Tuesday, April 29, 2014

So....God’s Not Dead?

If you have not yet seen the latest film recently put out entitled “God’s Not Dead,” I would urge you to take the time to view it.

In this post-modern, post-Christian world in which we live, it can become disconcerting to the real lovers of the Word of God, to see Emergent Church leaders reject the Bible as the foundation of Christian theology. A liberal generation that embraces philosophy over Biblical authority and human opinion over inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures, will become a religion or non-religion unto themselves. They believe there is no basis for absolute truth. Hence, the belief in relativism. (No absolutes, subject to ones own opinion.)

The film “God’s Not Dead” challenges the philosophy of atheism and presents a convincing argument that there is a Creator and a personal God to believe in, and that the interpretation of Holy Scriptures are true. I think this film is a “must see” for believers!

Every Christian I know who believes the Bible is the Word of God worships the Christ he finds in the Bible. These Christians also believe that God not only speaks to them through the Bible, but that God’s own words are recorded in the text of Scriptures. Paul called the Scriptures “the oracles of God” and that they were “breathed out” by God. (Romans 3:2; 2 Timothy 3:16) Isn’t this what Hebrews means when it quotes from the Old Testament saying “The Holy Spirit says?” (Hebrews 3:7)

Peter wrote that “no prophecy of Scripture came by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)

The Bible is called the foundation of our faith. The church is called the “household of God” and is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” (Ephesians 2:19-20) Christ is called the “chief cornerstone” of our faith. (I Cor. 3:11)

So yes, the Bible is the foundation of truth for the church. It is not possible for Christians to esteem the Bible too highly. Every word in every sentence in every proposition or command or question in the Bible is inspired by God, is authoritative, trustworthy, true, useful, and aids our joy in God. (2 Timothy 3:16) We are not asked to understand all the meanings of each scripture but to only trust, believe, and obey what we do understand and God will continue to give us more understanding.

“The Father of glory may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know….what the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe according to the working of His mighty power.”  (Ephesians 1:17-19)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

He Is Risen!

Mary Magdalene was in the garden; she could not stay away from it. She was looking and searching for His body. “Where had they laid him?” was the question in her mind. She had returned this time to peep again into the tomb, possibly with the thought that it couldn't have happened. It could only be a bad and terrible dream.

Sensing someone behind her, she turned and confronted a man who she thought was the gardener. Instantly she asked, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him…”Rabboni!” It was the risen Lord, the Christ she loved.

There are 3 things here that can help us:

  1. Mary was seeking a dead Christ and couldn't find Him. He was not dead! Many today keep making the same mistake and it’s a loss to them-selves. Who needs a dead Christ? Aren’t there those who have been impressed with the story of Christ from the Bible but who are not sure He lives? They attend His church, listen to His ministers and sing His songs, but to them He is still a dead Christ, not a living risen Lord. What a shame.
  2. Mary did not find Christ; He found her! In spite of all her time and searching, she did not find Christ; He found her. This is the whole point of the gospel! He is seeking us when we are lost, confused, searching, and unable to find Him. Neither the sheep who wandered away nor the coin which rolled into the remote corner could find themselves. It was the shepherd and the woman with the brook who found them. Imagine you were that lost coin and you saw the reaching groping hands trying to find you. Isn’t that exactly what God is doing?
  3. Mary did not recognize Jesus when she saw Him. Although she was seeking Him with her whole being, she did not recognize Him when she saw Him. Perhaps this was not altogether her fault for He was appearing to her in a form other than that which she was expecting or had known. She supposed He was one of the gardeners.

There is a beautiful story on how one day Francis of Assisi (who was terrified of leprosy) met a leper in the street. He reacted instantly, recoiling, shuddering from the contamination of that loathsome disease. Then ashamed of himself, he ran and cast his arms about the sufferer’s neck and kissed him before passing on. A moment later he looked back and there was no one there—only the empty road in the sunlight. All his life, thereafter, he believed and was sure that the man he had met was no leper—he was Christ.

Inasmuch as you do it unto the least of these little ones, you do it unto me. How often we fail to recognize Him when we meet Him! How blind we are. His resurrection has many things to say to us and as we sit in church today ponder these 3 thoughts:

  1. In your search, let Him find you if you can’t find Him.
  2. Look for a living Christ as there isn’t a dead one.
  3. Remember, He will appear to you in this life in more than one way. But He will appear and you need to be able to recognize Him!

AD Van Hoose,
Founding Father of International Ministerial Association

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion!

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”   Zechariah 9:9

Zechariah 9:9 reminds us that today is indeed a cause for celebration! God gives us this day; He fills it to the brim with possibilities and He challenges us to use it for His purposes. The day is presented to us fresh and clean at midnight, free of charge, but we must beware: today is a non-renewable resource—once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Our responsibility of course, is to use this day in the service of God’s will and according to His commandments.

This clear prediction of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem was delivered some 400 years before its fulfillment. Zechariah was calling for a spirit of hope and urgency to prevail. We do not know what, if any, specific historical reference Zechariah would have associated with this prophecy, but either way, God knew, and we know today! Praise the Lord!

Today, give thanks for Christ and treasure the time that God has given you. Give the Father the glory, the praise, and the thanksgiving that He deserves. And search for the hidden possibilities that God has placed along your path. This day is a priceless gift from God, so use it joyfully and encourage others to do likewise! Billy Graham once said “When Jesus Christ is the source of our joy, no words can describe it.”

Today let us choose an attitude of cheerfulness. Let us be joyful Christians, quick to laugh and slow to anger. Let us share God’s goodness with our family, our friends, and our neighbors - this day and every day!  Blessings to you!   

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Heart of A Servant

Just a few words today about the position of a servant. So many of God’s people have been given a servant’s heart. It seems that Jesus had the vocation in life to serve other people. He once said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve others and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)  In Luke’s gospel Jesus stated, “For I am among you as one who serves.” (22:27) Jesus defined service as meeting the needs of others and empowering them to be all that God has called us to be. That may not even include a position of status or power.

Jesus used the illustration of washing His disciples feet to teach them to wash one another’s feet. He set this example that they would do what He had done for them, and stated, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13)

It is not great talents that God blesses so much as great likeness to the Lord Jesus. I believe it is true to say that the vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people. To serve others is the same attitude as Christ. (Philippines 2:5-9) To be a servant of God we must be a servant of people. Albert Schweitzer said “The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others. Paul wrote that we “serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not man.” (Ephesians 6:7)

How should we serve others? By being a “humble and gentle, being patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Ephesians 4:2)  Being humble about serving others means that we try to avoid feeling proud about our works or gifts that we have received of God. We should be genuinely modest and humble, wanting to remain in the background, we should never look for honor or praise from the good works we do.

Ron DiCianni wrote in his book Service to God that “Service must be preceded by surrender: somewhere between salvation and maturity in Christ our prayers should turn from ‘give me’ to ‘use me.’ Until then, we are quite useless to God.”  Paul writes in Romans 15:17 “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.” Our highest destiny as believers is to serve rather than to rule. God sees every act of love and kindness that we show. “Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the master you are serving is Christ!” (Colossians 3:24)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Power of Generosity!

I’ve been reading a book written by Dave Toycen, President and CEO of World Vision Canada. The Toycen name interested me because I’m familiar with that name of a family in Sand Creek, Wisconsin near Chetek. And yes, Dave is from that family of the car dealership in Sand Creek and God has raised him up from that small community to become a world changer.

Dave’s book entitled “The Power of Generosity” is written about the transforming power of generosity. Through World Vision he has helped to reshape the lives and future of the poorest of the poor along with assisting the challenges of HIV Aids and sexual exploitation of children around the world.

World Vision Canada has thrived on the generosity of people helping people and upon generous giving toward helping to change lives of those gripped by illness and poverty around the world. I think of our own missions outreach and the generous support and volunteer involvement that helps us impact the work of God into many nations, We have been a generous congregation. In the Bible it identifies a generous person as someone to emulate. “Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.” (Psalm 112:5 NIV) Or, “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9 NIV)

THE GOOD SAMARITAN - One of the great examples of generosity is the story of the good Samaritan. The man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was robbed and beaten by thieves. The Samaritan man who saw his plight had pity on him. He bandaged his wounds, put the broken man on his donkey and took him to a lodging place and paid the innkeeper to look after him. This is a story of one who showed a generous act of mercy. Jesus stated that we should also be generous in mercy. (Luke 10:37)

Why are some people generous and others not? A study was made to determine what causes some church members to be more generous than others. The results showed that the most significant factor was whether a person had been taught generosity as a child. The impact of parents in teaching their children to give was the key that opened the world of giving. What are we doing to train our children in the ways of generosity? Generosity enriches our lives and will improve our emotional and physical health. It simply makes life more fun. Generosity is the attitude that puts heart in our obligation to care for others. It’s a very serious business because our society is showing the strains of violence, poverty, selfishness, and neglect. The message Bible states “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.” (Proverbs 11:24)