Journey With Jesus – Go The Extra Mile

Love your enemy

Journey With Jesus

Go The Extra Mile

In most parts of the United States, there is more than enough work for anyone willing to work. My friend JuanJohn Bayardo proved this by traveling through every state in the United States looking for work. He documented his adventure in the book, “Gigs Across America.”

Human resources are often the highest cost to a company. So, companies need good employees who provide at least as much value to the company as they cost.

For a company to thrive, they need exceptional employees who contribute more value than they cost. They need employees who will go the extra mile and encourage other employees to do the same. These kinds of employees are called fully engaged employees because they don’t just work for a paycheck. They are inspired by the purpose of the organization and will go the extra mile to help the organization achieve their goals.

      • A fully engaged salesperson is likely to sell just as hard on Friday afternoon as on Monday morning.
      • An engaged customer service rep will try just as hard to delight a customer at the end of their shift as they did at the beginning.
      • A software developer who is fully engaged will leave the code they are working on cleaner than it was when they started.
      • An engaged factory worker will most likely have fewer accidents, be more productive, and produce fewer quality defects.

Fully engaged employees win the hearts of customers. A company with a highly engaged workforce usually has customers who are loyal and will stay as customers for a lifetime. Those customers refer others to the company and referrals become customers.

Jesus taught that his followers should go the extra mile in everything they do to win the favor of others and stand out. When you do, you will also be sharing your faith through your actions and eventually win the opportunity to share your faith through your words.

Jesus used the extra mile concept to encourage us to love and forgive others when they intend to harm us (Matthew 5:38-41). He used the extra mile concept to encourage us to give more than is being demanded of us or when someone else is in need and we have the means to fulfill that need (Matthew 5:42).

When you go the extra mile, you fulfill the second greatest commandment to love others as you love yourself. It is not natural for us to go the extra mile. Only God can give us the supernatural strength to love as He does.

So instead of planning vengeance when you are wronged, pray for those who hurt you. And if anyone demands restitution from you, give them more than they demand. When someone has a need that you can fulfill or wants to borrow from you, give them more than they requested. When you do this, you will show them the love of Jesus that is living in you.

Where do you draw the line between your rights and the responsibility as a follower of Jesus to forgive?

When was a time when you witnessed love overcome evil?

How can doing good result in a positive outcome when you are faced with a negative situation?

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?

2. What are you going to do about it?

3. Who are you going to tell?

© 2022 In The Image of God 

Journey With Jesus – Keep Your Word

Keep Your Word

Journey With Jesus

Keep Your Word

At the time of this writing, trust in positions of authority in the United States government and justice system that were once revered for their integrity has been shattered. On nationally broadcast news programs, senior members of the FBI and Supreme Court nominees who claim to have integrity one moment and swear to tell the truth tell a bold face lie the next moment.

Even in ordinary conversations, it is common for people to say, “I swear to God,” or “in all honesty…” when they want to emphasize that what they are about to say is the real truth.

It is hard to know who is telling the truth when the idea of truth has become so distorted.

This kind of behavior is not new to our day. People have been breaking sworn oaths since the beginning of time. God knew that no nation could survive unless its system of justice was incorruptible. So, God addressed integrity in multiple places in the law.

In the Ten Commandments, God specifically addressed it when He said, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16 (NIV)).” He addressed it again when He said, “Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God…(Leviticus 19:12 (NIV)).” And, again He addressed it when He said, “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said (Numbers 30:2 (NIV)).”

When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, he directed us to be honest in our private dealings as well as our public statements.

Knowing that deception had become a way of life for many people, Jesus said God’s people must not give in to it. Jesus was saying if you always speak the truth, there shouldn’t be a need to swear an oath.

We break this command of Jesus by neglecting to tell the whole truth when we leave something out of a story. We break this command when we tell a fabricated version of the truth or a complete falsehood.

God warns us against deception. Even though deception is a way of life for many people, God’s people must not give in to it!

Jesus said your word alone should be enough.

How truthful is your word?

In what situations do you find yourself swearing or using phrases like, “in all honesty” or “to tell the truth?”

Why is it inappropriate to swear on God’s name?

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?

2. What are you going to do about it?

3. Who are you going to tell?

© 2022 In The Image of God 

Do Not Commit Adultery

Adultery

Journey With Jesus

Do Not Commit Adultery

I was searching for a brother in Christ who I had not seen for over a decade. I could not find his status on any of the social media channels I knew he was on in the past. I began to wonder if he had died and all his social media accounts were closed. Then, I learned that he fell victim to the pull of pornography. This pull was so strong that he was lured into areas that are not accepted even in these sexually liberal days. The reason I could not find him is because he was arrested.

The seventh of the Ten Commandments given in the Old Testament is, “You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).” In the Old Testament, there are several ways that a man could commit adultery. They all include having physical sexual relations with a woman who is not the man’s wife.

Jesus expanded the definition of adultery to include any lustful thoughts or fantasies toward a person who is not your spouse. Jesus said, ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).” Jesus was saying that the desire to have sex with someone who is not your spouse is the same as the physical act. He emphasized that the intention is the same as the act.

Jesus is not condemning the natural interest that men and women have in each other. He is condemning the deliberate filling of your mind with fantasies that, if acted out, would be a violation of the Old Testament definition of adultery. Like all sin, adultery in Jesus context is allowing a temptation to lead to a desire to commit adultery even if the desire does not lead to a physical act.

Left unstopped, a wrong desire will lead to a wrong action and end up turning a person away from God in shame.

This is why pornography and premarital sex are so damaging. Before I was married, I had premarital sex. In college, pornography was all over the fraternity house for which I was a member. The memory of those premarital sexual encounters and pornographic images are permanently etched in my brain. It took me years to get to a place where I could banish them from my consciousness. When they try to resurface, I have to call on the Holy Spirit to give me other thoughts.

Jesus knew the damage that lustful looks can cause. That’s why he said, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell (Matthew 5:29-30).” We know he was speaking figuratively because even if you remove your eyes and limbs, your lustful thoughts will still remain.

What form of adultery do you struggle with today? Is it pornography? Is it lusting over a woman or man who is not your spouse? Do you flirt with a person who is not your spouse? Even if they are only in your heart, Jesus commands you to bring them to him so he can help you eliminate them. 

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?

2. What are you going to do about it?

3. Who are you going to tell?

© 2022 In The Image of God 

Journey With Jesus – Settle Disputes Amicably

Settle Disputes Amicably

Journey With Jesus

Settle Disputes Amicably

Matthew 5:23-25. 1 John 4:20

A Christian businessman made a business decision that he thought, at the time, was in the best interest of his employees. When the economy took a downturn, the decision ended up negatively affecting the balance of all his employee’s retirement accounts. This man admitted his mistake to his employees and committed to make restitution.

One of his employees, who was also a Christian, brought charges against the businessman. The new state prosecutor, looking to make a name for himself, decided to charge the businessman with the maximum penalty which included spending time in prison.

The time away from his family and the emotional distress after his release from prison ended up having a devastating affect on the business man’s marriage, family, and some professional relationships.

Jesus’ directive to the employee in this situation was “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:20-21).”

Jesus’ directive to the businessman before the court proceedings began was, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court (Matthew 5:25).”

In this case, the businessman attempted to settle the matter out of court. The employee saw the error in his actions and attempted to drop the charges. But, the prideful state prosecutor, who was intent on strengthening his name, insisted on proceeding with the case against the businessman.

The businessman served time in prison. The time away from his family and the emotional battle to rebuild his life after being released destroyed his marriage and marred his relationship with his children.

Jesus’ message to both men after this ordeal was “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-25).”

After realizing what his action did to the businessman, the employee sought to reconcile with the business man. The businessman did accept the employee’s apology but their relationship will never be the way God intended it to be on this side of eternity.

Why is it preferable for two people who love Jesus to quietly resolve conflicts rather than battle over them publicly? In this case, the two men had a relationship that was furthering the Kingdom of God on earth before the employee took the matter to court. They could have done other great things together. They could have weathered the economic storm together and built the business into a business that sought the welfare of the city (Jeremiah 29:7) and brought glory to God. Instead, a business, businessman and family were broken. The regional press from the court case tainted the name of the businessman. It also discredited God’s name when people who knew the two men were Christians were exposed to this case. 

Why is settling a dispute out of court better than a judge’s decision? Court battles are messy, time-consuming, and expensive. The cost can be more than financial. In this case, it cost a marriage and family. It took an emotional toll on the businessman, his wife and his children who had to be without their husband and father during an important time in their life.

Taking a dispute to court also causes a great divide between the two parties that may never heal until the two parties are in heaven. Even small disagreements that may not end up in court stand a better chance of being resolved peacefully if they are dealt with right away.

What unsettled disputes are keeping you and another believer from living fully for God’s glory?

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?

2. What are you going to do about it?

3. Who are you going to tell?

© 2022 In The Image of God 

Journey With Jesus – Honor God’s Law

Ten Commandments

Journey With Jesus

Honor God's Law

Recently, I met with a group of men for a regular bible study. To answer a study question, I discussed what I was learning while writing about the Ten Commandments. I explained that I was writing about the relevance of the Ten Commandments today. Some of the men graciously said that since we are saved through grace alone, the Ten Commandments don’t matter much. 

The same week, I was reading a book by a well-known pastor from China. One chapter from that book bothered me. He was trying to convey that God’s grace is sufficient for us. His point was that the old covenant (laws) could not accomplish what the new covenant (Jesus’ sacrificial death) could. 

I agree with him up to that point. The commandments of God were given to us to reveal our need for a savior. Following the commandments will not save us. Our salvation comes only through faith in Jesus. 

I disagree with the statement in the author’s thesis that “God found fault with the old covenant of law.” And that “God’s Word tells us in no uncertain terms that the covenant of Moses is antiquated and obsolete.”

The author uses the following scripture verses to support his claim that God found fault with the Old Testament commandments and that they are antiquated and obsolete.  

“By calling this covenant “new,” He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear (Hebrews 8:13)”

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second (Hebrews 8:7).”

If the verses from Hebrews were the only verses on this subject, I would agree that the Bible is saying the Old Testament laws are antiquated and we can disregard them. However, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19).”

Jesus’ point was, the Old Testament laws were never meant to save anyone. God’s plan from the beginning was that the Old Testament laws, which we could never fully obey, were intended to point us to the need for a savior. That savior is Jesus. His sacrifice provided all people a way to be saved by faith alone. Jesus was also saying the Ten Commandments and his elaboration on them have as much relevance now as they did before he came to save us. 

What is the basis of your eternal salvation? Are you following the law or following the Savior?

What do you think Jesus meant when he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (Matthew 5:17)?”

What do you think Jesus meant when he said, “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:18)?”

If you agree that Jesus is saying the Old Testament laws still have value, what will you do to understand their full intent?

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?

2. What are you going to do about it?

3. Who are you going to tell?

© 2022 In The Image of God 

Journey With Jesus – Let Your Light Shine

Let Your Light Shine

Journey With Jesus

Let Your Light Shine

God, in His infinite mercy, has determined that I am a worthy vessel for Him to use to draw people to Himself through Jesus. Often, when I travel on airplanes, at work in the office, on a subway or just about anywhere, He will orchestrate a conversation between me and someone who needs to know Jesus. I am honored that He is willing to use me after the very stormy early adult life I lived.

I used to keep these supernatural encounters a secret because I did not want to be seen as prideful. Jesus said, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them … “ and “when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do …” (Matthew 6:1-5). At the time, I had a prideful heart and needed to heed these verses.

As the Holy Spirit changed my prideful heart, my motivations changed and I wanted to see God get the glory for what He did through me. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus said, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” This seems to contradict Matthew 6:1-5, but it does not.

When your heart tends to be prideful, you need to be very careful not to practice your righteous deeds so that others can see them. When your heart is in this state, their complements will go to your head and you will take the glory yourself rather than give it to God.

When your heart is in the right place, Jesus wants you to let your good deeds shine so others can see them and you can give glory to God for them. Jesus goes further and says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).”

When my heart was humbled and God started using me regularly to share the Good News, Gary Pauley, the pastor of the church I attended, encouraged me to share those stories to give glory to God and to encourage others to be open to God’s promptings to be the light of the world and let others see Jesus through them.

Where is your heart right now? If God were to use you in a way that glorifies Him, would you be more likely to accept the glory for yourself? Or, would you give it all to Him. He wants your heart to be humbled so He can use you to shine the light for all to see.

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?

2. What are you going to do about it?

3. Who are you going to tell?

© 2022 In The Image of God 

Journey With Jesus – Rejoice Always

Rejoice Always

Journey With Jesus

Rejoice Always

Kids can be cruel to each other. And so can adults. It is especially cruel when someone Is picked on because of their faith. In the beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:11-12).”

Just one verse before, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:11-12).” You will be ridiculed for taking an unpopular stand for the sake of righteousness. When this happens, Jesus is saying to rejoice about it. You are blessed because of your stance.

The apostle Paul explains all the hardships he encountered because of his faith in 2 Corinthians 6:3-9. Then, he says he was, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything (2 Corinthians 6:10).” He gave up everything to follow Jesus and to seek and save the lost. But, he saw that in giving up everything in this temporal life, he possessed everything that matters for all eternity. All for the glory of Jesus. Knowing this, he could rejoice always.

How do you need to change your thinking so that you can rejoice through all things?

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?

2. What are you going to do about it?

3. Who are you going to tell?

© 2022 In The Image of God 

Journey with Jesus – Do Not Worry

Don't Worry

Journey With Jesus

Do Not Worry

My wife and I know the kind of challenges that can cause people to worry. We had cause to worry when our son was going through a rebellious youth, when Jennifer had breast cancer and every time I am between consulting projects and there is no revenue coming in to my business. But, worry has never been as effective as prayer.

Worrying is feeling uneasy or overly concerned about a situation or problem. Excessive worrying, causes your mind to go into overdrive as you constantly focus on “what might happen.” According to the WebMD website, “Chronic worrying can affect your daily life so much that it may interfere with your appetite, lifestyle habits, relationships, sleep, and job performance. Many people who worry excessively are so anxiety-ridden that they seek relief in harmful lifestyle habits such as overeating, cigarette smoking, or using alcohol and drugs [1]“How Worry Affects Your Body,” https://www.webmd.com

Worrying leads to stress. Stress has been linked to several health problems. People who suffer from high levels of stress can be more prone to cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal issues, weight problems and even certain cancers. All of these medical conditions can compromise the quality of life and potentially shorten your lifespan.

When Jesus told his disciples he was about to go away, he said the Father was leaving them and all of us with the Holy Spirit who would teach us everything Jesus taught the disciples. He ended by saying, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).”

Regarding worry, Jesus said, worry cannot add a single hour to your life (Matthew 6:29). He assures us that God the Father is taking care of everything we need. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they (Matthew 6:25-26)?”

When you worry, you are saying I don’t believe God’s promise to take care of me. Or, you are doubting His capability.

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?

2. What are you going to do about it?

3. Who are you going to tell?

© 2022 In The Image of God 

Journey with Jesus – Follow Me

Walk with Jesus

Journey With Jesus

Follow Me

Do you ever struggle with the people you work with? I remember Marion, a woman who reported to me in my first professional management position. Because of her disposition, she terrified me. I did not enjoy checking on the status of her deliverables every day. Imagine my surprise and delight when one day she came to my office and said she accepted Jesus into her heart at a weekend church service that she was invited to attend.

Marion told me the way I loved her when she was unlovable and occasionally mentioned Jesus’ name is partially why she agreed to go to church with her friend that Sunday. She saw something different in me that she wanted. She associated it with my love for Jesus. It was my attempt to imitate or follow Jesus’ ways that caused Marion to be interested in going to church with her friend.

When Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee one day, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were fishermen, casting a net into the lake. They were not out for an afternoon of restful fishing. Fishing was their job.

Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me” … “and I will send you out to fish for people (Matthew 4:19-20).” Simon and Andrew already knew Jesus. He had talked to them previously (John 1:35-42) and had been preaching in the area. Because they saw something different in Jesus that they wanted for themselves, they immediately left their nets and followed Jesus. These two men left their jobs to follow Jesus and begin fishing for men.

In the same way, Jesus calls everyone who loves him to become fishers of men. For most of us, this does not mean leaving our job or business to become a full time evangelist or missionary. Jesus is asking all of us to make it a priority to be productive spiritually and fish for souls. If we learn to love others like Jesus, practice his teachings and share the Good News with others, we will be able to draw those around us to Jesus like a fisherman who pulls nets filled with fish into his boat.

Do you see the people you interact with daily as merely people? Or, do you see them as souls who are destined for an eternal residence in heaven or hell?

What if Jesus asked you to follow him and begin to fish for lost souls? Well, he did.

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?

2. What are you going to do about it?

3. Who are you going to tell?

© 2022 In The Image of God 

Journey with Jesus – Repent

Repentant Woman

Journey_With_Jesus

Have you ever said to your child, “Now tell them you are sorry”? Have you ever wondered how a friend could go without apologizing to you when they have wronged you? God expects the same from us. We may live under the grace of God that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, but God still expects us to say we’re sorry when we disobey Him.

The command to repent can be found at least 60 times in the Old Testament and more than 15 times in the New Testament. 

In the Old Testament, David and Solomon wrote about repentance. It is clear from the first verse of Psalm 51 that David understood forgiveness is an unmerited act of mercy on us because of God’s unfailing love for us. David continues to say that when he did not confess his sins, he was burdened by them. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon said, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Proverbs 28:13).”

In the New Testament repent was Jesus’ first command. At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, before he called his disciples, before he did any of his miracles, and before he preached any message, Matthew’s gospel records that Jesus preached, “… Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near (Matthew 4:17).” 

We all have a propensity to sin. The Bible says we have a sin nature. Because our sin is always before us (Psalm 51:3), there is a good chance you have unrepentant sin. David said when he had unrepentant sin, he lost the joy that he was meant to experience from being saved by Jesus (Psalm 51:12).”

Do you feel a distance between yourself and God? If so, you may be living with one or more sins that you have never taken to God with a repentant heart. God wants to restore the joy to you that is your birthright as a Christian. Do as David did. Ask God to reveal sin in your life. None of us knows our own heart as well as God does. Begin by praying something like David did asking God to reveal your sin to you. David said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:23-24).”

David prayed asking God to cleanse him of his sins and to change his heart’s desires which is the root of all sins. End your time of confession with a prayer similar to David’s prayer in Psalms 51 or 32. Then, rejoice that Jesus made it possible for you to be spotless in the sight of God.

The second beatitude says you are blessed when you mourn over your sins (Matthew 5:4). If you want to be blessed, take your sins to the Father. Repent and let them be washed completely clean by the blood of Jesus.

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?

2. What are you going to do about it?

3. Who are you going to tell?

© 2022 In The Image of God