Wednesday, February 24, 2010

God's Word Will Stand Forever

1 Peter 1:24-25 - For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.

I am so grateful that I have God's Word to lead me every day. I am so thankful that I was able to wake up this morning, open up the Scriptures and read life-changing principles to shape me into the image of Christ. We are so fortunate! God has protected His Word all these centuries - it will stand forever. Many centuries ago there was a Roman emperor named Diocletian who was known for his hatred of Christianity. He hated the Bible so much that he took a Bible and burned it. He then erected a monument with the words “Extincto nomini christianorum” — “The name of Christian is extinct" on top of the burned bible. The only name that is extinct is Diocletian.

Many have tried to eliminate God's Word and Christianity but have not succeeded. Why? The Bible is the incorruptible Word of God! Time, decay, evil and the plotting of men will never destroy the Word of God!

I'm so inspired by the God's enduring Word that I want to give it away - not only what I read and memorized today, but giving away actual Bibles. I feel like I'm supposed to give away several Bibles to kids. I challenge you to give God's Word away as well. Purchase a Bible this week for the sole purpose of giving it away. Then ask God to find that special someone for you to give it to. I saw $5 bibles at Lifeway at the checkout the other day. There are cheaper ones than that in paperback. Don't make excuses - give it away!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament

I found these the other day while writing the Life Group study for church. I have read them over and over since. THIS is what Church is. THIS is how we love our neighbors. THIS is how we love our enemies. The challenge: it all requires action. We've got to get busy being the body...

1. “…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
2. “…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
3. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
4. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
5. “…Love one another…” (John 13:35)
6. “…Love one another…” (John 15:12)
7. “…Love one another” (John 15:17)
8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)
9. “…Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
10. “Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)
11. “…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8)
12. “…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)
13. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7)
14. “…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16)
16. “…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)
17. “…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)
18. “…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)
19. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12)
20. “…Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
21. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.”
(Galatians 5:15)
22. “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)
23. “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)
24. “…Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)
26. “…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)
27. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
28. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
29. “…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
30. “Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9)
31. “Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13)
32. “…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)
33. “Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)
34. “…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
35. “…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)
36. “…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)
37. “…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)
38. “…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)
39. “…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
40. “Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)
41. “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
42. “…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
43. “…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)
44. “Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9)
45. “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)
46. “…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
47. “…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)
48. “…Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8)
49. “…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8)
50. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)
51. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10)
52. “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)
53. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)
54. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:11)
55. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:23)
56. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:7)
57. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:11)
58. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)
59. “…Love one another.” (II John 5)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Suffering For Christ

In Romans 8:18, Paul says "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." I write this as I am sitting in the hospital room with my dad after he had gall bladder surgery. He is 75 and still going strong. My mom, on the other hand, is 74 and not doing well. She is in the later stages of Parkinson's Disease and has many other ailments - arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and a few other ailments. She is a trooper though. They will be married 55 years next month.

Suffering and pain are inevitable in this life. Our present sufferings, Paul said, are the extreme opposites of the glory that God will reveal us. I couldn't sleep the other night and woke up about 4:30am (I think it was after one of the kids got up). I turned on the TV and was watching a program called "Joni and Friends". It's about a lady named Joni Eareckson Tada ( who is a quadriplegic. She loves the Lord and has devoted her life to serving Him. She made a statement - "I could not trust a God who did not understand suffering". Does God understand suffering?

Jesus endured the death of the cross (Phil 2:8). Jesus knows what it means to suffer. The cross is a symbol of our Christian faith but has not always been. It was a symbol of suffering for years. It was a torture device. Jesus endured suffering to identify with us. In verse 9, God raised Jesus up after his suffering. God, too, will raise you up for suffering for him or using you suffering to bring Him glory.

First Peter 2:21-25 shows that the suffering of Jesus did three things: it allowed Him to serve as our example, substitute, and shepherd. Talking about suffering for Christ, Peter says: "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."

He is our example - we must suffer for him (v21 - we were called to it) and we should act like he did when we do (v22-23 - this is how he reacted to suffering).

He is our substitute - he suffered for sin in our place (v24). When we do suffer for Him, we have healing in Him (v24)

He is our Shepherd - (v25) If suffering is part of Him, then some of us would want to be apart from Him. But apart from Him comes the real suffering - the eternal kind. That's why Paul said the sufferings of this world were nothing compared to the glory that He desires to reveal in us. Not our glory, but His. God wants to reveal Himself through you. This will bring glory to Him but life and healing to those who find Him. He is the good Shepherd and knows what we need and when we need it.

So what if we get a little grief, shame and mistreatment from this present world. It is all for His glory.

We are matured through suffering - 1 Peter 1:6-7. We are brought glory through suffering - 2 Timothy 2:12. We identify with Him through suffering - Philippians 3:10. We are called to suffer for Him - 1 Peter 2:21. Nobody wants to suffer. But if we must suffer - whether physically, emotionally or any other way, let it bring Glory to God and us closer to Him.

If you find yourself in suffering, remember Matthew 11:20-30 - "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Offense, Defense or Nonsense?

The commercials of the Super Bowl are always a highly anticipated event. After all, companies spend millions of dollars on 30 seconds of advertising (some were good - some wasted millions).

One of the "controversial" ads was the Tim Tebow/Focus on the Family ad. It was about a mom who had a miracle baby - SEC standout and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. It ended with a Focus on the Family slide directing people to their website.

"NOW" (National Organization of Women) said the ad was "extraordinarily offensive and demeaning" because it advocated abuse against women. Tim Tebow "tackles" his mom in the ad. (They didn't say this when Betty White was tackled in another Superbowl ad. But she didn't have a commercial about promoting life either)

Lawyers on CNN were interviewed and tried to discredit Tim Tebow's mom's story because they say abortion was illegal and improbable in the Philippines (that's where they were when he was born). They basicly called her a liar.

Pro-Choice advocates were highly upset because of connecting the story of Tim Tebow and his mom with Focus on the Family - a highly pro-life organization.

So what was so offensive about the ad? There was a ton of hype about the ad before it aired. Liberals said, "it's just a way for pro-lifers to shove their message down people's throats". Sorry, chip and dip only during the Super Bowl I guess. But the occasional girl stripping and an ocean of beer commercials will do just fine for a "family event". I guess family and Super Bowl don't go together. Looks like it is reserved for seductive and alcoholic ads. The commercial probably would have worked if Tim Tebow's mom had worn a bikini and was downing a beer.

Pro-abortion and liberal organizations went crazy trying to stop this ad from airing. No surprises here. Pro-abortion organizations always go crazy when someone dares to even insinuate that a baby's life is more sacred than a woman's convenience. I wasn't surprised in the reaction of these pro-abortion organizations as they twisted this ad. After all, do we really expect them to invite before and after images of dismembered infants? They don't want the sad fact about abortions (otherwise known as murder) being displayed before millions of viewers. They want to mask the horror of killing kids behind women's rights. But none of this was in the ad.

The ad merely expressed how glad Tim Tebow's mom was about the birth of her son and her decision to make that choice. While it is obvious she values his life, the ad never mentions abortion, nor does it in any way endorse or promote any position on this topic. Don't you value your kids?

Ok, so he tackled his mom. (Come on guys - not really. It is called "humor". Have you ever seen him really hit someone in a game? He didn't hug them afterwards.) The president of The Women's Media Center said, "I think they're attempting to use humor as another tactic of hiding their message and fooling the American people." What! Are you suggesting that the people watching the Superbowl were so stupid, fools as you say, that they could have been tricked by Tim Tebow and his mom? I guess Doritos tricked me too because I ate some today. Women were not insulted by this ad. People everywhere, though, were insulted by her suggesting all the viewers were fools who could be duped. Focus on the Family and the Tebow's were not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. They simply were celebrating life.

I think the ad with a future pro football player celebrating life with his mom was very appropriate. It's about time we see something positive come out of pro football besides scandal, greed, and unfaithfulness (not to mention prison, selfishness, drug abuse, alcoholism, gambling issues, etc.).

We should, like the Tebow family, celebrate life. Choose life! Jesus came to give it abundantly.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sin Crusher

I have done some scuba diving in the past. I'm no pro. A short (40 ft) lake dive is about my limit. I did dive in the ocean once, looking for a shipwreck, but really was on a wild goose chase. (I think that guy in the Scuba shop "saw us coming"). I drained a tank of air on a bridge dive in Gulf Shores one time as well. I cut my hand on some coral on the bridge pylon and blood started pouring (not really, it just seemed like it). Every shark movie I had ever seen came to mind at that moment.

The deepest recreational divers can go is 130ft when breathing air. To dive deeper, hey mix gases, but only a couple hundred more feet is the limit. The deeper you go, the shorter the time you can stay at that depth. You are actually in the water longer, but not at a constant deep level. The deepest dive recorded was about 1083 feet! Pressure increases when you dive - especially on the air in your lungs. For example, if you take a balloon filled with air at the surface, then drag it down to a depth of ten feet, its volume would become half of what it was at the surface. Think about what your lungs are doing down there. Human divers cannot go deep enough to be crushed though - they would just die because after a certain depth, you just can't breath. (Diving lesson 101 is now over)

I looked it up and the deepest point in the ocean is the Mariana Trench, located in the Pacific Ocean. It has a maximum depth of 35,840 ft - almost 7 miles. At this depth, the atmospheric pressure is so great that it can crush all the bones in your body and reduce you to nothing!

Ok. What is this all about? Why do I say all this about diving? Micah 7:19 says, "You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!" Before anyone understood atmospheric pressure or even though about recreational diving or submarines, Jesus used a word picture to illustrate his cleaning power over sin. When cast into the bottom of the sea, our sins are crushed to the point of disintegration. Jesus destroys our sin! How alive this becomes when you understand what happens to objects at the bottom of the ocean. The ocean could never crush our sins the way Jesus can though. He obliterates it. A phrase you may have heard "The Sea of Forgetfulness" is not actually in the Bible. But the concept is. The scripture says in Psalm 103:12 that God has put our sins away from us as far as the east is from the west. This is a statement of infinity. Sin is removed as far as possible from us by the sacrifice of Jesus life on the Cross.

Think of that image: God taking your sins under his feet, he tramples over them, they become like dust. These sins are then thrust into the deep, deep ocean. Or as the prophet Jeremiah put it: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34) Thank you Jesus for removing my sins from me and from your remembrance. I am grateful and yours.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jesus Laid His Life Down

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers - 1 John 3:16 NIV

Jesus chose to lay His life down for us. He chose to come to this earth to die. He could have stayed in heaven and not physically died, but willingly laid His life down so we could live eternally. John 10:17-18: "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."

We cannot choose to die physically. Death is not up to us now. We don't have a choice in the matter. We wll all one day die. Someone might say that people can choose to die (kamakazi pilots, suicides, etc) but that is not true. They can choose WHEN to die but death cannot be chosen - we will all die. Hebrews 9:27a: "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." Death has been chosen for us by the 1st Adam's sin. We automtically will die one day because of sin. Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned."

The good news of death is found in Romans 5:21 in what Jesus did. Just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The rest of Hebrews 9:27-28 says, " Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."

1 Corinthians 15:45 says, "So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit." God made us a living being. Because of sin, we now will die. Jesus, the last Adam is our life-giving spirit. We get eternal life through Him. Notice I didn't say the second Adam like some people do. He isn't the second because what he did finalized death and life - it brought us eternity. Death is swallowed up by Jesus' victory on the cross and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

What a Savior! Jesus willingly came to die. His death brings us life. Our sin brought death, his death brings life. What love! What sacrifice - knowing your life's purpose and mission was to die to bring life. It is hard to imagine that Jesus "...for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2. That is why I fix my eyes on you and you alone.

John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How did Jesus Pray?

Jesus prayed a lot. He gave us a model prayer in Matthew 6:5-15. Jesus loved His Dad and talked with Him often. He prayed for wisdom and guidance. He prayed for others to come to know Him as Savior and Lord. He prayed for the twelve disciples. Jesus prayed for God to strengthen their ministry once He departed. He prayed with honesty and reverence. He prayed with joy and praise. But most of all, Jesus prayed with expectation. He knew the Father heard His prayers and would respond.
But, when he prayed, how did he do it?

1. Jesus prayed for guidance in a quiet place - “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35)

2. Jesus prayed in praise to God - “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure’” (Luke 10:21).

3. Jesus prayed in submission and on his face - “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39).

4. Jesus prayed in tears and out loud - "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission." (Hebrews 5:7)

There are many other scriptures about how Jesus prayed. Pray like Jesus prayed!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bread From Heaven

Ok. I've been reading John 6. Two of the greatest miracles happen in the first of this chapter - Jesus feeds 5000+ men and women from a little boy's lunch. To put it in perspective, Phillip (who doesn't talk much in scripture) says it would take about 8 month's wages to pay for one bite each for the people present. Jesus feeds them all with food left over - a lot of food. 12 baskets.

The second miracle is Jesus walking on the water (not the time when Peter walks with him).

Now for the weird part. The crowd that Jesus fed was following him - looking for another free meal. After all, Moses sent manna from heaven every day. When was this gonna start for us? Jesus had already told them it wasn't about physical bread, but spiritual bread. They just didn't get it.

Maybe you need another clue they didn't get it. The crowd goes on to ask Jesus for a sign so they could believe in him. What? A sign? Didn't he just make food out of nothing to feed 5000 men (now if there was a woman present for every man and a kid or two, then that was about 15,000-20,000 people he fed from a 2 piece fish dinner). Didn't he just walk on water? What more of a sign (not to mention there were two signs) do you want?

The people wanted bread to eat. Jesus said he could give them bread that sustained them forever. They said give us that bread. But when Jesus said He was that bread given by His father, they grumbled and wouldn't accept this truth. For some reason, they thought there would be more? What? How could there be more? Jesus is everything.

A ton of disciples left him that day. Which makes me wonder if they really were disciples. They evidentally were with Jesus for what he could give them to satisfy their physical hunger. He even asked the 12 disciples if they wanted to leave as well. Peter answered rightly - where would we go? He understood. What could be greater than Jesus - he was the bread of life. God had the true bakery. These guys saw many of Jesus signs, but wanted Jesus, not His signs. The people who were fed bread and fish the day before just wanted their bellies to be full. If they couldn't have that, they didn't want Jesus. Manna every day was a great miracle, but that will grow old without a love and relationship with God. Our flesh grows tired quickly. My spirit longs eternally for you Jesus.

God, I hope I don't treat your Son - Your Gift to us, as a means to fill my selfish desires. On a practical note - I pray I don't I pray my desires are your desires. I pray I desire Jesus - not to have my belly full.