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Friday
Apr182014

The People of The Cross

Good Friday as it is called is really the day everything changed.  Now I know, Easter morning is the day that gets all the attention, but it was the cross, not the resurrection that paid the price for our forgiveness.  Good Friday is all about people, it is the one religious commemoration like no other on earth, that places people at the heart of its purpose. No other religious act can compare with what happened that day at the place they called the Skull. It was the place where John 3:16 was acted out, and all of heaven, and hell were affected forever. 

John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Since the cross was an enactment of God's love for people, let's take a look at the people who were there that day.

Roman soldiers: the authority of government, by which all nations were symbolized by these soldiers. The death of Jesus wasn't for just Jews, it was for the nations.

The crowd of mockers:  people who have no respect or knowledge of God,  were counted as important to God, and were not excluded from the provision of grace of the cross.

Family and friends: these folks closest to Jesus, people who were sympathetic to Him and followed Him, this symbolized the good in humanity. 

The religious crowd: These leaders of conspiracy and arrogant pride for their accomplishment of taking care of Jesus. This symbolized the arrogance of self assurance and the pride of life.

The criminals:  Two thieves both deserving to die, symbolizing the wrong doing that goes on in the heart of mankind. 

From authority to the criminal all were a part of the most important day in human history. They all were present as symbols that all of humanity needs the cross, and its provision of grace. These people groups are a microcosm of the humanity Jesus died for, caring that none should perish, but all come to the saving knowledge of the cross. 

The cross is a place where everything changes. For God, the penalty for sin was satisfied, and for humans, the price was paid, and everlasting life with God was provided. Nothing could be more important in the scheme of human experience than this one time event.  There is no religion on earth that can even come close to what the cross represents and the only losers in what happened that day was the Devil and his demons.  Death, demons, and the Devil, were all defeated, and evil had to bend a knee to Him who hung on the cross. 

For me, the cross is everything, it is a reminder of what Jesus did by paying the penalty of sin, but it is also a daily reminder, that I have a obligation to pick up my own cross and make Him my purpose and objective in this life. 

The cross is our symbol of what the resurrection proved, God is in control.  

Have a blessed Resurrection Day.

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

 

Thursday
Apr172014

Jews Are Unique People

Jews are an interesting study, because they are favored, and they are cursed. The term anti-Semitism  is a term that singles out the Jew, like no other race on earth. We have the term racism that embodies a general hatred for some cultures, but the Jews get a term that is all their own. Why? Anti-Semitism says you specifically hate Jews, and here are a few Biblical reasons for it. 

Jeremiah 29:18-20

18I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them,  19because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the LORD, that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the LORD.’  20Hear the word of the LORD, all you exiles whom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon:

This verse is specifically telling us that because the Jews ignored God, He punished them by disbursing them into all nations and by doing so, this people group became a curse to those nations. Jews are hated just for being Jews, and they were hatred for their success. The Jews are blessed with persistance, and ingenuity, therefore they are resented for their success.

In Revelation 12, we learn that our enemy Satan, was so angry with the Jews, because they gave us the Messiah. 

 13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.

The verses in this chaper of Revelation tell us that the Jews were persecuted by Satan because of they were the covenant people who God used to bring salvation to the whole world, and defeated his efforts to rob, steal, and destroy. So its no wonder the Jews have so many enemies, and were targeted for annihilation during the Holocaust.  There may be political reasons given by nations who want the Jews wiped from the face of the earth, but these two verses give us a spiritual glimpse into why the Jews are such a hated people group.

At the same time, God called the Jews His treasured possession.

Deuteronomy 14:2

 2For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

God also said he would never remove them from the land again, once they returned. 


Amos 9:15

15 I will plant them on their land,
and they shall never again be uprooted
out of the land that I have given them,”
says the LORD your God.

And from Zechariah 12, God said He would defend the Jews against all enemies, virtually defeating all enemies.

On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it.  4On that day, declares the LORD,I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.  5Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the LORD of hosts, their God.’

 
The Jews represent God's faithfulness throughout the ages and we learn some valuable lessons from them.

1. God's truth has consequences for not obeying it, even if you are the chosen people.

2. God's promises are eternal, never will He renege on what He promises.

3. God is faithful to Israel, and when you come against the Jews, you come against God

4. God's plan for the human race comes through the Jews, and He honors them for it.

5. God is returning to Israel to rule the world, and he is preparing the land for that day.

The Jews have been the most significant people group on earth, because of their unique position as the instrument for His plan of salvation for all people. As we approach this holy weekend of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, remember, Jesus was a Jew, and He is the fulfillment of God's promise to Israel as Messiah, and Savior of the world.

The Jews remain the most reliable witness to the world that God is faithful, and they are still the best barometer for understanding His return.

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

Wednesday
Apr162014

Darkness Will Only Get Darker

The freedom to speak out against a government, a religious group, or any issue in our society is a freedom our constitution gives to us, and I am glad we have this right.  But as one news commentator said recently, what ever happened to manners when it comes to this freedom?

http://video.foxnews.com/v/3472854941001/war-on-easter---and-christians---in-wi-capitol/#sp=show-clips

The atheists have been actively attacking Christianity for a long time, but their efforts have increased in recent years.  My only question to these anti-God people is why aren't they as adamant against Islam as they are against Christianity? Isn't Islam a threat to the world in light of atheism? 

1. Atheists are cowards because they won't attack Islam, because they are afraid of retaliation, and it is my belief that atheists and Islam serve the same source of hate, Satan.

2. Atheists aren't wasting their time in attacking false religions, they are convinced that Christianity is the greatest threat to the human race, not Islam.  

Evil is evil, and even if you dress it up in nice language, and give it a new name, and present it as a freedom of speech, it is still evil. Our culture will define evil in terms of heinous crimes against people, school shootings, crimes against children, race murders, and genocide are all considered evil by our society.  But these are only the results of evil, but the root of evil goes deeper than these obvious outward results.

Evil is anything that drives the truth of God away from a person or a society.  The reason I define evil in this manner is simple, evil has one target, God's people, the Jews and the Christians. The Jews because they brought us the Messiah, and the Christians, because they represent the cross. The Call of the Church is to identify and expose evil, and we do that through His Word, but often we are silent on the topic.  Jesus called religious practitioners of His day evil, because they drove people away from God, not toward Him. Today the greatest threat to truth is within the community of truth tellers. We are living in compromise and we are corrupted. 


 13“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.

In Matthew 23 Jesus was brutal to the religious leaders of His day. Why? For the same reason He would be today, because evil has a religious side, and it keeps people from knowing the truth of God. Satan knows that evil is more effective from the inside of a system, than it is from the outside. Now that is a fact you can find in any civilization that was defeated in history, most lost their empires to moral corruption from within.

The root of evil is easily defined, and Jesus defined it in this statement.

Matthew 16:23

 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

The root of all evil begins when God is challenged, and a choice is made to defy Him. In the garden story, it was Eve who gave in to the temptation of wanting more than what God intended her to have, and started this cascade into sinful behavior motivated  by evil temptations.  

 Jesus said that even the closest of human relationships are not worthy to be compared to the love we should show God.  Evil wants to replace God with anything that would keep us from prioritizing Him in our lives, and in our worship.   

Matthew 10:37-38

 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Evil will never be satisfied with just a a few followers, because it wants complete control, and it will never get complete control until people give up on God. Evil is never passive, it will continually come back for more and more, until the unsuspecting victim is under it's complete control. The only reason evil doesn't take over all the earth now, is because the Holy Spirit resists evil and keeps it in check. 

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 

We may not  prevent evil from speaking in our day, or from having an influence in our culture, but we must resist it.  God's people must not give in to being silent about evil, because if we are, we will all suffer the consequences. As the darkness grows more evil in our world, the resistance must be just as resilient to stand against it. 

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

 

 

Tuesday
Apr152014

The Sky Signs

Luke 21:25

The Coming of the Son of Man

 25“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,

Joel 2:31

 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

Last night was the first Blood moon of two this year, and lots of people weighing in on their significance, or not.  These sky signs are no different than the earth signs of earthquakes, tsunamis, famines and I believe even global warming is a sign.  There are government signs, nations fighting against nations, and kingdoms against kingdoms, and lawlessness will increase around the world. There are relational signs of people hating one another, and your enemies will be those closest to you. There are other significant signs too, such as Israel becoming a nation, and the gospel being preached around the world. So, these signs are only that, they are signs to help you understand the time in which you live. They are not predicting anything other than to indicate to us that we are entering a season that will lead us eventually to the coming of the Lord. It is like our four weather seasons.  When the trees are barren, and we get our first snow fall here in the north, we know winter is upon us.  Now, we know the season, but we do not know how severe or mild the winter will be, we just have to wait and go through it.  

There are lots of articles and blogs, even books written about the Blood moons, pro or con, but these should only be signs that give us a reference point, like the other signs mentioned in scripture.  They help us to keep focused on the important mission every Christian has while here on earth, to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth and to your neighbor next door. I remember a few years ago, several Christian commentators bash author Jonathan Cahn about his book, "The Harbinger."  It wasn't just a disagreement, many of these commentators were out to destroy the book, it's author and the warnings it heralded.  I watched and listened as they attached Rabbi Cahn, often making up their own theories about what Cahn believed and then presenting them as fact.  I was ashamed, and quite frankly dismayed at the behavior of what we would call mature Christian leaders acting in such a Neanderthal pagan manner.  We all have our disagreements about some practice Christians do or believe, but there is a graciousness in how we go about correcting others, or in making a case that might be different in perspective.  I disagree with the Calvinism that is taught in many churches today, and I make a case for why I disagree, but I don't call Christians who believe in this Reformed theology false teachers or malign them at every chance I get. Whatever happened to the principle of iron sharpening iron, and the art of gracious persuasion, rather than a heavy hand of judgment and condemnation. Whatever happened to the love we are to have for fellow believers, to help each other honor Christ and fulfill the mission He set us out to do?  The Apostle Paul told us how to handle someone we feel is in error, and I don't see any public display of humiliation or condemnation. From Galatians 6:

1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  3For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  4But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.  5For each will have to bear his own load.

The media access we have today to millions of people is a temptation to bring someone to the woodshed, even without first making an attempt to do what the Apostle Paul suggests.  All of the bickering about signs, is just a deterrent against the cause of Christ.  It's not about how a sign will predict His coming, it's just a sign that says He is coming. Why can't we leave it there, and use these signs as a spring board to bring people to an understanding that Christ is coming back? 

My point today, is let us be aware of the day, the viciousness of anti-Christian sentiment, the false prophets denying Christ and His return, and especially be aware that the sky signs, earth signs, government signs, and relational signs are all designed to encourage us that He is in control and returning soon. This bickering over signs is also a sign, as the love grows ever so cold.  

Keeping it honest and truthful....K

Monday
Apr142014

Post It Note Theology

I love the story how the post it note was invented.  It was a mistake and the rest is history.

In 1968, a scientist at 3M in the United States, Dr. Spencer Silver, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead he accidentally created a "low-tack", reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive.

 The post it note is such a simple invention, and yet it is so useful. That is why when I apply the same thinking to theology, that it works for me.  A colleague wrote me recently and asked me a question about a New Testament scholar, in which I knew very little about. However, as in most scholars, they are men and women who have strong educated guesses about God, and the study of God, called theology.  I am not saying we don't need people like that, but most of them are so intermarried to their work, that they seem to be less practical in a world that really needs some post it note theology.  I do not want to leave you with the idea that I am saying scholarly work isn't necessary or important, but what I have found is that much of it argues for unprovable ideas that seem to go nowhere when trying to understand the God we serve. Here is an example of some of their work:

 

  • Some scholars tell us that God chooses not to know the future, so that He doesn't influence our free will.
  • Other scholars tell us that God chose people for salvation before he even created them, therefore creating an eternal security for those who are chosen. 
  • We have some scholars who argue that the church is evolving, and must be more relevant to society, and therefore reinventing the terms Evangelical, and Christian into an emerging new paradigm of practicing faith.
  • There are scholars who will ignore Israel in favor of a more complete vision of the church.

 

There are so many revisions of how we study and understand God, that space, and my own limited mental capability can not handle such a vast and broad theme.  That is why, the post it note theology works for me. It keeps my spiritual life on tract, and gives me enough freedom to worship Him without feeling guilty that I am doing something wrong.

My post it note theology:

1. God's story in the Bible is one story, not an old and a new.  It's one story from Genesis to Revelation

2. God chose a people group to bring salvation to the world, and it was His promises to the Jews that brought us a Messiah/Savior.

3. God gave us His Word, prayer, and His Spirit as foundational guides to worship and understand Him.

4. God chose a cross for His Son to die upon in order to redeem a fallen human race.

5. God chose the church to tell the world about His Savior and to engage in helping people understand the love of God through acts of kindness.

6. God said He is coming again to establish His kingdom, and it will rule forever and forever. 

7. God said there is no other salvation other than what Jesus Christ provided for us, and the enemy of God, Satan, is determined to rob, steal, and destroy all that God has promised or given to us, but in Christ he is defeated.

Simple isn't it? Now this doesn't mean I don't want to know more about God, it's just that I don't want to spend my time debating concepts that will distract me from what I know, and perhaps tempt me away from God. I want a theology of study and practice that draws me closer to Him, not just learning precepts about Him. Has anyone ever thought that some of these theological debates do nothing more than waste time, because they can't be proven until we arrive in heaven?  Some theologians will fall on their sword of interruption, rather than their research as seen as insignificant. So they dedicate their lives writing about theological points that will not change anything, other than convince a few people of its worthiness. 

Sorry I sound so cynical about academics, but I am not sure we need all the hype. People who are changing the world are not the academics of deep theological debates, but they are people who have a passion for the gospel because they love God.  They have dedicated their lives to tell the simple story of a Savior that loves them, died for them, and is coming again for them. In their defense, most theologians don't start out trying to waste time and follow rabbit trails, but it is often where they end up.

I keep it simple, my post it note theology is easy to use, practical,  and it can stick to anything. Grin!

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

 

 

 

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