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Monday
Mar202017

Rejecting God For The Idols

Acts 3:13-14  “For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him.  You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer.”

I find these words so reminiscent of how God is rejected today. As we approach the holiday season of First Fruits (Easter) we become more aware of how Jesus was rejected by the people. His rejection was the result of the influence of others to accept the criminal Barabbas over Him. That same influence is alive and well today. God is always placed beneath the cultural icons of politics, money, sports, and the influence of the powerful. Some may say these icons aren’t like the criminal Barabbas, yet if they lead people away from God and ultimately replace Him, I would say they are worse.

Idols replace the importance of God in your life, and bring you a substitute for worship.

Exodus 20:3-5 “You must not have any other god but me.

4“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.”

God does not take lightly our passion for things that replace Him.

We all have priorities, and many of them may be the building blocks to our success and happiness.

  • Children
  • Ministries
  • Education
  • Work Ethic
  • Goals
  • Dreams
  • Worldviews
  • Church
  • Theology
  • Marriage

All these are good, meaningful things that are essential in the human experience. Yet do these good things ever cross a line in competing with a jealous God who does not tolerate anything more important then Himself? A case can be made that God wants us to succeed at all these good things, yet they were never meant to take us away from Him. I don’t think we ever think about a jealous God, do we?  We usually see God as a tolerant, loving Father, who could never be described as jealous. Yet God calls Himself jealous because He wants your undivided attention when it comes to your priorities. It is much more difficult to understand God when you idolize the good things in life, and then hear that God is a jealous God and He is not tolerant of any kind of idol. (Even if they represent good things.) That’s the difficult thing in all of this, isn’t it?

God has to be first. Period. No excuses. He wants us to love and worship Him first, and then all the other good things will be added to you. That’s what Jesus made clear didn’t He?

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

The questions at the end of the day are: “What has been first in your life?”  “What do you seek more than the Kingdom of God?”

Great questions aren’t they? Sobering for sure, and you will never be more honest when you answer them in light of knowing God already knows the honest answer, and He is listening. 

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Thursday
Mar162017

The Main Point Of Life Is About Surrender

John 21:21-22

21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

What did I learn this week?  Friends are invaluable.

I had coffee with a friend recently and we talked about this verse in John.  It reminded me that my first obligation is not to identify anyone else’s sin but my own, and to keep my life right with God. It is far too easy to look at others and find fault than it is to look in the mirror. My first responsibility is to make sure that I am in a right relationship with God, and if things are right between Him and me, then my light will shine.

Another friend reminded me of the verses in Isaiah 58 as we had coffee together. He pointed out the importance of Isaiah 58:9-10:

“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

Faith has to be accompanied by a righteous heart that looks to help others. It is in that moment of caring that your light shines at its brightest level.

So this week friends were a very important source of truth. They reminded me that none of us is an island in this sea of life and everyone needs a mainland of relationships to help supply the resources that are necessary to keep our lives spiritually healthy.  

These friends reminded me that I need to make sure before anything else in life that I am right with God and I am following His lead. He will always lead me in a way that will allow me to be an influence for Him.  However, He will only allow me to be an influence if I have first surrendered to Him. God’s first priority is for those who are lost to Him, and it is those people that He has called us to influence, but only if our surrender to Him is in order. In the Isaiah 58 passage it talks about the kind of fast that God calls us to do. It is a fast to know Him and it is a fast to represent Him in a world where people need to see the kindness of God through us. That takes a surrendered life.

It is a big responsibility to be a follower of Christ because it is a life of surrender.  Life is full of distractions and empty promises, but as followers of Christ we don’t have the time to waste on things that will draw us away from influencing others for His kingdom.

I suggest you find some good friends who can feed into your life; it will prove to be invaluable.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Sunday
Mar122017

Worship Is A Transformation

Romans 12:1-2

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I have always been bothered when I go to church and the worship leader says, “ok now, let us worship the Lord.”  Now I know what is meant, but it isn’t really a full definition of what worship is, by simply referring to a set list of praise music as worship. Worship, as the Apostle Paul referred to it, is “an offering” or “a living sacrifice,” because worship is a transformation from this world to His world. So as I thought about this transformation, it is an emphasis away from this world, which requires a different kind of thinking. Through this process you will discover the will of God. So let’s find out what His world is like.

  1. In His world He is first
  2. In His world Jesus is the mediator of life and death
  3. In His world His Word is the standard for truth and life
  4. In His world obedience is the number one trait of all the beings
  5. In His world nothing is possible without Him
  6. In His world nothing is impossible with Him
  7. In His world He is everything

In our worship does God become those things to us? Does our thinking really believe He is all these things? Worship should align us with those things in His world. As a worshipper, do I only worship when I am in church? Worship should transform our thinking and challenge us to become a servant whose life is a sacrifice to God. Tall order isn’t it?

I think we shortchange worship in the Western world. Many religions of the world require their adherents to pray and worship many times per day in order to align their lives to the will of God. I am not suggesting that the number of times we stop to thank God or pray to Him will enliven our thinking about God, but there is a preference placed on His importance in the daily routine. However, I want us to think about worship more as a transformational response to God, rather than an emotional response brought about by praise music.  Transformation is a big word, but it means: to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character. The transformation of how we worship God will influence how we live our lives for Him. If how I treat people I come in contact with becomes a form of worship to God, would I be disrespectful, angry, or resentful - or would I seek to take advantage of them?  Probably not!

The one key element in following Jesus is that we are always being transformed into His image. That means we have a lot of room to grow and change. Followers of Jesus are not perfect, which means we need a lot of patience and grace both in ourselves as we change, but also in others as they also change.

The worse state of being is a person who has stayed stuck in their growing in His image. Some people I have known have not matured in Christ since the day they became a Christian. There has been no transformation, no living sacrifice taking place in their lives. Their thinking has not been transformed, and they see Christ as a means to an end, but not a source that all life stems from and sustains.

Perhaps praying for change would bring transformation: “Lord, show me the areas of my life where I need a transformation, and help me to grow and mature into the image of Christ. Help me to become a worshipper whose life is a living sacrifice for your name.”

Now that is a powerful prayer and if you continue to pray along these lines you will begin to notice areas He will bring into focus and then you will have a chance to ask the Holy Spirit to change you in that area of your life. It’s worth a try isn’t it?

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

 

Tuesday
Mar072017

The Days Of Christianity As Usual Are Over

My biggest beef with the Church today is that the leaders are not preparing the people for a tsunami of persecution. Culture is not our friend as Christians, and it will continue to push back on us because it hates our message.  Jesus told us that we would suffer on His behalf and be persecuted. Recently a Princeton Professor told the crowd he was addressing that being a Christian would no longer be easy.

ORLANDO, February 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- “It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel,” said Princeton Professor Robert George to a large crowd at the Legatus Summit in Orlando, Florida last weekend. Professor George added that people can still safely identify as “Catholic” as long as they don’t believe, or will at least be completely silent about, “what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.”

He said “the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call ‘political correctness,’” will still grant a comfort to a Catholic ashamed of the Gospel, “or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed.”

The Princeton professor, who has been a leader in the fight for life and marriage, reminded his audience of Christ’s words: “If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” “We American Catholics, having become comfortable, had forgotten, or ignored, that timeless Gospel truth. There will be no ignoring it now,” he remarked.

This is why I keep asking the leadership in our churches, why aren’t you preparing your flocks for the kind of push back that culture is applying to your members?  There are few Christian leaders today that will take the culture head on and unpack its humanistic universalism and compare that thinking to the promises of Jesus.  Culture offers us nothing - it never has - yet it seems more and more families and young people are drawn to the ‘pleasures for a season.’

This Catholic professor has it right. He is identifying that there is difficulty ahead for those of us who have claimed allegiance to Christ. Life is so short, yet we treat it as if it will never end for us. It does end, as the Bible says, “it is appointed upon man once to die and then comes the judgment.”  That judgment is the question, “what did you do with my Son Jesus?” Was he a curse word to you, a religious icon, or did you accept him as the Savior of the world? The answer to that question will be the most important question ever asked in human history.  What did you do with Jesus? Too often church people hear such questions all their lives and they know how they settled it. Yet they forget that the majority of their friends, family, and acquaintances have not answered that question in the same manner as they did. That question will determine whether heaven is entered or denied.

As the culture becomes more hostile to Christians, it will be more difficult to stand for what is right and what is true. We will find ourselves retreating back to the confines of our church silos to nurture each other in what we believe. The culture will be happy because we won’t be disturbing them as they continue to deceive the masses into thinking they can live without any restraint or without any God.

This is why we need to have leaders in our pulpits that will teach on how the Lord is looking for people who will humble themselves and believe in God. I think of the Two Witnesses in the Book of Revelation who will astound the world with miracles, signs, and wonders. They will eventually be killed, but prior to that time they will witness to the Almighty with great feats of faith and witness. Those witnesses will not have anything more than what you have as a believer in Christ. It will be the Holy Spirit who works through them to accomplish their witness for Christ. It is that same Holy Spirit that now dwells in believers like you who are facing a world as this professor from Princeton described.

Revelation 1:6  “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”

Okay, where is my theology wrong? Do you not have the same power as these two witnesses?  Of course you do! The power to be a witness for Christ comes from God, and the Holy Spirit has been given to do that very thing.

Don’t shortchange yourself in thinking you can’t be a witness when God has declared it so.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere--in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  -Acts 1:8

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

 

 

 

Monday
Mar062017

Why Do We Lose Them?

I think people leave churches because there is no substance to their teaching.

The Barna group found some interesting data on this.

A recent study by the Barna Group found that almost 60 percent of Christian young people ages 15 to 29 have distanced themselves from active involvement in church, CBN News reports. David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, says a few reasons behind the mass exodus include young people finding churches "shallow," feeling that God is missing from services, and feeling that church is not a safe place to express doubts. He added that in many cases, churches have failed to equip young people to live "in but not of" the world. "[Young people] tell us that ... Christianity has become so hip, so watered-down, so about entertainment -- and they're looking for something of more substance," Kinnaman said.

We have intellectualized the gospel so much that people wonder if you need God to be at the center of church anymore.  After all, if we are talking social issues, and how to love your neighbor most of time, why is God needed?  Most conservative political rallies can talk values.

When you read the Book of Acts, one of the distinctive characteristics is that the early church believed in miracles, healings, and God doing some extraordinary things. I know some groups today make some outlandish claims of prophecy that is not based upon scripture. However, that should never discourage us to believe in God who is still supernatural and still involved in answering our prayers, regardless of how impossible our requests may seem.  As you read the Book of Acts you quickly note that God is supernatural and He is influencing those early believers who believed in Him, with miracles.  It has been a trend for some time where Evangelical believers aren’t accepting miracles but are instead opting out of the supernatural and turning to more of the values of Christianity. It is easier for leaders to teach people on values than it is to look for miracles, since it is more difficult to assure an outcome.  Yet the early church believed God for miracles as indicated by this example of Peter going into the temple.   

Acts 3:6 “But Peter said, "I don't have any silver or gold for you. But I'll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!"

These early disciples believed God could do miracles and exercised their faith in believing God for a miraculous outcome. Are we as quick to say as Peter did, “silver and gold I do not have,” but in the name of Jesus we believe for a miracle?

I am suggesting that if our churches were more focused on the supernatural would the young people who think church is boring and irrelevant be more interested?  The supernatural events in the Apostles’ day either created a riot or revival as you read about their stories in the Book of Acts.

Now, I am not hyping you up to thinking you can walk on water, but I am concerned that we have been missing an ingredient when it comes to understanding God among us. If God dwells among us, then what part of impossible is not possible?

Ephesians 3:17

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love.

1 Corinthians 3:16

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

If Christ dwells among us and within us, then what is in this world that can defeat us?  The answer is nothing!  So why do we act as if we are the victim of this world rather than the victor?  That’s a good question isn’t it? If God dwells within us then why do we act as if we have no hope, no recourse, and no resolve? If we don’t want to lose our kids to the culture, then it is time we think differently and behave more aggressively against the trends of our day. Perhaps we start with our own theology about the Lord and His ability, like in the Book of Acts, to influence the culture according to faith.

Then I think we turn to the Church, and ask why the Church seems to be downplaying the supernatural when that is a major focus in much of the New Testament?

Don’t back away from this challenge because this generation needs to know your faith affects your life, and nothing in this world can overcome it.

Keeping it honest and truthful...K 

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