Thursday, June 30, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Repent! That is the final verse in this section of Ezekiel 13-18. However, it is a call to repent on every person. Jerusalem was destroyed for not repenting as a nation, but this call is to individuals. Every person is to repent and take responsiblity for their moral lives. Thus the appeal is to make yourselves a new heart and spirit.

The appeal is true today for us. We need to take responsiblity for our moral lives. However, many today want to blame someone else for their sins. "It was my parents fault." "My surroundings made me this way." "I would have been different if I had lived in a better place."
You hear the blame everyday. However, God says it is our choices that determine who we are.

I encourage you today to take an inventory of your moral life. Do you have a new heart and spirit? Are you making good moral choices? Are you blaming others for your failings? Just as your parents or surroundings can not save you, neither can your parents sin be held against you. We must take responsiblity for our moral lives.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday June 26, 2011

Philippians 1 & 2

“I got JOY, JOY, JOY, JOY down in my heart”, a song often sung by our kids but lost as they grow older. So often in our day we are bombarded by problems, stressors and crisis. Some are more credible than the others but often we make our own mole hills into mountains. In starting our reading of Philippians, we find the Apostle Paul in a serious situation as he has been imprisoned and is awaiting trial. He is aware that he could be waiting for his execution. So why this letter of being joyful in a time of peril?

The letter to the Philippians is a response to the believers providing aid and encouragement to Paul while incarcerated. Through the letter, the apostle desired to exemplify God’s sovereignty (1:12-13), Jesus’s faithfulness (2:6-8) and how Christians are supposed to respond to adversity (2:14-18).
So often we face the challenges in life as reasons to quit or complain about not accomplishing goals or dreams. So frequently we forget that in facing our problems in a particular way, we are actually building our relationship with God. In James, chap 1:3-4, we are told that when faith is tested through adversity it is an opportunity to grow endurance. But it’s not just about lasting through the trial; rather it’s about how we handle ourselves through the period. As stated, Paul wanted the Philippians to understand true joy even when a crisis arose. He pointed out actions and attitudes that would not only strengthen your faith but also display to others how Christians handle trouble.

In chapter 2:12-17, Paul outlines four ways for believers to be obedient to God during trials.
1) Do everything without complaining or arguing.
2) Live clean innocent lives.
3) Hold firm to God’s word.
4) Faithfully serve (make a sacrifice) as an offering to God.

Consider what joy really means to you. Tangible items and placing your happiness in earthly things will fail. True joy comes from knowing God and growing a relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s sovereignty and Jesus’s faithfulness is everlasting.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Today we begin our read of the prophet Ezekiel. This is one of my favorite books of prophecy.
Ezekiel begins with the famous inaugural vision. This opening sequence is the most elaborate and complex of the prophetic call narratives in the Old Testament, and also one of the most carefully structured. It begins with a vision in which Ezekiel witnesses the awesome approach of the glory of God (1:1-28). Ezekiel receives his prophetic commission through swallowing the scroll God offers (2:1-3:11). After the glory of God withdraws, his role is further refined by his appointment as a "watchman" (3:16-21). This sequence concludes with a further encounter with God's glory (3:22-27).

The next three chapters begin the chronological ordering of the downfall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel is commisssioned, equipped, and positioned to state God's judgment on Jerusalem.

As we begin the study of Ezekiel, I hope you will hand in there as move from past to future prophetic truths found in this book. The big question is always before us. "How is my relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus?"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ephesians 1 – 3
In entertainment wrestling (WWE) there is a character called John Cena. Presently he is the defending champion and has been on numerous occasions. As he enters the ring, he announces, “The Champ is here!” He is considered the golden boy of the organization. Disliked by some fans but admired by many, including several youth. In his popularity, he always wears the same designed t-shirt representing his motto “hustle, honor and loyalty”. These are good qualities, as youth and some adults try to emulate his actions. But not just in this scenario, many people place others and objects as their central figure. This week we have the fortune of starting one of my favorite books of the Bible, Ephesians. This letter, written by Paul, is in contrast to some of the prior books we have read. Paul, in this letter, is not writing to redirect a serious problem or deal with false teaching. He instead is writing to encourage the church to continue to develop and move towards establishing its self with Jesus Christ as the center. To accomplish this, Paul’s first three chapters are focused on identifying Jesus Christ as the focal point or “CHAMP”. The apostle made clear that “ALL” things run through Christ as God planned it. The last three chapters describe how individually, as believers we are supposed to carry ourselves. In viewing today’s reading; what would your t-shirt say and who would you be emulating?

As stated, the first three chapters are focused on laying down the foundation and benefits of having Jesus intervene for the church. Paul reminded the Ephesians of how believers profited from Christ’s actions. Here are some of the things we should carry on a banner for our Champion: Jesus is our:
Brother – Through Him we are adopted into God’s family. (1:5)
Savior – He purchased our freedom through his sacrifice. (1:7)
Master – God’s plan, everything will come under the authority of Jesus Christ. (1:10)
Conqueror – We were saved by God’s grace through Jesus conquering the grave. (2:4-6)
Peace maker – Jesus brought unity and the wall of indifference was knocked down. (2:14-16).
Foreman – Through Jesus, we are directed in our actions to give glory to God. (3:10-11)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lamentations is a neglected book. It was most likely written to be prayed or sung in worship services devoted to asking God's forgiveness and seeking restoration to a convenant relationship with God. Lamentations was written by Jeremiah and holds some very important key theological concepts.

Such concepts as...
a. It offers compelling prayers of confession, renewed hope, and dependence on God's grace.
b. Affirms God's faithfulness and never-ceasing mercy.
c. Affirms that prayers of confession and petition are the means for restoring a broken relationship with God.
d. Affirms that the "day of the Lord" is the day God comes to judge sin.

The key passage in Lamentations is 3:19-24. It states:

"Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him."

I love verses 22-23. They bring joy to my heart. I hope they do the same for you. In fact,
I have a song I like to sing related to these verses. Ask me and I will sing it for you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday, June 05 2011

Galatians 4 – 6

Hello to all, today we conclude the book of Galatians. This letter, written by Paul, once again focused on the negative impact of false teachers on new believers. The Judaizers spread false doctrine that in order to truly be saved, Gentiles not only had to believe in Christ Jesus but also had to comply with Jewish Law and rituals. These same false teachers also attempted to minimize Paul’s authority to preach the Gospel.

To counter these acquisitions, Paul spent time providing a history of why he was an authority on Jewish Law and how Jesus Christ chose him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. In the letter, Paul goes through a process of explaining why the Law (the old covenant) was no longer the standard. He stated its purpose of providing guidance on how to live, its ability to convict people of their sin and how it drives people to have faith in Christ. Paul, however; continued to reemphasize that salvation could only be obtained in placing your faith in Jesus Christ (the new covenant), not by your own actions. The apostle proceeded to use Old Testament scripture and common life illustrations to support his stance on salvation.

For the remainder of the letter, Paul desired for the Galatians to avoid believing in the false teachings that emphasized customs over faith. He as well wished for the people to embrace the freedom that comes with believing in Christ but not to abuse it by engaging in sinful behavior identified in (v. 5:19-21). Instead, Paul gave other virtues we are to display (v. 5:2-23).

In applying this book to our daily lives, we need to be aware of people who influence our walk with Christ. We need to always remember that our salvation is based off of our faith in Jesus, not by rituals or traditions. We however perform certain actions because they exemplify Christ. We are to be the peacemakers, we are to show forgiveness and have compassion, we are to display self-control in what we watch, listen to, consume and say, we are to practice being faithful to Jesus and our commitments to others and finally we are to follow the greatest commandment, to love God and our neighbors.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Today we finish reading the book of Jeremiah. These last few chapters are judgments on the nations around Judah. Judgment is declared against Egypt, the Philistines, Moab, Edom, Ammon, Lebanon, Syria, and two Arab clans (Kedar and Jazor). It is a picture of the future.

Today we see these very same nations at odds with Israel. More and more everyday the nation of Israel is feeling the pressure of being surrounded by their enemies. Everyday the Arab nations are becoming bolder in their talk of driving Israel into the sea. God judges the nations that curse Israel. He did it in Jeremiah's day and He will do it in our day.

It is awesome to know that the God who loves Israel with an everlasting love also loves us (His children) that same way. We can rest in the truth that God has a plan for us now and in the future. His love is wide, deep, and forever.