Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Matthew 17

Matthew 17 is a great chapter, so take time and read it.  I love this chapter because it tells the story of the transfiguration of Jesus.  However, I'm not going to write about that.  Just know that it is worth reading (of course it is it's in the Bible).

Jesus and three disciples, Peter, James and John, go up to the mountaintop where Jesus is transfigured into His heavenly glory.  What an awesome experience this must have been.  The disciples get to see the heavenly body of Jesus, Moses and Elijah.  Peter even asks Jesus if he can build tents so they can stay up there, but Jesus says no.  Jesus does this for many reasons but one of those reasons is this: we don't live on the mountaintop.

Have you ever had a mountaintop experience?  Maybe it was at a conference, a revival, church camp or a concert.  These are awesome, but we cannot be true Christians if we spend all our time at conferences.  Jesus and His disciples go from the mountaintop straight back into the mess.  Mountaintop experience are used to refuel Christians, but they are not the entirety of the Christian race.  They are the sprint when the race is a marathon.

Jesus and his disciples come down from the mountaintop to see the other nine disciples struggling with the ability to heal a man.  Off the mountaintop they saw disease and demons.  Jesus heals the man that the nine disciples couldn't.  When they ask why they couldn't heal the man Jesus says it was an issue of faith.

Jesus says that faith, even the smallest of faiths, can move a mountain.

Verse 21- "Nothing will be impossible for you."  This verse can only be true through faith that is sustained by Christ.

The chapter ends much different than it starts but I love the final story in verses 24 through the end of the chapter.  Peter gets into a discussion about a tax the disciples need to pay.  (Jesus says that He, the King, should be exempt but He tells Peter to pay anyway).  So Peter needs to pay this tax.  Jesus tells Peter to go fishing (Peter is a fisherman by trade), and when Peter catches a fish Jesus tells him to be sure to take the money for the tax out of the fish's mouth.

This story has a lot to say about Jesus being King.  However, it also shows how Jesus provides for us.  Jesus provided money for Peter through Peter's expertise.  Jesus used Peter's skill as a fisherman to provide for Peter.  He does the same for us.  Jesus uses our jobs and our passions to provide us with the things we need.  So thank God for your job.

So be sure to read this chapter.  Remember that we do not live on the mountaintop, remember that "Nothing will be impossible for you", and remember to thank God for providing for you through your job today.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Matthew 16

There is so much in Matthew Chapter 16, so please read it.  However, I want to focus on two passages.

Verse 6- "Be careful,' Jesus said to them.  'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

What is the "yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees"?

First of all, those of you that bake bread will know that a little yeast makes a big difference.  Quietly and almost magically this little bit of yeast causes bread to rise.  So it is with the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Ok, so what is it?  This yeast is false teachings.  The Pharisees and Sadducees were trying to make people hate and doubt Jesus.

This yeast still exists today.  Be especially careful of the yeast of doubt.  The yeast of doubt can quietly and almost magically kill our faith.  Our prayer life is crippled by this yeast.  Our worship is maimed by it.  So be on your watch for the yeast of doubt delivered by Satan.

The disciples in Chapter 16 were worried that they had no bread, even after they had watched Jesus feed 5,000+ and 4,000+ already.  The yeast of doubt makes us forget what God has already done for us and question if God could possibly do it again.

Verses 24-26- "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?"

The life of a true Christian is categorized by death and carrying a cross.  We must die to our old self and take up the cross and burden of Jesus.  We studied this a few chapters back.  The cross Christ gives us is lighter than the one we try to carry and earn salvation by carrying.  However, this new cross must be carried.  If death and cross carrying is not part of your Christian life, change that fast.  Believe me it is more than worth it.

What good is it to gain the whole world and lose your soul.  TobyMac sings, "I don't want to gain the whole world and lose my soul."

I'd suggest another song as well.  "I'd Rather Have Jesus."  Look up the lyrics to that song and ask yourself if that is your prayer as well.

So beware of the yeast of doubt and be ready to carry the cross Christ gave you to carry today.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day a holiday known for love, chocolate and flowers along with a few other things.  Today I bought some flowers.  However, they were not for a Valentine they were for a funeral.  My friends recently had a loved one die.  So buying these type of flowers on Valentine's day, with the mad rush of others purchasing flowers, made me think about true love.

Jesus exhibited true love on Calvary.  He showed us what real love is and I am reminded of that while buying flowers for a funeral.  See we Christians are reminded of love at death because for us to die is gain. The death of a Christian means they will experience complete fullness of love with the Lord purchased 2,000 years ago on Calvary.

Jesus also shows us His love in the fact that He has chosen us, the Church, as His bride.  For guys this can be a tough truth to understand but for women it has got to be a lot easier.

So on Valentine's Day I'm reminded of God's love for us.  Here are just a few verses about love:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.  That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."- John 3:16

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."  -1 John 4:16

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself." -Matthew 22:37-39

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." -John 15:13

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  -Romans 5:8

Happy Valentine's Day.  Show God's love and experience God's unmeasurable love today!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Matthew 15

Take time to read this chapter.  For those of you from Grace this chapter will be an overview of the last couple of sermons from Pastor Jim.  He preached these same stories out of the book of Mark.  I'll try not to be too repetitive.

We in the Church have many rules and traditions.  Some of these rules and traditions are straight mandates from scripture, some are not.  In Matthew 15 Jesus talks about silly rules.  Jesus' disciples are getting ridiculed because they don't ceremonially wash their hands before eating.  This ceremonial washing is part of the 'tradition of the elders', not from actual Biblical law.

Jesus finds this ridiculing to be stupid and silly.  He tells the Pharisees, basically, that they are putting the traditions of men ahead of scripture.

We do this too.  We have many rules and traditions: praying before a meal, Ash Wednesday, church on Sunday, not wearing hats in church, etc.  Some of these are great things to do and great traditions to have.  However, do not let the 'What' become more important than the 'Why'!  Don't be so consumed by rules that we forget to love God and love people.

I remember one time we had church at the park in Springville and a young guy from the high school, who normally didn't come, came.  He had a baseball cap on.  As he walked into the pavilion for church an older man yelled at him for having his hat on in God's house.  Now I love and respect this older man, BUT "Who the Hell are we to set a dress code for God's house?"  I coached this young guy and was excited that he came to church, but I never saw him at church again.

Shame on us if we make Christianity into an obstacle course.  Verse 14, "If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."

I'm sorry I get emotional about that.

Also, in this chapter Jesus feeds the 4,000.  In this story the disciples doubt Jesus.  They had already seen Jesus feed 5,000+, but they doubted again.

We do this too, so don't judge the disciples.  We need to remember God's answer to prayers and expect that He will answer our next prayer.

So remember that we need to put the 'Why' before the 'What' in our run towards God as a family and we need to remember the miracles that God has already done for us while we ask for another miracle today.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Great Buts of the Bible

I've got to admit... I like big 'buts' and I cannot lie.  There is nothing like a nice 'but'.  A great 'but' changes everything.  I want to look at some of the best 'buts' in the Bible.  Notice in these scriptures the difference that a holy 'but' makes.

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 5:8 "BUT God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love.  BUT perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

1 Peter 3:13-14 "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  BUT even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.  'Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened."

Psalm 73:26 "My flesh and my heart may fail, BUT God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Proverbs 17:9 "He who covers over an offense promotes love, BUT whoever repeats the matter separates close friends."

1 John 3:18 "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue BUT with actions and in truth."

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him, BUT God has revealed it to us by His Spirit."

Matthew 6:33 "BUT seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."

Galatians 5: 22-23 "BUT the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law."

Genesis 50:20 "You intended to harm me, BUT God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."

John 3:36 "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, BUT whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

2 Peter 1:16 "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, BUT we were eyewitnesses of His majesty."

Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer 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."

Proverbs 18:24 "A man of many companions may come to ruin, BUT there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Matthew 6:19-20 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  BUT store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."

Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven, BUT only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

Ecclesiastes 10:12 "Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, BUT a fool is consumed by his own lips."

Man those are some nice 'buts'.  Thank God for giving us these 'buts' today.