Thursday, July 29, 2010

Can you lose your faith?

Mark 4:1 - 20

For centuries theologians have argued this point. Smarter people than I am have wrestled over this point. Some believe once you decide to be a follower of Jesus, regardless of the way you keep your faith you will enter into heaven. The other extreme is that you may come to Jesus but every time you fail you break connection to Jesus and are in danger of spending eternity in Hell. Personally I do not believe that either of these extremes are proven in the Bible.

In this story, Jesus tells the story of the farmer (sower) spreading what is ultimately God’s knowledge that leads to more of God’s love and relationship. In the story some of this love is taken before any decision can be made, others takes root in people’s lives and then is choked out because of some level of persecution. Family pressure, people at work any thing like this could cause people to feel that a decision to follow Jesus was a foolish one. There is a cost to be a true believer in Jesus, laying down your life or desires and your purpose and picking up His life, desires, and purpose. When people really desire to follow Jesus it can some times cost them relationships. If the relationships with people are more important than a relationship with God it is easy for the “seed” to die. A similar thing happens when others decide to be a Jesus follower but then develop a selfish heart and get caught up in what they want rather than what God wants and their “seed” dies.

The “seed” really represents faith in God to become a true Jesus follower. Christianity was not meant to be a religion in the sense that we call religion today. Instead Christianity is all about relationship. In any relationship you will hit bumps and rough spots, it is with each of these that we make choices to continue to follow Jesus or begin to walk away. Like the rocky soil or the thorns it is not a quick, “you’re dead” it takes time for a plant of rocky soil to wither and die and time for thorns and weeds to choke out a plant. At any point down the road you can say, “Yes” to Jesus again and gain your strength.

Can you lose faith? I believe you can. It is much harder than you think. God loves us so much, that He continues to give us opportunities to turn back to Him. He wants us to walk with Him and at every bump he is drawing us back to Him, leaving to the choice to us whether we will follow Him or not.

What choices are you making today? Failure on the first bump is not necessarily going to make you break relationship but not dealing with it will open you to compromise in other areas which may make you walk away? Deal treacherously with sin in your life, keep your relationship solid with God.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It’s Tough to break free

Mark 3: 12 – 34

I have had the privilege of sitting and discussing spiritual things kings, presidents, and a pope. I have traveled to over 95 countries, seeing some of the wildest things, yet when I come to my parent’s home or to the old neighborhood, I’m still “Timmy”. My wife, Paige can tell instantly where someone knows me from because of the title they give to me. If it’s Pastor, that’s one thing, if it’s Mr. Burgan, that’s another but if it’s “Timmy” that is a dead give away. There is a level a familiarity that can be comforting, yet at the same time limiting. When I travel anywhere in the world the leaders who have known me are looking for wisdom and insight from me, the people are expecting to see miracles and the prophetic flowing. Back at home, often the feel is that’s just Tim, Timmy, Pastor Tim or Mr. Burgan. It is tough to break free of the mold people put you into. Jesus ran into that kind of problem here in Mark chapter 3.

Jesus had begun His ministry, healing the sick, casting out demons, and speaking deep spiritual truths that were shaking the established thinking. He was traveling outside of his hometown and seeing great and marvelous works. People were so moved by his insight and heart that they were dedicating their lives to follow Him. Coming home the miracles didn’t matter, the deep truths didn’t matter all they knew was this is one of our own; “He must be crazy”! When people first make a commitment to following Jesus often family and friends will reject you, thinking that you are trying to be “holier than thou”. Often it is those who are closest to us that reject us the most. It can hurt and be very disappointing. Can you imagine how Jesus felt here when His relative wanted to put Him away thinking He was crazy? There are two things that we can not totally trust; the opinions of man and second our own feelings. People want us to remain in their comfort zone. When we decide to be followers of Jesus it is generally OK for most people until we begin to believe like Jesus believed, that miracles can and will happen. When we begin to believe that the world can be changed and that people need to be held to a higher standard and can live at a higher standard. It is those beliefs and others that begin to challenge the established thinking and makes people feel uncomfortable. If we decide that we will be comfortable with who we are and who Jesus is in us then the opinions of others will not matter and we will break free. If we determine to believe who Jesus is in us then when others reject us and our feeling get hurt we overcome our own feelings by faith.

It is tough to break free but if we don’t we will never accomplish all that the Lord has for us. He has called us to be more than conquerors, light, salt, and ambassadors to a world that needs Jesus. We can’t do it if we remain as we were before Jesus. We must break free and become who He has called us to be!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Challenging the Status Quo

Mark 3:1 - 11

God set rules in place for us to follow for our benefit. God established the idea of the Sabbath because man needs rest. We need to take time on a regular if not weekly basis to have fun, rest, and relax and enjoy all of the blessings the Lord has done in your life. Man had turned it and made it into work, placing fear in people and squeezing the love out of the relationship. The status quo was about religion rather than relationship.

People have great difficulty with the basic premise that we are all save by grace through faith. We have a need to make it be about us about what we can do. We want our own personal “righteousness” or goodness to be the thing that earns us a place in heaven but God made away that doesn’t depend upon us but on Him. In this part of the story the religious leaders had taken a commandment from God that what meant for our blessing and turned it into a backbreaking burden. Jesus spent much of his ministry straightening out this idea and emphasizing that. “truth sets us free”. Don’t get me wrong there are many things we should not do but they should not be a burden they should be a love choice. At times it would seem easier to lie than tell the truth, it would be easier to steal than pay the price but if we trust in God’s love for us we know living His way always gets us to where we need to go faster, with less burden, and greater fulfillment.

What things in your life have you made into a burden for yourself and others? If you have look to see if either you need and attitude adjustment to make it into a love task or whether it is a rule you are placing on yourself that God had never intended. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Are you feeling like you are living an abundant life?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Does Jesus understand us?

Mark 1:1 – 19

Mark’s letter is really Peter’s Gospel. John Mark transcribed Peter’s rendition of the events of Jesus life, like Peter it is an every man’s Gospel, succinct and to the point. The Holy Spirit inspired all the Gospels and gave them each a unique “flavor” using the personalities of each author as a means of explaining the story in a way that would reach a different audience. Mark was also written first of the four Gospels and every other Gospel was most likely built on memories stirred by Mark.

John Mark establishes here that this story he is telling is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Malachi 3:1 establishes that a messenger will come before the Messiah and Isaiah 40:3 prophesies that there will be one crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way. Why is this important? If Jesus did not fulfill prophetic words from the Sacred Jewish writings then no one would accept Him as the Messiah, Anointed One, and the one who was prophesied about from the beginning of the age of man. Jesus was not just a “good man”, “wise teacher”, or a religious figure, he was and is God and Peter through John Mark wanted to make sure everyone understood that point. Who is Jesus to you? Is he your friend, savior, or God? I hope he is all three and more. Peter wants us to understand that Jesus lived as a man and God at the same time. This way we can understand that, He understands everything we are going through. Peter also wants us to understand the Jesus while 100% God really understands us and loves us. I hope you understand that today and that you take time to realize that nothing you are going through is foreign to Jesus. He understands, loves you, and will get you through it if you will let Him.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Disappointed with God? Finish the task!

Matthew 27:66 – 28:20

We all walk through dark places sometimes. We go through a divorce, a loved one passes, a child get sick, a job is lost, a relationship gets broken, and there are many other dark places in life. Imagine what the women closest to Jesus felt as they had invested so much of their lives into supporting and following Jesus only for His life to end in this tragedy. These heroic women have a lesson for us today.

There is nothing in the narrative that leads us to believe that they were expecting Jesus to have risen from the dead. In fact, they were bringing spices for the embalming process, they were assuming to find Jesus dead body. What that says about them is volumes and lessons we need to grasp.

They came to the grave to finish the task. Were they disappointed with the outcome of their following Jesus? I am sure there was at least some disappointment but they were determined to finish the task. Too many times, when things don’t go the way we believe they should we give up on God. God will never fail us nor will He let us down we have to learn to trust despite the storms or the way things seem to be.

They came as a group. It is easy to give up on God in difficult time when we are alone. When you have been “disappointed” the worst thing you can do is hide in your cave. We need the encouragement of others. We need the support of mentors and friends who will stand with us, the enemy of our souls wants us alone, don’t let that happen.

In their sorrow they did not question the Lord. When they arrived at the grave the angel was there, he gave them an instruction and they did it. In our modern age, we question everything. Most of the questioning is good but when we are in pain and the Lord speaks to us often we can become stubborn or indignant and question the Lord. We need to learn that when the Lord speaks we need to respond. Hopefully if you came face to face with an angel there would be no hesitation but often today the Lord speaks in the still small voice, or a word from the scripture, or from a friend, or your pastor. Whatever way it comes we must not hesitate but respond to the Lord because He has a plan for our delieverance.

Jesus took a band of 120 people and turned them into world changers. They were always called to be world changes but needed training, to walk through some difficult places so they could grow, had to learn how to live by faith and love unconditionally. The women at the grave showed us all of this in the simple, faithful task of coming to a grave.

What is the Lord calling you to do to today? What task do you need to finish? Have you been disappointed with God? Maybe you need to still finish a task? God does not disappoint us. Ask Him what needs to be finished and then do it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What were they thinking?

Matthew 27:40 - 65

Matthew’s account of Jesus death on the cross has many players. As I was reading the account this morning I was wondering, “What were they thinking?” not in an angry or sarcastic way, but Jesus death impacted the people around the cross.

While many were mocking one of those who were with the mockers all of a sudden had compassion on Jesus and got him something to drink! (48). What was he thinking?

A centurion who was assigned to do hundreds of crucifixions, watched Jesus die and in His death saw the attributes of the Son of God? (54) What did he see? What was he thinking?

A wealthy Pharisee who until this point we had not heard of, despite the mocking of his comrades, risk life, position, wealth, and reputation to speak to Pilate on Jesus and His disciples behalf to obtain Jesus’ body. He could stand in the shadows no longer.(57) What was he thinking?

The Pharisees so afraid of a dead man that they too went to Pilate to ask for armed security for a dead man’s body. (62) What were they thinking?

Why would I pose these questions? Here is my thought for you today. I want you to answer two questions:

1) What do you think people are saying about your life today? As people see you going about your daily business what are people saying about the way you respond to people the way you live out your faith, they way you treat your spouse, children, friends and co-workers. What are people thinking about your life?
2) What do you really think about Jesus’ death on the cross? Is it simply a piece of jewelry around your neck? Is it a nice story that you love to hear at Easter time? Does it have life changing power in your life?

Jesus death means life for all of us. We all have freedom from religion and fear because the cross has brought us into relationship with Heavenly Father. That knowledge should bring us a joy and that joy should give us the desire to let others know what freedom we have been given. We should be able to give others pause to think!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

God will use you anywhere anytime if you let Him

Matthew 27:19 – 39

When we think of the crucifixion we generally have two thoughts; what a horrible thing that happened that day or I thank God for the cross and what it means for me. Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20 that we should be crucified with Christ, meaning that we need to get ourselves out of the way and let God have His way in and through us. It is somewhat easier to do that when things are going well, but when we are in a crisis or a difficult time we tend to revert to our strengths rather than God’s. It is so easy to worry, become fearful, frustrated or angry when we face difficulty but Jesus gave us an example, through His crucifixion, of trusting His Father despite the circumstances. We need to read between the lines with what has gone on.

Jesus impacted people all the time in everything He did. God had given Pilate’s wife a dream of what could happen. Jesus could have taken advantage of that and emphasized what the Father had said to get released from His bonds but instead; He chose to surrender his life even for Pilate. Simon of Cyrene, carried the cross for Jesus, history tells us that he became a believer and his son Rufus became a powerful man in the church in Rome, (Romans 16). He allowed a number of events to take place at the cross so that every word of prophecy could be fulfilled. Even in His pain and suffered and the abuse of others He promised a thief, paradise!

Everyday, through every situation in our lives, we need to be aware that we can have an impact for the Kingdom. Even in the most dire of circumstances, if we let Him, the Lord can use us. God is in control and if we allow Him, He will take enough are most painful struggles and use them for His honor. He can turn our greatest tragedies and turn them into great triumph. It is in our power to choose what we will do? Chances are today you will enter into some kind of struggle, let the Lord use you for the Kingdom!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Criticized for a blessing?

Matthew 26:1 – 27

This passage is pretty intense. Think about the dynamics for a moment, Jesus knows He is only a few days away from His crucifixion and he openly talks with those He trusts the most and they don’t get it. He then had invested His life into these same guys and when someone decides to bless Him or more importantly when the Father decides to bless Him all he hears is complaints from those close to Him. Has this ever happened to you? If you are doing the Lord’s will, sooner or later you will see an amazing blessing in your life the devil doesn’t like it when God blesses you so he will find a way to irritate you, (hint: he often uses family and/or friends to do this)

However the Lord may have used this incident to help reveal their hearts. As they were gathered around the table for the Passover meal, Jesus stated that one of them would betray Him. The results of that statement were amazing and perhaps reflective of the early events at Simon’s home, “Is it I?”, each of them ask. They had, had their hearts revealed the day before and knew that they were each capable of failing the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 10:12 and Hebrews 3:12 we are warned that we all need to be on the alert because if we get overly confident in our own strength, we can fall. The disciples knew this by now, one very important final lesson before Jesus crucifixion.

It is interesting to note, while not recorded in Matthew’s account, Jesus washed Judas’ feet and despite the fact that He knew Judas was His betrayer. We must have patience with people when they treat us badly or simply wrong. Jesus is all about people having the hearts right before the Lord, allowing Himself to be ridiculed by the disciples over the anointing so that they would evaluate their hearts in preparation for what we call communion. What about your heart today? Are their people you are judging that you really shouldn’t be judging? Are their situations that you should be praying for people rather than ridiculing them? Check you heart today to see if you are being more like Jesus or the disciples? I have been both and I prefer to be like Jesus.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What is the condition of your heart?

Matthew 25:31 - 46

Basically that is the question being answered in this passage. Everyone has heard the sheep and the goats story. I even heard them joke about it on the “Big Bang Theory” a few weeks ago. So most people are familiar with the concept but if you don’t understand the way that God “thinks” it would be easy to misunderstand the story.

At first glance it would look like God is judging people based on their works. “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me something to drink….” Those were told they were welcomed into heaven while those who did not do the “works” were thrown into hell. That certainly does look like a “work you way into heaven” type of God. If that were so then Paul could not have written

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:8,9

So what is going on here if it is not God judging our works? I believe we see the answer in the response of the “sheep”. When the Lord said all of these wonderful things about them, they didn’t have a clue that they had done any of them, “When did we see you naked and clothe you? When were you hungry and we fed you?” They had some much of the Lord in their lives, their hearts were so surrendered to Him, fulfilling His hearts desire was their hearts desire. They had become one with Him, His bride, if your will. Jesus saw his own reflection in the “sheep”. In the “goats” He saw only self and selfishness, only caring for themselves.

Heaven is like visiting someone’s home. If you know them you are welcome there but if you are a stranger you will not be invited in. I hate to continue to beat this drum but it really is all about relationship.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Be ready and be faithful!

Matthew 25:1 – 30

Jesus knows that the time for his crucifixion is near so he is trying to continue to give his closest friends hope, encouragement, and challenge them to be vigilant. Once again he is using common ideas for the day to explain vital truth. In Israel at this time, the bridegroom would come to the bride’s home after dark and the festivities would begin and all who were ready joined in the celebration. If you were not ready you were considered a party crasher and were kept out. Jesus knew it would be a while before His return and that we would have a tendency to think that He may never return. He wants us to always be ready. Which leads into the next parable.

You and I have heard this story told many times and various stresses of meaning. All of us are given talents, you must understand the specific talents these men were given were large amounts, five of these talents were worth 100 years wages, three sixty, and one twenty years wages. Many of do not think that God has really invested in us but he has. We are not held to account for what someone else has been given but what we have been given. Our love for the Lord is revealed by what we do with our own talents. In our age driven by performance it is interesting that the servants are rewarded for their faithfulness not for the amount of their achievement. The man with two talents did not need to come up with five he was found faithful by doubling the investment. The man with one would have been found faithful if he would have simply allowed the talent to accrue interest in the bank. God doesn’t want a performance based people who fear his wrath if they fail. He is looking for a people who serve Him out of love and as Paul wrote, “the Lord brings the harvest”.

Jesus first parable here is about being ready for his return and the second about being faithful while he is delayed. Remember His delay is not about God wanting to put us through more trials and difficulties but about wanting to make sure that every person hears and understands the “good news”. He wants to send no one to hell but present the Gospel in a way that everyone can make a choice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Challenge: Don’t give up!

Matthew 24:38 - 51

Once again Jesus is talking about the end days. We tend to make the end of days like something out of a science fiction movie. According to Jesus it is far more natural than that. The last days will be like any day in our lives; people will be marrying, going to dinner, visiting friends, and having celebrations.

During the last days we will be working and doing all of the things that make life so daily. People grinding at a mill or working in a field were everyday scenes in Israel during Jesus day. Most people will not notice a difference in the world they will simply be going about their day-to-day lives.

Christians on the other hand will need to be alert. We will notice the Gospel has been preached to every person. We will notice what is going on in Israel. We will notice more and more of mankind’s devotion to themselves rather than God. I know that last statement is rather nebulous but that is why we must be in prayer and the Bible more each day, it is the measuring rod for us against the mindset of the anti-God system.

Life will generally become more daily. Our tendency would be let down our guard and to forget that God has a great plan for every person and will fulfill it in those who will follow Him. Life can be wearying but we must stay vigilant, looking for every opportunity to be Jesus hands extended to the people He brings in our path. Paul wrote “don’t grow weary in well doing for in the end you shall reap if you do not grow weary” Jesus will return and with Him will be His reward for all of those who love Him and have walked with Him. Remember our job is not done until we either go home to be with Him or He comes to get us.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The End Times

Matthew 24:16 – 37

Jesus is talking about the end of the world. Many people talk about the end of the world. I can remember being a teenager and hearing people say that the end of the world was soon. What is “soon”? Of course everyday we draw closer to the end, which for Christians is a great thing; the millennial reign of Christ, the new heaven and new earth, peace, love, joy ruling our lives, seeing the Trinity face to face, what an amazing concept. But earlier in chapter twenty four we need to see a couple of things. First, the end will not come until the whole earth hears the Gospel. Everyone in the United States has gotten excited about Israel’s rebirth (1948) because of this many of been disappoint by set dates for the Lord’s return that did not come to pass. They missed the most important sign, that every man woman and child living will have had the opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord (24:14). According to verse 12 our making it through all the junk the world will throw at Christians is dependant of our walking in and living, love. This is where we blow it, everything we do should be motivated by love, real honest, “I’m willing to lay my life down for others and God” kind of love. Not the “I’ll be your doormat”, kind of love but the “I know who God is, who I am called to be and I love you enough to live that before you,” kind of love. With that in mind we can talk about what Jesus is saying in the rest of this chapter.

The first question that comes to mind when people are reading this is, "This sounds awful, will I have to go through this first part?" If you are alive at this time the answer is, “yes”. The second is, "Is this really taking about the great tribulation or is this something leading up to the great tribulation?" There is some debate about that. I believe the great tribulation begins (according to this passage) after Jesus appearance. The good thing, we can be assured that the Spirit of the Lord will be shining brightly through this time more than ever before. It is only in darkness that lights really shine.

There will be no tricks or hidden messages to decipher. When Jesus shows up everyone will see him. In fact, they will recognize their sin because of it. You see the world is going to continue to become more and more tolerant, politically correct, and loving (sarcasm implied) except to true Christians. They will continue to legislate away the values of the Bible and sink into more of a humanistically centered mindset (this is the whole idea behind the mark of the beast, “666” the perfection of man) and a mindset away from the knowledge and love of God. It is easy to blame worldly people, but it is wrong to do so. These things only happen because we as Christians have failed to present the Gospel in a way that everyone can understand it.

I believe in God’s sovereignty but I also believe we impact when things happen. God’s desire is for all to come to know Him. Jesus died for all so our sharing the truth we know in ways everyone understands delays* the Lord’s return until everyone hears. We need to understand what we believe first and how to share it in the best way to reach people. Ask the Lord today to show you, what you need to understand better and how to explain it to the people around you in a way they can understand.

* God already knows the time when this will happen we really don’t change Him, He simply changes us to get motivated to get things done

Friday, July 9, 2010

Do as I say not do as I do!

Matthew 23:1 - 11

You ever wonder where that phrase came from? It came from this passage.

This can present a problem when you are watching those in leadership failing whether it is the President of the United States or a local Pastor, authority is granted by God so the position of authority should be respected however we are responsible for acting as Christ-like despite the failing authority. This is one of the hardest lessons in scripture. Think about the trust that it takes to believe that God is still in control even though leadership does not act the way they should. This is extremely difficult for wives when their husbands fail to be the leaders they are called to be.

How can you respect someone when they are not acting like the leader they are called to be? First, you pray for them. Second, their failure to act as the leader should be should challenge you to act even more like the man or woman of God you are called to be; in this way challenge the leader to step up. Third, trust the Lord. God has a way of correcting, strengthening, or removing leadership that will not change.

The main point Jesus was making is, “yes, some leaders will fail at times but God’s word is always true”. Keep you eyes on the Lord. Many people get shipwrecked in their faith because of failing leaders, leaders should not fail but sometimes they do. It is extremely important that we have deep relationship with the Lord, we are always talking with Him, reading His “Word” and just generally spending time with people that really love and know the Lord and love us.

We should be able to say as Paul did, in not so may words, If you can’t see Jesus look at my life and I will show you Him!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Don’t be afraid of questions; just make sure you are always ready to give a good answer.

Matthew 22:15 – 45

The generation of Busters and Mosaics those born between 1965 and 2002 are a questioning people. They generally look at everything skeptically and unlike the Baby boomers those born between 1945 and 1965 they most likely will not grow out of their skepticism. They are media savvy and believe that everyone is working an angle of some kind. They will have questions and lots of them. The answers we give them must be real, have a strong foundation in truth, and most of all, must be fueled by our honest and passionate hearts for the Lord.

Jesus ran into some of the most skeptical people anyone could be and yet He dealt with their questions honestly and with passion. The people coming to Jesus in this passage all had an angle they were trying to trip Him up. They wanted to make Jesus look the part of the fool or the usurper. A few things that we need to take note of:

1) Jesus knew that this was their plot but He still answered their questions. Our love for God and people should always win out every time we are talking with people despite their motives, ours should be pure.
2) Jesus was keenly aware that others were listening to his conversation. Our responses to people are rarely limited to just the people with whom we are conversing. Quite often those conversations impact attitudes both ours and the other person and they can get repeated to others.
3) Jesus continual wisdom in answering the questions opens the door for the final honest questions to be asked. We need to look beyond the obvious and try to see the heart. Many times people are skeptical because they want to believe but don’t want to be hurt again. Proverbs 15:1 says, “a soft answer turns away wrath.” We always have an opportunity to diffuse an angry heart if we allow the Lord to give us wisdom before we speak.

As things grow crazier in our world, people will have more questions. Be prepared to have patience, study the “word”, spend time in prayer, and place yourself under solid teaching so that you can answer the tough questions with wisdom, passion, and truth. Don’t be afraid of tough questions you may find yourself changing someone’s world.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Don’t be religious, become a guest and friend of the King

Matthew 22:1-13

Jesus is once again addressing the religious. Have you noticed that it is never the nonreligious that Jesus is upset with; it is only those who should know better. The overwhelming majority of those who are not attending church today are doing so because of some hurt they have received from church people or some hypocrisy they have assumed. While we can not accept blame for how everyone feels it is very important that we truly live what we believe. People are watching to see if what we believe is real.

In this parable, a king invited his servants to a great wedding feast for his son. The servants reject the invitation, so he invites more. In turn the servants beat up, abuse and kill the messengers sent by the king. The king in his anger destroys those who killed his messengers. He then invites all of the people he can see to the feast, supplying each of them with a wedding garment. One of the guests chooses not to wear the garment and is thrown out. Jesus told this entire story to explain God’s plan.

God the Father has invited the nation of Israel to believe in Jesus as their Messiah and His Son, yet they scoffed at Him and all of the messengers sent before him. Israel had even had some of them killed. Because of this rejection, God allows the armies to come and destroy much of Jerusalem. He also invites all the people of the earth to come to Him. The challenge is that while all of us are called of God to follow, few are chosen. That is to say few will actually put on the garment of right-ness that we ca only receive from Jesus. We can purchase entrance into heaven; we can’t be good enough to get into heaven. Our heavenly Father has already made a way through Jesus death on the cross. All we need to do is put on the garment God has provided, His right-ness and we can begin a love relationship with him that will fulfill our hearts desires, give us a distaste for sin, and cause our to complete our purpose.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Remember everything came to you from God!

Matthew 21:17 – 45

Whether you know it or not you have been given an abundance of gifts and talent. God has given your personality to you, it may have been shaped by events in your life but the base line of your personality is a gift. Every marvelous gift we have been given, God is expecting you to use, that is why He gave them to you. These gifts will bring you great joy, peace and love among other things. They will help fulfill you as a person.

The parable of the fig tree is an example of what happens when we refuse to recognize and use our gifts. Jesus looked for some fruit from a seemingly beautiful tree and saw none so He cursed the tree. I know that seems harsh but for us to be given such great gifts and to not use them already curses us. Part of God’s plan for all of our lives requires us to use what He has given us if not then are lives will be filled with frustration and failure, we were designed to use the gifts to fulfill our destiny. At first glance what Jesus did to the fig tree may seem harsh but not bearing fruit had already cursed the tree.

The illustration was somewhat of a set up for His next two discussions. The Pharisees, who should have known better where blessed with a tremendous depth of understanding and yet rather than using that to really understand God’s heart they only felt threatened by Jesus. There is a challenging thought, those claimed to know God most felt threatened by Him. Fruit according to Paul is love joy, peace, patience, and so on. They were well read but refused to understand, were greatly gifted with insight but refused to open their hearts. It is easy to do when we lose relationship and get into religion. The gifts in our lives will lead us always into deeper relationship with the Lord and if continuously used and if we remain grateful will keep us free of religion and always open to relationship.

It is easy to think that what we have is ours. It is easy to get caught into a trap of in gratitude or to lose sight of how much we have been given. In gratitude and selfishness causes us to wither and die from the inside out. Everything we have came from God and we are only here by His love and grace and will only bear all of the fruit we are to bear and reap the benefit from it by recognizing His great love and gifts that He has given us.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It is important to know who you are.

Matthew 21:1-16

Jesus, to fulfill the prophetic word, had his disciples get a donkey for his entrance into Jerusalem. Shouts of “Hosanna” or “save us now” came from the people as Jesus rode into the city. He then proceeded to the temple and healed all who came to Him whether blind, lame, or deaf the left the temple healed. Jesus received further shouts of “save us now” and then the kingly title “son of David”.

It would have been easy for Jesus to rest in the adoration of the people, basking in whatever worship they want to pour out on Him. He deserved it after all He indeed is and was all of those things the people were saying. When you know who you are it is nice to receive compliments, but you don’t need them. If you allow the compliments to affect you then when you have to do the tough things, the difficult things, the things not everyone understands, and the criticism begins then it too will affect you.

God knows who you are, you have a purpose and He has a plan for you. Get to know that information and you will be secure. You will have a greater impact and the opinions of men will not have an impact on the call of God on your life. Jesus had two other key qualities that we need to walk in this kind of freedom, humility, love, and an absolute understanding of the Father’s heart. All things we can have as well if we spend time with the Lord.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Do the "good" make it to heaven?

Matthew 19:15 – 19:30

Jesus is talking to a very good guy. This man should be the envy of all of the religious people. He did all of the right things, kept all the rules, and apparently did it with a certain amount of humility. He is most likely someone we would all like. But to really have relationship with God it does not depend upon our goodness we can’t earn or buy our way into heaven we can only love our way into heaven. Making it to heaven is not about what we can do but what Jesus has already done for us.
Often people focus on the statement that Jesus ask the man to sell everything and give it to the poor. I believe that to be the wrong focus. Jesus was about relationship and what He wanted was for the man to have no worldly concerns but to follow Him and have relationship with Him.
The disciples missed the point, they thought, of course the rich and powerful will make it to heaven but now Jesus is telling us that isn’t the truth so who will? Jesus response, “with God all things are possible” in other words, it is only through relationship that any of us will make it to heaven.
When people say someone has made it to heaven because, “they were a good person” they are missing the point. God is our Father and like any good Father all he wants from his children is for them to know He loves them and to have relationship with them. That was Jesus purpose for living, dying, and resurrecting; the Gospel in a nutshell