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The Ultimate Stress Test

posted Sep 23, 2018, 1:43 PM by Website Administrator   [ updated Sep 23, 2018, 1:45 PM ]

September 16, 2018
Key Passage: Genesis 22:1-19


"The Ultimate Stress Test”


Listen, I’m dumb as dirt when it comes to really understanding Scripture, and I’m not far behind on misunderstanding God’s character at times – but this I’ve learned: God is the ultimate realist.   He’s not at all impressed with our temper tantrums or freak outs.  Let’s be honest….most of us spend more time studying God’s commands looking for loopholes than striving to obey those commands immediately and fully.  That’s why God often tests us – and here’s the bitter pill – when God does test us, he doesn’t grade on a curve.   Understand, God isn’t satisfied to have our gratitude…He wants our love.  So, times of testing often come to get us back on track.  Even His gifts to us are of no value until we’re willing, if necessary, to lose them so that God might reign without rival in our hearts.  In our study today it’s important to remember, even when Abraham didn’t understand the “why”, he trusted the “who.”  It’s not a matter of CAN I trust God, but WILL I trust him?  Who CAN I trust involves the head.  Who WILL I trust involves the heart – and God wants all of it….all the time.

Genesis 22:1-19  While the 22nd chapter of Genesis is certainly one of the best known stories in the Bible, note the remarkable foreshadowing in the Old Testament of the work of Christ in the New.  As we read about Abraham binding the son he loved to the altar don’t miss the parallel of another Son who was stretched out on a Roman cross … by his Father, also.

*Why Does God Test Us?

1. To combat half-heartedness God wanted to see if Abraham loved him with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. God sends tests our way to force us to “get off the fence.”  (See Revelation 3:15-16)
2. To keep us from getting distracted See if this sounds familiar: we experience the blessing of the Lord and become satisfied in the blessing instead of in the one who provides it.  (See Philippians 3:12-14)
3. To make us deeper and more productive   “Consider it pure joy…”  (See James 1:2-4)

*How Can We Have Abraham’s Faith?

1. Obey immediately Consider: delayed obedience is immediate disobedience; partial obedience is complete disobedience.  When the Lord says “jump,” jump!  We can talk about why later.  
(See John 14:15; 21; 23; 24)
2. Trust in God’s Faithfulness Again, even when he didn’t understand the “why” he trusted the “who.”  You may not understand the “whys” – chances are you never will.  But faith is not about understanding, it’s about trust.  Not who CAN you trust, but who WILL you trust. (See Genesis 12:4)

*What Will God’s Promises Do for Your Faith?

1. Faith calms our fears (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
2. Faith cushions our falls (1 John 1:9)
3. Faith confirms our future (John 10:22-30)

Q: Where do you get the strength to say “yes” to God when everything else inside of you says “no?”
Q: If (actually, when) the Lord should ask you to give up something or someone precious, do you honestly believe he will provide?

Bottom Line: Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it’s impossible to please God.”  Listen, our circumstances never test the ability or the faithfulness of God – they simply serve only to test our understanding of the character and purpose of God in our life.  I’m assuming most, if not all, in this class are Christians….which begs the question: If you can trust God to provide for your eternity, why is it such a challenge to trust Him with your tomorrow?  Is he truly Jehovah Jireh – “The Lord who provides?”

In the Beginning … The Creation of Absolute Truth

posted Aug 19, 2018, 1:35 PM by Website Administrator   [ updated Aug 19, 2018, 1:35 PM ]

August 19th, 2018

Key Passage: Genesis 1:1-2:3

“In the Beginning … The Creation of Absolute Truth”


To be completely candid, I never thought the “Creation vs. Evolution” debate would become such a cultural lightning rod in our lifetime.  That said, it pales in comparison to the incredible condemnation being placed on the Church and, more notably, Christians who have the audacity (some would say “ignorance”) of believing the Bible is inerrant and absolute – especially when it speaks to God’s design for marriage.  It’s one thing to feel like a fish out of water in our society … much less a fish that’s being gutted, filleted, and thrown into the frying pan.  Yet here it is, the very epicenter of whether the Bible is Absolute Truth and the infallible Word of God, or a collection of cool poems, stories, and thoughts from men who really didn’t have a clue about life in the 21st century.  Why is society in such disarray?  Because people have left behind the fact that Genesis shows us the origins of the universe, order and complexity, the solar system, the atmosphere and hydrosphere, the origin of life, man, marriage, evil, language, government, culture, nations and religion.  Simply, if you believe Genesis 1:1, you really have no problem believing the rest of the Bible.


Genesis 1:1         “In the beginning…”


What do the very first three words of the Bible tell us about God’s nature?

Regarding the “Big Bang Theory” – we should believe in the Big Bang.  God said it, and, “Bang!” it happened.

God’s first step (Day 1) is to create light … literally, the symbol for God throughout the Bible.  Important to note that this light came from God – not from the sun and moon (Day 4)


Genesis 1:4-25    “And God said…” (“bara,” the Hebrew word here, means to create out of nothing)


If everything around us, including ourselves, is the result of random, meaningless occurrences apart from the work of a creating God, then it says something about who I am, and where I, and the whole universe, are going. Then the only dignity or honor we bestow upon men is pure sentimentality, because I don’t have any more significance than an amoeba.  At this point, “survival of the fittest” becomes the greatest law in the universe.


Genesis 1:25-31  “in our image” (“Elohim,” used in verse 1, is plural for God – the Trinity)


This means there is an unbridgeable gap between human life and animal life. Though we are biologically similar to certain animals, we are distinct in our moral, intellectual, and spiritual capabilities.

This means there is also an unbridgeable gap between human life and angelic life. Nowhere are we told the angels are made in the image of God. Angels cannot have the same kind of relationship of love and fellowship with God we can have. (BTW, this is the primary reason Satan hates us …)

This means human life has intrinsic value, apart from the “quality of life” experienced by any individual, because human life is made in the image of God.


Genesis 2:1-25   (“Yahweh” is used here to show His loving nature and desire for a personal relationship)


Because He’s “Elohim,” we have to give him our all.  Because He’s “Yahweh,” we should want to.

When you stray from the design of the architect, you weaken the structure.

If God first created them male and female, and in a marriage relationship … when did he change his mind?  As we go through the rest of the Bible, when did God change his definition of marriage?

Never forget, the number goal of Satan is to blaspheme and belittle the name of Christ.  Literally, the best way to do that is to mock the ultimate sacrifice of Christ … his death (as the Groom) for his bride (the church).  This is the primary reason gay marriage is wrong – it mocks Christ.


Q:  What responsibilities come with being made in the image and likeness of God?

Q:  How do we notice God’s intimacy in our lives on a daily basis?


Transformed Living

posted Jun 11, 2017, 12:44 PM by Website Administrator   [ updated Jun 11, 2017, 12:47 PM ]

Bible Verse:             1 Peter 4:1-11
Date:                       June 11, 2017
Teacher:                  Scott Cheney


Outline of Lesson:

            1 Peter 4:1-6 – Die to self, live in Christ
Ø1 Peter 4:1 – Christ overcame sin, we must do the same by dying to the flesh and living in the spirit
Ø1 Peter 4:2 – Focus not on earthly desires, but on the heavenly goals
Ø1 Peter 4:3 – We must put sinful ways behind us
Ø1 Peter 4:4 – We must not give in to the pressures of this world
Ø1 Peter 4:5 – Jesus will judge the living and the dead
Ø1 Peter 4:6 – The gospel has been preached to the living and the dead, so that all may share in redemption in Christ
1 Peter 4:7-11 – Live your earthly life as if each moment could be your last
Ø1 Peter 4:7 – The end is near, be prepared
Ø1 Peter 4:8 – Love deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins
Ø1 Peter 4:9 – Share with others
Ø1 Peter 4:10-11 – Serve others
ØDoxology – Do all for the glory of God, Amen

Download:

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Grace is Dangerous

posted Apr 30, 2017, 7:20 AM by Website Administrator   [ updated Apr 30, 2017, 7:29 AM ]

April 30, 2017

Key Passage: Romans 6:1-23

“Grace is Dangerous”

Quick question: how many of us feel like we’ve been set free from the power of sin (and let’s be candid here - save the “Sunday School” answers for later)?  Really, how many of us feel dead to sin?  If you’re like me, it often seems we’re not the master – we’re the slave in this area.  And it doesn’t seem to matter how much we pray about it, or how much counseling we get, or how many articles we read or sermons we hear – we just can’t seem to conquer this area.  It could be anger, porn, materialism, gossip, or a critical spirit – but it’s in control, and we’re not.  Eventually, you get bogged down with a sense of guilt and weakness that’s hard to understand, given our standing in Christ.  Of course, this all boils down to feeding self rather than feeding the Spirit God has given us … and the flesh can be brutal, cracking a remorseless whip and driving us to even greater depths of depression.  Mastering self is the key difference between possessing eternal life (which all Christians have), and possessing that abundant life Jesus came to give.  And isn’t that what each of us really wants?

2 Secrets to an Abundant Life (starting with the “end in mind,” let’s start with 2 Corinthians 2:14-16)        


1.  Romans 6:1-10       Let’s get our facts straight, and trust them rather than your “feelings”


  •  Romans 6:1-5             Fact #1 – Our Position in Christ     God never asks us to believe something without first giving the facts.  This is the great foundation of our Christian faith: IT RESTS ON FACTS.  Our old nature died with Christ – in fact, it not only died, but was buried as well – totally put away.
  • Romans 6:6-10            Fact #2 – The Authority of Sin is Gone     See if this sounds familiar: we try to be good, but choose to do wrong and then we confess.  Then we do it again, and confess that.  Finally, we’re ashamed and give up, deciding that the best thing is simply to keep up as good an appearance as possible.  We actually become content with defeat.  But it’s not supposed to be this way – sin’s authority is gone!

 

2.  Romans 6:11-23     Breaking the cycle of sin that entangles and chokes the life out of us

  • Romans 6:16-19          Fact #3 – Sin makes us a slave     Here’s a profound psychological fact: human beings are made to be mastered.  Somebody has to master us.  God is at work in us, and so is Satan.  We’re given basically two choices in life: who will we serve? 
  • Romans 6:20-21          Fact #4 – Sin will make you ashamed    No matter how small or great, sin always leads to shame.  For Christians, it’s called conviction; for others, it’s condemnation. 
  • Romans 6:22-23          Fact #5 - Sin leads to death     Sometimes it leads to a physical death (addictions; horrible choices); however, it always leads to spiritual darkness.

                    

Q:  What do you do with the flashbacks and voices in the night that keep reminding you of past sins?

Q:  How does the knowledge of your death to sin affect your struggles with sin?  Your prayer life?

Q:  What does the phrase, “what you believe dictates how you will behave” mean?

 

Bottom Line: The abundant life is not about you doing your best for God – it’s about Christ doing His best through you!  Keep in mind, what you believe dictates how you behave.  It’s vital for us to understand and believe the truth about ourselves from God’s point of view – not ours, or our feelings.  We must see ourselves as those who are dead to sin and alive to God.  This is what dying to live means.  The question, then, becomes: who are you going to believe?  God’s Word or Satan’s whispers?  The devil comes along trying to convince you that you don’t have the power to resist sin.  Who will you believe?

Being Thankful for the Passover

posted Nov 29, 2015, 6:05 AM by Website Administrator   [ updated Nov 29, 2015, 6:05 AM ]

November 29, 2015
Key Passage: Exodus 11 -12

“Being Thankful for the Passover”

A lot of things baffle me about the Bible (shocker!).  Chief among them is the sheer amount of blood shed.  As I’ve grown to understand the necessity of blood poured out (especially, the precious blood of God’s Son), I’ve grown increasingly irritated by pastors and churches that either preach a “health and wealth” message, or those who’re committed to downplaying the seriousness of sin and rarely if ever speak of it.  Blood is essential to the Gospel because God takes sin extremely seriously, even if we oftentimes don’t.  Simply put, Jesus’ blood was shed to do for us what we could never do for ourselves – namely, relieve of us having to “try hard enough” or be “good enough” to appease God and come into a right relationship with Him.  We can’t even fathom the depth of love it took for Christ to do that for us … and though “good works and efforts” don’t earn our salvation, they are the result of it.  It doesn’t take faith to do what we already want to do.  Real faith is trusting God when we don’t understand what He’s doing.  For instance:
 
to resist the morality of the world and maintain the purity God commands 
to give of our ourselves and our material wealth sacrificially 
to act with integrity and report things accurately even though others aren’t
to tell the truth even though a lie would keep us out of trouble 
to forgive someone who hurt us 
to trust God even though it feels that He has forgotten us

In Exodus, the Passover is an event that clearly points to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.  Just as the Jews remember it to mark their freedom from Egyptian slave-masters, we should never forget its lessons either:

We should never forget the horrible consequences of sin – Passover reminds us that sin comes with a price.  It destroys relationships, leads us away from God’s perfect design for our life, and often hurts the people we love; however, it also puts a barrier between us and our Holy God that can’t be easily removed.  We don’t really have any idea how devastating and offensive our sin is to God … and until we face our sin head on, we won’t be interested in God’s grace.

We should never forget the astounding depth of God’s love – Just as the Passover reminds the Jews of his tenacious pursuit of them, it should continually remind us of his persistent affection for us even though we resist and disappoint Him time and time again.  Frankly, you’re here today because God is calling to your heart and asking you to follow Him in total surrender.

We should never forget the lasting benefit of obedience – Trusting Christ isn’t just a matter of “saying a prayer” – it’s an attitude of the heart.  It means coming to Him honestly with our sin, trusting He’ll provide exactly what we’ll need – namely, forgiveness.  And it means being willing to follow him wholeheartedly in the small, daily events of our lives – especially when things don’t make sense at all … in fact, it’s most notable when things DON’T make sense.  That’s faith.

Q: How does grace impact our understanding / view of obedience?
Q: How does this story help when we find ourselves in despair or not understanding what God’s doing?

Bottom Line – The final thing we should never forget is how utterly grateful we are to be to Christ for what He has done for us.  The plagues of Egypt aren’t just boring pieces of history.  They point to the One who changes lives, rebuilds broken hearts, gives strength to the weary, and brings eternal life to those who could never earn it.  If you and I have even an inkling of what Christ has done for us, we’ll have a sense of gratitude that’s fleshed out in a daily life that’s filled with humility, hope, and obedience …

Been There ... Done That ...

posted Mar 29, 2015, 8:42 AM by Website Administrator   [ updated Mar 29, 2015, 8:42 AM ]

March 29, 2015                        
Key Passage: Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

“Been There … Done That …”


Not only is the phrase “been there, done that” an extremely popular term in our contemporary lexicon, it also perfectly describes why so many people either don’t come to Christ – or live an incredibly joyless life dressed as a Believer.  And the irony behind that fact is……most people don’t really believe Christ can relate – that He hasn’t “been there, and done that.”  (Sure, we’ll all give the Sunday School answer on that one – but how many actually live like they believe it?!)  “Yeah, it says He was tempted in every way – but come on, He’s perfect.  How hard can it be when you’re perfect?  No one understands how I feel, and what I’m going through!”  Sound familiar?  Trust me, the blinders in life come flying off when you finally come to the realization that Jesus experienced more pain, temptation, irritation, frustration, sadness, calamity, brutality, ridicule, faithlessness, misunderstanding….do I need to go on?...than we can ever imagine.  To be honest, we do Him an incredible disservice when we even imply that “no one knows how I feel – or what I’m going through?”  Try the beatings, the torture, and the agony of the cross.  The reason we can approach His throne with confidence – literally, be ushered into the presence of Almighty God through prayer, is because we serve a Savior who has “been there….done that.”  And so much more…  

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 The clearest Prophecy / Presentation of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament…

Isaiah 52:13-15….“As the centuries pass, the evidence is mounting that, measured by his effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet.”  Historian Kenneth LaTourette
(see also Philippians 2:5-11)

Isaiah 53:1-3…..We only have one verse in scripture that speaks of the physical appearance of Jesus, and all it tells us is what he DIDN’T look like: “He has no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2).  That’s all we’re told throughout scripture, so it must be an important point – which is this: Jesus became an ordinary person to show ordinary people like us God’s extraordinary love!  (see also John 1:11-13)

Isaiah 53:4-6…..Here’s the heart of the Gospel (smack dab in the middle of the Old Testament) – the Good News – that Jesus took our place.  Bon Jovi came out with their version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” several years ago called “It’s My Life.”  Both songs embody our main problem…that we’re consumed with “doing it our way” because “it’s my life!”  (see also 1 Peter 2:22-25)

Isaiah 53:7-9…..It’s vital to note that Jesus “didn’t open his mouth” in all four Gospel accounts.  Know this – as servants of the Lord, we too will be subjected to oppressive judgment.  When someone suffers for a cause, people want to know the nature of that cause.  And if we care so much about others that we’re willing to suffer for them, people want to know why we care so much.  All their questions have one answer: Jesus.  (see also 2 Corinthians 5:19-21)

Isaiah 53:10-12…..As hard as it is to believe, we’ve got to understand that God loved the lost race of mankind as much as he loved his Son, and was willing to deliver him up to death that we might find a way out of the disease and death of sin.  (see also Romans 8:32)

Q: Can you honestly say you hold a Biblical world view?  Why / why not?
Q: What are the ways you seek love, security and significance outside of a relationship with Christ?

Bottom Line: If we’re willing to lay down our rebellion, here’s what the Good News promises: instead of collapsing in grief over our rejection, he bears our griefs.  Instead of increasing our sorrows, he carries them.  Instead of avenging our sins, he’s pierced for them in our place.  Instead of crushing us for our iniquities, he’s crushed for them as our substitute.  With that in mind, let’s commit to giving up the thought that “no one knows how I feel,” ok?

But God...

posted Dec 14, 2014, 7:06 AM by Website Administrator   [ updated Dec 14, 2014, 7:06 AM ]

December 14, 2014
Key Passage: Ephesians 2:1-10

"But God …"

Perhaps the greatest two words in the Bible are “But God,” because they sum up the Gospel message: that we were hopelessly lost in sin, living dreary, purposeless lives …  But God, because of a sheer love for us (in the form of mercy), has made us alive in Christ.  That’s the ultimate Good News.  The bad news?  The main reason Christians fall into the trap of "relative truth" is because, as Jack Nicholson said in A Few Good Men, we can't handle the Truth.  Today's passage in Ephesians contains the ugly truth about us, and few are willing to accept it, so we make it "relative."  Here's a great example – almost 80% of Christians believe "good works" play a role in their salvation; heck, even 40% of "born-again" Christians believe this.  Wow…that continually blows my mind! We believe “works” have something to do with reaching God because, at the heart, we’re full of pride and sin.  Of all the great problems in the world today – war, violence, injustice, abuse, dishonesty – the greatest is the “sin problem.”  Let’s be honest: we’re all driven by our hormones and our appetites.  We’re not sinners because we sin – we sin because we’re sinners.  If you’re like me, maybe you’re worn out because you’ve sought the hand of God (salvation, forgiveness, justification, adoption) rather than the face of God.  We’re more interested in the benefits of the relationship rather than the relationship itself.  “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.”

Ephesians 2:1-3 The Bad News … Our Condition

Virtually no one, outside of a fairly small group of evangelical Christians, seriously believes:
  • That without a Savior, all people are dead in sin and incapable of any spiritual good
  • That without a Savior, the most vital part of our personality – the spirit – is dead to the most important factor in life - God
  • That without a Savior, all people are captured and blinded by an evil entity named Satan
  • That without a Savior, all people are under the wrath of God and doomed to hell

Ephesians 2:4-7 The Good News … God's Remedy

"But…God…"  Again, these are the two greatest words in the Bible – "But God…has made us alive in Christ, even when we were dead in our transgressions."   What blows me away is why he did it…notice it has absolutely nothing to do with us!  It's entirely prompted by God's character – his love, in the form of grace and mercy.

Ephesians 2:8-10 The Good News = Good Works

We're saved by grace through faith apart from works (that'll do it for the 80% who believe "works" play a part in salvation), but the faith that saves always results in good works.  Because he reached down and rescued us when we were spiritually and eternally dead, we should be fired up about glorifying him through our words and works.

Q:  How would you explain “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” to a lost person?

Q: What are some lies we in the church believe in contrast to what God’s Word says about our sin?

Q:  Why do we prefer the word “mistakes” over “sin” when speaking of our attitudes and actions?

Bottom Line: Frankly, we’ll never appreciate the riches of God’s grace and the depths of His love if we don’t understand the depths of sin from which God has rescued us.  It’s unfortunate that people often stereotype Christians as those who think they’re better than others.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The truth is, to be a true Christian you have to admit that you’re a person addicted to sin.  The church is like an AA meeting.  We must never forget the blessings of salvation and new life aren’t ours because we’ve earned them.  They’re ours because of God’s grace and mercy.  Honestly, we should be the most humble and grateful people around.  

The Fall of Man and the Rise of Grace

posted Nov 30, 2014, 7:34 AM by Website Administrator   [ updated Nov 30, 2014, 7:34 AM ]

November 30, 2014   
Key Passage: Genesis 3:1-19

“The Fall of Man and the Rise of Grace”


…The Fall of Humanity.  Ever wonder why life can seem so brutal, so “unfair,” so alarmingly out of sync?  Look no further than Genesis 3, where sin and grace meet head on.  Here’s the reason drugs, alcohol, and a slew of other “12 Step” nominees imprison many of us; the reason we have a passion for power and the lure of wealth, material things, and a complete obsession with sex.  If you’re like me, not a day passes that you can’t fully relate to the shame, guilt, blame, and physical / mental woes that occupy the story of Adam’s (and man’s) fall from grace.  Someone once said, “Most people want to be delivered from temptation … but they’d like it to keep in touch.”  Thank God that for our sakes, when sin rears its ugly head, grace rises up to swallow it whole …

As we look at the origin of sin through temptation, keep in mind James 1:14-15, “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  

Notice the 3 steps listed above and how they relate perfectly to how Satan tempts Eve – and us:

1.  Satan impugns God’s character … By raising a question (“Did God REALLY say…”), Satan planted a seed of doubt in her heart, a distrust of God’s love.  She responded by “seeing that the fruit of the tree was good for food…”  We’re dragged away and enticed when we forget God’s love and provision.

2.   Satan challenges the authority of God’s Word …This is where desire is conceived.  Satan followed up the seed of mistrust by blatantly denying God’s Truth (“You will not surely die”).

3.  Satan contradicts God’s certain judgment … he promises pleasure but doesn’t mention the pain (“When you eat, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God”).  Technically, this was true – their eyes were opened and they did realize what God realizes – sin may taste good at first, but it ultimately leads to spiritual death …

Contrast the way God works and the way Satan works – 
* God demonstrates his love….Satan implants a distrust of God’s love for us (“Did he REALLY say…?)
* God declares a promise to us….Satan declares a countering lie (“Surely you will not die”)
* God strengthens his promise by offering the Truth itself to us…Satan distorts the truth and makes it look    like something else, makes it vague, hazy and undefined. (“He knows when you eat, you’ll be like him”)

The results of sin, and how Jesus provides grace:

1.  Self-Consciousness (“they knew they were naked”) – Isn’t this what we struggle with most…the reason we not only wear clothes to cover ourselves, but the reason we wear masks so others can’t see us the way we really are? Jesus counters by taking our eyes off ourselves and putting them on him (Gal. 2:20)

2.  Guilt (“I was afraid, and I hid myself”) – This is the heritage of The Fall, this dreaded sense of guilt…and hiding is an instinctive reaction to guilt.  It’s why we hide our sins, and why accountability is so vitally important.  Jesus counters our guilt by cleaning the slate and our conscience (Romans 8:1-2)

3.  Blame (“the woman gave it to me,” “the serpent deceived me”) – This is the first human attempt to deal with the problem of guilt, and it still rings true today; ultimately, what you say when you blame is “God, this is REALLY your fault!”  If couples would stop blaming each other and look at their own sin problems, 2/3 of the battle in saving marriages would be won!  Jesus’ answer? Matthew 7:5…

4.  Pain, Sorrow (“I will multiply your pain,” “cursed is the ground…through painful toil”) – that empty, hollow feeling, that sense of loss…just like Adam and Eve, we’ve learned the hard, cruel facts of life lived apart from dependence on God.  Praise God, Jesus counters by going with us and reminding us you can never experience the glory of the resurrection unless you’ve first experienced the death of the cross!

Loving Jesus by Loving His Word

posted Nov 23, 2014, 7:49 AM by Website Administrator   [ updated Nov 23, 2014, 7:49 AM ]

November 23, 2014                                                                                          

Key Passage: Psalm 19

 

                                    “Loving Jesus by Loving His Word”

 

As complex as life can be, it all comes down to priorities.  Much of the time, mine are completely out of whack.  Instead of Jesus, Lynn, children, friends and work, I jumble the combo around – most notably, placing Jesus somewhere in the middle of the pack instead of #1.  Shockingly, that’s when the #2 usually hits the fan.  Which begs the question: Does my life revolve around Jesus, or do I expect Him to revolve around me?  Most of us here today say we love Jesus, but spend little time getting to know Him through His Word.  We have more Bibles in our house than verses in our heart.  Listen, if you take nothing else away from today’s lesson, I hope you’ll embrace this Truth: just as Jesus took away the option of “many paths to Heaven” when he declared He is the only way in John 14:6, so He takes away the notion that the Bible is a book of great principles but flawed truth because it’s written by men, in John 1:1.  If Jesus is the Word, then the Word is inerrant from cover to cover.  Either we believe Jesus is who he says he is and He IS the embodiment of the Word, or we don’t. 

 

1.     John 1:1                            God has revealed Himself through Jesus                     

  • Ever heard someone say, “I’d believe God if he showed up in front of me and told me what to do!”?  Well… He did – through his Son – the Word.
  • Much like Jesus, many people “respect” the Bible – it’s a holy book with some great suggestions and stories about how to live life.  Followers of Christ believe in absolute truth, which is God’s Word manifest in Christ; as such, they have a desire to know Him through his Word.

2.     Psalm 19:7-11                   God has revealed Himself generally in His Word        

  • God’s Word is authoritative, adequate, accurate, absolute and abrasive.  Notice the nouns used in these verses: law, testimony, precepts, commandment, respect, judgment.  Now, notice the adjectives:  perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true.

 

3.   Luke 24:25-27                   God has revealed Himself specifically in His Word     

  • Jesus interpreted ALL of Scripture, not bits and pieces.  The disciples he was walking with had chosen to pick and choose what they believed … most Christians do the same today.

 

4.     Hebrews 4:12-13               Jesus is the Word, and the Word is a double-edged sword

  • “Living” – If the Bible doesn’t seem alive to you, we can draw one of two conclusions: 1) the Word is dead, or 2) your heart is in trouble.  Even Jesus says that hearing the Word is like a farmer sowing seed.  When the seed of the Word of God goes into believer’s hearts, it comes alive.  It takes on a life of its own.
  • “Active” – It’s active, it grows, it affects, it moves us.  We get our word “energy” from the Greek form of “active.”  “News may inform us; novels may inspire us; poetry can enrapture us, but only the Word of God can transform us.”
  • “Penetrates” – What’s the big deal about a double-edged sword?  It cuts both ways.  The reason why the Roman Empire was so powerful was because they created the double-edged sword – it was the atom bomb of its day (and it’s what Peter used to cut off the ear of the soldier).  No surgical technique can change bad attitudes, lust, hypocrisy, greed, hatred, and an unforgiving spirit.  Only the Word of God can change the hearts of people.
  • “Judges” – “judge” here doesn’t mean “condemn” – it means “assess.”  Remember, every time someone met Jesus their heart was revealed to Him – and to them (e.g. the woman at the well).  The Word discerns the intentions and motives of the heart – and reveals them to us by conviction.
  • “Lays Barethis is a sacrificial term – the phrase they used to describe an animal whose neck is being bent back before their throat is slit….there’s a nice visual for you, but that’s actually us.

 

Bottom Line:  As I’ve aged and studied God’s Word, I’ve learned that Jesus doesn’t call people to “accept” him, but to FOLLOW him.  The truth of the matter is that in the difficult, confusing, and painful times we are called to trust God.  When it comes down to it, faith is pretty simple: we either trust God at his word by being in his Word, or we don’t. 

When God Speaks, Is Anybody Listening?

posted Nov 9, 2014, 7:18 AM by Website Administrator   [ updated Nov 9, 2014, 7:19 AM ]

November 9, 2014
Key Passage: Psalm 139

“When God Speaks, Is Anybody Listening?”


“Somebody, anybody, God help, help me please.  I want to be accepted … I’m so tired of crying and dreaming.  I’m so, so alone.” Kurt Cobain – Nirvana – journal entry days before his suicide in 1994

Honestly, I never much cared for or about Nirvana; however, I’ve always been drawn to the above journal entry from the guy who went from having nothing to having everything the world has to offer in 3 short years.  Pretty much sums up the sad fact that the world promises everything and delivers absolutely nothing in the end.  Any coincidence that the prince of the world, Satan, is called the “father of lies?”
As such, it should be no surprise that never before have more cried out against God while pleading to Him in a desperation that supports the highest suicide rates in history.  The irony is that God DOES speak to us, constantly, through creation, the Word, those around us, and our own inner spirits.  If you’re struggling with your faith today, the question isn’t “Does God speak?”  It’s “Is anybody listening?”

Truth # 1 – I can’t escape God’s knowledge of me (139:1-6) Omniscient (all-knowing)

Christianity is NOT following a set of rules or going through a bunch of goofy religious rituals.  At its heart, it’s the incredible fact that God – out of sheer grace – chose to enter our world of darkness through Jesus – and chose to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.

Truth # 2 – I can’t escape God’s presence (139:7-12) Omnipresent (present everywhere)

If we believe God’s with us at all times, it brings comfort, dispels fear, gives us supernatural power and confidence, and holds us accountable.  Frankly, most Christians act like they believe God’s only with them on Sunday – which gives them license to behave like idiots Monday – Saturday.

Truth # 3 - I can’t escape God’s power and sovereignty (139:13-18) Omnipotence (all powerful)

God has fashioned and has a purpose in this fallen world even for those whose bodies or minds are not perfectly formed.  That God creates and ordains the days of our lives gives significance and value to each life.  “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” is a clear reflection of the love our Creator has for us.

Truth # 4 – Therefore, we should commit ourselves to obedience (139:19-24)

The worlds’ religions operate on the principle of “if I obey, I’m accepted by God.”  Just the opposite, the Gospel says we’re accepted by God because of Jesus – therefore I obey because I love Him.

God speaks to us when we’re: 

* lonely  (Hebrews 13:5)                 * guilty or ashamed (Romans 8:1)
* worried  (Matthew 6:31)                    * in need         (Philippians 4:19)
* weak  (2 Corinthians 12:9)         * failing                (Philippians 1:6)

Q:  How can a person develop a sense of God’s unshakable presence?
Q:  How can we commit ourselves to obeying Jesus out of love, and based on the fact that He’s omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and speaks directly to us?

Bottom Line: One of the greatest truths in life is that there is NO escape from God.  Like fugitives, we may run, but we cannot ultimately hide from the God who penetrates even the darkness with the gaze of His light.  Folks, we don’t need to “find” God…we need to receive Him.  We don’t find God by running faster or working harder.  We find God by stopping and inviting the Creator of the universe – our Creator – to take control of and speak into our lives.  God is in control, He loves us, He cares, and He speaks.

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