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Your Family Culture – Ephesians 6:1-4

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

There is “The World’s Culture” and then there is “Your Family Culture.” Two examples of this are found in our children. When our daughters were young, many of their friend’s parents were divorcing. It was getting so bad Janet and I sat them down and comforted them saying, “We will never divorce.” Our youngest daughter, Ashley said “Thank you.” Apparently she needed to hear that. When our sons were first coming into our lives, their verbal opinion of marriage was, and I quote, “Yuck.” At the tender age of 5 they had learned a man is defined by how many girlfriend’s they have. These young men learned a different culture. They never dated in high school and are waiting to date until they are financially able to care for a wife and family. The world’s culture has dramatically warped and will continue to. Be strong in the faith. Make God’s way your culture. And be comforted that you can teach your children “Your Family Culture.”

The Unthinkable Way (Mk.2:1-12)

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016
The easy way became impossible. The unthinkable way became the only way. If this doesn’t make sense, it will become clear. As clear as faith.
Some come through the proverbial frontdoor when making a point. Some come through the backdoor. It has been said of me I come through the side window! What hasn’t been said of me is when making a point I come through the roof! Five anonymous men literally came through the roof to make the point they believed Jesus could heal.
Jesus’ house was packed. These men couldn’t come through the front door because they couldn’t get near it (Mk.2:2). While Jesus was teaching the crowd (Mk.2:2), somehow four men managed to climb, while carrying their paralyzed friend, up on the roof. Then they, in today’s parlance, destroyed private party to get to Jesus. They dug a hole in His roof and lowered their friend (Mk.2:4)! What friendship. Just as Jesus desscended to come to man, this man descended to come to Jesus. When the easy way became impossible, the unthinkable way became the only way.
Imagine being the owner of this house and hearing the noise above you and all of a sudden seeing a hole and a paralyzed man being lowered on a pallet. What many people would see is a hole in their roof. What Jesus saw was faith (Mk.2:5). Because He saw their faith Jesus then said, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mk.2:5) and eventually healed him (Mk.2:11-12).
What is the faith that saves? Is it “faith only”? Is it faith plus works? According to Jesus it is a faith that works. Can our faith be visibly seen? Four men worked hard for their friend. All five had faith. They didn’t earn anything. But what Jesus visibly saw was their faith. The unthinkable way, faith, became the only way.

Going To Church Is Dangerous – Luke 18:9-14

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

“Going to church” is dangerous, but the alternative is worse. I have had various back issues since I was two years old. I have been hospitalized three times, recently for surgery, and at age 4 when I awoke and could not walk. Due to the recent situation I have needed to take pain medicine. What my medicine does is mask the pain without curing it. But when it works I begin to think I am fully recovered (or before that I didn’t need surgery). When I think I am fully recovered I stop taking the medicine. Then I regret my decision; really regret. “Going to church”, even being Christian doesn’t mean I no longer have a sin problem on a daily basis. Temptation is still real. But just like the Pharisee who recounted to God all his good deeds; Christians can start to think they have it all figured out and look down on those struggling – again like that Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14). Being chosen can make one arrogant, apparently. The alternative I mentioned at the beginning is totally forsaking God. That choice masks the pain of being a sinner without hope of ever being healed. For us believers, “going to church” isn’t done because we are healed of sin’s temptations. “Going to church” is done because we know, although we have been healed of sin’s punishment; spiritually we are still sick and need help.

Jesus First Makes His Mark in Mark (Mark 1: 22-28)

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016
Jesus starts teaching in the Synagogue in Caperneaum (Mark 1:21). What amazes these listeners is how Jesus teaches – which is with authority (1:22). Apparently the scribes were always quoting uninspired rabbis; while Jesus sets Himself up as someone who would become quoted!
Suddenly Jesus is interrupted. A man with an demonic spirit shrieks out, “Leave us alone!” Bad spirits can’t stand good preaching!
After Jesus throws out the demon out of the man, the people are impressed again. Not only is Jesus teaching something new, and teaching with authority; Jesus commands a demon, and the demon obeys (1:27). Even Casaer’s armies can’t defeat demons!
Why is this miracle still important for us today? If Jesus can cast out demons, then he can cast away our sins. If Jesus commands a demon and he obeys, then shouldn’t we obey when He commands us? And one more, bad attitudes still can’t stand good preaching.

Faith in James

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Faith in James: Is tested (1:3); prays without doubting (1:6); poor chosen to be rich in (2:5); can claim it but not have a one that saves (2:14); must have works to be alive (2:17); is seen by works (2:18); without works is useless (2:20); perfected by works (2:22); is credited to us as righteousness – belief same as faith (2:23); doesn’t justify without works (2:24); without works is dead (2:26); can be combined with prayer (5:15).

When we let the Holy Spirit define words instead of theologians we often find a much deeper and different definition. Let’s see how the Holy Spirit expands on faith in James 2: A Seen Faith (James 1:14-26)

I believe in Biblical “faith”. I don’t believe in “faith” as defined by many religionists. Some advocate faith without works saves. Others, a faith plus works saves. Both are wrong. Let’s define faith like James did (2:14-26).
James asks, “If someone says they have faith but does not have works can that faith save him?” (2:14). Notice James is asking what kind of faith saves. James’ rhetorical question necessarily implies the answer is no. A false faith, even if confessed, because it is unseen, cannot save.
James states in vv.15-17 that if you see someone needy and don’t help, then your faith is dead because it can’t be seen. James is not saying faith plus works is alive, but rather a “faith, if it doesn’t have works is dead” (v.17).
Then James gets into an imaginary argument: “Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works” (v.18). James is not saying “I will show you my faith AND my works.” James clearly says, “I will show you my faith BY my works.” A faith seen, is a faith working, and therefore is a true faith.
When James says next, “even the demons believe and shudder” (v.19) he isn’t saying the demons have a faith without works. You can see the demons’ (too late) faith working because it shudders. Sadly, that’s more real faith than some in James’ audience could claim!
Fuethermore, just as the body without the spirit is dead, faith without works is dead (v.26). You cannot see the spirit, but you can see life in a spirit-filled body. According to biblical teaching, the human spirit is not designed to eternally exist without the body. There is a resurrection coming. Using James’ imagery, a faith that doesn’t work is dead and needs to be resurrected!
A faith seen is a faith working. A faith unseen is not really faith. Saving faith isn’t faith minus works or faith plus works. Saving faith is a real faith that is seen working. What’s being seen in us?

You Are What You Eat – 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

“You are what you eat” is a phrase most of have heard of. And you are, in that when you eat something you take on the characteristics of that food. Eat something with a lot of carbohydrates and you get energy which is why athletes “carbo load”. Coffee has caffeine and unless you are ADD, it wakes you up! On Sunday we will eating a special supper. Eating the bread and fruit of the vine encourages us to take on the characteristics of what they represent. That is why it is a remembrance (1 Cor.11:24,25) and proclamation (1 Cor.11:26). But it is something even more. Paul wrote, “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor.11:27). This doesn’t mean if your mind wanders you are guilty. It means we are to eat recognizing or judging “the body” (1 Cor.11:29). In context the “body” is tri-fold: 1) the physical body of Jesus, 2) the symbolic body of the bread, 3) and the spiritual body which is the church. In context the Lord’s Supper is one of submission and sacrifice for others. That is where the Corinthians failed. So if we are what we eat, while eating Jesus Christ’s supper, submit to one another in love, sacrificing your rights for theirs. Become like Christ because you are what you eat.

Buried Alive! – John 20:7

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Being buried alive, pardon the pun, scares people to death. In former times, without our medical advances, people were accidentally buried alive; then literally “saved by the bell” that was placed with the supposed corpse for such emergencies. While being mutilated was a horrible way to die, its benefit was a death that was verifiable and certain.

In Jesus’ time, when preparing a body, they would wrap the entire body while leaving the face unwrapped. Instead it was covered with a cloth. That way if the one buried was only temporarily comatose he could blow off the face cover and yell for help from within the cave.

We see this practice in John 20 where Jesus lay the burial napkin separate from the other linens. There’s a nice story about the meaning of this that probably is more made-up than we want to admit. But what is undeniable about the scene is Jesus did not need to call for help. He laid both the face napkin and body linens aside. Why? He who had been really dead and mutilated by scourging and crucifixion was really alive. He was buried so He could come back alive.

(Burial information from “The Final Days of Jesus, The Archaeological Evidence)

Wowed At The Main Event – Luke 7:18-23

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

I am embarrassed. I don’t inherently get wowed at what’s impressive to God. The blind receive their sight. Wow! The lame walk. Wow again! Lepers are healed. The deaf can hear. The dead are raised? Yes, wondrously the dead are raised! Wow! Wow! and Wow! I would have loved to have witnessed these and been wowed! Oh by the way, “And the poor have the gospel preached to them”. Eh. (Lk.7:22).

Admit it. It doesn’t carry the same viseral punch. I have seen the gospel preached to the poor. I can get more excited at a windmill dunk or no-look pass.

Shame on me. While healing is an act of grace; the gospel is an official offer of grace. Jesus hadn’t died yet so this good news is about God caring for those forgotten that they too could be forgiven without an expensive sacrifice. All the physical miracles by Jesus were pointing to Jesus having the power to heal spiritually. These acts of physical wonder were in reality the warm-up act.

While messianic miracles were prophesied (Isaiah 35:5-6); the most inherently divine act was prophesied in Isaiah 61:1. That chapter carries a lot of spiritual wows. John the Baptist needed to hear this (Lk.7:18-19) and so do we. Both he and we get tired of waiting for something spectacular from God. So Jesus gives His cousin a beatitude: “Blessed are those who are not offended by Me” (Lk.7:23).

So be blessed and be wowed at the main event – the gospel. God cares. God forgives. God gives grace. WOW!

The Obedience of Faith in the Great Physician – Romans 1:5; 16:26

Thursday, October 13th, 2016
The Obedience of Faith in the Great Physician
“The obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26) is an intriguing phrase because of its paradoxical nature. Because of this there is an overemphasis by one side, and almost total neglect by another.
That “faith” obeys is a conundrum to some because they look at faith as just a mental concept – I believe or trust certain facts to be true. They don’t see it as a total commitment of mind and body. It is not some religious concept. It’s about as everyday as you can get since it means “trust.”
An illustration: The doctor gave me good news. He can fix my back. I went to the hospital because I had faith in my doctor. That old hymn “Trust and Obey” is about “the obedience of faith.” In my submission to him I did everything he asked. Nothing I did fixed my back because I don’t have that power. The most important thing I did was trust and obey. If I believed the doctor but did not obey, then nothing good would have happened. Everything he said to do was for my benefit and not his. Truth is, if I accidentally messed something up, my doctor could still fix my back.
But some overreact against “faith only” by over emphasizing the obedience. Their faith is in themselves and lawful works done perfectly. That’s like me thinking I fixed my back.
The other side overreach. They define away or ignore the word “obey.” That’s like thinking I didn’t have to go to the hospital.
So what is the right understanding of this glorious phrase? Romans teaches that the works of law, any law, cannot save. Our faith cannot be in it or our working it. Truth is there is no power whatever in what we do. The power is in the gospel (good news) about Jesus (Romans 1:16). God gave the Jews the Law, but to everyone God gave Jesus. So the obedience of faith is in Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. I trust Him completely, therefore I obey in faith doing everything He asks, knowing nothing I do actually “repairs” my relationship with God. Again truth is, even if I accidentally mess up, Jesus and only Jesus, the Great Physician, can fix me any way. Intrigued?

The Beginning is the End – From Genesis to Revelation

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen.1:1). Then man lived with God in Eden and God provided him a wife (Gen.2). “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth passed away (Rev.21:1). Then man lived in “the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God” when saved mankind is prepared by God like a bride for her husband (Rev.20:2). The first shall be last and the last shall be first. The begiining is the end and the end is the beginning.

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