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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Storm Calming

I have heard it said that Jesus can calm storms or calm us in order to go through life's trials.  It really helps to be reminded when you are going through the hard times who to keep focused on. 

Our God is not only greater, but He is the absolute greatest. Even in the midst of trouble, instead of praising your problem and magnifying it, give praise to your God, magnify Him, and watch Him stand up and step in on your behalf.  

Like the old hymn reminds us:

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, 
Look full in His wonderful face, 
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, 
In the light of His glory and grace.
Thank you Jesus for never taking your eyes off of us, and walking with us through the storms of this life.
Amen?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hear My Cry

I did a funeral of a young man last year. It was a real tragedy with many questions that might never get answered. Answers and hope at a time like this can only come from God. We need to look (up) and listen (obediently) to the Lord.

At times like these we must look to God through His Word for direction, hope, and comfort. In Psalm 88 the psalmist begins with his eyes looking up for help.

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
    day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
   turn your ear to my cry.

Then he looks at the world and starts his lament.

 I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. I am set apart with the dead,  like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have taken from me my closest friends  and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape;  my eyes are dim with grief.  Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?

Then he looks back up from where our help really comes from.

I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. 
I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.

How's your life? ... 
Are you looking up for your help or looking out? ... 
Are you listening?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Is the Bible True?

A few years ago I preached through the series God Questions. One of the questions was, Is the Bible true?  To find a major part of the answer we must consider how the Bible has been copied and translated. This is a longer than usual blog but full of lots of information on the subject which I think you'll find very interesting.

The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. 99% of the OT is in Hebrew. The second half of the book of Daniel is in Aramaic, because Daniel was living in Babylon, and that was the trade language used there. The NT is all in Koine Greek.
 The Talmudim (Hebrew for, “students,”) shepherded the transmission of the Torah [Old Testament] from A.D. 100 – 500.

Synagogue scrolls had to be written on specially prepared skins of clean animals and fastened with strings taken from clean animals. Each skin had to contain a certain number of columns. Each column had to have between 48 and 60 lines and be 30 letters wide. The spacing between consonants, sections and books was precise, measured by hairs or threads. The ink had to be black and prepared with a specific recipe. The transcriber could not deviate from the original in any manner. No words could be written from memory. The person making the copy had to wash his whole body before beginning and had to be in full Jewish dress. The scribe had to reverently wipe his pen each time he wrote the word “God” (“Elohim”), and wash his whole body before writing God’s covenant name “Yahweh.”  The Talmudim were meticulous.

The Massoretes

The Massoretes, who oversaw the Torah from A.D. 500-900, adopted an even more elaborate means of insuring transcriptional accuracy. They numbered the verses, words and letters of each book and calculated the midpoint of each one. When a scroll was complete, independent sources counted the number of words and syllables forward, then backward, then from the middle of the text each direction, to make sure that the exact number had been preserved. Proof reading and revision had to be done within 30 days of a completed manuscript. Up to two mistakes on a page could be corrected. Three mistakes on a page condemned the whole manuscript.

These scribes treated the text so reverently that older manuscripts were destroyed to keep them from being misread. Prior to 1947, the oldest extant Hebrew manuscript was from the 9th century. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls enabled us to check the accuracy of our current manuscripts against ones from 100 B.C.  When we compare the 100 B.C. Qumran scrolls to our 9th century manuscripts (a 1000 year gap), we find that an amazing 95% of the texts are identical, with only minor variations and a few discrepancies.

If the Talmudim were meticulous, The Massoretes were MORE meticulous.

The New Testament has 24,000 manuscripts to compare, and The English Bible is translated directly from the original languages.


Know what God's Word says - and apply it to your life. Amen?

Monday, April 27, 2015

God's Will

Do you ever wonder if you are doing the right thing? Jesus is our model for how to be in God's will - all the time. He also models how to be about the Father's business.

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the Good News." Mark 1:12-15

Solomon said that there is time for every activity under the sun- a time to act and a time to pray.

In obedience we need to be ready when we are called on to act. We prepare ourselves at other times when we listen and spend time with God.

Where is God calling you to now?

Be still, listen, know and respond to Jesus' voice.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Listening

Listening is a great skill. My boss used to say, "God gave you two ears and one mouth - use them proportionately!" In today's scripture we're reminded who to listen too.

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. Mark 9:2-10

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

How do you imagine this scene, and what does it mean to you?

At the end of the scene, it was just Jesus and His disciples. His promise is that He will never leave you. When you are alone with Him what is He telling you?

Take time today - look up and listen to Jesus. Amen?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Don't Sink

We need to learn to build our life on the Bible so that we’re building on solid rock. When the storms and trials and difficulties of life come, you’ll be able to handle it.

Jesus ended the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7:24-29, by telling a story.  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,  because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

 Knowing Jesus as Savior and applying the Bible to your life enables you to withstand life’s storms.

On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand!

Build on the solid foundation. Amen?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Revival

We see a movement of God’s people praying for revival in Psalm 85:6-7.   - Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, LORD, and grant us your salvation.

Let’s look today at some questions concerning this movement of God.

What is Revival? Not evangelism even though many may be saved as a result of it. It is not emotionalism although there may be emotional manifestations connected to it.  It is a renewal of spiritual life in an individual or among a group of people.

When is Revival Needed?  Whenever the love of God's people has grown cold revival is needed.

What Kind of Revival Do We Need? We need a revival that will resurrect the church, rekindle our passion for God, and restore joy and victory to the child of God.

How Can We Have Revival? Only God can send revival. We must face up to spiritual realities, and commit to do things God’s way and not our own.. We must desire and pray to be revived.

 Will you join me in praying for revival?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Engage


As we saw yesterday in Luke 19:1-10 the people all murmured or muttered about Zacchaeus. Jesus did not and gives us a picture of the relationship He desires with all humanity. There are three things we can take from this passage.


1. God is a seeking God. Why do we expect people come to us? We need to be willing to go and share the Gospel.

2 God calls us by name - people want to be heard and recognized.Why do you think Walmart has greeters? Image is not everything – relationship is what people desire.

3. Jesus identifies with us. He wants to spend time with us, even though He knows all about us!

Do you know your community, and are you glad when people come to your church?

Do you seek opportunities to engage with them?

In Jesus’ Great Commission we are told to Go! 
Are you ready?

 Be Jesus to the world around you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Funny

If I ever get around to write my book one chapter will be entitled, “People are funny”. I must say that three or four times a day, and I am not always talking about humor. If you know what I mean. We all have differences and look at life differently. People have their own life experiences and ways of doing things. We may view what they do or say as "funny".

In Luke 19:1-10, we see a man named Zacchaeus, that people murmured or muttered about. They thought he was funny.

 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.  When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”  So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.  All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”  But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

As you can see Jesus’ reaction to this “funny little man” was very different than most people. Let’s be honest, we wouldn't have much to do with him either. Praise God that Jesus loves us in spite of ourselves! Be nice to someone today in the Name of Jesus - regardless how funny they are. 
Amen?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Promised Hope

Hope is an incredible word, full of promise that better days are ahead. Sometimes life comes at you fast and we are dealing with things we never planned on. How many times in life do things not turn out as we planned or hoped for?

Maybe we need to consider what hope is. Hope in God’s eyes is not wishful thinking but means a “strong and confident expectation”.

Look at the promises that are made in Proverbs:
Proverbs 10:28 - The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.
Proverbs 11:7 - Hopes placed in mortals die with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.
Proverbs 11:23 - The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
Proverbs 23:18 - There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
Proverbs 26:12 - Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.

Follow the Word, receive it's promises, and apply them to your life. Receive the hope that only God can give. 
Amen?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Choosing

I read an article about Medical experts who had been researching why people choose a particular doctor over others. They determined it's three A's: "Affinity, Availability, Ability."

Affinity asks whether the doctor seems friendly, approachable, empathetic, and genuinely caring. Availability takes into account how long you have to wait to see the doctor. Ability measures their skill as a doctor.

The results of the research were that ability was the least important. Availability was in the middle. And the most important thing when choosing a doctor was affability or affinity.

What if we used these findings in determining how people choose a church. Better yet how about using these findings in determining why people go to church or not. I think we can. 

Remember people don't care what (or Who) you know until they know you care. Let's be genuine in sharing Christ's love with a world that desperately needs it.
Amen?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Living on the Line

Yesterday I asked the question, Whose side are you on? The following story is a good illustration called, SITTING ON THE FENCE  (WHO'S SIDE ARE WE ON?)

There was an incredibly large group of people assembled. On one side of the group stood a man, Jesus. On the other side of the group stood another man, Satan. Separating them, running through the group was a fence.  The scene set both Jesus and Satan began calling to the people in the group and, one by one, each having made up his or her mind, each went to either Jesus or Satan. This kept going and eventually Jesus had gathered around him a group
of people from the larger crowds, as did Satan. But one man joined neither group. He climbed the fence that was there and just sat down on it.
Then Jesus and his people left and disappeared. So too did Satan and his people. And the man on the fence sat alone. As this man sat there, Satan came back, and appeared to be looking for something that he'd lost. The man said, "Have you lost something Satan looked straight at him and replied, "No, there you are. Come with me." "But," said the man, "I sat on the fence. I chose neither you nor Him. "That's okay," said Satan. "I own the fence.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” 
- Joshua 24:15
Amen?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Taking Sides

There are two things that are pretty apparent in today's world; 1. Christians are not gathering for worship, service, and study like they should. 2. The world is getting worse (more evil). Neither of these two facts take God by surprise.

 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:23-25
So...What can we do about it? 
First, we need to make church a priority instead of a second (or third...) choice. Our desire to meet with God's people as His family has to mean something of utmost importance. Those around us will notice, and we'll be better for it.
 Second, we need to be proactive in our stance for God's plan and ways (righteousness). Praying constantly and speaking up when we have our chance. The church's silence in the face of evil has done as much to promote wickedness as the enemy himself. There is definitely a battle being raged between good and evil.
Whose side are you on?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Forgiveness Day

Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful words in the human vocabulary. How much pain and unhappy consequences could be avoided if we all learned the meaning of this word?
 King David shared some of the emotion he personally experienced after he asked God to “wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin”. - Psalm 51:2
Elsewhere he says,“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit”. - Psalm 32:1–2
In one bold stroke, forgiveness obliterates the past and permits us to enter the land of new beginnings.
We all need forgiveness in our lives. Who do you need to forgive? Maybe it's yourself. If God can forgive us of our sins, how can we not forgive ourselves?
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
Let's make this Accept and Give Forgiveness Day
Amen?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Path

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a follower of Christ. I recently read a book by the famous preacher C H Spurgeon who over a hundred years ago had this to say about following Christ.
Brethren remember, to keep close to Jesus Christ is right. It is in itself to keep close to integrity, for the Lord Jesus never stepped out of the right path. He never asks any of his followers to do anything which be a breach of the right, or which will make them turn aside from uprightness. If we could put our feet down exactly where his feet went down, even though we had to walk up to Calvary itself, it would be our duty so to do, for his path was perfect rectitude, and in him was no sin. We challenge heaven, with its omniscience, to detect a flaw in him. We challenge hell, with its malice, to discover in him an aught that is amiss. Lovers of the right and of the true, ask grace that you may be as he was. You cannot be more eminent for virtue than he. You cannot serve your God better. You cannot do better than keep close to every step that he has taken, and, whether in life or in death, to follow him. It is right, then, because he deserves it; it is right, again because in itself it is according to the eternal rules of equity.

Some things never change regardless of time. Jesus’ path was perfect may our desire be to follow Him as closely as possible. 
Follow the the Leader - Jesus, everyday. 

Amen?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stepping

Jesus called His disciples by saying, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. They left their nets and boats and turned their lives over to Him. In essence he does the same with us we are called to “Follow Him”. As we turn our lives over to His will and ways we will be taught how to share the Gospel (be Fishers of men).

Most of my family wears a "fitbit" - it counts our steps each day. We can see how each other have done during the day, week, or lifetime. Yes, it has become something of a competition to see who gets in the most steps! What if we all all wore a "Jesus-bit" with the ability for us to see how we are doing in our walk with Christ? Interesting concept, but be assured someone is counting...
Jeremiah 10:23 -I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.

Proverbs 16:9- In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

 In order to follow someone, you turn away from your past life of sin, turn your life over (towards) to Christ, and take the steps necessary to follow Him

Galatians 5:24-25 –Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

1 Peter 2:21 - To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Keep in step with Christ. Amen?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Consistent

God honors a consistent life of obedience and faithfulness. From the time of our salvation till we go to heaven we must keep our focus vertical - on Him always. Our marching orders all the same. Jesus said in Luke 9:23-26 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?  Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Three truths we must remember to follow Christ:

The DESIRE to Follow (v.23)
Following Jesus requires a deeper knowledge of God, a deeper desire to pray before acting, and a more serious reflection about the Christ found in Scripture. (“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13)

The DENIAL of Self (vv.24-26)
To follow Christ means to renounce one’s will and ways
By living for ourselves we die, by dying to ourselves we live. (Born twice die once)

The DAILY Walk (v.23)
Every new idea should be born of prayer, quiet reflection, and careful consideration of the steps and thoughts and heart of Jesus. (Daily dying to self)

Go and preach the Gospel, and if you must, use words.”- St Francis

Be consistent in your walk with Jesus. Put a smile on God's face.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Hood

We have all heard of being part of the “hood” or priesthood, motherhood, fatherhood, etc. What would a group of sold out followers be called? Are you part of Jesus’ “followhood”? Jesus said in John 12:26: Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

People have said they will follow Christ when their lives get straightened out. We all know that will never happen.
I've heard that insanity can be defined as: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Another way to say it would be; Doing the same old things & expecting a different outcome. 
If we are not following Christ then we cannot complain about our circumstances. The original believers were called “Christ Followers”, and that is what we should be about doing in our daily lives.

Remember - “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Be part of the "Followhood" – be a Christ Follower.
Amen?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Takeaway

What "takeaway" did you receive this Easter? Jesus spoke directly in to the lives of His disciples on Resurrection Sunday, and speaks to us as well. The thing that resonates with me is how He greeted His friends after He arose from the dead. He didn't go in to a great sermon or an explanation about what happened. He simply said, Peace

We tend to miss this in our studies. We spend time on other details. We grin at Thomas' reaction of Jesus showing up just after he had said he wouldn't believe unless he touched Christ's wounds.

I'm sure Jesus was pleased that His doubting friend fell to his knees proclaiming Jesus Lord. Jesus said it was greater to believe and to have not seen. The writer of Hebrews teaches on this same aspect of faith. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1

What do you have faith or hope in? Is it seen or not seen?

Jesus said those with "blind faith" in Him are blessed. They will receive His peace.

If someone ever ask you to show them the evidence of Christ tell them to look at your believing heart. Allow His peace and light to shine in your life - the darkness will lose every time.

Thank you Jesus for your peace that I cannot comprehend, but humbly accept. Amen?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Easter Truths

Easter says you can put Truth in the grave but it won’t stay there!“But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” -Acts 2:24

Eight Truths about the Resurrection:
1. Jesus’ grave was empty. No one doubts this!
2. Women discovered the empty tomb. - There were eyewitnesses!
3. The site of Jesus’ tomb was known. - It was public knowledge!
4. Nobody ever claimed the tomb still contained Jesus’ body.
- Conspiracy theories are made up!
5. The resurrection was the church’s proclamation from the beginning. - Changed lives are proof! (Cowards become bold evangelists)
6. The appearances of Jesus. - Over 500 people saw Him!
7. Skeptics were converted. - Thomas and Jesus’ brothers just to name a few.

8. The miraculous emergence of the church. - The first 50 years of the church saw unprecedented growth!

May we take the Truth of the Resurrection and apply them to our lives. Amen?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hard Hearts

Yesterday I wrote about Jesus weeping with us in our sorrows. Jesus also weeps over our sins, and He is troubled by our blinded eyes. Read the account of Jesus' Triumphal Entry in  Luke 19:28-40 when Jesus comes to Jerusalem as king.

Most of our sermons and lessons for this day have to do with the crowds, shouts of hosannas, the parade, the excitement, etc. But Jesus knew that all of it was a sham. In a few short days the crowds would turn on Him – cheers turn in to jeers – hosannas in to Crucify Him!

Can you picture Him that day? Prophecy was fulfilled. The Messiah riding on a donkey, over palm branches, and people's coats. He had the praise of the people and was the center of attention. How would you have felt? The closes thing I could imagine would be in a convertible in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade route. Jesus reacted different than we would. Luke 19:41-42 tells us, As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. This is referring to the desolation of Jerusalem and future refusal of Him because of their hard hearts, stiff necks, and blinded eyes.
  
You see the crowds wanted a military general type king. A week later they realized that wasn't what Jesus was about. So they crowned Him with thorns instead of a golden crown. His Kingdom was not of this world. Jesus wept for a blind sinful world. His weeping here is different than in Bethany (a gentle sobbing). The word here entails a loud sobbing, wailing, groaning, and cries that could be heard far away. Jesus was pouring out His heart over our spiritual neglect and sin. Note in Bethany He was joined in His weeping, but today He wept alone.

Sadly the church of Jesus Christ doesn't seem to be weeping over the sins of those around them or even our own sins. We are hardly troubled by blinded eyes. What are you blinded from? Do you need to be shedding tears over someone or something in your world? Jesus is weeping. Will you join Him?