Daily Walk With God

My Daily Journey With God in Athens Ga.

The End of the Age – False Teachers

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Mar• 01•15

Matthew 24:3-5: As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.

As Jesus gives his final sermon before his death, he does so from the Mount of Olives, where his disciples “came to him privately” (Mt. 24:3). That they came to Jesus in private, in contrast to the Sermon on the Mount where great crowds gathered, indicates that this is a message for only the disciples and the future church. Matthew chapter 24 is Jesus’ Sermon on the Signs of the End of the Age.

Over the last month, I have been reading and studying Jesus’ teachings on the signs of the end of the age, especially Matthew chapter 24. I have read and studied this subject in the past, but the events that are unfolding in our world today, have made me even more committed to hearing again these words from Jesus. We live in an age where many of the prophetic signs revealed in the Bible are coming true.

Before I go any further, let me give you a word of caution. By studying this end of time passage, I am not attempting to make any predictions on when the end of the age will come. There have been many throughout history that have made predictions about when Jesus would return and over time they have been proven wrong. Jesus makes it clear that we are not to know or attempt to predict exact times of the end of the age. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mt. 24:36). Our mission, as followers of Christ, is to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). Spreading the Gospel message and showing people the way to Christ should always be our primary goal and mission as a Christian.

Jesus instructs his followers to “keep watch” (Mt. 24:42) and to continue being the “faithful and wise servant whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household” (Mt. 24:45). Because the day and hour of Christ’s return is unknown, we (the church) must be busy doing his work of spreading the Gospel throughout the world and bringing people to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. The church is called to be a faithful steward by correctly presenting the Gospel message of Christ.

The first warning that Jesus gives his followers (the church) is to be aware of those with false teachings. As the church today, we are to be constantly aware of any teaching that is not in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This passage warns us that false teachings are something that we must be constantly aware of as we live out our mission of leading others to Christ.

The false teachers that first come to my mind are those who proclaim the prosperity gospel; that if you follow their teachings you will prosper in every area of your life. False teachers attempt to take our focus away from the truth of the Gospel and entice us with a message that appeals to our materialistic and selfish desires. That seems to stand in stark contrast to the very words of Christ from Luke 9:23: Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” As faithful followers of Christ, we will, and can expect to face opposition in doing the work of Christ and spreading the Gospel message. We will be attacked by the forces of evil for trying to shine the light of Christ into a dark and sinful world. Following Jesus will not always be easy but it is the only way to eternal life.

There are many false teachers in the church today. When the church strays from the central Gospel message of Christ, be aware of false teachers. The problem with many leaders today is the desire to somehow preach the Gospel and yet conform to the world as well. The Gospel of Christ stands in direct opposition to the ways of the world that we live in. When church leaders preach a message that doesn’t match up with the Word of God, that person is a false teacher. Many teachers today are aware of the lack of scriptural knowledge of their followers so they distort the truth and tell people what they want to hear. Just because a congregation is large and growing doesn’t indicate the true teaching of the Gospel. It could be a sign that something other than the Gospel is being presented.

The first words from Jesus in this sermon are, “Watch out that no one deceives you” (Mt. 24:4). We are to be alert and know the Word of God in order to avoid being deceived. As the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy: For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). And in Matthew 24:5, Jesus cautions that many will “come in my name.” Jesus is warning us that this deception will come from within the church, from those who claim to be proclaiming the Gospel in Jesus’ name.

Understanding and reading scripture is the best defense against false teachers. As I stated earlier, many teachers today prey on the fact that many believers are scripturally incompetent. With so many things competing for our attention today, the daily reading of the Bible is something that many faithful Christians fail to do on a regular basis. Paul again tells us that we can know who the false teachers are by knowing and applying the Word of God. 2 Timothy 2:15: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Any believer that “correctly handles the word of truth” and regularly studies their Bible, can identify false teachers.

In the next post, we will look at the next sign from Jesus: wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes from Matthew 24: 6-8.

The Flock Under His Care

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Feb• 22•15

Psalm 95: 1-7 (NIV)

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

God is in control! Did you need to hear that word, that statement of fact today? God is in control! That was something that I needed to be reminded of today. Whatever circumstance or situation you face at this instant in your life, remember that God is in control of planet Earth and He is in control of your life as well. As the psalmist so eloquently phrases it: “…for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:7). If you hear nothing else today, please hear this: God loves you and He cares for you. He is aware of your situation at this very moment in time and if you will only trust and have faith in him, He will care for you. God loves you and He cares for you. As you read this passage from Psalm 95, I pray that you will be able to experience His love at this very moment in your life.

I woke up this morning and I was having a difficult time sensing God’s love and His care. As it happened a few days ago, I opened my Bible directly to a psalm that God led me to, it was Psalm 95. And as I began to read this psalm, my body began to literally shake and I experienced the most overwhelming sense of love and care from God that I have felt in some time. Sometimes it seems that God is so distant and other times you can know, from the very core of your being, that God exists and that you are a part of “the flock under his care.” Thanks be unto God for loving even a sinner like me! God is in control of this world and He is in control of your life as well. That’s the good news from God today – He is in charge of this world and everything in this world. Take that good news with you today and throughout your week. May God bless you and keep you and carry you in the days ahead.

Compassion

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Feb• 16•15

Matthew 9:35-36 (NIV)
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

We live in a society that puts an emphasis on the individual, as we are constantly bombarded with messages about taking care of ourselves first.  The “world” tells us that it’s perfectly fine to put our own desires and wishes ahead of meeting the needs of others. As believers in Christ, we must follow the example given by Jesus of being compassionate towards those in our midst who are “harassed and helpless.” We must make every effort, as followers of Christ, to find ways to show compassion to those in our community who so desperately need physical and spiritual healing.

Throughout the Gospels, we find that Jesus had compassion on all kinds of people. He healed the sick and those that were demon-possessed. Jesus had compassion on sinners and all sorts of social outcasts. He didn’t spend his time around the religious elite or powerful government officials or movie stars. Our Lord and Savior spend time with those who were lost and living in darkness. He spent time teaching, healing, and showing compassion to the “least” of society. He actually spend time talking with and listening to those whom society ignored.

That is the ministry model that Christ calls us to follow today. We can have a beautiful sanctuary in which to worship and we can have attractive buildings in which to have Sunday school and many other activities. But if we are not living out our faith and our calling by helping those in need and showing compassion to those that society has cast aside, then we are not truly living out our calling in Christ.

On the Day of Judgment we will not be asked how many church buildings we helped build or how much money we raised for the church budget. Rather, we will be held accountable for what we did for the least of our brothers and sisters who are homeless, hungry, living in darkness, sick or in prison, or who simply do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Jesus gave us a ministry model to follow. We are to show compassion to one another and to be aware of and care for the needs of others. We are called to see others the way Christ sees them. And in doing so, we can be a great witness to the free gift of salvation offered through belief in Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.

Please Hear Me Lord!

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Feb• 11•15

1 Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 3 have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.

5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.

I didn’t sleep well last night, or the night before. I woke up early this morning feeling beaten down, defeated, and miserable. I tried to remind myself that God “made this day” (Psalm 118:24) and that reality alone should fill me with joy and happiness, but it didn’t. Instead of opening up my Bible, I turned on the news and that only served to depress me further, as I began to question why so many good people must endure terrible suffering and horrific deaths. I turned off the television and sat down at the kitchen table and opened up my Bible to a random page. Psalm 86 was the place where my eyes were immediately drawn to, and as it often happens, this was a passage that I needed to read and reread this morning. For those of you that are hurting in some way today, I hope that this passage will give you the encouragement that you need to push forward in your daily walk with God.

Psalm 86:1: Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
In this psalm, a prayer of King David, the writer is crying out for God to “hear” him and to “answer” him. David acknowledges that he is “poor” in spirit and he needs God, who alone can carry him through this particular day. Like David, we want God to answer us and we want to believe that God hears us. However, when God is silent, we tend to struggle more with our anxieties and our worries. We know deep in our soul that we need God in order to just make it through one more difficult day.

Psalm 86:2: Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you.
Many of us pray daily for God to guard the lives of our family, I know that I certainly do. As I live out my life, attempting to remain faithful to God in all that I do, I also trust that God is continually watching over my family.

Psalm 86:3-4: Have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.
Many of us cry out to God for mercy throughout our day. We feel like the world that we live in is out to get us – constantly making our lives difficult, and at times – joyless. It is God and God alone, who can take away the pain and suffering of this world and bring joy and peace to our hearts. As believers, we trust that God always has our best interests in mind.

Psalm 86:5: You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
Like David, we must pray out of confidence that God, who is eternally good and loving, will answer our prayers. Still, our prayers may not be answered in the way that we had hoped, but they will be answered in the way that is best for us, because God cares for us and loves us and He will do what is best for us.

 
Psalm 86:6-7: Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.
We all have worries, doubts, and needs. It is out of those needs that we pray to God for mercy. As children of God, we know that we can call upon God during times of distress, confident that God will answer us. For me, that “answer” usually comes in a feeling of peace and comfort that God sends upon me. That is God’s way of letting me know that He is in control of my situation and will lift those burdens from me.

1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.”
This is the difficult part for me, to actually let go of my anxieties, my worries and my burdens and give them over to God. Is there a worry or a burden in your life that you need to release to God? He is waiting to take that burden from you and to give you the comfort and peace that only God can provide. It may take a while to heal from the burden that you have been carrying but know that God is there with you, every step of the way. Live out your life with the knowledge that God’s love is abounding and everlasting for those who are faithful and place their trust in Him.

The following song is one that I have shared before and I am doing so again. It just fits so perfectly with what I have written today about having a strong faith and trust in God. I hope that you will listen to the words of this song to give you further inspiration and encouragement in your daily walk with God. May God bless you and keep you in His care today and every day! Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Will, Not My Will

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jan• 29•15

Luke 22:39-44(NIV)
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

These words of Jesus from Luke have been in my thoughts and prayers for several weeks now: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). I ask myself if I have the courage to pray this prayer in my own life. Jesus was aware that the “cup” he is speaking of, would be his suffering on the cross. Jesus knew that the way of the cross would be filled with intense suffering and anguish. He was praying to God, asking for another way, but still willing to take the “cup” that was before him. “Yet not my will, but yours be done.”

The Gospel writer Matthew tells us that the mother of two disciples of Jesus, asks him for her sons to sit at the right and left of Jesus in the eternal kingdom. James and John were two of Jesus’ closest disciples and their mother intercedes on their behalf asking for what appears to be special treatment. Jesus said to the three of them: “You don’t know what you are asking.” “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” James and John answered, “We can” (Matthew 20:22). Jesus tells them that they will indeed share in his suffering but what they are asking is not in God’s will.

How often do we ask for things that don’t agree with God’s will for our lives? We tend to ask for things that comfort us or make our lives easier. Most of us want to avoid any challenging situations, especially those that stretch us and make us uncomfortable. Like James and John, we want to be recognized, to be seated at places of honor. That is our prideful and stubborn human will at work. Over time however, we discover that God’s will for our life is usually something completely different than we imagined. We often must experience “suffering” in order to develop into the kind of person that God is calling us to be.

Think about your own life for just a moment. What situations in life cause you to grow and develop into a better person? Does such growth occur during difficult times of testing or does it happen in less challenging times? For me, and I suspect for you as well, we are transformed more often during those difficult and trying moments of life. The road to the cross for Jesus was not easy. As followers of Christ, our road to eternal life must also not be easy. We must embrace the growth and transformation that occurs during those difficult and challenging moments of life.

Two weeks ago, I decided to let go of my preconceived notions and desires. I told God that I was giving up my free will, as it pertained to my ministry, and I was going to allow God’s will to be in control of my life. That was a very unsettling prayer to pray but also an extremely liberating one. Too often, I have put up roadblocks in my walk with God and they have led to many dead ends. God’s way is better than mine and I am learning to allow God to take over and lead me to where He would have me to go. I am both excited, and to be honest, somewhat afraid.

Jesus said, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” Do you have the courage to pray this prayer in your own life?

Proverbs 3:5-6(NIV): Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Glorifying God in Daily Life

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jan• 24•15

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

This week, I have been thinking about how we can glorify and please God in our daily activities and work. I believe that everything we do during the course of our day can please and glorify God. For those of us who work, we can glorify God through our labor, and by completing every task with the knowledge that God is pleased with our efforts. When we work to please God and not humans, our work can take on an entirely different meaning.

Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth, is very familiar with how our work can be pleasing and glorifying to God. Paul was a church builder, a preacher/pastor, and a tentmaker. Paul, upon arriving in Corinth, met two fellow believers, Aquila and his wife Priscilla, who also made tents for a living (Acts 18:3). Making tents was how Paul supported himself. He wisely understood that any task we perform can bring glory to our creator who takes pleasure in all our efforts.

All of us can glorify God in many other ways throughout the course of our day. As we are out in God’s world, we can smile and say a kind word to a friend or even a stranger that needs to experience the love and mercy of God. Each of us can make a difference in the life of someone, if we will allow God to lead us and open our hearts, to be compassionate to others. The next time you are in the grocery store, the hardware store, or the drug store, be aware of those around you and allow God to use you to glorify Him.

As we go about our ordinary daily lives, we can glorify God by giving Him praise during the course of our day. Throughout my day, I often acknowledge and thank God for those moments in which I feel His presence. This helps me to be more aware and mindful of God and that makes me want to share the love of Christ with those that I encounter. Even during challenging moments, I trust that God is with me and will guide me through. We must learn to thank and praise God during good times and during difficult times. Hebrews 13:15-16: Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Think about how you can glorify God in the work that you do or in any other aspect of your daily life. Live each moment with the awareness that, whatever you are doing, you are doing it for the glory of God. You may be collecting trash, picking up children from school, talking with a friend who is hurting and struggling, working in your yard or doing housework. Whatever it is that you are doing, you can glorify God by doing it well and by offering your work as a sacrifice to God.

How to Answer Unbelievers

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jan• 21•15

1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

The Apostle Peter is writing to believers who are facing suffering and persecution because of their beliefs. Most of us cannot relate to the context of this letter to those believers in Asia Minor, especially those of us who are free to worship as we choose. While Peter was writing to give encouragement to those experiencing persecution, his words are relevant to our lives as followers of Christ today.

The key to this passage for me is making an inner commitment in my heart to trust Christ. When we are fully able to do this, we will begin to respond in a different way to those whom we encounter, who do not believe. It saddens me today to see many professing Christians responding to others in a hateful and demeaning way. That is not the example that Christ gave us. Jesus had compassion upon everyone that he encountered. He even prayed for those who were crucifying him. Jesus didn’t call upon his followers to use condemning words to answer those who did not believe. Instead, he showed us that we are to love everyone. Jesus taught us that we should not attempt to tear down people. We should build them up through love and respect – that’s how we show everyone the way to Christ. This is also how Christians should treat each other – with love and respect. Sadly, we often fail at this central teaching of Jesus.

Peter was close to Jesus during his three years of ministry on earth. He knew the teachings of Jesus. Peter eventually learned that it was better to respond to unbelief and insults with gentleness and respect rather than with harsh, condemning words. Yes, this was the same Peter who cut off the ear of the servant Malchus in John 18:10. It took Peter a while to fully comprehend the true meaning of Jesus’ teaching, but he eventually understood. Peter tells us that by responding with “gentleness” and “respect” we are saying to unbelievers that Christ loves them and cares about them. We are also letting them know that we love them and care about them as well. That’s how we answer those who do not believe and that’s how we show them the way to Christ.

 

Rest For The Tired and Weary

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jan• 17•15

Matthew 11:28-30 (RSV)
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

In our society today, it seems that everyone is in a hurry. We rush around aimlessly trying to fill our lives with material things that will satisfy us and make us happy. It’s important to us that we appear successful and in control of our lives and our destiny. We fool ourselves, and we try to fool others, with the pretense that we live perfect, stress free lives. For many of us, the lives we lead are anything but trouble and worry free.

Isaiah 40:28-29 (NIV)
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

This demanding and unforgiving world that we live in is often not a friend to those of us who feel weary and weak. War, terrorism, and violence seem to fill the earth and that can cause us to worry and to lose heart. We must remember that the same God who created the earth is still in control of what transpires on this planet. This passage from Isaiah helps us to remember that our creator God remains in control and is tirelessly working to provide strength for the weak and the weary.

Hebrews 12: 1-3 (NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

As followers of the risen Christ, we are given an example of someone who endured and overcame the sin of this world. Christ, who is “at the right hand of the throne of God” is present with us as we struggle with the sin and the unforgiving nature of this fallen world. Call on Christ when you feel discouraged and weak. Read the many verses in scripture that will encourage you and sustain you when worries and trials seem to overwhelm you. Pray without ceasing for the strength to overcome the burdens that come your way.

Psalm 62:1 (NIV)
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.

Make an effort to unplug from this world and rest in quietness with God. Allow God to refresh you with His Spirit and to give you rest and the strength needed to face each day. Instead of worrying about what the day ahead holds, trust that God will be with you and will supply you with what you need to make it through the day. Pray for God’s presence and trust that He goes ahead of you to prepare the way. End your day by thanking God for guiding you and sustaining you, for being present with you.

 

 

God is Near

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jan• 06•15

2 Chronicles 16:9: For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

I came across this scripture text about ten years ago and it has become a verse that I repeat to myself often. We all go through times when we think that God is a million miles away. Often, we wonder if God has forgotten about us as we trudge through our daily lives. This verse always reminds me that God is closer than we think and He is always watching over and guiding those who are His followers.

There are many days when I find myself repeating this verse of scripture over and over again. In this world that we live in, there are so many things that compete for our attention. And the evil one will do everything he can to make us think of anything except God. So when I find myself worrying, afraid, or my thoughts don’t reflect my beliefs as a Christian, I begin repeating this verse over and over again. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

I believe that God and the spiritual world are closer to us than we realize. As followers of Christ we know that the Holy Spirit lives and dwells within those who believe in Christ. So we really shouldn’t be surprised to come to an understanding that God and the unseen spiritual world are closer to us than we think. As I begin to more fully grasp the nearness of God, my daily walk with God rises to a new level. I know that my God is nearby and is available anytime I call upon His name. He is not some unattached, distant being who could care less about his creation. I serve and experience a loving and forgiving God, who is engaged with everything that is transpiring in this world that He created.

Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jan• 01•15

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Rejoice always: As believers, we are to rejoice in the Lord always. We are to rejoice in both good and difficult times in life. We must always remember that God is present with us in every situation. Awareness of God’s presence is what enables believers to always rejoice. During this New Year, I am determined to rejoice in the Lord even when circumstances seem to dictate otherwise.

Pray continually: Praying continually for me is simply to be in conversation with God throughout my day. Just knowing that I can praise God for his goodness and that I can call upon him when I am faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, gives me constant reassurance that God is always with me. I must always remember to pray for God’s will to be done even when my own will stands opposed.

Give thanks in all circumstances: This is something that I continue to struggle with in my own life. It’s easy to praise God when things are going well but it’s more difficult to give thanks when challenging times come our way. I believe that God uses all circumstances to mold us into the person that he created us to be. In my own life, God has used difficult circumstances to teach me patience, perseverance, and to strengthen my faith. I will make a conscious effort to give thanks to God, in all circumstances, in this New Year. And I pray that you will also. Have a blessed New Year!