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We are travelers in the Christian faith; not wanderers. ~ James Estep (So…where are you headed?)
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When you kill time, remember it has no resurrection. ~ A.W. Tozer
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People have stated that to deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ is to attack the foundation of Christianity. Others have said that if a person could remove the resurrection from Christianity, there would be no Christianity. What is it that makes the resurrection so important? What is it that makes the resurrection worth celebrating? What makes the resurrection the central truth of Christianity?
First, it is Christ’s resurrection that insures our regeneration. Peter stated in 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” Plainly stated, Peter was reminding his original audience, and us by extension, that the resurrection is what has provided us the hope that we shall also be raised one day. Just as Christ was raised bodily, we, too, shall be.
In addition to insuring our regeneration, Jesus’ resurrection also insures our justification and provides our standing before God as clean. In Romans 4:25, Paul says, “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” Without Jesus’ resurrection, we would have no means by which to be declared clean. Again, to state this overtly, if Jesus died and remained dead, then He was no Savior at all and must have died for His Own sin. Since we know Jesus had no sin, and because He was raised, we can know that we also can be declared clean before a holy God that will allow nothing less than perfection to enter His presence.
Lastly, not only does Christ’s resurrection insure our regeneration and justification, but it also gives us a clue about the body we will one day receive in our resurrection. Paul described this truth in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
As you celebrate this coming Easter and the rest of life from there, let us keep these truths in mind. Let us also respond to those truths by setting aside all sin, surrendering our wills as well as actions to Christ’s Lordship and let us sing God’s praise for the wonder and wonderfulness of the reality of the resurrection.
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Have you ever come across a friend wearing an MP3 player and wondered what they were listening to? I sure have. I am really interested in what they are listening to when they seem to be really enjoying it or when they cheer at something that happens. Whenever we see someone being impacted by what they are hearing, it is natural to wonder what that something might be. I believe it is the same when it comes to listening with our hearts.
Statistics tell us there is increasingly little difference between the church and the world. The divorce rates, pornography addiction rates, abortion rates, movie attendance and charitable giving percentages are nearly identical between those that attend church and those that do not. Why is this? What is causing the church to become a reflection of the world instead of a light shining in the darkness? What makes people think they can go to church and be just as rude as those they work with? What makes Christians live Christless?
Perhaps the answer to this can be seen by looking into what we are listening to. In James 1:19, James tells Jewish Christians who had been scattered across the known world that they needed to hang on to God with all their hearts and the best way to do that was to be quick to listen to Him. Perhaps we should listen as well.
James starts with a Greek word that means that the people already knew what he was about to tell them, but they needed to know it and keep knowing it. He tells them to be “quick” to listen. The word translated quick comes from the Greek word, tachus, which is the root of our word tachometer, which is a meter in vehicles that measures the speed at which a motor is turning in revolutions per minute (RPM). Be application, James says that we need to not only be quick to listen, but we need to be able to keep a watch on how quickly we are listening to God.
The philosopher Zenocrates said, “Men have two ears and but one tongue, that they should hear more than they speak.” An unknown Roman orator is quoted as saying, “The ears are always open, ever ready to receive instruction; but the tongue is surrounded by a double row of teeth, to hedge it in, and to keep it within proper boundaries.” They agree with James in that we should be much quicker to hear than to speak.
You may agree that you need to be quicker to hear God, but how do you work on this as a discipline in your life? I am glad you asked. Here are five suggestions for learning to listen quicker and better to God. First, work at truly listening to other people when they are talking to you. The only way for this to truly occur in our lives is for us to love others to the point that we are actually interested in their lives and their story. Learning to listen to others and care about them helps us to learn to listen in general. Second, limiting our exposure to visual media helps us to learn to open our ears instead of just our eyes. This will help us to learn to be still so we can hear God better. Third, reading God’s word for comprehension. Many people read God’s word each day, but do little more than advance their bookmark each day. Reading to actually learn and discern God’s word is vital for listening to Him. Fourth, slow down and take time to listen. We cannot hear God if we are so busy with our stuff that we have no time to listen. Lastly, prepare your heart prior to worshipping with other believers. Take time to listen to God and approach worship expecting to hear from God. John MacArthur says, “We cannot really hear God’s Word when our minds are on our thoughts. We need to keep silent on the inside as well as on the outside.”
So…what are you listening to?
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By the time you read this article in the paper we may have had some rather nasty weather. As of the writing of this article, weather forecasters are predicting as much as 10 inches of snow for the Liberal area on Friday and Saturday. In preparation for this weather, people have been flocking to grocery stores, schools have been updating their notification procedures for inclimate weather conditions and many organizations are considering cancelling or postponing events. But one is the number one thing that people are doing? Complaining.
For weeks, we have prayed for rain for our parched ground and for weeks we have been talking about how dry it is. Now that God seems to be answering our prayers, we want to complain about how He is doing so. This is so much like life. As a matter of fact, it is even Biblical!
Consider the book of Exodus. The Hebrew people were in slavery in Egypt and were crying out to God for a way out. We know this because of God’s instructions to Moses in His call at the burning bush, “The Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.’” (Exodus 3:7, NASB)
Like us, the people were not happy when Moses showed up to deliver them because God was not acting according to their plans! “When they [the foremen of the Hebrews] left Pharaoh’s presence, they met Moses and Aaron as they were waiting for them. They said to them, ‘May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.’” (Exodus 5:20-21, NASB) They were upset because God was delivering them in such a way as to ensure they would not be enslaved again, but all they could see was that they were not on their way out of town already.
If indeed the snow comes by the time you read this article, why not take the opportunity to praise God for His answer to prayer for moisture with everyone that complains about the weather and you just might find yourself a little more appreciative of God’s work as well.
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“Attendance is a poor substitute for participation in ministry.” ~ John MacArthur
Filed under: Articles | Tags: Christian, Christianity, church, crowd, following, God, Jesus, leadership, leading, preach, preacher, Word
I know this title has been used before in this very article, but it bears thinking on periodically. I was reading my Bible this morning (imagine that!). I was reading Proverbs 30:5-6 where the Authorized Version of the Bible reads this way:
Col imraht el loah tserupha mah gain who lahosim boh al toeschah al debarahn pen yocheeach bekkah venickzahvtah
Okay, perhaps we had better use a more modern translation to understand it better! Here is how the New American Standard Version renders the verses:
“Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar. “
As I read this passage, I was struck with a few thoughts that made it into my journal for the day and into my prayers this morning. Perhaps I would just copy it here:
“Lord, I thank You for Your Word and the way that It is timely to teach, train, and temper exactly the temptation and the tempter. When I meet with people for counseling, I want to make sure I represent Your Word faithfully and that I explain and apply Your Word accurately. When I preach, in the church and outside of it, I want to make sure that I am able to know that I have presented Your Word accurately and have not shortchanged You or It because of a desire to be liked or accepted. When I preach a funeral for a family with no knowledge of You, or relationship with You, I want to be sensitive to their needs, but more than that, I want to be faithful to You. When I am at home, I want to follow You. When I am in my own thoughts, I want to represent You well. No matter what I am doing, may Your Word always be the lamp to my feet and the light to my path. And may I be able to see it clearly and plainly so that I can point others to Your Light as well.”
Is this your heart’s cry as well? Is this the cry of your pastor, minister, elder, or priest’s heart? If so, learn from them. Watch them. Imitate them. Follow them. Respect them. Help them. If not, be very careful to make sure that you only follow them in the ways that they are following Christ. In fact, you might want to think about going to church somewhere else, if the pastor’s heart is not to follow Christ, because of the influence they might have over you.
I have been blessed to have had some great examples in coming up through the church. I am blessed to be able to serve alongside pastors in the Liberal Ministerial Alliance. Some of them are great examples to me as well. I hope that I can be to others and return the favor. So…who are you following? Or maybe, whose following you? And what are they learning?