Mark 13:5-6 ” Jesus said to them: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in My name, claiming I am He, and will deceive many.’ “

Before you can correctly spot something that’s a fake or counterfeit…you need to be able to readily identify what’s genuine and authentic.   That’s because, if you can easily recognize the real thing, a phony one won’t get past you.  In this verse Jesus is warning us of impostors…people claiming to come in His name,  but instead speaking delusional and deceptive words.   Jesus cautions us here that this is how many will be deceived…with empty words… coming from a worldly viewpoint… clothed in a spirit of falsehood.  How can this happen you ask?  Very easily, for if people don’t know the true nature and character of Jesus…if they’ve never heard the Good News of the Gospel and experienced Jesus in their own life… they won’t be able to recognize a fraud.

I Chronicles 29:17 ” I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity.”

David was known as a man after God’s own heart,  and in this prayer  we see him understanding that God examines the heart to determine the essential character of a person…especially integrity.  For David knew that the Lord took delight in those who conducted themselves in a upright, just, and fair manner towards others.

Romans 8:18 ” I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

For many of you today this Scripture may be difficult to accept.  That’s because today you’re right smack-dab in the middle of trials, suffering, loss, injury, or sickness…and the idea that any light and momentary trouble is achieving in you eternal glory that far outweighs any trouble you’re going through is just a little too hard to take. (II Corinthians 4:17)  Or that you should be rejoicing that you can participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. (I Peter 4:13)  In this verse God is not discounting your suffering…your loss…the traumatic experience you’re going through right now.  Rather, He understands and He’s giving you the  grace and endurance to persevere through it.

Genesis 50:15 ” When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?’ “

The brothers of Joseph had acted very abusively towards him… none of them denying the brutality he had been put through.  So now that their father, Jacob, was dead, the brothers were fearing the worst…that Joseph would  repay them for what they rightfully deserved.  And Joseph  could of easily put them to shame for all the wrongs they had done to him…but he chose not to.  To take the moral high road, to not repay evil with evil, to bless rather than curse can be a true testament of your faith.  For it shows to everyone that you’re a victor and not a victim.

Hebrews 7:25 ” Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.”

What does the Gospel mean to you?  I’ve been thinking about this all week in preparation for a meeting this Sunday.  To me, it boils down to Religion vs Relationship.  It’s the difference between ceremony and connection, liturgy and linkage, ritual and relationship.  For Religion is mostly man-made, piling on the things we can’t do…while a Relationship with Jesus Christ is about freedom.  It’s about freedom from sin and death and freedom from the Law we can never keep.  But the biggest difference between Religion and Relationship is this…Religion can’t save you.  Only Jesus Christ who lived a perfectly sinless life has the ability to bring you into His glorious Kingdom and eternal life…it’s only through Jesus that you can make your way back to God.

James 3:5 ” Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.”

In the world small things can have great power.  In the 3rd Chapter of James, he gives examples of a bit in a horse’s mouth, and a rudder of a ship.  And if I asked you what the deadliest animal in the world would be…would you guess a tiger, elephant, or maybe a rhino?  The real  answer is the tiny mosquito that carries Malaria and kills millions of people yearly.  Our tongue is one of the smallest parts of our body…but the power it has is potentially devastating.  For just like one spark can start a forest fire…one ugly slip of the tongue can destroy a life.

Psalm 33:10-11 ” The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

Psalm 2:1 asks the question, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain against the Lord?”  It’s because within the cunning imagination of man is that prideful idea that we can control our own destiny…but this all just vanity.  For God’s Will prevails over all… and He will carry out His plan and purpose for His glory.  We may think we know the answers…but only God can see from beginning to end and around every corner of life.