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Friday
Apr142017

The Night Of Betrayal

Matthew 23:12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends--before this they had been enemies.

I find this verse fascinating because it illustrates how people who are often enemies find common ground.  These two men found a friendship around mocking and convicting an innocent man. Both men interrogated Jesus and both came away knowing he did nothing worthy of being on trial.

History tells us that both men played a part in the death of Jesus even when they had no reason to be involved. The one baiting the hooks of these two leaders to make Jesus out to be guilty was Satan and he was working extremely hard at setting up the players to make everyone betray Jesus.

1 Corinthians 2:8 “None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Satan had tempted Christ in the wilderness several years before this trial, and was unsuccessful in tempting Christ to be worshipped and glorified. His goal is always to tempt god’s people to compromise, and when he was unable to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, he decided he would orchestrate his death.  I am sure Judas didn’t think Jesus would be crucified; I think he thought Jesus would be forced into taking over Israel and usher in His kingdom. Judas like so many Christians today, wasn’t paying attention to emphasis of the life of Jesus Christ.

That night of betrayal, all the disciples were guilty of running, hiding and betraying Christ. They all become a part of this great night of betrayal by following Jesus at a distance. They were not ready to die with Christ, they were much more concerned about their future hopes of seeing Jesus reigning as their hope for Israel. I am convinced none of the disciples were aware of the what was happening to Jesus, yet he told them this would all happen to Him.

Matthew 16:21 “From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.”

This night of betrayal is a great reminder about how we should live for the one we call Savior and Lord. If we would have lived back in Jesus day, I am sure most of us would have been as surprised at these events as the disciples. Jesus told his followers what would happen to Him, yet they were caught by surprise.  I see this living out in our present day when scripture reminds us of His coming again and most Christians ignore it. He even tells us what the conditions will be like just before He returns yet most churches don’t preach on it. They ignore it because their pastors are not preaching it. 

Researcher George Barna found that when his researchers asked the pastors about the key political issues of our day, 90 percent of the pastors agreed that the Bible does speak to every one of these issues. But when the pastors were asked if they were teaching their people about what the Bible says about those issues, only 10 percent of the pastors said they were.

Today is Good Friday, and I don’t think you are surprised by what the world is doing today.  You also don’t have to be surprised about what the scripture says is going to happen in three days on Easter morning. So you shouldn’t be surprised when Jesus arose from the grave as He said He would, and you can also count on Him to fulfill His words when He said He is coming again. Nothing should be a surprise because the record is clear, He arose from the grace, and He is coming again. No surprises. 

We have a great God whose word can be trusted, so don’t live your life like those disciples did on the night of betrayal, totally unaware of the events of God.

Keeping it honest and truthful…..K

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Apr112017

It Is Time For Much More

I have a client whose professional career I have followed for some time. In the early days he followed the dictates of his profession to the letter of the law. In time he discovered that much of what he was following was not really the best practice, he was simply following the normal traditions of his trade. He began to change his methods and practices to relate better to his clients, and to provide a better product to the general public. What he discovered is that not all that he learned in preparing for his career was in fact the truth. He found that simply following what other people think is not a good rule of thumb to follow.

2 Timothy 4:2-3

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

The Apostle Paul teaches that the best practice is to be consistent in bringing God’s word forward in a way that instructs people in God’s Word. It requires us to be ready at all times, and to use methods that corrects behavior through rebuke, encouragement, being patient, and being precise in how you teach God’s word. Tradition can be a mindset in how you see scripture, and how you present it to others. I know a preacher whose only way to interpret the scriptures is through Martin Luther. In his world, it’s Martin Luther and the scriptures. Now, there are great teachers from the past whose writings can be helpful, but they are never to be the source of how we teach scripture. Too often if we use the great teachers, we may be proliferating a bias they may have had in their day, therefore we are furthering an opinion and a tradition, but not the truth. I like to study the history of the church, but one soon discovers that our faithful fathers made many mistakes.

One of the best practices that believers can orchestrate is to study the scriptures in a group setting. It doesn’t matter the size of the group, it only matters that those who you study with are firmly grounded in the faith. Some of the best times of gaining understanding is with a small group whose desire it is to pursue the truth.  It has been in these settings that traditions have been both explained and challenged, bringing people into the reality of faith in Christ, period. Preparing your heart is a worthwhile pursuit, but it was never meant to be an end in itself. Let me explain. 

Easter is just days away and I probably won’t be blogging any more this week, so let ask you one question. Does the resurrection Sunday have real significance for you, or does it seem like just another tradition? I know most people feel moved to celebrate Easter morning by going to a church service, but does this day, this celebration, bring meaning to you? Are you being changed by the message of the resurrection, challenging you to go beyond the simple Bible studies, and prayer meetings many of us think are spiritual work? I am not denying these activities don’t have meaning or purpose, but the message of the gospel is so much more.  We practice our practice so much that I think at times we have lost the purpose in who we are and to whom we belong. Just as my friend discovered that much of what he learned was not effective in what he was training to do, he had to discover much more because he wasn’t happy settling for mediocrity. The “much more” is what I am telling you is available in Christ, and the mediocrity of how so many people live out their faith is not impressing the world. May I remind you that our job as believers is to impress the world, because Jesus told us to do so!

That is why I like the passage in 2 Timothy, because it infuses some tough talk about getting people away from the mediocrity of stale faith.

Easter is a great reminder that we were not called to be mediocre people, the cross was not mediocre, and certainly the resurrection wasn’t mediocre.

There is much more to Christ than many of us have discovered. I hope you will pursue Him, and a great time to start is on "Resurrection day, because that day is all about Him. 

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

Thursday
Apr062017

When You Face A Crisis

No one is exempt from crisis, tragedy, or disaster.  Recently I received some bad news in my family and it has been devastating. There is no way to protect yourself against some things that can happen in life, no matter how well you plan or how safe you think you are, things happen that are not good.

However in the middle of my sadness, God brought me to this:

“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.”  -2 Chronicles 9a

Now the verse doesn’t say that you wouldn’t be subject to the curses of this world, the verse says that God looks for the hearts that belong to Him, and He strengthens them.  Remember one thing: When you are faced with life and death issues nothing this world contains can assist you with any answers. Even science has to yield to the unexplained issues of life. Only God can give you the strength and the assurance of knowing He is in charge.

How Does God Strengthen You?

  1. He is in charge of life and death. He is the ultimate source of everything and nothing that comes your way is beyond Him. If you are His, then He and you will face whatever it is together - that’s His strength in you. 
     
  2. He knows the beginning from the end, and only He is all knowing. He knows the why, and you may never know “the why.” Faith has to transcend the why, because why is based upon reason, facts, and logic. But those three may never be able to give you any answers, that is why faith leapfrogs this world into the courts of God where you will find God’s comfort. 
  3. What’s next?  Isn’t that the next stage of crisis?  What do we do now, how can we rebuild, how do we go on?  The aftermath of any great trauma is met with uncertainty, fear, sorrow, and a sense of great loss. You will never survive swirling around the pain of the loss without some kind of purpose.  What is meant when it says God strengthens those whose hearts are completely His, means that loss can be a catalyst for change - a determination that good will come out from any tragedy when God is at the center of that loss. He promises His strength for the duration of life no matter how long or short we live

I hope you aren’t facing any crisis right now, but you probably will at some time. No one gets out of this life without some scrapes and pains. No one has a perfect marriage, a perfect family, a perfect spiritual life. You will face many dilemmas that come from living in this cursed world.  Remember, you will not escape the dilemma of crisis, but you will either face it alone or you can face it with the one who can help you the most, by your side.

Your choice….

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

 

 

 

Monday
Apr032017

The Tension Of The Gospel

Anywhere the gospel is preached  there is tension.

Acts 4:18-20  Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

There is nothing like the power of the gospel, but there is nothing like the resistance to it as well. Anytime you are telling people that there is hope and God is behind that hope, you will find resistance. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why is the gospel so offensive?  In the Book of Acts the reaction to the gospel was either a revival of acceptance or a riot of rejection.  The gospel is either accepted or it is hated for simply telling people that Jesus can change their lives. Why is this so offensive? God gives people a choice to believe it or not, and if they choose not to believe in the story of the gospel, then no one is forcing them to believe.

So the question still remains: why is the gospel message so offensive?

1. The gospel claims to be the only source of real salvation. In a world of diversity, that doesn’t work.

2. The gospel is a spiritual victory that defeats and exposes evil. Darkness hates the light.

3. The gospel declares the truth about human depravity and the hopelessness of the human condition. No one wants to hear about his or her sinfulness

4. The gospel treats all people the same, loved by God, and in need of a Savior. The only savior people want is one who can give them what they want.

Hating the gospel means you hate God. You cannot believe in God and hate the message of the gospel, because the gospel represents God. Easter is the most hated of Holidays, because it is the story of how evil was defeated, and how God provided a way for all humans to escape to a better life. Our celebration of Easter is our way of remembering when the gospel was born. The cross is where the gospel begins and the resurrection gave it life.  

1 Corinthians 1:18” The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction.  But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.”

I don’t know about you, but I believe the gospel is the greatest message mankind has ever heard. Its message never changes, and for those who believe in it will always know it is true by the confirmation of how people are changed by believing in it.

This holiday season take some time to remember that the gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t about the tradition of what He did; it is about the change that happens when people believe in Him.

Let’s keep Easter about the gospel, and about the power it has to change lives. But remember, a changed life is a testimony against all that is wrong in this world, and that may not settle too well with some folks.

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar302017

Known For What I Am For

“I want to be known for what I am for and not for what I am against.”

This popular saying is going around Christian circles today because it is catchy and positive. It is popular because people want to go to church to hear a positive word of encouragement, reinforcement of values, and be in an uplifting environment. Who wouldn’t want that kind of emphasis?  This saying however sprung up because so many churches were preaching things that identified themselves as uniquely for this and against that. Some pastors said, “let’s totally take out what we are against from our ministry equation and we will stay with only what we are positively for.” They basically were using the old adage “you can catch more bees with honey than you can with vinegar.” Who will argue against that?  I guess I will.

Cute sayings, and tag lines are great attention getting quips, but they aren’t wisdom for living. Let me put this popular saying in other words. As a parent let’s only tell your child about the fun, safe things in life, no mention of the danger of streets, strangers, hot stoves, and safety issues in general. Now no responsible parent ignores some of these issues and these messages come with a negative spin to them:  don’t touch, don’t play in the street, and don’t talk to strangers or take candy from them. Negative messages are often safety messages and are necessary for training a child to understand unsafe circumstances.

My concern about only preaching the positive things that we are for is this:

1. We may be eliminating the essential warnings that the Bible gives about the deception of evil

2. How is the delusion of our age affecting my family?

3. Does the discernment of the Holy Spirit only work in the positive? 

4. Life is not all positive and if we don’t train people how to respond to the negative we will never be effective at living life.

Another way of saying this is, “what good is an army without weapons?” How will that army protect a nation against their enemies if they don't have the weaponry to defend itself?  No church will ever be successful in developing disciples unless they tell the whole truth. There are lots of things Christians should be against, and they need to be trained with weapons of spiritual warfare that will help guard against the evil one.  For example, as believers we should be against abortion because it’s the genocide of the unborn, and the church should never tolerate its acceptance in our society. If I saw a young child running toward the street with on coming traffic, would I not try to save that child? Or do I simply say, "it's the child’s choice to play in traffic."That child unless I act will lose it's life, and that death will affect the entire family. Abortion doesn't just affect the woman, it affects a whole community. The attitude I take to do nothing about this child's dilemma, is like saying, "it’s not my problem, it’s not my child, and for heaven’s sake where are the parents?  Doing nothing or ignoring the situation doesn't make me right with God, and it doesn't make me right with the parents of a dead child. Abortion is one of those issues churches will avoid today especially if they buy into the idea that we don't talk about unpleasant things.  I will never accept that is is normal for a pulpit to be silent on abortion. Since when has the pulpit become a public relations agency? Is that what the Bible teaches about the role of godly leaders, to be public relations agents? We only want people to know what we are for, and not what we are against? I heard a pastor say this cute tag line recently in a video promotion for his church and I immediately thought that this pastor doesn’t really care about the truth. He is only concerned about marketing his church through a positive message.  Wouldn't it be great if he changed his message to say: "our pulpit isn't silent about the hell you will face without Jesus."   I think we should take a survey. Which tag line do you think will attract more people?

Tag line one: “I want to be known for what I am for and not for what I am against.”

Tag line two: "Our pulpit isn't silent about the hell you will face without Jesus."

In today's culture tag line one wins hands down. Truth just doesn't sell much any more. 

I heard a pastor say this the other day: The average Christian today doesn’t really care about the truth. Give me what I want to hear, and don't make me think about what spiritual responsibility looks like in confronting an evil world. Yet the Bible says:

 Psalm 94:16 “Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?”

 In Matthew 23 Jesus did not mince His words against the religious folk of his day. He definitely told them what He was against. 

 

  • Hypocrites you don’t tell the truth
  • You make people in sons of hell
  • Blind guides you mislead
  • You neglect the whole law
  • You look good on the outside but you’re wicked inside
  • You are religious snakes
  • You are against the true prophets of God 

 

According to our cute little phrase, I don't think Jesus would be a good marketer for His church, He is against too many things.  Personally I was taught that the scriptures admonish us to be more like Jesus and I am confident He would never say:

“I want to be known for what I am for and not for what I am against.”

Just saying……

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

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