Friday, April 29, 2011

Saturday, April 30

Last Saturday we read in Mark 11-12. It was here in these chapters that we saw many things that took place leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ...which we just so happened to have celebrated last weekend. It was and is a joyous celebration because Christ is no longer dead, He is alive.

But then today we begread in Mark 13-14 which to many is a bit of disheartening discussions. In Mark 13 we look towards the end times, which many fear. I think that in looking to the end times, many want to focus just on all the bad stuff that happens but I think that in Mark 13:13 we can take courage. It states, "And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." Being hated isn't exactly a happy thought but I think the reason for being hated is...we belong to God! People will hate us but they first hated Christ! I find refuge in this. And then the second part of that verse reminds us that there is something to come later! Persecution will happen, followers will be handed over for death, but ultimately our God, our Father, or Savior will do just us!

Of course first followers must go through the trials and we must, "be on guard" as Mark 13:22 states because false teachers and prophets will try to lead us astray. I think this being on guard goes right along with what we are doing right now and right here...reading through God's Word. To be on guard against false teachings, we must first know the truth. So let me encourage you to keep on studying, keep on working through the Bible this year. Soak it in!
As we move past chapter 13 and into chapter 14, we see the the trials leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus and it solidifies the theme of today's reading...trials and hardships will come our way. But I do find strength in knowing that no matter what I may face, Christ faced it first and He wants to help me through it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 29, 2011

The prophet Jeremiah began his ministry while Josiah was King of Judah. Josiah served the LORD and brought revival to the land. However, when Josiah dies his son Jehoahaz, also called Shallum, becomes king for 3 months. He does not follow in his father's footsteps. Instead 2 Kings 23:32 says "He did evil in the sight of the LORD." Thus God sends Pharaoh Neco to Jerusalem and he captures Jehoahaz and places his brother, Jehoiakim, on the throne of Judah.
Jeremiah 22 is God confronting Jehoahaz with his sin and declaring his loss of the kingdom. Jeremiah 22:13-17 is a message for Jehoahaz, but it is also a message for us. God reminds the king that his father was a man of justice and righteousness, but he is one who cares only for himself. Selfishness is still hated by God today. We are called to love others more than ourselves.

Jeremiah 23 condemns the shepherds (leaders) of Judah and the lying prophets. God is always angered by leaders who care for themselves and do not take care of their people. God states that the shepherds of Judah do not care, heal, protect, nor feed their sheep, but instead they scatter them. Today believers are all shepherds in some form or another. Anyone who has influence over others is a shepherd and God calls us to care for the sheep.

Jeremiah 24 finds the people of Judah under Babylonian rule. Jehoiakim rules Judah for 12 years. In 597 B.C. his son Jehoiachin becomes king. However, he rules for only a few months and Nebuchadnezzar replaces him with Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.). It was during 597 B.C. that Nebuchadnezzar takes several officials and craftsmen to Babylon. Daniel will be one of those taken. In chapter 24 Jeremiah sees the two baskets of figs. The good figs represent those going to Babylon and the bad figs represent those left in Judah.

Jeremiah 25 is an important prophecy of the time frame of the exile. Here God states that the exile will last 70 years. God also declares that the Babylonian Empire will fall to the Persians.
God makes it clear that He is about to bring punishment to the nations. It will not be stopped.

Just as Jeremiah was an instrument to speak the words of the LORD to Judah, God's Word (the Bible) speaks today. It calls us to be righteous and holy. It calls us to be prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ. It calls us to stand firm in our faith and trust the LORD to protect us.
The world today seems to be spilling out of control. God is however, still in control. We must trust Him with our lives, our families, our future. Jeremiah 26 tells us that Jeremiah's faithfulness to God almost got him killed. The truth is Jesus said that His people will be mistreated, imprisoned, and killed for following Him. Not a pretty picture, but death is only a gate to eternity with Jesus. Praise the Lord.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Exodus 13-16

One of my favorite times in the Bible that the Lord God shows His incredible provision to His people is after they flee Egypt's oppression. Over and over again, the people grumble about their circumstances. God provides and tells them what to do and they complain and don't do it.

He had given them meat and water and bread and yet they grumbled and complained. But even before that, He had just rescued them from 400 years of slavery, and yet they complained. He had just made the Red Sea part allowing them to cross and also killed the Egyptian army that was pursuing them to re-enslave them.

God had provided for them time and time again and yet, complaint arose from within them.

What kind of people look at all of God's blessing and provision and presence and yet, complain to His face?

Normal people.

If you're a Christian, you're a slave of God. You've been set free from the bondage of Sin and become a child of God. You've been spared the awful wrath of God, an eternal Hell, and been given God himself as your prize through Christ our Lord. I've been given those things along with you and yet, I find myself complaining at certain points in my life.

I find myself complaining about incredibly ridiculous things in light of the blessing and unmerited favor of God in my life. I find myself being ungrateful to the King of Kings. I find myself living according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit at some points in my life.

There is an overwhelming characteristic of a life that has been born again: a life of gratitude.

The one who understands how deep the Father's love is for them, understands how much we have to be thankful for.

I've said it before: it's hard to not like a genuine, overly-thankful person. And conversely, it's hard to be around people who are ungrateful for anything and who complain about everything.

What kind of witness to we offer our King? Does the Grace of God overflow into our hearts to make us into thankful, humble people? Or does it give us the license to expect more from the world than it offered our Lord Jesus?

May we be people of thanks.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday April 24, 2011

2 Corinthians 1 – 3

Hello everyone, HAPPY RESURRECTION DAY. We celebrate because He’s ALIVE. I hope today finds everybody being thankful for the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

Today’s blog starts the book of 2 Corinthians. This is actually the fourth letter written by Paul to the church of Corinth. In this letter Paul addressed false teachers and those who questioned his ministry. Paul informed believers he would not return for a visit, in chap 1 and 2 due to his desire to spare them a “severe rebuke”. Paul wanted the followers to understand that he loved them and he desired their change not for his glory but for the glory of God. He further illustrated this pattern as he discussed the need for the forgiveness of repentant sinner. Paul reminds us in this chapter that our goal is to lead people back to the body of Christ and to not provoke others to be bitter enough to stay away. Bobby often reminds us, especially before communion, to make sure our relations are right with our brothers and sisters. Be a light upon the world.

In continuing with today’s reading, Paul began to defend his ministry as he confronted false teachers who carried false documentation about their status. Paul wanted the believers to understand that his good works for Christ were his validations. He desired for them to understand that God enabled him to perform these works in order to spread the New Covenant. Paul reminded the church, in Chap 3, about the difference in the old and new covenant. This reading is perfect timing for us as it illustrates what Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection did for us.

Old Covenant (The Law)
- Led to death
- Displayed our guilt and sinful behavior
- Brought about dependency on self-action
- Aspire to follow a strict religion

New Covenant (Faith in Jesus Christ)
- Led to new Life
- His blood atones for our sins
- Holy Spirit given to guide us
- Grace poured out to give us freedom

Thank you Jesus for LOVING US!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thursday, April 21st

You go to the mail box, open it up and inside is a nice white envelope. You know by the name printed out the outside of the envelope that it is a bill of some sort. Maybe it’s from a Doctor’s office, a credit card company, the bank… whatever. What’s the question in your head? “What is this thing for?”

Red and blue lights flashing behind you; a uniformed officer matter-of-factly walks up to your car window. Say it with me, “What did you stop me for?”

We all want full and complete knowledge of any given situation. Maybe we did deserve the bill in the mail. Maybe the officer just stopped you because your license plate had been removed. We just want to know the deal.

In the 31st chapter of this book Job ends his time talking by laying out the facts, as he sees them, and asking God, “What’s the deal?” “What are my charges?” Job looks over every aspect of his life and examines it. He asked if he is a fornicator, a liar, a wicked employer, an oppressor of the poor, apathetic, greedy… the list goes on.

Job is so much like you and me. We are more than willing to trust God; we just want all the details and then some.

This final diatribe of Job’s elicits a response from a younger man; who has until now remained silent. Elihu the son of Barachel is angry. He is angry at Job because of Job’s claim to be righteous when his circumstances obviously say he is not. (Insert sarcasm.) He is angry and Job’s friends because they seem to have lost the debate. Most of what Elihu has to say in chapter 32 is all about how he just has to speak. He claims that he has held his tongue long enough. We will hear more from Elihu in the next coming weeks as it takes another 5 chapters for this brash young man to say what is on his mind.

Job knew whose judgment mattered and whose did not. I have found the more that I willing let myself be examined by God’s Holy Spirit the less I care if anyone wants to examine me. “Search my heart O God and see if there be any wicked way in me.”

Monday, April 18, 2011

Exodus 9-12

We're right in the middle of God judging the Egyptians in His plan to release the Israelites from captivity. Don't be fooled, God isn't trying in failing to get them freed. God's plan is to fulfill each one of these plagues and then at the culmination of them to have His children released, on His timetable.

Exodus 9 and 10 show us God judging the Egyptians by:

1: Killing their livestock
2: Sending painful boils to all the people
3: Sending hail storms and destroying their crops
4: Sending Locusts to eat all the crops that the hail missed
5: Sending darkness upon all of the land

Each time a plague comes, Pharaoh says that he starts to fear the Lord but each time he does, Moses sees through his lies and says that Pharaoh is just putting on an act. At the end of each plague, God hardens Pharaoh's heart even more and he would not let God's people go....just like God had said.

After the plague of darkness, Pharaoh, who is really mad that he can't stop what God is doing, tells Moses that if he sees him again that he will have Moses killed.

Then in Chapter 11:1, God says:

"Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here."

God begins to set the stage for the completion of His diving plan to set free the people of Israel. Moses says,

"Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, 5and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, 'Get out, you and all the people who follow you.'

God reveals that His divine plan includes killing the firstborn of all in Egypt as judgment for their wickedness and refusal to bow before him in repentance and faith.

God at this point tells the Jews to slaughter lambs and paint the door posts of their houses with the blood of the lambs. This is God's protection of the children of Israel: where the blood is, the spirit of death passes over and does not kill the first born of that house. Where there is no blood, the first born will perish.


"At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, "Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said." (Exodus 29-31)

"There was not a house where someone was not dead." What a terribly horrible sentence. What a terribly holy judgment upon Egypt. The firstborn of Egypt paid the price of Egypt's hard hearts. The sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons.

There are SO many lessons to learn from this huge block of Scripture.

I will close with what I think the main point of the passages is:

God's plans always come about and always on His schedule; He fulfills His will regardless of what we think or do about it.

God's plan from the beginning was to set his children free from Egypt by killing the firstborn of Egypt and protecting the firstborn of Israel with the blood of lambs.

This was going to happen. It was a part of His redemptive plan for mankind from the beginning. It was a step in the grand meta-narrative of Scripture to redeem His Bride and hold fast to her. God is about accomplishing His purpose and glorifying His name. This is seen supremely in how God planned from the beginning to justify sinners by the blood of another Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you been set free from your slave master of sin? Have the door posts of your heart been painted with the Blood of the Lamb? Have you been born again out of your dead self in the land of sinful Egypt and into the promised land of new life?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday April 17, 2011

1 Corinthians 15 & 16
Today’s reading ends the book of 1 Corinthians. In this letter, Paul addressed several problems plaguing this church. Two dominating issues were spiritual immaturity and divisions in the church body. Other problems that seemed to stem from these were sexual immorality, a misunderstood representation of spiritual freedom and disorganization in worship and church ministry. To resolve many of these problems, Paul emphasized the importance of loving your fellow brother and sister in faith. Through exemplifying love, one should perform certain actions that raise other believers up. Still, other behaviors should be avoided if they cause other believers to stumble in their faith.
In viewing the last two chapters, their topics could not be better timed for Easter. The final issue Paul deals with is the disbelief in resurrections. Due to Greek influence, some believers questioned this event. Paul used this opportunity to restate the Good News and how everyone placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Paul continued as he explained how vital the resurrection is to completing the identity of Jesus as the Messiah. As with Bro. Bobby’s sermon today, Paul refers to the same situation in 15:21-22, as he stated that one man (Adam) brought death into the world and new life is given through another man (Jesus) through his resurrection. Paul laid out a clear line of understanding: 1) If there is no resurrection then Jesus was never raised. 2) If Jesus was never raised then we are all still guilty of sin in the sight of God. 3) if we are guilty in the sight of God, because of no covering we are doomed.
During this time of year, however, we can rejoice over the fact that Jesus did rise from the dead as he said he would and sits at the right hand of the Father, acting as our intercessor. Paul concluded on this topic by stating that through Christ’s resurrection and defeating death, deceased believers will someday be resurrected and all (including the living) will be transformed into eternal bodies what a glorious gift.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday, April 16

Mark 9:30-32 and Mark 10:32-34 both show Jesus predicting His death. As He talked about such things to the disciples, they struggled to understand what He was actually talking about. The death of Jesus was not something they were expecting. But as we know, it was exactly the reason He was here! Jesus wanted to place the idea of His death into the minds of the disciples. And I think that is exactly where it should be still today. As Easter approaches next weekend, it is common for us to think of the death and resurrection of Christ, but I think that we see Jesus here encouraging us to think about it more often than just once a year. The gospel message is why we celebrate Easter, but we should be grateful for that message more than just one day a year. We should live by Jesus' example and talk about it often!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jeremiah 12:1-4 expresses just how I have felt at times. The question "Why do all who are treacherous thrive?" has been stated my many over the years. Have you ever asked the Lord "How long?" How long will the wicked prosper and the righteous struggle? To Jeremiah's question the Lord tells him it is going to get worse before it gets better, but there will come a day when God will bless His people. Today I find myself thinking that it might get worse before it gets better. Every year more and more people turn their backs on truth, on God's Word. Every year true believers seem fewer and fewer. Every year the wicked seem to get stronger and stronger. The Lord tells Jeremiah "But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it,... (Jeremiah 12:17)" Jeremiah 13 - 15 reveals God's intent for His people Judah. It is not a pretty picture. Famine, sword, and pestilence is what awaits Judah. Jeremiah complains, but God will not relent. God had given Judah opportunities to repent and they did not. God in His mercy will always give us opportunities to repent, but if we refuse, judgment will come. Jeremiah 16 finds the prophet renewed by the Lord. In every difficult situation God is faithful to renew His children if they are faithful. When life seems to get tougher and tougher, remember that God is not lost. He is not asleep. He is right there to give you strength and to renew your heart and mind. Let Him renew you today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thursday, April 14th

Calamity has a way of bringing relationships into focus. That is true in national relationships; country to country. It is true is business relationships. It is especially true in personal relationships.

Job paints a picture of this painful reality in full color. In chapters 29 and 30 Job talks about they way things once were. I have to admit that as I started reading this passage I struggled a little bit. Is it just me or does Job seem a little boastful? Upon further reading and reflection however I think that Job is just telling the truth. He was the “upper crust.” He was an “upright man.” But even Job recognizes that God is in the business of humbling those who would become too proud. (30:11)

I would like to point out one thing in this passage that I see different from the other times that Job has spoken. Job’s theology goes a little “sideways.” Job says that he wishes for days prior when God watched over him; when God was with him. In the coming chapters Job will soon know that both he and his situation have God’s undivided attention. Let me pause for a moment and recognize that you and I also have God’s attention. Despite what we might think about our circumstances; God still sees the sparrow fall and still holds our lives in much higher regard than the birds.

Job compares the way that people would react to him before he lost everything. I recently spoke with someone who described losing a position of power. This person talked about how, before the change, that their phones (plural) never stopped ringing. After the loss; nothing. Even worse, “friends” had turned their backs. Again I feel the need to go all “pastor” on everyone. As believers our love for others is not to be based on who they once were or could be. Our love for others is rooted in who God is. God is love.

Is there someone in your life that may have lost their power or prominence? When did you last speak to them? Do they know that you love them regardless of their title or bottom line? Search our hearts, Lord. Teach us to see others the way that you see them. Teach us love. Teach us how to love.

Tuesday April 12 posting wednesday the 13th

In I Samuel 21-22, we see that david is on the run and goes tot he Phillistine city of Gath, the hometown of Goliath. He acts like a madman and the king after finding out who he is had no use of another madman to be in his court. David leaves and goes into a cave where many people who were in distress, discontented and who were in debt came alongside of him and joined up with him. This is a reminder to me of two important thoughts: first, you actract who you are and you better be careful who you are. Second, God can use anyone as these people would become David's mighty men. This would happen in spite of their circumstances that they had been facing. Good leadership and spiritual direction is to bring people up to a new place with the Lord in usefulness and intimacy with the Lord. May we not be quick to give up on the people that are around us.

In I Samuel 23-25, I notice that David deals with those whom God has placed in positions of authority with great precision and care. David protects the Priest Abiathar and we also see that when he gets a chance to take the life of Saul he makes the decision to not take it because he sees the king as God's anointed. I would encourage us all to look at people whom have been placed in positions of authority with great care and give them prayer even when we may not agree with them. This is true for those in political positions of leadership as well as positions of church leadership positions. This does nto mean that they are nto wrong at times and that we can't communicate it to them in the right way but we are to do so in the right attitude, atthe right time and not in public. David is a wonderful example of his care for God's anointed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Exodus 1-8

A quick recap of what has happened in these 8 chapters:

Chapter 1:1-7 could be summarized by saying that the Israelites were having tons and tons of babies, so much so that, "the land was filled with them"

The rest of chapter 1 tells us that the new king of Egypt noticed that the Jews were becoming too populated and if they wanted to could overtake them so he devised a plan to control the population by killing all the sons born. I find it interesting that the solution to the population explosion back then was the same as it is now: kill children. Back then they killed them at birth; today we kill them before birth. The principle is the same: there isn't enough room here for all of us, therefore kill the ones that take up the least amount of space. This is sound logic, if you're a child of the devil. The sons of God know better:


I find myself wanting to veer off from the rest of this blog to focus on attacking abortion and the evil mindset that is inherent in its practice and theory. But that topic is for another day.

Chapter 2-4 and a half or so give us a leader named Moses. Moses' mom hides the newborn because she's afraid of the law that says the child should be killed. (Again, my mind is racing towards our country's whacked out abortion laws) but eventually decides to put the little boy on a raft and floats him down the river to at least give him a chance. (she's leaning heavily on faith here folks) Before he sets sail, the daughter of the king comes down to the river to bathe and finds the baby. Basically what happens is that Moses' life is spared and he's raised and then becomes the son of the king's daughter.

Moses then grows up and sees how the Egyptians are treated and actually kills a guard who was beating a Hebrew slave. At this point he runs away from his privileged upbringing and marries a lovely lass from Midian. Moses becomes a shepherd, helping his father in law, Jethro, tend his sheep.

God, during this time begins to act and starts to unfold His long awaited plan to set His people free from slavery. He calls Moses by showing up in a burning bush and tells him to go back to Egypt and to tell Pharaoh that God has decided that it is time for the Hebrews to be set free so they can begin this stage of redemptive history.

Moses questions God and God sets Moses straight and sends him on his way telling him that God will do mighty wonders before the world's eyes that will convince Pharaoh to eventually set the Hebrews free.

God tells Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, "Let my son go that he may serve me." If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'"

Long story short, chapters 5-8 are Moses and Aaron telling Pharaoh what God said and Pharaoh telling them in effect, "Who is God? I don't know God. I'm not setting the Hebrews free. Y'all are dumb for even asking."

Oh, and at this point, Moses is 80 years old.

God speaks to Moses again and tells him that He's going to stretch out His mighty hand and do wonders before Pharaoh and yet still harden Pharaoh's heart so that he won't let the Hebrews go.

Chapters 7 and 8 are the first four plagues:

1. Water to blood: An interesting plague. The Egyptians worships the Nile. They had also bloodied its waters with the lives of the newborn Hebrew children. Now God had turned their whole source of life into blood and cursed them.

2. Tons of frogs: Everywhere the Egyptians turned there were frogs. I suppose God could have used Lions or Tigers...or ever Bears...(oh my) but He chose a little frog to impede the lives of the Egyptians. Such a mighty nation brought to utter stand still because of such a vast majority of small creatures.

3. Plague of Gnats: This plague was an attack by God on the Egyptian priests. They had rituals that called for a clean area and these tiny creatures were able to keep them from performing their satanic rituals. The priests also tried to recreate this miracle but were unable to.

4. Plauge of Flies: At this point, Pharaoh was going to relent a little bit and allowed the Hebrews to go into the wilderness to worship God as He had commanded. But as we'll soon see, the relenting goes away and Pharaoh's heart is hardened yet again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

1 Corinthians 13 & 14
What’s LOVE Got To Do With It?
Today’s reading is one of my most favorite verses. I use it frequently in different work settings and apply it constantly in my personal life. Ladies and gentlemen this is sometimes not an easy task. What characteristic of love do you need to work on?
In viewing today’s reading as a whole, Paul continued to confront the Corinthians on their lack of spiritual maturity and divisions being started in the church. More precisely in these chapters, the apostle addressed the people’s mishandling of spiritual gifts. As in chapter 12, Paul gave order to the different types of church ministries. Throughout chap. 14, he addressed the level difference between speaking in tongues and prophecy. He rated having the gift of prophecy higher due to its ability to minister to more people.
v. 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
v. 4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

Paul wanted to stress that the purpose for having any spiritual gift was to share it with others in order to draw people towards Christ. It is still true today, if these spiritual gifts are not used for God’s people and purpose, they are just empty actions. This is why Paul emphasized LOVE in chap.13. He made known that regardless of your gift, if not used in love, it was in vain. Paul proceeded to answer the question of what exactly is LOVE. We need to acknowledge that this definition, found in 13:4-7, is not set by human standards but are characteristics of God’s nature.
My challenge to the reader is to note in a daily journal situations where you demonstrated the characteristics of LOVE. When were you patient or kind? When did you avoid boasting or tracking others mistakes? When did you give hope or build someone up despite your own pressing situations? Always keep in mind Mark 12:29-31, the greatest commandment.
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday, April 9

Today we read Mark 7-8 and as I read through one thing really jumped out at me that I thought I would share with you. In Mark 7:15-16 we read, "There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him." This is referring to the Pharisees following of all the laws, including the food laws. But I think it is interesting how much this can still pertain to us today, who don't follow the Old Testament Jewish food laws. We live in a society that focuses so much on food and health, and eat this not that. And I think that we often forget to really think about the things that are coming out from us. What does this mean exactly? I just had the discussion with some of our middle school students about our actions and lives reflecting whose we are. We must guard our hearts because the words we say and the things we do reflect what is in our hearts. Here Jesus is telling the people that what is more important than following the dietary laws is the way the people are living their lives. Were they a reflection of the God they claimed to follow? Are we a reflection of the God we claim to follow?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday, April 7th

A lot of great leaders throughout the canon of scripture seem to answer their critics with statements and ideas that seem out of place. When Jesus was asked a question by some know-it-all legal expert about the legal definition of a neighbor; Jesus begins to tell a story about a robbery. (Luke 10:25-37) When Stephen is accused of blasphemy by the religious establishment, he answers with a scathing sermon/ history lesson. (Acts 6-7)

When you apply Job 27 and 28 to the rest of the previous chapters of Job I believe that you see a man who answers his critics without using a whole lot of “direct answers.” Chapter 27 starts off with Job affirming his innocence and letting his small audience know that he will not confess to a crime that he didn’t commit. He follows it up with a small lesson on the ultimate end of evil people.

I find chapter 28 fascinating in light of Job’s entire situation. He is answering his critics with a dissertation on wisdom. This speech seems to very much be a forerunner to Solomon’s writings on the subject. Job gives wisdom physical form and compares its true market value against all of the other “stock” of the day. Just in case you didn’t catch it; wisdom wins out. Wisdom is valuable above all else. With this I believe that Job is telling his “friends” to go seek wisdom and stop giving him a piece of their minds. Much like Jesus and Stephen, Job’s talk is given to address the true heart of the matter.

This leads me to ask a question about worldview. How do you see the world? Is it through the lens of scripture? What is your view of God, man, ethics and wisdom? I pray that we would all answer those questions on a personal level. Job would suggest that we are start with a healthy fear of the God that was able to turn his life upside down. (28:28) I wholeheartedly agree.

Tuesday April 5 posting on April 7 :)

I apologize for my tardiness in posting this week - I forgot to post my thoughts.

In 1 Samuel 16, we see where the Prophet Samuel is instructed to go and anoint the future king of Israel. This is a wonderful picture of the fact that what you see is not always what you get. David was the youngest of Jesse's boys and was not expected to be chosen by Samuel but the Lord knew something beyond age and appearance as the Lord knew the heart. We will see in David that he is a man after God's own heart yet has fears, and great failures in his life. But even with his failures we will see a heart that is sensitive to the Lord when confronted by his sin. Oftentimes the question is what do we do when we see our sin do we hide it or do we confess it so that there can be forgiveness and restoration.

In 1 Samuel 17-20 I notice three things; first, I see David's willingness to stand up for the Lord and the nation of Israel. David killed Goliath when no one else was even willing to fight him. He also killed 200 Phillistines and took their foreskins and gave them to Saul in order to marry his daughter Michal and this is after Saul's requirement for marriage was 100 Phillistine foreskins. David was willing to put his life on the line for the Lord and the people of Israel. Second, I see Saul's hatred and jealousy for David. No less than 4 times did Saul try to kill David with his spear, and the entire purpose of asking for 100 Phillistine foreskins was that Saul believed that David would die in the process. Third, I see a deep love between Jonathan, Saul's son, and David. This love began soon after the killing of Goliath and is also seen in Jonathan protecting David from his father. We also see a covenant between David and Jonathan that would last after the death of Jonathan as David has promised that he will care for Jonathan's family even as he is the king. We see David's courage to fight, loyalty to God and to country, and we see that David is a wonderful friend to Jonathan as Jonathan is to him.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Often we Christians try to present a godly life while in reality we are living a lie. Judah did the same thing during the time of Jeremiah. They were stealing, murdering, committing adultery, swearing falsely, worshipping idols but they would come to the temple and present themselves as godly people. Jeremiah 7:1-15 declares this truth. In fact, Jeremiah 7 - 10 gives evidence of God's accusations that Judah takes comfort in the temple while breaking God's commands (Jeremiah 7:1-8:3), rejecting the law (Jeremiah 8:4-17), living deceitfully (Jeremiah 8:18-9:9), grieving the prophet (9:10-26), and engaging in idolatry (Jeremiah 10:1-16). The Church is no different today. We come to church smiling and pretending that everything is great. When asked we say, "everything is fine." However at home our marriages are drowning in anger and deceit, our kids are sexually active and we hide our heads in the sand, and our finances are stretched to the limits. We lie to ourselves, to our loved ones, to those who could help us. Most importantly we try to lie to God. God called Judah to amend their ways and their deeds. He called them to be honest with themselves and not to take advantage of God's goodness. He tells them that if they don't amend their ways He will remove them from the land He gave them. Which He did. God calls us to amend our ways. To be honest with Him. To repent. Jeremiah 11:3-5 states: "Cursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant that I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, that I man confirm the oath that I swore to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day." These words say to us to "keep the Lord's Word, listen to my voice, and do all I command you in my Word so you will be blessed in all your ways." It is time for a moral inventory. How are you doing in your spiritual life? Are you doing what you know to be right? Are you keeping the Lord's commands? He is patient, but only for a time.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday April 03, 2011

Sunday April 03, 2011

1 Corinthians 11 & 12

We are a Family United

In today’s reading, sermons could be preached on several different topics, such as the reverence of worship, the submission of equals, how to receive the Lord’s communion, using spiritual gifts and the order of ministries in the church. Today however, I will focus on the underlying issue of unity.

After reading through and considering the several topics, the notion that kept presenting itself was believers being unified for God. In chap 11, Paul first confronted the issue of poor worship practice. He noted the swing in attitude was causing a division in the church. In our own time, how often have we heard or seen a change in practice divide a congregation? Sometimes the division is necessary such as a church moving away from sound biblical principles but Paul dealt with a smaller issue that began causing a rift. His solution to the problem was to prompt the people to behave in a manner that was respectable to God and less of a distraction to other believers. This is a similar ideology used in chap 8 and 10, where Paul urged believers to avoid behaviors that would hinder another believer’s relationship with Christ.

Another unity problem Paul confronted was the Lord’s Supper not being conducted in an appropriate manner. After seeing people not only take the supper without considering what it represented but many wealthy followers gorged themselves early at the fellowship meal while others starved. Paul’s resolution was to remind believers about the purpose of the Lord’s Supper and to examine themselves to make sure they were worthy to receive it. In our own church, it is a regularity that our pastor first reminds us how the supper represents the sacrifice Jesus made for all sinners and secondly, we are asked to examine our relationships with Christ and others. As in Paul’s time, we are still held responsible for showing unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The final show of problems with unity comes in chap 12. This chapter is devoted to discussing the spiritual gifts God has given believers. Divisions were created in the Corinthian church as followers noted certain gifts to be more important or spiritual. In resolving this, Paul used the analogy of a human body to express the need for unity. He demonstrated that the church has many parts to it, like the body. Each part performs an essential task and is important to overall effectiveness of the body. We should remember that spiritual gifts come through the Holy Spirit and are used to lift up the church and draw others towards Christ. It is used to unify people for the glory God.

Saturday, April 2

As we looked at Mark 5-6 I saw two different responses of the people that were around Jesus. First, we see in Mark 5:15-17, that after Jesus cast out the demons from the man possessed by a legion, the people were scared. They even asked him to leave the region. Then in Mark 6:6, we see that Jesus marveled at the people's disbelief. However, we also see a second response to Jesus. This response is one of the people marveling at Jesus. They followed after him and wanted to be near him. One woman even knew that if she just touched his garment, then she would be healed. These two responses are still common today. Jesus and his message scare people at times but at other times cause people to marvel. Lives are changed by the message of Christ...but how is the question. And for those who claim life change, are they living as one that is scared of the message or as one that is amazed by the simple knowledge of Christ.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5 is an amazing verse. God knew Jeremiah before he was borned. Does he know you? Absolutely!!! He knows every child being formed in the womb of its mother. I wonder how many great leaders God knew and called in the womb only to be taken by abortion? I wonder how many great musicians, teachers, businessmen, pastors were called by God in the womb only to be killed by an abortion? It is a sobering thought that stems from this verse in Jeremiah. Jeremiah was known as the "weeping prophet." He lived during the reign of 5 kings of Judah. His calling occurs during the reign of Josiah. Josiah was a great king. He brought revival to his people. He restored worship again. Jeremiah will begin his ministry during this time. The first 6 chapters of Jeremiah were most likely written during the reign of Josiah. The first chapter records Jeremiah's call and message. The next 5 chapters address Judah's adultery to God's covenant with them. The themes are as follows: Jeremiah 2:1-3:5 Israel has been a faithless spouse. Jeremiah 3:6-4:4 Israel is called to repent Jeremiah 4:5-31 Disaster is coming Jeremiah 5:1-31 What will happen if Judah is unwilling to repent Jeremiah 6:1-30 God's response to His people is rejection Before we get pious let us not forget that we have a new covenant with God through Jesus Christ and we have His Word to guide us, but we have a nature like Israel's. We often stray from God's desire and will. The good news is that God offers us opportunities to repent. God is a God of second chances. Where are you today in your walk with God?