truth

So, now what?

Now what?

Easter Sunday came and then this morning Monday arrived right on schedule.  All the excitement that went into getting dressed up nice for church yesterday and having a nice meal with family has now left and Monday has showed up.  So we get up and live our lives.  Work needs to be done.  Bills need to be paid.  The kids need to be fed and bathed.  Life continues.  So, now what?

Every Sunday is Easter Sunday

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All dressed in my Sunday best — ready to hunt for eggs. 

The truth is you can experience the same anticipation every Sunday.  Why?  Because every week we celebrate that the tomb was empty.  We celebrate that unlike any other ‘god’ ever conjured up by the minds of men, Jesus Christ is the only one without a grave stone to go visit.  He is alive! We don’t have a memorial day to remember Jesus, we have a Resurrection Day! This makes Him the only one able to forgive us our sins and give us eternal life.

The bigger question then is why?  Why is it that so many people get so excited about this one day every year and the rest of the year forget about Jesus, or at least get indifferent toward Him?  Why is it that the same people who were enthusiastic about singing “He arose!” this past Sunday, won’t be back next week to sing praises to the very same God?  God hasn’t changed.  He is still alive and we are still just as desperate for Him.

Knowing Jesus vs. Knowing About Jesus

It all comes down to knowing Jesus Christ.  In John 17 Jesus said: “Now this is eternal life:  that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.” (v3)  We need to know Jesus Christ, as in have a personal encounter with Him in our own lives.  Having knowledge allows us to answer questions correctly.  Experiencing Jesus Christ allows Him to touch every area of our life.  Have you experienced Jesus Christ in your life?

I remember what happened when I met Jesus.  I had gone to church and heard the stories.  But I did not ever feel like there was any real connection with God to be had.  It seemed like God was distant and cold and I was just supposed to sort of do some good things and figure it out.  But when I met Jesus Christ, everything changed.  Suddenly there was a hunger in me for more of Him.  I enjoyed singing His praise and wanted to be in Church on Sunday to proclaim that He was alive!  I lived with this new understanding that I had been saved not by my works, but because of Jesus’ death on the cross for me.

So, now what?

So, now what?  Now is the time to grow closer to Jesus.  Now is the time to give Him a chance to show up in your life and change you.  Now is the time to bring all your doubts and fears out and ask Him to answer the questions that you have.  Show up to church worship services.  Get involved in the life of a local church.  See what it is all about and position yourself in a place where God is free to work in you.  Try it out and see what happens.  I know from my own experience that if you let Him, He will change your life.


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Embrace The Truth

Truth.  We want to know it and yet so often ignore it.  The truth hurts.  Believe me, I know.  I was just reflecting on my early days of preaching and the feedback I would incur.  Of course nothing is quite as convincing as listening to the recording and realizing that their criticism is right.  But we need to hear and apply truth.

In John 18 Pilate is seeking the truth from Jesus until he finally looks at Jesus in verse 18 and says “What is truth?”  The then walks away.  Why?  Why not wait for a response?

I think that Pilate was getting a little too close to the truth for comfort.  Maybe if I don’t know what the truth is, I can live life however I want.  But Pilate then goes to the crowd and asks them what he should do.  Isn’t that just like the human heart?

 

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What is the truth?   

In our homes we have the Word of God and direct access to God through Christ.  We have no excuse for not knowing and living the truth.  But where do we go?  Popular opinions.  We go to the hot topics of the day and rather than applying Biblical truth to our lives, we look for ways around it.

As we come to Resurrection Sunday this week, may we be surrendered to the truth and embrace the truth.

Jesus, after all, said that He is the truth!  

 

Steadfast in Truth

Led by truth

Led by truth

One of the most significant things any Christian can do is to uphold the Word of God.   There are a lot of people out there who think they have the answer when they have not really taken the time to study God’s Word.  There are even people in positions of spiritual authority who abuse their position and deceive many.    The distortion of the Bible is nothing new.  If you got back to 1 Kings 13 there is a story about a prophet who is told very specifically what to do.  He was not to eat the bread, drink the water or return the way he came because that is what God said.   He went where he was supposed to go and the king offered him food and water.  What did he do?

He obeyed God’s Word

This is one of those victories for the believer because he is so resolved in his conviction.  He says he would not even go if he were to give him half his possessions.  Do you see that?  The value of the Word of God is so powerful and real to him that he is not going to jeopardize that.   He believes it and he does it.  He then leaves, going a different way because that was what he was told to do.

This is when things get troubling for him.  There was an old prophet who decided to chase him down and lie to him.

“The old prophet answered, I too am a prophet, as you are.  And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD”  Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat brad and drink water. (But he was lying to him.” – 1 Kings 13:18

He gets fooled by someone who should have been honest with him. 

A prophet is supposed to be a truth teller.  How hard would it be to ignore a man who is supposed to be a prophet?  You would think it would have been easy if you knew that God said something else.  God wasn’t going to change his mind!  He should not have let his guard down. But it only took an instant and he was deceived.

I think this is so powerful for any of us because we can so easily be deceived if we don’t remain steadfast in what we know God says.  The right answer would have been “that is not what God said!”  In today’s context there are many who just don’t know what God said.  We need to stop thinking with our emotions and start thinking through the grid of God’s Word.

He gets punished 

The next section we see the man getting killed by a lion.  That seems harsh on the surface.  We need to understand that he knew better and he made a choice to completely ignore what God told him.  The problem here is not God’s judgement; the problem is the sinful man who disobeyed.

So this serves as a fair warning for all of us.  Are you being pushed around by popular culture or by people who have written best-selling books?  You do realize that the Bible is a best seller too, right?  Let’s make sure we have things in the right order.  The prophet in this story put the words of some prophet over God.  That is a costly error- one that I don’t want to make.

 

 

Remember to give and receive and give again.

IMAG0329Christmas is such a magical time.   There is just something about lights and snow that makes me want to drink hot chocolate with candy canes.  It brings families together and brings people to church for candlelight services.    There is something very intriguing to us about a silent night that was interrupted by a chorus of angels praising God for the birth of Jesus Christ. The only thing is that each year it seems like we add more distance between that scene in Bethlehem and what Christmas has become.    Yet,  no matter what we try to scream at each other, Christmas still means something valuable to all of us.  We don’t just enjoy it, we long for it.  It is the one time of year when we throw out all caution about leaving the lights on and we add more lights to our home.  I mean, it is Christmas — it only comes once a year!

Steeped in all of the commercial and political correct jargon is the reality of what has taken place.  Sure a winter solstice is happening, but Christmas was not that big of a deal until it became a celebration of Jesus.  It provided a time for us to gather together to tell the story of God taking on flesh to save people who have rejected Him.  It allows all of us to start to answer the question about what this is all about and how we can have hope in a future.  Jesus is the gift we need and He is where the focus needs to be.  The story actually includes us.

Think about what would happen if you received a gift that would save your life.  If your life literally hung in the balance and you got what you needed to live, would you put that gift on the shelf?  I know I would open it up and apply it to my life.  If I knew someone else with the same problem as I had, I think it would be a nice idea to try to save them too, wouldn’t it?

Who wouldn't want to watch this sheep?

Who wouldn’t want to watch this sheep?

In Luke 2 there are shepherds out tending to their flocks.  It says that they were living in the fields.  I would imagine that it was an ordinary night of sheep watching.  Then God showed up and His glory shown around them.  In other words, they knew that it was the Lord who was showing up to tell them something.  Despite their fear, they are able to calm down and hear about the Savior who has been born.  The gift is a baby and not just any baby, the Savior of the world for all people!

So they go to see and they find the baby in the manger.  What they do next is what I think we need to remember — they went and told everyone!  There is good news and they want the world to know.

This challenges me to make sure I don’t miss out on the giving part of Christmas.  There are people all around us who have never received the gift of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ.  We must not keep Him to ourselves.  I know it is not politically correct to talk about Jesus, but it is far worse not to.  The Savior has come for all people.  (yes, even them)

I believe that all of the rhetoric and media hype over things people say is just a distraction from what really matters.  We need to keep our head on straight.  Jesus Christ is the way for anyone who will come.  Christmas is a holiday to celebrate that.  The Bible is truth and God does not need us to defend any of it.  We are to share the gift of Jesus with the world around us.

As you receive the blessing of drawing near to God because of Jesus, remember also to share Him with others.

Merry Christmas! 

 

Hidden in Christ

This morning as I prayed for today and all that God will do with this conference, I was struck with Colossians 3:1-3. There is real affirmation in these words.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

What an amazing way to affirm our position in Christ and our mission with Him. I am encouraged to know that my life is hidden in Christ? Soak in that for a while; I know I will.

Thanks for praying for the Life Conference. We have two more days.

Never The Same

heartLove changes us because love comes from God.  Because of Jesus Christ we are not only loved but we love others.  He has shown perfect love to us and this has changed us on the inside and we are never the same!

Love affects everything it touches.

 Love Affects Us – It speaks truth over us

Do you ever look at yourself and wish you were different?  I wish I was like that person because they have their life together, or  following God seems so easy for them.  I wish I was able to obey better than I am.  How could God continue to love me and be patient with me when I mess up so much?  Is there something wrong with me?

Or how about this one: Do you really believe God said that?  Do you really believe there is a loving God when you look at the world and see all the suffering?  Do you really think that a loving God would allow a bomb to go off at the Boston Marathon?  And on and on it goes.    It is an assault on truth.  It is taking the brokenness of humanity and lining it up to view of God that comes from experience and not from the Bible.  It is no wonder people are confused.

We do not draw the power of our being and identity from our experiences.  We draw our identity from the Truth.  We appeal to God for all of the truth because we don’t see it all.  We don’t understand it all.  When it comes to our own lives where do we look?  We look at what God said about us in Christ.

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. – 1 John 3:20

When we trust Jesus Christ, the sin in us is condemned, not us. (see Romans 8:1-13)   If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, have trusted Him, turning away from your way and turning to Christ, then love has changed you and is speaking a different word over you.    You are loved.  You are forgiven.  This world is not your home and one day all that is wrong will be right.

Our emotions are not to be trusted.  One moment we are happy, one moment we are sad, one moment we are tired.  All of those emotions or the “I feel like this might be okay because this is 2013” needs to be put up against God’s Word because He never changes.     Look to His Word.  We are to take our identity from Him and to obey His Word for real joy in life.

Love Affects Others – We are to share that love with all.

In the wake of the Boston bombings, we have seen this type of thing take place.  We are called to pray for our enemies, including people like this young terrorist.  If we believe that Jesus is truly the hope of the world, then that includes this man also.  As awful a thing that he has done, he needs to trust Jesus and be forgiven like the rest of us because his time on this earth is essentially over.  He needs Jesus.

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. – 1 John 3:23

We all know people who don’t know Jesus as their Savior.   There is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ.  That means that trying to earn your way to heaven by doing good things or those who don’t know Jesus because they have not been told will not make it.  This means we need to do our part to tell others about Jesus so that they can make a decision to believe in Him and not die apart from Him.  At that point it is too late.

I know it is not popular.  It is not politically correct to talk about Jesus, but as A.W. Tozer said “The world seems to possess a real genius for being wrong, even an educated world.”  We are called to share the Gospel with people, to tell them that Jesus loves them and pray that they respond to His calling.  We can’t make anyone believe, but we have a job to tell the world.

Love affects all of us – Jesus Christ calls us to believe and obey

We were separated from God because of our sin.  There was no way for us to be anywhere near God.  So God made a way for that to be possible by taking all of the those rebellious things and placing them on Jesus Christ because the wages for sin is death.  Jesus died, took the sin, and rose again from the dead to beat sin.  We are now able to believe in Jesus.   We turn away from our old way of sin and turn to a new way in Jesus.

This is what it is all about.  It is about complete change, transformation, forgiveness and entering into God’s Kingdom.

That is what love has done for us.  We need to receive His love.  So many people reject it because they think they know better.  But, God has demonstrated his love to us by Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth to show God to us and then His death and resurrection which allows us to be a part of it.  Because of His love for us we are never the same and the world changes also.

 

Lie To Your Spouse; Lie In The Mess

weddingLet me give you some horrible marriage advice:  “Lie to your spouse.”   Our progressive way of thinking about the world and the people in it has caused more people to embrace outright lying to the people closest to them.  We make it sound nice by calling the lies ‘white’ or ‘little’ or even ‘buffering.’  The experts are out in the world claiming that a few lies, if they are not excessive, can make your marriage happier.  An article I read about this even had a quote that said, “Full disclosure isn’t always best for couples.  Some forms of lying can be productive.” That appears to be a lie itself and I don’t feel like it is being productive.

The truth is a foundational piece of marriage. Without fully disclosing yourself to your spouse, what is your marriage based on?  It is like using a loan to infuse cash into your business.  Sure, it might make things better in the short-term, but in the long run you still need to increase cash flow and pay off the debt.    In the same way, if I am not completely honest with my spouse, then I have accrued debt.  Sure she might be happy because “what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her”, but I know it is there and it could plague my mind, much like an outstanding debt could.  Then there is the day she finds out about it and realizes that you chose not to tell her about it.  Time to pay up! Well, doesn’t that sound like a great time.  My point is that the short-term happiness that has been kept by avoiding some piece of information has actually done more harm in the long-term, with compound interest, then it would have if it was taken care of right away.

Now maybe you don’t like that, so let’s think of it another way.  Let’s say that you were lied to by the person closest to you.  It could be something insignificant, like the fact that they really hated the gift you got them, or it could be something larger, like they are cheating on you.  If you don’t know, are you better off?  It might seem like it, but are you?  What about if you find out later?  Are you still happy about not knowing before?

We like it when we are treated with honesty.  The truth keeps the air clear between people.  The truth keeps relationships free of any undercurrents that could threaten to take us under.  The truth keeps our commitment to love one another for better worse front and center.

I say it makes no difference what the supposed experts say.  The value of intentionally being open, honest, and vulnerable with your spouse, no matter how hard that might be at times, will only serve to shore up your relational foundation.  Then when something comes that wants to tear you down, you have a strong place to stand on because your foundation is truth.

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Article referenced:  The Little Lies Spouses Tell (Wall Street Journal)