Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Foolishness of the Cross

As a Christian I know my faith in Jesus Christ is counter cultural; it doesn't mesh with the way of the world. 

I have preached on many occasions from John 15:18-20 which says, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you."

When an unbeliever speaks out against Christians in general or my faith personally, I am not surprised by this. Jesus said this is the way things would be. This does not mean I let the world trample over me. I will take a stand for what is right, but I won't be surprised if the world doesn't understand or even mocks my faith.

Just this week Omarosa Newman, the Trump administration’s former director of communications for its Office of Public Liaison, spoke out about Vice President Mike Pence's faith in Jesus Christ and how not only does he talk to Jesus, but Jesus talks to him. This caused a big splash in the media. Joy Behar, co-host of The View, spoke out this week in response to Omarosa's comments and had this to say: "It’s one thing to talk to Jesus, it’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness."

As I thought about this, a verse came to mind. 1 Corinthians 1:18 - "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." The gospel is foolish and offensive to many in our world today. They would rather rely on their own wisdom than the message of the cross.

So what should the Christian's response be? If Jesus tells us to expect the world to hate us as His followers and to expect that we will be persecuted, what should we do?

1. Reflect the love of Christ. We must avoid the temptation to fight back and be harsh. When we display the love of Christ, God is glorified, and our witness is made stronger.

2. Take joy in persecution. I know what you are thinking: This guy has lost his mind. 

Consider this: Jesus said in Luke 6:22-23"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets." 

Or how about 1 Peter 4:14, 16 - "If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you ... if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name."

Jesus promises those who suffer for Him eternal rewards. It only makes sense to pay the price in this life and experience Christ's joy and rewards in the life to come.

So the next time you hear of Christians being mocked or you yourself experience a certain level of discomfort when you stand firm on your convictions and in your faith, count it a privilege to be a follower of Jesus Christ and reflect His glory to the world.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Forgive One Another

Forgiveness, that's something we all need and want from others but one of the most difficult things to give to others.

How do we learn to forgive?

Colossians 3:13 says, Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

I know what your thinking, "You don't know how I've been hurt. I don't want to forgive, I want justice. I want the other person to know the pain they caused me.

The truth is, forgiveness is not easy, it does not come naturally. But we must learn to forgive.

Did you catch the last phase of that verse in Colossians? "Just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you".

Jesus could certainly find fault with us. All the things that Jesus wants us to do, and we don’t do them. All the things that Jesus doesn’t want us to do, and we do them. But Jesus forgives. Not because we deserve it or have earned it, but because He loves us.

We must learn to do the same.

Serve One Another

What do you think of when you hear the word servant? What picture comes to mind?

Some people have a positive image of a servant. One who is serving their country or community. Most probably have a negative image of a servant. One who is stuck doing menial chores or cleaning up other people's messes.

Throughout the New Testament we see the picture of a servant over and over. The apostle picture themselves as servants and believers are called to be servants of one another.

Galatians 5:13 says, "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."

Did you catch that last phrase? "Through love serve one another". Servant hood should grow from our heart, rooted in our love for God and for others.

Jesus said in Mark 10:43, "Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant".

I can't promise that you will be applauded by many people for being a servant of others, but one thing is for sure, Jesus will think your great.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Live in Harmony with One Another

Most often when we hear the word harmony we think of the musical term which is defined as, “The combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect." When there is harmony it sounds good.

The opposite of harmony is dissonance. Dissonance can be defined as a, “...tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.” When there is dissonance the sound is not good.

When there is harmony in the church it is good and great things can be accomplished because we are on the same page, but when there is dissonance the church is greatly hindered. One of the primary ways the devil attacks the church is attempting to disrupt the harmony that is there. In Luke 11:17 Jesus said, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls."  
In Acts 2 we see a model of how the church lived in harmony with one another. 

 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.  
Acts 2:44-47

I am sure they had disagreements and disputes, but they were still of one mind. This does not mean they were not individuals who at times had their own opinions and ways of doing things. It means they understood the kingdom was bigger and greater than any single individual.

If the church of today can learn to be of one mind, learn to live in harmony, it will make an impact upon the world we cannot begin to imagine.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Encourage One Another

"Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."
Hebrews 10:24-25

"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing." 
1 Thessalonians 5:11

When the Bible calls us to encourage one another, what exactly does this mean? The New Testament word for encourage is such a beautiful picture by itself. The Greek word the Bible uses means, "to come alongside of, to stand with.” You encourage someone when you come alongside them and help carry the load; you help them keep going.

The year was 1992, and Derek Redmond was set to run in the semifinals of the 400 meter race at that year's Olympics. As the race began Derek took an early lead, and it looked as if he might win the race. At a heartbreaking 175 meters from the finish line, Derek grabbed his right leg. He had just pulled a hamstring and he immediately fell to the ground in pain.

He got up after a few seconds and was determined to finish the race. As he slowly hobbled down the track, a man suddenly ran from in the stands to his side. It was his dad.

"You don't have to do this," his dad said. "Yes I do!" replied Derek. "Then we'll finish together," said his dad. He put his arm around his son, and the two of them made their way down the track.

This is what it means to encourage!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Love One Another


What is it that defines us as Christians? We could be defined by our mission- to make disciples. We could be defined by our worship. But the one thing that should define us more than anything else, that can really set us apart is love. 

The call to love one another is repeated thirteen times in Scripture. It is given by three different authors in six different books. It is the one principle on which all the other one another principles depend.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
 John 13:34-35

We tend to see love as a purely emotional response. We fall into love. We fall out of it. We can't determine whom we will love, or why. It just happens. Jesus' view of love, however, is different. It is not primarily a feeling but a choice. It's a decision to treat someone in a gracious and generous manner. The love Jesus commands is not how I feel about you but how I treat you. It's based on what I can do for you, not what you can do for me.

It’s a new kind of love. 

Jesus doesn't just give us this new command to love one another, but He attaches it to the highest standard, the greatest measure imaginable.

 “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 

Some things to think about:

1. Why do you think Jesus puts such a high priority on how Christians treat each other?

2. What does it mean to love one another as Jesus loves us? 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Representing Our Home Land Well

Why is everybody so mad at Ryan Lochte? He is not the first to lie about a crime, nor will he be the last.

I believe it is because Ryan Lochte is a citizen of the United States in a foreign country. What's more, as an Olympian, he represents the United States in an official capacity. 

But before we get too upset, let's remember another thing. As Christians we are in the same boat. 

Philippians 3:20 says,  "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

As Christians, every time we sin, we bring shame upon our eternal home. 

2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are "ambassadors for Christ" 


Ephesians 5:1 tells us that we are to be "imitators of God"  

Now let's contrast Ryan Lochte with pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, who is running towards an attempt at the pole vault in the qualifying round, until he hears the national anthem. Kendricks immediately stops what he's doing to stand at attention. This man, recognizing his citizenship and the responsibilities associated with it, acted accordingly, and brought honor to his country.

In case you missed it you can click here to watch the video. 

I think we can all agree that we do not always represent our eternal home very well. We are all in need of grace.

But let's be more like Paul who said in Philippians 3:12-14, "Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Surviving The Storm

Maybe you feel like "Chippie the Parakeet" in Max Lucado's book, "Eye of the Storm". The story goes like this. Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched on his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over. 

The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when sssopp! Chippie got sucked in. 

The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie, still alive, but stunned. Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. 
Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do. She reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him. 

My guess is, most of us can relate to Chippie. There are times when life treats us more harshly than we expect. It’s possible to get battered, bruised and blown away by rough times and difficult circumstances. 

In Mark 6 we read about one such time for the disciples.

Mark 6:45-50 - Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and *said to them, "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid." 

Two words grab my attention right off.

The first word is immediately. Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat. There was a sense of urgency in Jesus’ actions here.

The second word is made. Jesus made the disciples get into the boat.

The word Mark uses here for “made” is a strong word in the Greek. It means to constrain someone by force. In other words, this was not a suggestion. Jesus commanded the disciples to get into the boat and take off ahead of him to Bethsaida.

Then later is these verses we read that Jesus came to them walking on the water and that He intended to pass by them. 

This same phrase is used in a couple places in the Old Testament when referring to a time when God "passed by" Moses and when He "passed by" Elijah. In both of those times, God was revealing Himself to these two men.

The same thing is happening here in Mark 6. But remember Jesus didn’t pass by to rescue the disciples in the boat. Jesus passed by for an entirely different reason altogether. He wanted them to get a glimpse of His greatness, to remember who He is and the great journey He called them to. 

These men were obeying God, but they were exhausted. They were tired. They were struggling against waves for hours, unable to make headway

Do you ever feel like that? I do. 

But remember it is in times like this that God reveals Himself to you. 

Jesus knew what He was doing when He sent them off to Bethsaida. He wasn’t caught off guard. He allowed them to experience the storm, because there was something He wanted them to know. Something they would need to know. 

There is nothing happening to you or me that Jesus isn’t aware of. The very fact that He is allowing it to take place, should give us a sense of security.

What storm are you smack dab in the middle of today. Maybe you are obeying Jesus and striving to know and do His will, but the storms keep coming.

Listen, that’s OK. Because the storms you are facing today, are only allowed by God’s sovereign will. Keep your hands on the oar. Keep pulling against the wind and the waves. Don’t give up. Don’t turn around. You’re right where you’re supposed to be.