like our job or not), are courteous, give praise where it’s due, etc., people will gravitate toward that attitude.

Peter had challenges with his pride before Jesus was crucified. But now, we come to the book of Acts and see his life radically transformed. He has a greater mission and purpose within himself and it is played out in his everyday life. When he is around, word gets around.

Because of Peter’s life, and his dedication to live his life for Christ, he has become a person known for his love of others. He has become known as a person you can trust, count on, and call to be with you in times of heartache and grief.

In the end, what is more important: having someone with you to help encourage and build you up, or having someone guide you to be able to be the materially wealthiest person out there? Often times, if we live for a greater purpose than just ourselves, we find we are better known and people come to Christ because of the lives we live.

Revisit the passage today and see how Peter was known in the areas he travelled. I challenge you to think about if you are known for doing good? If so, what?

Peter did not get that way over night. He committed his life to following Jesus Christ which led him to experience incredible joy and work he would never imagined would be possible.

 

 

Lacking One Thing

Mark 10:17-22 CEB “As Jesus continued down the road, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except the one God. You know the commandments: Don’t commit murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Don’t cheat. Honor your father and mother.” “Teacher,” he responded, “I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. He said, “You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.” But the man was dismayed at this statement and went away saddened, because he had many possessions.”

This is a story I am sure we are very familiar with. Most of us, my guess is, have heard this in relation to sacrificing ourselves and our possessions to follow Christ. But, what if there is another layer we should look at? What is there is a deep truth here about the human condition and about us? Let’s look at what’s going on here.

A rich young man comes along to Jesus, kneels down, and asked what is necessary for eternal life. We have to pause here and see what “eternal life” is. We hear it mainly as a place and state of being we will be after we pass on from this life into life eternal – being in the eternal presence of God. This is partly true; but there is also the aspect of eternal life here and now which is the quality of life we can have and live in knowing the presence and Kingdom of God all around us.

After this, he goes on to say that he has kept all of the commandments from when he was a little boy. Jesus then tells the man, “you lack one thing.” If we’re paying attention to the commandments listed, we can see they only refer to the last 6, the ones that deal with human interactions with each other. He has completely left out one thing – God!

When Jesus doesn’t mention the first four commandments, we shouldn’t assume those didn’t matter. Instead, Jesus asks the man to do something that relates to his heart. Jesus asks the man to give up his possessions and then follow Christ. The man goes away sad because he had many possessions.

Have you felt this way? Are you in a position to understand the feelings of the man? Jesus doesn’t tell everyone to sell their possessions, but he does ask the man about his heart, about who his “god” really is.

We all can hold on to possessions or worldly honors. Possessions in and of themselves are not necessarily bad; but we can miss out on the Kingdom of God by holding on to something too tight. What do you think you’re holding on to that needs to be released so you can experience the Kingdom of God here and now?

Pride?

Arrogance?

Money?

Particular views?

Status?

Through this interaction, Jesus still loved the man. Jesus loves you and is with you too!

I invite you right now to pray and ask God what you’re holding on to and see what He says. We may want to walk away sad. It can be painful; but life in the Kingdom is incredible.

Click here for Sunday’s sermon “Where’s Your Heart” (Mark 10:17-31)

Normal Life

Mark 10:1 “Jesus left that place and went beyond the Jordan and into the region of Judea. Crowds gathered around him again and, as usual, he taught them.”

This month we are looking at the 10th chapter in the Gospel of Mark. As we begin this new series, I invite you to open your heart and see what God may be speaking to you through the Scripture. (Click here for the sermon on Mark 1:1-16)

Reading through Mark 10 and you can see some difficult passages. Divorce, adultery, rich man told to leave behind possessions, figuring out who is the greatest and a blind beggar.

But today, we get to pause in the first verse.

Think about your normal day. What does it involve? Waking up, breakfast, going to work, lunch, going home, dinner, trying to relax, bed, and then start all over? Any memorable conversations?

I think what we do in our day to day lives is of more importance than anything we do. Our habits are formed, health, etc. These are the moments when we are living real life. Life is the little moments we do daily. We do not have to go out of our way to say we’re “living life.”

I love the line, “And crowds gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he taught them.” Jesus’ “normal” life was being surrounded by people. It was very hard to schedule who he could meet with because you never knew who would show up. But he did not let that stop him. His details he had to do each day were in the midst of talking and teaching people. He taught them about the Kingdom of God.

Imagine how our lives would be if we made this our priority. Everything we do would certainly give God glory (like Colossians 3:17 says it should); and we would lead people to see and experience the Living God.

Jesus’ “normal” day was not written in a schedule, it was being where he needed to be. We have our days scheduled, but what if the people we meet with and talk with are the very people God had scheduled for us to meet? Maybe we need to hear what they have to say. Maybe, just maybe, our normal day is more special than we realize.