October 30, 2014
October 28, 2014
The great Apostle Paul, through the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, writes a pretty strong argument for our involvement in a community of Christian believers. He writes in the book of Ephesians:
Can you see it here? There's a difference between God's plan for man and man's plan to reach God. In all other faiths, Man must work hard to reach God. In Christianity alone, God, through Jesus Christ, reaches down to man's level. Even to die on a cross to pay the price for our sins. Every other system is based on us working to be good enough.
Now, our good works are the result of us loving God and being loved by Him- two very different things!As His children, we get abundant life in Christ while we are on the Earth- blessings and strength and power in the midst of hardship! It's all part of the mystery, it's all because of the love Jesus has for us.
So what exactly is the role of the local church? Let's begin at the beginning. Back in the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis, God sets forth some pretty basic and important facts.
Fast forward to the New Testament and Christian church and it's first mention in the Book of Acts, chapter 2. Interestingly, when the Bible wants to address an individual, the word "believer" is used. When its' a gathering of believers, the word "church" is chosen.
We live in a society where we are encouraged to be independent, where will people go when they have a desire to know more about Jesus- especially if they have no contact with believers? They will look for a church!
As believers in Jesus, we have a common purpose, a responsibility, a privilege, as a church to share God's message of love and to bless the people in our community. The beginning of it all comes with delivering the message while we care for those around us. The church must work in unity to pull this task off successfully.
Paul's humility and his understanding of where he fits is evident all through his writings as he was inspired by God's Holy Spirit, a large portion of the New Testament. Look back at Ephesians 3 again:
He accepts his place in the Kingdom of God. By saying this, he is acknowledging each person has their place and a different – not greater or less- role to play. Because the Scriptures teach us that He has given each of us a field to work. (2 Corinthians 10:13) That role for us is to be found in two places- one inside the church and one outside the church. In fact, we are strategically placed by God where we are for His purposes.
Just think- God has wasted nothing by giving us the life we have. Be it long or short, healthy or not, God has a plan for each of us. He's placed us where we live, with the families and friends we have and in the workplaces He has chosen for us. Really incredible when you grasp that truth. It means nothing is wasted, and nothing is a mistake.
Each team has one purpose: To win! How do they do it?
- The team belongs to the owner- they play for him
- It’s under the leadership of the coaches
- Each has a unique position on the team
- Each player brings strengths and weaknesses, playing to strengths, working on weaknesses- no excuses for them!
- Each player is chosen for how they will fit with others
- They train hard and give 100%
- Team members watch out for each other (I Corinthians 10:24)
- They may get hurt, but they always get back in game when needed
Back to watching the World Cup during our European vacation for a minute. We were in a restaurant with people from all different countries in Europe. There were French, Swiss, Italians, Germans, etc. It was fascinating to sit there with everyone- not understand a word of what they were saying, but I learned a lot.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
October 27, 2014
October 24, 2014
October 23, 2014
October 22, 2014
October 21, 2014
October 20, 2014
October 18, 2014
October 17, 2014
October 15, 2014
Recently, I was asked to share some insights at a retreat for Men and also later at a study for college aged students. I was surprised that the subject of both gatherings turned to the issue of prayer.
The problem is with us. If we don't understand who God is and what prayer means to Him, we may be expecting results that God never intended. Then, we can become discouraged, confused, or even embittered.
1- He is Unchanging.
4-He is Always Good
Stop and think about the times God has answered your prayers. These stories are important because they are your stories of interactions with our Living God. No one can take these from you, no one can tell you they did not happen. This is part of your history. Just think, the most powerful being ever took time to interact with you. Incredible!
And God desires to keep this cycle going! So, from a Biblical perspective, these are the three real purposes of prayer. As you think more deeply about each, you'll realize prayer doesn't always involve getting what we want, what we think is best. Sometimes, oftentimes, it's a very different story.
To make sense of this fact, it helps to look at the life of Jesus as our model.
This Jesus, the one I love and follow, took on the pain and sins of Man. Once for all time. Even though His life was sinless and ours is not, there's a lot to learn byexamining his life. He was, after all, a man of prayer. And what better place to look at his prayer than right before His Crucifixion.
But back to us. What about the things we pray about?
What happens when we get what we asked for? When there's no answer? When the answer brings us pain? Keep reading!