Browsing "The Bible"
Jul 14, 2016 - Fear, Life, Peace, The Bible, The World    No Comments

Peace

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Protestors shut down I35

It’s in the headlines everywhere we look.  Demonstrations that are anything than peaceful, Newscasts that are made up entirely of hateful interactions between classes, races, & sides.  The world is angrier than I have ever seen in my lifetime.  Peace is further than it has ever been in this chapter of World History.  Throughout the ages mankind has longed for peace and have come up with many great slogans and sayings that claim to have an answer to Peace. Here are a few quotes I came across that speak of the ongoing search for peace.

Mother Teresa said “Peace begins with a smile”.

Albert Einstein said that “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding”

Gautama Buddha said “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

Mahatma Gandhi when asked about peace said “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”

These people had a lot of great ideas and there is truth in some of these quotes but I think Augustine of Hippo was closest when he said “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”  That hits the nail on the head.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this situation we see in the world is not going to get better. But that’s not just my opinion…that’s what scripture says.

2 Timothy 3:(HCSB)
“1 But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!”

If that isn’t bad enough look down further in that chapter as Paul gives a warning to Christians about what life will look like for them. He says…

“12 In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

Encouraging huh! So what do we do while living in these times.  We see what the world will look like and we see what we will be treated like as Christians following Christ. But what about us?  What do we do?  Well Paul wouldn’t tell us all of the above without giving us some instructions to follow.  So this is what he says to do.

“14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Paul says we should continue living out what we have learned and what we believe.  He’s literally admonishing us to not quit and to not throw in the towel.  He reminds us of what we have in the Word of God.  God’s Word is inspired and will help us to teach, to rebuke, to correct, and to live out our righteousness and train others how to live it out as well so that we can be completely equipped as we live out the gospel in these days where peace is hard to find.

Brothers & sisters we must be people of the Word if we are not going to lose hope and throw in the towel.  There is peace and it can only be found in Christ. I came across a passage this morning in my scripture reading and I have really been mulling it over and over in my head today.  I get tired of the weariness just as you do.  I sense hopelessness at times and need to be reminded that there is hope. That it’s not all in vain. That there is more to life than what I see right now in this moment.

Listen to what I Peter 1:13 says “Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

That is our Hope! That is why we can have peace. No matter what chaos the world is having we know the end of the story.  We know that the grace of Jesus Christ is being applied to our lives on that day”  In John 16:33 Jesus said “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”  Be encouraged! Be at Peace!

Sep 10, 2015 - Life, The Bible, Trust    No Comments

Called

IMG_1685Like most of you our family is busy trying to settle  into our school year routine and find a rhythm that fits us well.  Because our two oldest boys attend a Christian school 45 minutes away from our house, mornings start really early.  I usually get showered and dressed while my wife Jenn shakes two sleepy boys awake and then fixes breakfast for our family.  We make it a point now to sit and eat together at 6:15am each morning.  I admit its a bit quieter than our dinners together when we are all home together.

Yesterday was a day I was out of rhythm.  I have been fighting a cough and terrible cold so I didn’t want to get out of bed in the first place but I mustered the willpower to get up and get going knowing that I always feel better when I am up and moving.  Around 7:00am my youngest realized that he had left his entire backpack at home by the front door.  We were too far away to turn back so we stayed our course and really in first grade its not a huge deal.  There was no homework in it, just a few leftover raisins and crust from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that somehow found its way out of his lunch box and into his backpack.

It must have been around 9am that I got my first phone call from my son from this school year saying that he had forgot his lunch in the van.  When eleven o’clock rolled around I drove 25 minutes to get to the school and drop off a lunch.

Many of you go through the same kind of things day in and day out.  It’s life.  It’s full of ups and downs, mountains and valleys, ins and outs, joys ands sorrows.  It’s full of crying babies, spilled drinks, school commutes, forgotten lunches and every once in a while even crust in back-packs.  It’s Life!

What if this mundane life full of routines and rhythms is not what it seems?  What if your morning commute to the office today was more than a sequential set of happenings that dropped you off at your current business position. What if it’s not just happenstance? What if you were to find out that someone had planned it out and put together every circumstance in your life to bring you to right where you are.  Car accidents, breakups, financial pitfalls, tragedies, joy’s, mountaintop’s, valley’s, winding turns that seem to be taking you no where.  Could it be?  Is it possible?

This morning as I was seeking the Lord I came across the book of I Corinthians.  As I began to read I kept coming across the word “called” . Called by God and called to something specific.  All throughout scripture we find God orchestrating circumstances and calling men and women to specific life circumstances.  Now I don’t believe that God forces anyone hands, (and I realize that sin brings consequences that are not inline with his calling for you) however I do believe that God has called you and directed you to where you are today.  Whether that place is a happy place, a frustrating place,  an exciting place, a temporary place or a place you have been planted to grow, God knows where you are because you are His child and you are where you are meant to be.  So stay put, find rhythm, & find the abundance of living in His will. You will find the most joy in the place He has called you.

 

Jul 30, 2013 - Life, The Bible    No Comments

All or nothing

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A few days ago in my daily devotions I read Jeremiah 36:20-26 .  When I read it I saw an incredible parallel to today’s culture.  In this passage King Jehoiakim asks his servants to read the scriptures to him.  After each section that was read the king took a knife and cut out sections to burn in the fire.  Eventually the entire scroll was burned up.  You see as scripture was being read to him, the king took offense and it’s message and burned it because he didn’t fear the message or the God of the message.

Today many people also selectively edit scripture.  They accept the parts that they agree with but they cut our the parts that might offend them.  In our culture the parts being cut include the doctrines of hell, God’s view of sexuality, and morality.  Anything that could cause offense is cut out.  Why?  Because ultimately when controlled by our sin nature we want to be god.  We want to make the rules and say what is right and what is wrong.  We selectively edit out the Bible.  Maybe for some of us it isn’t the “biggies”.  For me, I know that I sometimes take grace out and enforce law.  It’s something that I am working on for sure.  For others they may cut out passages that say we must obey and submit to government.  Whatever it is, we must remember at all cost that scripture does divide if not submitted to.  Obedience always brings blessing and disobedience always brings consequences in the end.

Brothers and sisters, we cannot selectively edit the Bible to suit our fancy. Remember what 2 Timothy 3:16 says. “All scripture is inspired by God.”  I had a professor in Bible college that used to define the word “all” as – “All means all and that’s all means”.  All of scripture is God breathed and is the very word of God.  We cannot elevate preference over truth…ever!

Perspective is Everything

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A huge part of my ministry for the past few years has been Biblical Counseling.  Through my own life’s circumstances God has given me a unique gift and desire to want to instill biblical thinking and biblical living into people’s lives.  For the most part if we would submit to godly living a vast majority of our issues would disappear.   Now I am not of the school of counseling that believes every single issue can be fixed by refusing to sin and practicing biblical disciplines,  but I would say that the majority of issues could be set right if we lived by the instructions given to us in scripture.

This morning as I was reading Philippians 3 it was a good reminder to me that righteousness does not come from me or anything that I could ever do.  My heart’s fire was stoked to know Him and the power of His resurrection. And I was reminded that I am not a citizen of this world for my citizenship is in heaven.

Oh dear people of God, I can not implore you enough to be in God’s Word.  It is too easy to get depressed when we, like Peter look at the troubles around us.  We see the waves of culture and society slapping against the boat.  We hear the winds of mediocrity and lukewarm commitment blowing our sails to and fro.  We panic looking at the waters which will surely engulf us and take us under.  The master calls us out of the boat and we begin to walk through everything that shouts to us that we will not make it.  We do not see the Savior in the storm and the peace within the chaos.

When I get into scripture in the mornings I hear “peace be still”.  The winds may not cease to blow, the waves may not cease to crash upon me, but the perspective and peace of Jesus comes over me as if they had.  I am reminded this morning to “reach forward to those things which are ahead”.  I am encouraged to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.

Your life may feel like it is out of control. Maybe you’re in a dead end job.  Maybe your spouse doesn’t get the whole “Jesus thing”.  Maybe you have been given a bad health report and the winds are blowing.  Le me encourage you dear friends to seek the Savior in His Word.  He has a message for you today.  God wants to speak to you today but you must be willing to hear.

Reading God’s Word will not fix all of your problems but it will fix your perspective!

May 14, 2013 - Life, The Bible    No Comments

John 14 Take aways

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This morning I was reading through John 14 and wrote in the margin of my Bible several take-aways.  John 14 is all about abiding in Christ.  Most of you have probably read it or heard it referred to. It is the infamous passage about Jesus being the true vine, His Father being the vinedresser who does the pruning, and Christians being the branches.

So here are some take-aways to think about.

1.  Pruning doesn’t take place on just those who are not bearing fruit.

  • “every branch that bears fruit He prunes” vs 2

2.  The purpose of pruning is to bear more fruit

  • “He prunes that it may bear more fruit” – vs. 2

3.  The best way to glorify God is to bear fruit

  • “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear fruit” – vs. 7

4.  If you are abiding in Christ, His Words are abiding in You – vs. 9

  • “You abide in Me and My Words abide in You…”

5.  The source of Joy comes from Abiding in Christ

  • “This things I have spoken to you, that MY JOY may remain in you, and that your joy may be full!” – vs. 11

 

The Word “Abide” means to live or dwell in a place.  It carries with it the thought of remaining in a place and living there.  My challenge is this.  Are you living in Christ?  Am I?  Are His Words in us?  When we are angry what comes out?  We all get frustrated, we all get discouraged, we all get to the point we want to get away from reality some times.  But what keeps us grounded?  I believe it is the fact that the chief end of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  The best way for me to glorify Him is by remaining in Him and bearing fruit.  Want to know what that fruit is?  Check out Galatians 5:22-23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Day of Prayer – My Prayer

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Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States of America.  Now more than ever we need to beg and plead for our country.  Even more than praying for our country we need to pray for the hearts and minds of men, women, and children who have turned away from the one true God.  Maybe in words they have not, but their actions and new found beliefs show their true spiritual state.  We shouldn’t be surprised that people are turning away from the One True God and seeking out their own desires rather than God’s.  2 Timothy 3  gives us a clear description of what people will be like in the end times.

2 Timothy 3 1-5     “1But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!”

There are many people that I know and love that have left the faith for Modernity.  It breaks my heart that they abandon their creator and throw his marvelous work of redemption aside and turn to vain religion.  They pick what they want to believe in scripture when all of Scripture is God-breathed. (2 Timothy 3:15-17  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”)  

Why is it that culture seems to have more authority over people these days than Scripture.  I do not want to get into a battle but I will say this.  If scripture calls something sin….it is sin.  Culture does not decide God’s mandates.  God’s Word never changes.  Sin is sin.  Oh that we could have more men like Polycarp.

If you are unfamiliar with his name let me tell you a bit about this great man of God that lived approximately between 70 -150 AD.  Polycarp is said to have been discipled by the Apostle John before his death.  Now we cannot say that for sure but there is historical evidence that suggests this.  Polycarp came to know Christ at an early age however it wasn’t until age 86 that he faced being martyred  for his belief in Christ.  Polycarp heard the news that the Romans knew his whereabouts and were coming to get him.  Although his friends abandoned him, he knew he was to take a stand for Jesus Christ.  As he spent two hours in prayer before his capture he knew that he would be burned at the stake but was determined to not forsake the name of Jesus.

Upon being taken captive he was taken to a proconsul where Statius Quadratus interrogated him.  He was told if he renounced his faith and said that Caesar is Lord  that his life would be spared and he would be freed.  They taunted him and they tried to scare him with talks about being thrown to wild beasts which was not yet common practice in Rome.  All they were asking for was for him to say Jesus isn’t Lord.  Some of us would have simply been tempted to say it to get out of there, but not Polycarp!  They finally said they would burn him at the stake if he didn’t recant .  Polycarp told Quadratus that while the proconsul’s fire lasts but a little while, the fires of judgment (“reserved for the ungodly,” ) cannot be quenched. These were his exact words. “Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

At that the Roman soldiers went to nail him to the stake and Polycarp responded again  “Leave me as I am. For he who grants me to endure the fire will enable me also to remain on the pyre unmoved, without the security you desire from nails.” He prayed aloud, the fire was lit, and he remained there undaunted. God was glorified and we have his example.  His death gave Christians for ages to come the example of an unwavering faith & trust to endure anything that could come against them.

Now here we are in May 2013.  Our culture now tells us that we need to remain silent. It has become common place for hundreds of thousands of babies to be murdered each year.  The family unit for the first time is battling to remain the norm.   Culture has overtaken our churches our schools and our lives.  We are in this world but we are not of it.  Many of our own have recanted although they will not admit it and many others have turned away willfully and tragically.

My prayer this National Day of Prayer is not only for our country, which we should never give up on but my prayer is for the Christians that are toeing the line.  It is time to live what we know is right.  It is time to stand strong and say we will not recant.  We will not say that murder, homo-sexuality, liberalism (not just in gov’t), and other sins should be the norm.  We can not be satisfied to just say “these are the signs of the times.”  We know that is true but we must be vigilant and we must stand our ground now more than other.  Not because we hate those who do not belong to Christ, but because we are so freaking passionate about them not going to hell and spending an eternity separated from God.

We pray every night with our kids for our friends and neighbors not because we disagree with them or dislike them.  No, it is LOVE for them that fills our passion.  That is the difference between other religions.  I am not against Muslims, atheists  Jehovah witnesses, or any other religion or line of thinking.  I am for each person coming to know Christ.  I am for each of them because God loves them and sent His only Son to die and pay their penalty for sin.  Sin separates us from God but Jesus bridges the great divide.  God doesn’t want any to perish! (2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  

So let us pray for repentance!  Let us pray for Christians to stand strong! Let us pray for an unwavering faith fueled by God’s love for us and for others!

 

 

Apr 18, 2013 - Holiness, Life, The Bible, Worship    1 Comment

Parental Advisory

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Yesterday I got into a conversation with another Christian about music.  He asked me if I had heard one of the latest albums to hit the store and went on and on how creative and awesome it is.  When I pulled it up on Itunes there was a parental advisory explicit content next to ever song.   One of the great things about technology is that you can choose to purchase/download a “clean/edit version” or the explicit.  When I asked my friend which one he usually purchases he quickly said “the original” which is the explicit.  I honestly was taken back.  Even good moral non-Christian people have more sense than listening to songs full of F bombs, and a plethora of four letter words.

What about our Biblical mandate?  What?!!!  But this is real life!  Aren’t we supposed to be “all things to all people”?  Yes we are…but joining in with the things of the world is a travest interpretation of weak minded Christians that paves the right of way for sinful living.   Christians are called Christians because they are supposed to look like Christ, not like the world.  And when it comes to what my ears hear the Bible has a lot to say about what should and should not go in them.

Philippians 4:8 says  “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Now for sake of argument I was going to copy & paste some lyrics from this “incredible” album.  I actually started to but couldn’t even bring myself to put them on paper for you to read.  Why?  Because they are vulgar, they dirty, and there is absolutely nothing true, honorable, right, pure, lovely or admirable about them.  They are not excellant and they are not worthy of praise.  If anything as I read through the lyrics online my heart broke for the thousands of people that listen to this stuff.

“But Jeff you are judging people…!”  I can hear the outcry already.  No, I am simply stating that the lyrics and the Biblical mandate are from Infinity East to Infinity West.

What we listen to does affect us.   You can say that you can filter it all day until you’re blue in the face but you can never argue that it is beneficial for renewing your mind.   Romans 12:2 commands us to “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”  Colossians 3:5 tells us to “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you; sexual immorality, impurity, passion, and evil desires.”  Make no mistake about it.  The music you listen to, the speech you listen to is feeding you heart and your soul.  Its either nourishing you or poisoning you.  How can you listen to cussing, cursing, sexually explicit, demeaning,  and defiling music and still put to death these things?  You can’t.

“Jeff, why are you making such a big deal about this stuff?”   Because scripture makes a big deal about the heart & mind of the child of God.  Proverbs 4:23 mandates that you “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  I am not Pius.  I am not puffed up or proud.  I am a sinner just like everyone else but I have made this my prayer and hopefully you will make it yours as well.  Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  God help us to be a set apart people unto holiness. 

 

Some Verses to chew on today

2 Corinthians 7:1  (ESV) 7 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

 

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)  9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

 

2 Timothy 2:21 ESV  Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

 

Proverbs 16:17 ESV  The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.

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