Author: James Oliver

James Oliver is a follower of Jesus Christ, a pastor, a husband, a father, and a friend. He loves people passionately in an attempt to imitate Jesus Christ's love for people.

He Became Sin

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

Jesus.

When the apostle Paul wrote this verse, he was speaking of Jesus. Jesus was perfect in every way. He lived in flesh as a human, and yet never sinned. He was always obedient to the Father. Every. Single. Time.

I think we sometimes think that in Jesus’ perfection, he was never really tempted by sin. But, this is contrary to what we learn from the author of Hebrews when he wrote: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)(emphasis mine). Jesus was tempted just like we are. There were probably opportunities for him to desire something different than complete obedience to the Father, but simply didn’t go there. In his actions, nor in his heart.

So, Jesus, who never, not one time, sinned.. He became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. Because of Jesus, the chains of sin have been broken. They’ve fallen. The chains no longer have a hold on us.

Have you been set free? Have you trusted Jesus to pay the wages of your sin? Or, will you stand before The Judge on the day of Judgement and be required to pay the wages of your sin?

If you’re free, thank Jesus right now! Sing a song of praise to Him. Tell someone that you’ve been set free and they can be set free also!

~ James Oliver

 

Photo Credit: Katie Chase

Fear Not, For I Am With You

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 ESV

I shared this verse on Facebook yesterday. We all go through tough times where we struggle with things. Life can sometimes beat us up pretty good and try to drag us down into depression or maybe worse… indifference.

It’s when we feel the most alone, that we need to go to God. When Paul was in prison, this is what the author of Acts says he was doing: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…” (Acts 16:25). Locked up, in probably a nasty prison cell, without television or modern amenities, they were praying and singing hymns to God. Sometimes, instead of doing this, we’re asking God “Why is this happening to me?!”. In many cases, you’re doing exactly what’s right, but the enemy is doing all he can to fight against you. Spiritual warfare is real!

The good news is, when we let God go before us, we have nothing to fear. Nothing to worry about. If God is for us, who can stand against us?

The next time things are not going the way you think they should be, go to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to strengthen you, to help you, and to uphold you with his righteous hand. Sing songs of praise to him. You can do this no matter where you are.

God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.

 

Photo Credit: Jason Blackeye

Prayer For Any Day

Lord, forgive me where I fail you and you know the ways are many. Help me to live out my life today as an ambassador for your kingdom. Allow your light to shine through me today to all of those around me by bearing much fruit of the spirit. Teach me to be bold in my faith! Show me how to love others unconditionally the same way that you do. God, use me to meet the needs of others. Thank you for allowing me to be your child and taking away the burden of my sins through my faith in you. I love you Jesus! Amen!

 

What would you add to this?

 

Forget Everything Else

 

“Jesus Christ died and rose again so that we could forget everything else and follow him to the cross, to true life” ~ Francis Chan, Forgotten God

Can You Follow Jesus While Ignoring Him?

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Luke 6:46

This week, I during my studies, I got stuck on this verse. Jesus is speaking to a multitude here. After asking the question, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not what I tell you?”, he continues to describe what it looks like  using an illustration of a man building a house on a rock foundation, versus one who doesn’t. But, I want you to dwell on this verse.

This verse implies that there is more to being a follower of Jesus than just having faith and believing in your heart. This verse implies that there are some things we should be doing if we are truly a follower of Jesus. In other areas of our life, when someone has authority over us, we do what we’re told. But, for some reason, when it comes to what Jesus says, we have a disconnect.

This reminded me of a teaching by Francis Chan. Please watch this short video:

Today, I encourage you to to study Jesus’ commands to us. It’s disobedience to ignore what he says and I’m not sure we can claim that we weren’t aware of his commands on judgement day. Does this cost us our salvation? I’d ask, if we don’t try to obey Jesus, were we really his followers to begin with? I’m not perfect. I know that no one is because we learn that in his Word. But, at some point, we have to stop using our fallen flesh as an excuse and start fighting it. The battle is going, let’s suit up and fight.

I want to be done with lip service and give Jesus life-service. I am as guilty as anyone of claiming to follow Jesus, but not following his commands. I should be a disciple maker. I should be giving more to the poor. I should be giving more to widows. Jesus gave his life for mine. I want to give back all I can and do my very best to stop piling sins on His cross.

At some point, it may cross your mind, that this doesn’t line up with the thoughts that following Jesus is easy. Just say a prayer and start trying to live right. But, friends, Jesus had thousands walk away from him because what he was teaching was so hard. The rich man turned and walked away from Jesus because what Jesus asked of  him was so hard. Yet, our culture today, likes to simplify everything to match culture. Jesus, God in flesh, wants our obedience and our trust. Once we’re willing to give him everything, he sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and guide and comfort us.

I hope that this initiates a study of your own at the very least.

God bless you today!

~ James Oliver

The Dead Will Be Raised

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.1 Corinthians 15:51-53

When I read a scripture like this, I’m reminded not only that one day, Jesus is coming back. He’s going to raise up His people to heaven. Some day.  If you’re reading this today, and you’ve not committed your life to Jesus, then you need to consider asking Jesus into your life.

If you are a believer committed to a life of trusting Jesus is who HE said He was, the long anticipated Messiah, then this type of scripture to instill a passion for sharing the Gospel with other people. Because one day that trumpet will sound. Some of our friends won’t be going along with us. It’s important to share the message of Jesus, the Christ, with everyone we can!

Have you shared the Gospel recently? Jesus loves your friends as much as He loves you. He loves your enemies the way HE loves you. Share Him with someone!

Come Unto Me

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
~Matthew 11:28 (KJV)

The Jewish people were under so many strict laws that had been created by man that it must have been miserable to live. I can’t imagine living during those times. God’s laws that were meant to make life great had been twisted into something that was a far reach from His intention. It’s as if every little thing was a sin against God back then when it truly wasn’t. Jesus was saying “Come to me all of you guys who are so burdened by all this and I will give you true rest. I will restore my kingdom within you and give you peace, joy, happiness, the Holy Spirit.. I will take on the one thing that plagues you most.. your sin. I will pay the cost for you so that you don’t have to. I need you to trust me.”

Today, we still sometimes take on heavy burdens on ourselves and forget that Jesus wants us to give those burdens to Him so he can give us rest. It may be a sin to hold onto the things that we’re holding onto rather than giving them over so that God can have control and handle things that we will just mess up.

Are you tired of your sin? Are you tired of holding onto your sin? Confess it to Jesus. He wants to take on our burdens. Are you tired of ignoring His direction? Let go. Trust Him.

~James Oliver

 

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/collections/326970/christian?photo=ABrC7X4_gLY

Afflictions

“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
~ Psalms 119:71

Sometimes, we definitely feel afflicted in a variety of ways. Like King David, we start following the flesh instead of the Spirit and we end up in afflictions. But, as King David says here, it’s good to help us learn to do what God tells us to do.

Just like growing up and being punished for doing wrong to help us remember to make good choices. We learn from our punishments not to do the same things again because we learn the difference between right and wrong.

Are you going through an affliction right now? What’s God teaching you?

Why Do You Believe?

“But in your hearts set apart 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…”

~ 1 Peter 3:15

This verse is one often used by Christian apologists (defenders of the faith) as the reason that we need to learn apologetics. We should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in us. Be able to give the reason that we trust Jesus with our eternity when there are so many other choices that we’re told are just as good.

An important aspect of this is to remember when we give the reason for our hope, to do it in a gentle and respectful way. Jesus himself lead with love as should we. We should always be speaking in truth in an encouraging way.

If you were questioned like Stephen or Paul, and many others since that time why you believe in Christ, are you prepared to give an answer?

If we are unable to provide an answer for our beliefs, then we could fall prey to the enemy when being questioned. When everything you believe is being questioned, and you can’t give an answer, the enemy can persuade you to their ways.

For a great resource for apologetics, check out Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries.

~James Oliver

I’m Ugly. No One Will Ever Want Me.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
~ Philippians 4:8

How often do we believe lies? We tell ourselves things like “No one loves me”, or “I’m not good at anything”, or “I need _________________”, or “That’s just how I am” or “I’m ugly. No one will ever want me.”, and much worse things? A big one is “If I were gone, no one would miss me.” or “Everyone would be better off without me”.

I see posts frequently on Facebook with the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) shared in my news feed. The enemy is real and the enemy has come to lie to us (speak things like above), steal from us (take our joy, our happiness, our sanity sometimes), and destroy us (keep  us from having the best relationship possible with our Father in heaven). I hate the enemy with everything in me.

Please remember to think about the truth. Compare your thoughts with the Word. What does God say about you? (He created you in your mothers womb. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He LOVES you!). What does God say about life? That we will find joy and happiness in Him. That we will struggle. That life will be messy, but He is there along with us every step and we can trust Him.

What’s is something you know is a lie, but your mind struggles to believe the truth? Conquer it today! Equip yourself with the Word to destroy those lies and start believing the truth!

~ James Oliver

 

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