Monday, December 29, 2008

8 Words to Direct Your Life

As we begin 2009, it's time for resolutions, new starts, looking back, looking forward, re-evaluation, readjustment, etc.

For Christians, this should raise two questions:

1. How should I live? (what direction should I take, what should I embrace, what should I reject, et.c. this upcoming year.)
#2. How should I DECIDE how I should live? (what direction to take, what to embrace, what to reject, etc?)

Answers range from: upbringing (tradition), intuition (feeling), social pressures (this is how Americans, SE Oklahomans, Indians, Rednecks live), directives (the norm) Also: can be experience, reason, random want to's.....

For Christians, should add.... Revelation. God has chosen to reveal some things to us about how we should live.
A. General revelation: nature, science, reason, etc.)
B. Specific revelation: prophets, Christ, apostles, Scripture.

Based on Revelation, (without doing away with other considerations),
We must decide how to KNOW what is the foundation for how to live.

So, here are 8 words to direct your life.

#1. Consider (life) think about, examine, give thought to Prov. 14:8 & 15 Prov. 21:29
ASK YOURSELF: Where am I from? Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to do it?

#2. Choose (life) Deut. 30:11-15 & 19
Two words to consider: A. CHOOSE
B. LIFE - this is more than biological life. It is QUALITY of life.
John 10:10 Matt. 7:13-14
This INCLUDES choosing Christ. John 14:6
You cannot have the life God wants for you apart from Christ IN your life.

#3. Develop (your life) Check out Matt. 25, the story of the talents, and Matt. 5 about the steward.
1 Tim. 4:8 - includes moral, character development.
Matt. 4:19 Become "fishers" of men.

#4. Impact (lives) - life is more than YOU. We are to be salt and light, to make a difference, to "fish" for men. (reach others for Christ)

#5. Enjoy (life and God's blessings) - 1 Tim. 6:17 & 18
Context is to impact. Should be balance - impact AND enjoy.

#6. Prepare (for death) Luke 12:15-21 Story of the rich FOOL!!
This includes:
A. Reconcile with God
B. Prepare for heaven and eternity
C. Assure your family
D. mend relationships (w/your brothers and sisters)

#7. Revisit (these from time to time). The Bible uses: Remember - addressed to the people
Remind - to the prophets

#8. Readjust (as necessary). A guided missile locks onto the target, but is constantly readjusting it's position when blown off course by conditions.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas - More that His Birthday

John 8:42 Christmas is more that His birthday. It is His COMING!!

On on hand, He's always with us. BUT, occasionally He shows up in a special way. (As in the Exodus).

So...... Why did He come?
There are many reasons. Here are a few to consider.

He Came to Offer:

I. Eternal Salvation. Definition: a place, position of safety, security. John 11:25 & 26
Three tenses of salvation: Past - I've been saved, born again
Present: I'm being saved, transformed daily
Future: I will be made complete and totally transformed when Christ returns. Luke 19:10

II. Certainty of Salvation. 1 John 5:13

III. An Increasing Confidence in God. (a growing faith that everybody recognizes the compassion, care, concern. John 14:9 * John 14:1 John 3:16
*This is a visible statement of God's concern for you.

IV. Personal Transformation. Matt. 1:21 = ME!!!
This is more than "saved from punishment for sin." It is saved from the power of sin.
This transformation is not immediate and complete. "He's still working on me."

V. Social Transformation.
Matt. 1:21 - for individual and corporate! He offers to change you (individually). Also, offers to change society and the world.

VI. Divine Revelation.
John 1:18 John 12:46 When Christ is in your life, you can know origin, destiny, and purpose.

VII. A Chance to Know God. John 17:3 This is more than head knowledge.

NOTE: This equals A. Offer B. To you C. to the world through you.

So: #1. Receive Him
#2. Receive blessings He offers.
#3. Receive the challenge, responsibility, and charge that goes with it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lessons From the Magi

Prov. 13:20

Therefore: lessons from the Magi. Matt. 2:1-12 People were expecting hte Messiah to come.

#1. Light received increases light.
This is true in A. initial stages John 1:10-13 and B. through out Christian journey.

NOTE: You NEVER get enough light to answer ALL questions!! Ex. Good God. Why evil world?
You WILL just get enough light for the NEXT step!

#2. Light rejected increase darkness. Wise men give good counsel. WISER men take it!
Good example of light rejected is Herod. Rom. 1:21 & 22

#3. Light received is to be applied.
The Bible definition of "hear" is not only with ears, but with heart and hands as well. Matt. 25:28-29 The light is not to ponder but apply. We're to act with the light we've received.

#4. Light (truly) received equals life transformed.
NOT all at once, NOT in huge steps, but a continual, step by step process
"I'm not the man I should be/ not the man I'm gonna be, but NOT the man I was"

#5. Light received stirs up darkness. Matt. 2:13-18
Bible history shows that divine activity leads to demonic activity.
We needn't be conspiracy theroists (demons behind every bush), but, Rom. 7:21
Darkness doesn't want to be repelled or pushed aside by light.

#6. Light is often conveyed through unlikely channels. Biblical examples: moving star, gentile magician, talking donkey, potter's wheel, Jacob's angel, stable, couple from Galilee, etc.

#7. Light often leads to unlikely places.
Stable, carpenter's shop, Galilean fishing boat, Judean hillside, Roman cross....
NOT where you'd expect to find A. Eternal God B. Ultimate Truth.

Therefore: 1. let Him lead you where He will
2. look for light where you land
3. Remember, light received......????

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Christian Sacrifice

Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year in the U.S. BUT..... it hasn't always been so.

Once Upon A Time, When Christmas Was Banned.....
This ban existed as law for only 22 years, BUT disapproval of Christmas celebration took many more years to change.

The Puritans had several reasons for disliking Christmas.
First: it reminded them of hte Church of England and the old-world customs, which they were trying to escape.
Second: they didn't consider the holiday a truly religious day. December 25th. wasn't selected as the birth date of Christ until several centuries after his death.
Third: the holiday celebration usually included drinking, feasting, and playing games - all thing which the Puritans frowned upon.
Fourth: the British had been applying pressure on the Puritans for a while to conform to English customs. The ban was proabably as much a political choice as it was a religious one for many.

Christmas was outlawed by an act of Parliament in England in 1647. It was not declared a federal holiday in the U.S. until 1870.

BUT - look at us now!! The time, dollars, decorations, parties, effort, emphasis, etc.

One objection is: the biggest part is secular with little or nothing to do with Christ!!
Granted...... BUT much of the 'secular' is "Good Stuff". For example: family gatherings, gift giving, days off, a festive spirit, goodwill toward others, generosity to less fortunate, recognizing our blessedness, enjoying our blessings....
This results in good stuff regardless of the time of year or the motive behind it.

Another objection: so much commercialization!!!
True, BUT Jesus gets a lot of "air" time here as well!!
For example: Christmas hymns playing in Wal-Mart; on TV "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with a very plain gospel presentation in it; Nativity sets on sale; Christmas cards with Christ-centered messages.
Phil. 1:15-18

So: The Christian Sacrifice.

Deut. 16:16-17 "not empty handed"
Contrast "bring/offer" with today's concept of worship - receive. What can it give/do for me. There's nothing wrong with receiving, but we should come to give.

So, what should we BRING?? Here's some suggestions.

#1. A Sacrifice of Praise. Heb. 13:15 Psalm 100:4 1 Thess. 5:18
Praise Chorus: "We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. And we offer unto You, the sacrifices of thanksgiving. And we offer up to you, the sacrifices of joy."

#2. A Sacrifice of Giving/Sharing. Heb. 13:16 Luke 14:12-14 - blessing someone just for the sake of blessing. Prov. 19:17 Matt. 25:40 Acts 20:35

#3. A Sacrifice of Confession. Psalm 51:16 &17.
Hosea 14:1-2 1 john 1:9 - God honors confession when brought with a humble, repentent heart as He used to honor the sin offering.

#4. A Sacrifice of Obedience. 1 Sam. 15:20-22
A Sacrifice is only as acceptable as the Sacrificer. Example: Cain Gen. 4:6-7

#5. (Summary) A Sacrifice of Self. Rom. 12:1
In the Old Testament, they did animal sacrifice. This was visible, tangible, and the sacrifice "stayed" sacrificed.
New Testament sacrifice is our selves. A It's voluntary and B. It's continual. We have the ability to change our minds, and take it back.

#1. to sacrifice is to honor God BUT, WHO BENEFITS? Ans: we do!
#2. Deut. 16:17 - "a gift in proportion to blessings"

SO..... how much should YOU be giving????

Monday, December 1, 2008

Developing Confidence In God

Prov. 3:5-6 Easy to say, tough to do.
Psalms 62:5-8
Isaiah 26:3-4
All these are easy said, easy read, easy claimed, easy sung about. Easy enough in easy times.


What if God asked you to: build an ark? leave your country? confront a king? fight a giant? faithfully preach to an unrepentant people for 40 years? feed 5,000 with one small lunch? step out of the boat on stormy seas? Etc......
We all wish we had more confidence in God, and cite Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul.... and say, "I wish I had THAT confidence." They didn't have it either!

Observations about trusting God.

#1. What these people display is not SELF confidence, but GOD confidence.
Heb. 11:1
They did not have confidence in self, in the decision, in hte outcome, but in GOD!!
For example: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Dan. 3:15-18 This is not what usually happens.
Most Christians who come up against this kind of trial, die in the midst of it, but retained their confidence and faith in God.

#2. God-confidence is not so much FEELING as DOING.
Examples; Moses and the Exodus Gideon and Midian Jeremiah and Judah
1 Cor. 2:3-5
Heb. 11 - "by faith they DID , not "by faith they FELT.

#3. The doing (obeying) leads to an APPEARANCE of self-confidence.
Note: God-confidence does not mean that you will never struggle with doubt, questions, fear.
But, you obey in spite of these doubts, questions, and fears.
The point is: You wish you FELT more confidence? So does everyone ELSE!!!

#4. In the New Testament this God-confidence is extended to Jesus Christ.
John 14:1
(Matt. 3:17, Matt. 17:5 "my beloved Son..... Hear Him!")

So, How to increase your confidence in God!!

#1. Pray for faith.
(but remember that faith is usually found in the fire!!) So understand what you are praying for.

#2. Study the Word.
The more you know of God, the easier it is to trust Him. The best place to learn of Him is in His Revelation. Rom. 10:17

#3. Obey what you know.
Obedience leads to experience which leads to confidence. Mal. 3:10

#4. Remember and recall His faithfulness in the past.
to others, to you. Read Christian biographies and learn how He's worked in others' lives as well.

#5. Hang out with faith people. Rom. 1:11-12 You have more chance of getting to know God and developing God-confidence if you are getting together with fellow Christians than if you are hanging out in a club or a bar.

#6. Experience His presence.
This is NOT something you can fabricate, conjure up, or control, but you CAN put yourself in positions and places where you are most likely or experience Him. ie: worship, Bible Study, prayer, Christian groups, etc.

#7. Share your faith.
Faith is like a hole: the more you take away, the bigger it grows.