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All About “Me”?

Jesus died for “Me”

Of course, Jesus died in order to take away the sins of the world. The lies, theft, misuse of God’s name, all the times God was not put first in our lives.  Believe in the lordship of Jesus and be baptized, as the bible says, this may not be what your pastor has told you…(Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 16:31-33, etc)

Jesus died in order to give God glory

Now, here is the part we seem to have missed or forgotten. Everything, and I mean everything that happened on the cross, at the hands of Jesus, with the Israelites in Egypt, the walls of Jericho tumbling down, and Paul’s many journey’s witnessing to the Gentiles and beyond, everything was done to bring glory to God. God, the one and only. God the Creator. God, the only one who deserves it… (Jeremiah 9:23-24, Ps 96:1-9, I Chron 16:23-29, John 17, I Cor 10:31, etc)

Jesus died so that I could give God the glory20150116_124617

So, when we think of our salvation, or consider the idea of salvation if you are not saved from your sins, we must put these thoughts into context. The reason God wants us to be saved is more than the fact that he loves us, it’s that he also calls us to bring him glory! In all things we are to bring glory to God…(I Cor 10:31)

Give God the glory by Going and Making Disciples of all nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

At the end of Matthew, Jesus proclaims the Great Commission as written above. Go and make disciples etc, right? Why? To give glory to God. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Why? To give glory to God! Go and baptize, making disciples of all nations. Why? To give glory to God…Not because God simply loved “me”.

Summary

“Me”, “Me”, “Me” sounds like a line from The Matrix Trilogy when Agent Smith was duplicating himself.  If Jesus simply died for “me”, then when I am saved I am done! Yipee! I figured this salvation thing out!

I think God is disgusted with us.  The goal is to glorify God and our culture misses this fact. Read John Chapter 17 to get a feel for this concept, or do a little searching and you will find the concept of giving God all the glory pervades scripture. Jesus died for me so that I could bring glory to God through my salvation, to all nations. Going to church once a week for an hour doesn’t fulfill this command. Serving food in a homeless shelter once in a while doesn’t fulfill this command to go, go, go either, does it?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus clearly preached that the path to hell is wide but the path to eternal life is narrow and only a few will find it? (Matt 7:13-14).  Have you ever meditated on this scripture and wondered what it means?  Have you bought into a watered down version of Christianity?  Will you one day say “Lord, Lord”, but Jesus will say he never knew you? (Matt 7:22-23)

Next up: All nations doesn’t mean your town, your state or simply your nation. More on that in my next blog post!

Death & the Proof of Your Untimely Demise

Uh oh, maybe titling a post in such a way was a bad idea, maybe not.  The ultimate statistic in life is that 10 out of 10 people will die!  Sadly, it’s one of the most predictable stats, yet for many people one of the least cared about facts of life.grave 1

We don’t know our expiration date.  Sure would be nice, then I could be sure to get all my housework done beforehand.  Or maybe I could be sure to finish off my bucket list in the nick of time.  So, why do we often seem to brush off the idea that we will die and replace it with the notion that we have lots of time left?  Do we think it’s too morbid to consider our own death?  I think it’s quite the opposite.  We need to be aware and we need to be ready.

No matter your spiritual beliefs or thoughts on the afterlife, or lack thereof, something will happen upon our time of death.  From the Christian perspective it’s very clear, but I wonder how many Christian’s are confused about death?  The Bible (God’s word) clearly proclaims that “the wages of sin is death” and “all liars will have their part in the lake of fire” and Jesus told a man “you will be with me in paradise”.  How do we reconcile these thoughts?

First, we must understand sin.  Sin isn’t exclusive to convicts in jail, child molesters and plain old “mean people”.  Sin is a part of everyone’s daily life.  Yes, everyone.  Think of the basic moral laws summed up in the Ten Commandments.  Do you know those laws?  Don’t steal (no matter the value), lie (a lie is a lie), murder (hate), take God’s name in vain (GD), covet (be overly jealous), commit adultery (lust), you know some of these, right?  Well, God is so holy that we cannot be in his presence even if we have broken one commandment one time.  Whoops.

grave 2So, how do we deal with this fact?  Personally, swimming in a lake of fire sounds pretty hot.  I’ve lied too many times in my past.  Now, what’s to be done?  Ah, here’s where your Christian training comes into play.  This Jesus thing, right?  Jesus took our punishment so that we CAN be with God.  We just need to humble ourselves and place our faith and trust in Jesus as the Lord (leader) of our lives.  Once we are baptized into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are “new” people with “new” desires.  To some this all seems foreign and confusing, but in actuality it’s quite simple.

In the end, we all die.  Do we plan to enter the afterlife standing on our own grave or on the empty tomb of Jesus?  Die hoping our own lives will merit some inclusion in “heaven” or die knowing Jesus has already prepared a place for us in heaven?

Evil

I’m between overwhelmingly distraught and sinfully angry.  I’m tearful about the kindergarten kids who lost their lives and the families affected (RE Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown CT).  I’m angry at the moral decline of our nation (and the world).  I can’t be quiet and politically correct anymore.https://i1.wp.com/a.abcnews.com/images/US/ap_10_school_shooting_sandy_hook_nt_121215_ssh.jpg

First, I realize that some crazy person could have done this same act of horror 100 years ago, but really, this is almost becoming commonplace!  Why?  What do you think?  Evolution?  Anger over not having what someone else has?  Genetically born problems that are increasingly more common?  Why?

What I do know is that evil is real; it has never taken a rest.  I’ll tell you who has taken a rest, us!  Evil is combated through prayer, faithfulness and being a part of a community that holds each other accountable.  We don’t do this enough anymore.  We don’t live this enough anymore!  Instead we fight it, we whine, we spend our energy battling about the display of the Ten Commandments and Christmas Trees instead of the truth behind the displays.  All the while, the agenda of evil never changes.  We change.  We lose.  We drift and become what you see today.  What is truth?  It used to be known, but today everyone has their own truth, hmmm.

We’ve seen shootings several times over the past few years and it has truly nothing to do with gun control.  Forget trying to get political here, this is way bigger than politics, gun control or parental decision making.  We have put God in the backseat or even the trunk and we now have what we asked for… Why?  Are you surprised?

The evil in this world, as written in the Bible, is something that people are a part of and don’t want to be seen as being a part of…The Bible uses Light and Dark to explain this concept.  Evil does not like the light, for then it is exposed!  If we all bask in the darkness, the world is submerged in evil!  All believers are to be the light, we are to expose the darkness for what it is, evil!  Too often we are afraid to be the light because we know we have also done evil or been a part of evil in our lives.  As long as we are fearful of our past, we can never be the Light Jesus talks about.

Until we decide to make a shift in this country in the other direction, we will continue to be consumed by the evil in this world.  Are you seriously surprised?  If you are not, then what are you doing to combat evil?

I pray for the families affected and cannot imagine their grief.  I’m just so sad and sickened by this shooting.

The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” — C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963) The Screwtape Letters

Parables that can really make you think

Have you ever completely ignored advice or someone’s request?  What was the situation?

In reading Mark 12 today, I came across the parable of the tenants.  This reading made me consider something I’ve never thought about before (imagine that!).

So, here’s the setup.  A man buys, sets up and grows grapes to make a nice vineyard.  He leaves and “rents” it out to some people.  He keeps sending some of his servants back to the vineyard to get some of the grapes to bring back home.  The tenants keep beating or killing the servants and the owner never gets any grapes.  Finally, the owner sends his son thinking the tenants will respect him.  Nope.  They kill his son.  The owner is a bit upset, and the tenants get what they deserve, death.  The owner then gives the vineyard to others.

So, the question, how does this apply to me?

Think about it.  How often have you been approached by someone to give of yourself for some cause?  How often have you been nudged to consider going on a mission trip to help someone or some project?  How often have you been asked to get involved at church?  How often have you been asked to give monetarily to a worthy cause?

God gave us all WORTH, VALUE.  We have godly GIFTS, if we have the Holy Spirit in us.  These gifts are different than our human talents.  God gave us these SPIRITUAL GIFTS and God expects us to use them!  If we choose not to use them, then we choose to beat, kill and kick out the servants of God who come and ask us to give back some of what God gave us.

I’ll repeat that.  When we ignore the requests, the opportunities to use our God given gifts, we spit on God and what he gave us to use.  If you don’t know what SPIRITUAL GIFTS you have been given, then are you truly saved?  Do you even care about the “vineyard” you are renting?  Are you standing knee-deep in the winepress and don’t even know your legs are stained?

What happens to those who ignore the gifts God offers?  Death.

The typical biblical pattern for receiving the Holy Spirit is through Baptism.  Baptism is modeled as something you do when you REPENT and BELIEVE in Christ as your Savior.  Have you been baptized like Jesus was?  Immersed.  Have you been baptized when you had a knowingly repentant heart full of belief in the Savior?  Sorry, as a baby you didn’t repent or believe.  Think about it.  Again, the Holy Spirit is promised at the time of baptism, and the Holy Spirit is what gives you your Spiritual Gift(s).  Yep, it can be complicated, yet it can also be so simple.  Here I go getting into baptism again when this post is really about Spiritual gifts!!!!  Don’t beat and kill the messenger!

One of many surveys that help you pinpoint SPIRITUAL GIFTS. The key is to answer these questions honestly and maybe even ask someone close to you what they think the answer is regarding you.

BLESSINGS!

Your Family & the Living God

A couple phrases from I Timothy 3 that caught my attention.  The first,

“If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”

is a pretty tough, yet relevant observation that Paul writes!  Paul is writing about church leaders, elders, deacon, etc.  Is your church leadership “above reproach”?  In layman’s terms, are they honorable? Trustworthy?  I think this observation should also be considered by every Christian.  Are you taking care of your own family?  Are you placing yourself first, where you maybe shouldn’t be?  If you can’t manage your own family, how then can you take care of your relationship with God?  Hmm.

Also, at the end of this chapter I read,

“the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

I’m not sure why, but I had to keep reading this part.  “living God”.  We are the Church.  We are the Church of the Living God.  Do you grasp that?  Every Christian needs to reflect on this.  The pillar and foundation of truth.  Truth is held on high on a pillar.  The Church of the Living God is its foundation and the means by which the Truth is raised up upon a pillar.  Think about how important that is.  Reflect on these thoughts today.  Please do.

If the Church is not lead by honorable leaders, then it’s foundation falters and the Truth is lost.  If your family is not lead in an honorable fashion, could it too be lost?

What’s in a Commandment #2 Idols

I’ve always looked at the 1st commandment and seen the 2nd commandment, which speaks of idols, as an extension of the first which says “have no other gods before me.”  As I noted in the first post, there are slight variations in how the 10 Commandments are listed.  You have a couple of different renditions of them in the Bible, in Exodus and Deuteronomy.  However, they match up.  It’s our human opinions that give us the slightly different interpretations.

So on to the second commandment!

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them

Literally, this means to not make yourself something that you intend to worship!  Buddha or other religious statues for example could fall into this category.  Certain monuments could fall into this category.  For instance, there are various churches around that have stripped out old statues of important biblical figures and even statues and images of Jesus because of the potential for worshiping this “idol”.  You have to admit that a statue is NOT the real thing.

So, we have this fine line of our humanity to consider.  Our humanity often demands that we “see” something.  Don’t we have some need to view what we are worshiping?  I would argue that we do.  HENCE, the need for this commandment; a reminder to be vigilant regarding what we are worshiping.

Recently, on Facebook, a friend posted a really cool link to photos of an apartment stocked with tasteful Star Wars memorabilia.  It was slick.  Could the contents of this person’s apartment be considered idolatress?  I contend there is a fine line between an “idol” and having another “god before you”.

I would love to hear opinions on this!

In the end, most of us don’t willingly bow down and worship our TV, the ability to win a football game with only 15 minutes of offensive time (Peyton Manning), favorite toy, gold, or our car.  But our actions surrounding these “idols” may be akin to bowing down and worshiping.  Are you skirting the line?  Are there idols of your own creation that take the place of the rightful One who should be worshiped?

What’s in a Commandment #1 No Other Gods Before Me

I’m revisiting the 10 Commandments again.  I love these commandments.  They really make me realize that I DO need a Savior.  Take a little time and think about the following post.

Of late, I’ve wanted to look more deeply into the foundation of the Law, the 10 Commandments.  I’m not sure why, as often is the case, so maybe some interesting insights will present themselves.  What got me thinking about the Law is some scripture in the New Testament.  James wrote something that I haven’t run across in a while, yet is most important.  James is writing to the “scattered” 12 Jewish tribes of believers, discussing prejudice.

From James 2:8-11 (NLT)

8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.

10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.

Often, I’ve heard even the most devout Christian wrongly interpret the impact of sin.  AS it reads in verse 10, any breaking of the law equates to breaking all the laws.  Why?  Because sin is sin, there is essentially no difference in the eyes of a Holy, Holy, Holy God.

So, I want to take it a step further and truly show the reality of sin.  We’ll start with the first commandment as written in Exodus 20 and defined by the typical Protestant church.  (Note, some scholars combine commandments 1-2 or 9-10 and use “I am the Lord your God” as the first commandment).

1.  You shall have no other gods before me.

This command seems simple enough.  Let’s look at a reverse meaning.  “I shall be the only god first in your life.”  Can we truly make it so simple?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  What is a “god”, small “g”.  Something we put our faith in, something we worship or love above all else.  Could it be money, stuff, people?  Sure!  God, YHWH, is to be first.

If we place our golf game before worship of God, then who or what is first?

If we place NFL football before our relationship with God, then who or what is first?

If we place sleep, cleaning up the house, work, family time or eating before our relationship with God, then who or what is first?

Here’s the kicker.  Have we ever placed someone or something before God, even just once in our lives? Don’t lie to yourself.  What’s the answer?  Just once, No, Yes?  Now go back up and read James 2:10.  Sure makes me start to like the idea of Jesus stepping in to “pay my fine”.

Man, we’ve only looked at one of the 10 commandments!  Next post, #2.