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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!

Run away, now!

satanTemptation.  You know, Snickers bars, buttery popcorn, ignoring speed limits, yelling first asking questions later, even pretty ladies.  We all deal with temptation in our own way.  How do we overcome it?

Here we go!  Let’s look at a guy named Joseph.  He gets sold into slavery and bought by a rich family.  He’s a really smart guy and the man of the house sees it.  Joseph is given incredible responsibility to run the household because he does it so well.  The family prospers.  You must also know that good ole Joe is a pretty handsome guy too.  His owner’s wife notices this fact.  Uh Oh.  She wants Joe to pay attention to her if you know what I mean.  Joe isn’t into that at all, and he runs away from her repeatedly because he was taught to not mess around with another man’s wife!  Eventually, this lady is so fed up she traps Joe and he gets away, but he has to leave his coat because she is holding on to it.  Talk about a prima donna who must have always gotten her way!

Well, this lady goes on to tell a lie to her hubby.  She says Joesph tried to rape her. This leads to Joseph getting tossed into jail.  Fun, right?  Well, this all ends well.  Joe is so smart he is given a high place in running the jail, he helps others in jail and eventually is noticed by the King.  In the end Joseph is 2nd in command of the entire land and he helps everyone survive a severe famine.

Here’s the moral of this story.  No matter what evil temptations are coming your way, run from them.  You may have guessed this is a paraphrased version of the Biblical account of Joseph in Genesis 39-42.  God blesses Joseph in all that he does and even the bad circumstances lead to even better situations.

Do we trust God that much?

 

One Sin

 must admit, at times I feel that it seems harsh that one lie would keep me out of heaven.  It’s true, but at the same time, hard to swallow at times.  So, like I usually try and do, I went to my trusty bible to try and make even more sense of this truth I have known for many years.  AND… I got my answer.

I’ve read the book of Romans a ton of times, but WOW, these verses in Chapter 5 hit home and really made this whole sin issue make a lot more sense.  If we read Romans 5:16-19, we see several references to the “one sin”.   This being the actions of Adam and Eve in the garden.  Adam was right there with Eve, but allowed the “one sin” to occur when they ate from the tree God told them not to eat of.  Paul wrote clearly about this history as recorded in Genesis.  Paul is also clear that this “one sin” is why we all have a problem with disobedience, lying, stealing, lusting, hating, sin, sin, sin.

So, to clear up my original confusion in paragraph one, I came to the realization (again) that God is completely Holy, Perfect and Sinless.  To God, having sin around is kind of like throwing hot oil into water.   BOOM!  THEY CANNOT MIX.  So, no matter how I may perceive sin, or how bad “one lie” really is, God sees it ALL as hot oil that can be thown into that pan of water.  No amount of it is good, or okay, or just a white lie.  It is ALL worthy of hell.  Can you imagine trying to coax the water into not reacting to the hot oil being spilled into the pan?  This is the same as imagining God dealing with sin, any amount of it.

So, to sum up, “one sin” will keep you out of heaven just like water will explode with even a drop of hot oil.  That’s why we need a Savior that was meant to wash us of that sin, or in this context, remove that hot oil so the water will be pure and calm.  Pretty cool.

Blessings,

Jeff

-Original posting was June 5, 2008-

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!

Church, Apples & Ideas

Get off your butt!  Get off your lazy butt!  What in the world are you doing?  I can hear these words being directed at me and at you.  I won’t sit by idly and ignore the prompting to call both you and me out.  What elegant pew sitters we have become!  Oh, the ways we justify our actions!

I give money to the church.  I know they are doing good things with it.  Therefore, I am off the hook!  … I worked in the church for ten years and now I am resting.  I did my part! … There is nothing for me to do!  Every ministry at my church is fully staffed! … WRONG!  ALL WRONG!

Let’s put it this way…show me in the Bible all the verses that support your thinking.  I’m waiting.  Still waiting.  I’ll be waiting a very long time.  We are to GO!  We are to DO!  We are to BE!

GO and make disciples of all nations

DO good deeds and works in the name of Jesus Christ

BE the Church

The Church is NOT a building.  The Church is a body of believers…THE body of believers.  The Church is NOT lazy, NOT full of excuses, NOT done working, NOT in need of rest & certainly NOT doing things solo.

There’s a great parable Jesus introduces about a tree that bears fruit.  The tree reflects our life.  Read DEEPLY my next statements.  SOAK them in.

Your life is like that sapling, that sprout, that new seed just starting to grow.  At first, there is NO fruit.  Heck, it couldn’t bear any fruit at such a young age, at such an immature time in your life!  God has prepared you to hold bushels of fruit!  As you have grown in your faith why do you only bear a few choice pieces of “available” fruit?  I say available because you ARE holding fruit…lots of it.  It’s just not appealing at all.  It’s rotten, worm infested or inscribed with your own initials.  Yes, much of your fruit is only available to yourself.  Are you following me?  You are selfish.  My fruit looks much the same.  Why?

We have this wonderful opportunity.  We have many branches of life.  We can reach out to many, many people.  Why do you quit on God?  Why do you even suggest that you CAN’T do it?  You can’t hold more apples?  Oh, so you feel you need to get rid of some choice fruit in order to bear more, huh?  So, you are saying that you have stopped growing?!?  How sad!  God tosses those wilted, unproductive branches into the fire.

Do you still have excuses?  Can I still sit back and watch hours of TV and then say I don’t have time to work for God?  Pitiful.  Truly pitiful.  My God is much bigger than my excuses, than my failures, than my own ideas.

I want my mind to be that of Christ.  I want my ideas to be godly.  You should want this too.  What is stopping you?  Put the DS down, the video game system in the trash, the romance novels, the TV shows, the innumerable kids activities, the “personal, selfish things that don’t matter, materialistic ways of this world” aside!  Yes, read that again, it’s a long sentence.

Here’s my idea…figuratively blow up the church so that The Church will be thrown out into the world where it’s supposed to be.  Prune that tree you call life and let it produce some fruit worthy of picking.  Bear some fruit that a lost person may want to pick.  Make God’s ideas, your ideas.  I think that’s a good place for me to start.  Are you in?

Acknowledgements:

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Godless 101: Bitterness

This is a series that will hopefully encourage those who have felt the emotions or share the viewpoints that I discuss.  Hang on for a ride that just might take you to a place you did not expect.  Yes, I’m opinionated and yes I’m spiritual, deal with it. :)

The other day I was driving to the YMCA and noticed an older gentleman driving his work truck.  I didn’t know the man and I can’t be sure, but he sure looked bitter.  Maybe he was having a tough time paying bills.  Maybe he had lost his wife to cancer.  Maybe he was having gas.  I don’t know, but he did look unhappy, and the wrinkles on his face seemed to indicate this was a semi-permanent state.  Have you felt bitter about something?  I’m not talking about food, but about life.

Our lives can take many turns, and for many, many people, life is hard.  Have you ever heard of a “hard heart”?  This term is used in the Bible often to describe someone who is so bitter that nothing will change their mind.  I won’t beat about the bush.  We have an enemy that prowls around like a lion, ready to attack and his name is Satan.  Bitterness is simply one tool that is used to keep us far away from God.  You may disagree with me, and that’s fine, BUT please read on anyway.  A hard life can lead to a hard heart.

Why are people bitter?  Think about it.

1) Could it be because things did not go their way in life?

2) Did they not get what they wanted?

3) Do they feel God turned his back on them?

4) Do they hate God and blame God for their hardship or loss?

It could be any or all of these things.  The problem is that these excuses are all completely invalid, reckless and ignorant responses unless you live in a Godless state of mind.

Let’s take a deeper look at what I mean.

First, if “things did not go their way in life” or “they hate God” or “they feel abandoned or upset that they didn’t get what they wanted”, what is this saying?  A couple things, one being that this person is selfish on some levels.  We all are, so this fact is no brain bender.  The other is that this person is not relying on God.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

God has repeatedly said throughout the Bible that “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb 13:5, Deut 31, Josh 1:5 NIV)

Now don’t start saying or thinking that God is harming the person or leaving the person.  After all, “We reap what we sow” (Galatians 6:7 NIV)

So what does all this mean?  Consider the Gospel message.  You do know the Gospel message, right?  [Let’s take a brief detour] Obviously you do not know the Gospel if you are bitter.  The Gospel message is God’s ultimate gift of mercy and grace.  There is no abandonment in this message.   Consider the Ten Commandments.  You have undoubtedly broken and disobeyed them all (I have).  If you do not recognize that you are headed for hell without some type of Savior, let me explain further.  Recall that Jesus explained that hatred equates to murder and lust equates to adultery.  God will judge us by the standard set by the Ten Commandments.  We are guilty in his courtroom, and unless God is a bad, corrupt judge, he will convict us of the crimes we’ve committed!  That’s where Jesus comes in, he paid the fine, and he stepped in and saved us from God’s jail (hell).  That’s a good plan, really.

I’m a big Ray Comfort fan, and much of my verbiage comes directly from the great preaching of this godly man.  How do you get Jesus to come into that courtroom and pay your fine?  How?  Just believe in him?  No!  Even the demons believe in Jesus and they are not saved.  Say a little prayer?  That’s a start!

You have to give your life to Jesus, you must TRUST him…trust that he WILL come into that courtroom and that he DID die for us and pay our fine.  We must admit that we have lied or lusted or stolen or used God’s name as a cuss word.  We must REPENT of these crimes.  Repent means “to turn from”, to do a 180.  Flee from sin!  God promised as soon as we REPENT and TRUST we will have new desires.  We still won’t be perfect, but God will see us as perfect.  Good plan, no abandonment, right?

[Okay back on track] You see, bitterness is simply a product of not trusting in God.  God gave us a way to be saved from hell for eternity.  Bitterness is simply losing our focus on what’s truly important.  Bitterness is self centered and ignorant of the truth.  Bitterness is reckless because we do not know when we will die.  Bitterness will grip you like a seat belt and it will drive you right off the cliff into hell.  Then, you will have something to be bitter about…your own ignorant choices.  Do not be deceived.  Do not think for a second that God doesn’t have something good planned.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.(Romans 8:28 NIV)

Have you been called?

The Old Bridge

If you live in my neighborhood you undoubtedly travel along Southport Road at times.  Heading east from I-65 you will pass the last stoplight at Arlington Avenue and very soon you cross a small bridge that is in disrepair.  Do you know that bridge?  If not, let me explain.

This bridge is slowly disintegrating due to age and water turbulence occurring under the bridge.  To present a quick fix, the government has placed a couple of steel plates on strategic spots and spread asphalt around them to keep them in place (and to keep us safe).  Of course, these plates have become a perceived obstacle in the roadway.

How do you react when you see a pothole ahead?  You try to avoid it, right?  Well, that’s what we Southport Road drivers attempt to do.  The problem is that you have to cross the yellow line in order to avoid these steel plates.  Inevitably, what occurs is that your right side tires hit the rough asphalt edge of the plates while your left side tires ride on the smooth road along the yellow line.  So…all this effort to avoid the perceived “bump in the road” and we still hit it.

Here’s the punch line.  One day there was a big truck driving toward me and I had no recourse but to stay properly in my lane as I crossed the bridge.  My right side tires crossed the plates with little more than a slight up and down “nudge”.  The left side tires felt much the same.  I was baffled.  For over a year I’ve watched cars swerved to miss these plates.  I’ve seen cars crossing the yellow line even with opposing traffic heading right for them.  Our perception had been wrong all along!  The road less traveled was better.

So, how does this apply to life?  Have you guessed?  Yes, the road less traveled is better!  When it comes to faith in Christ, Jesus tells us, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV)  This whole idea can be quite the brain bender.  The cross Jesus took up was difficult and it led to his horrible death.  Jesus tells us that eventually, “you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24:9 NIV)  You may be thinking, “How is this life the better road?

Is life on earth all there is?  What is eternity?  If you contemplate these questions you will come to the conclusion that eternal life is far more important than 70+ years on earth.  The road often traveled is the one that leads to instant pleasure and instant satisfaction, right now.  This road is one that seems right to us.  This road often leads to death (Proverbs 14 & 16).  For this reason I say that the road less traveled is better.  Remember, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14 NIV)  Have you found the road less traveled?  Find a Bible believing church and get your questions answered.  Just what is the narrow road?  Do you know?

The narrow road is like that decrepit bridge.  Do we cross it?  What path do we take?  Do we follow the path the “seems right” to us?  What happens when we take the road less traveled?  I found that, undoubtedly, the road less traveled was by far the better choice.  Hopefully, you will too.