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God’s Glory, Part 2

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! Last week we looked at how God’s glory is what all reality is about. We’ve also seen that we were created to reflect God’s glory but we seek to mar and twist it by our sin. The essence of sin is to not show God for who He is in His glorious majesty by our lives, desires, actions, and words. This sin separates us from God and results in our condemnation. But Christ came to restore us as ones who live once again for the glory of God. But how does this look in day to day life? If reality is ultimately about God’s glory, where does the concern for my life come into play? Biblically speaking, the wonderful good news is that God has wrapped His glory up in my good. Let’s look at a few scriptural examples.

God’s glory is the basis and goal of my salvation. I can be assured that God is concerned about my salvation because He wants to make His glory known! 1 Chronicles 16:35 says, “Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” In this verse, my good is me being saved and as a result God gets the glory!  Second, God gets glory when I get encouraged by Him. Psalm 23:3, “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” So why not pray this way when you are discouraged? “Lord, please encourage and strengthen me to honor you so that you may get glory!”

Another way God has wrapped His glory up in us is by turning our suffering into good. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:17) Romans 8:28 says God will make all things work for good for those who love Him. Our suffering is never wasted. In fact, God will turn it in such a way that He will work it for our good to prepare us to rejoice in His glorious presence. Just think: God is as committed to making your suffering turn to your good as He is to Him getting praised for who He is!

Fourth, God has promised to keep us as His people despite our many failings and sin for His glory. “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.” (Psalm 106:7-8) Why will we make it to heaven after we trust Jesus even though we will still sin many more times? Because God is going to get glory for doing so! We can be assured of our salvation once and for all because God is eternally concerned about Himself getting glory. May the Lord Jesus be praised for His glorious grace!


God’s Glory, Part 1

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! Ever wonder why it is we drive hundreds of miles to look at the Grand Canyon? Or why some people jump out of airplanes just for the thrill of it? Or why some can gaze intently at a masterpiece painting for hours? At the heart of all that we do, we are looking for God’s glory. But what do we mean by God’s glory and why is it the driving force of our lives?

The glory of God is something we have often heard about but do we really know what it means? Paul says, “Whether we eat or drink, we should do it all for God’s glory.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) The word “glory” in the Old Testament means ‘weight’ or ‘substance’. There is a weightiness to God’s character and being.  We often use this in a negative way in our area when we talk about someone who is not a decent person. We say, “There’s nothing to him.” What we mean is that there isn’t any character qualities in the person that’s worthy of mention. But not so with God. He is full of glory and “weightiness.”

If you think of an addition problem it might help to understand what God’s glory means. 1+2+3+4+5=11. If we ‘added’ up all of God’s character and attributes, the ‘sum total’ of them would ‘equal’ the glory of God. For example, God’s infinite wisdom, plus all power, plus mercy, plus His justice, etc. equals ‘the glory of God!’ It is, without trying to be redundant, the God-ness of God! “Who is like the Lord?” (Psalm 113:5) The answer: not anyone or anything! “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5)

We are made for God’s glory. We are made to reflect God in what we are and what we do. The problem is that we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) This means that we have deliberately disobeyed God’s commands to reflect His character. In short, we decided to break the mirrors that show forth who God is and what God is like. We have sought to eclipse God’s glory and ruin what God is like in our own eyes and in the eyes of others.  And the penalty for this is death.

Death in the bible doesn’t mean the end of something. It means ‘separation.’ Because we have sinned against God’s glory, we are separated from Him relationally right now. We know about God but we don’t know Him relationally because we have sought to shatter His glory. Further, if we die in this condition, we will be separated from Him forever. We will be forever ruined, living in a broken reality called hell where the beauty God’s glory is hidden from our eyes and experience. But there is good news. Jesus came to restore the glory of God! He died to pay sin’s penalty: death. He rose again to show His work was complete and accepted by the Father. And we can be restored to show God’s glory if we would turn from our God glory robbing sin to follow Jesus who is the glory of the invisible God! (Hebrews 1:3) More next week!

Happy Resurrection Day!

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! It’s time to celebrate Resurrection Sunday! This week I want to give you a few evidences that point to the reality of the Christ’s resurrection so that you can see that Jesus’ resurrection is based on fact and reality. So let’s begin!

Some skeptics say Jesus’ disciples were so devastated at losing Him that they made up the idea of the resurrection to give them hope of going on. But this view doesn’t account for the multiple sightings by various people in different situations of the resurrected Christ. Also, the tomb was still empty. All the Roman or Jewish opposition had to do was go to the grave, produce the body of Jesus and stop the new belief in Jesus’ resurrection. But the fact was they couldn’t produce the body because He was not there. He had risen, just as He said! (Matthew 28:6). Further, how do you account for those who didn’t believe in the resurrection at first later being convinced that they had seen a formerly dead man now alive?! (eg. John 20:25-27)

Another attempt to discredit the resurrection is to say that it was all based on hallucinations. People can get in such a frenzy that they can hallucinate anything! This is true but several things need to be kept in mind. One, there is still the empty tomb. No amount of hallucinations solves the issue of the empty tomb and the missing body. Two, people do not have mass hallucinations. An individual may hallucinate but not entire groups with the same hallucination. Remember, multiple people in various scenarios saw the resurrected Christ. Three, all of the sightings of Jesus were consistent with each other. This was no hallucination!

Perhaps the biggest attempt at dismissing the resurrection is to say that someone stole the body. There are multiple problems with this theory. One, again is all of the credible witnesses in various places over 40 days that saw and touched the resurrected Christ. Two, neither the Romans nor Jewish leaders would have stolen the body because their whole point was to show Jesus was dead! Why not produce the body of Jesus once the disciples started preaching the resurrection and just produce the body? They couldn’t. They couldn’t because He had been raised. But what if the disciples stole the body? This doesn’t work either. Again, most of them fled at His crucifixion and were in hiding. The ones that stayed knew that the tomb was heavily guarded by Roman soldiers. These soldiers’ lives were at risk if they lost a prisoner. In short, they would be executed if they failed at guarding the tomb of Jesus. The soldiers on pain of their life would not let unarmed disciples take the body. Also, if you’re a disciple, why die for preaching the resurrection of Christ if you know it’s a lie? Sure one or two might. But all of the disciples except John died for preaching Christ. John merely died of old age preaching the resurrection!

Friends, there are many more “convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3) for the resurrection Christ. But why not give thanks for the hope we can have beyond the grave because of Christ’s resurrection! Happy Resurrection Day!

Are you a Mary or Martha?

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! Often times the message we hear from church is that we all need to get out of our pews and serve more. But there can be a time when serving actually hinders our relationship with Jesus Christ. Biblically speaking, there needs to be a balance and priority.

Listen to these words from Luke 10:38-42, “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching . But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Notice how serving the Lord can potentially cause problems. First, it can cause problems if we over commit to activities instead of spending time with Jesus. Martha was culturally expected to host Jesus and all His disciples. This was no small feat in a day when all meals were made from scratch. Jesus told her that her focus on activities was causing her to fear and worry. Busyness in church life can be a joy killer. Many people are busy but not productive. Productivity comes first by sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Second, serving the Lord can cause problems with other people if we are more focused on activity than Jesus. Martha is not only a busybody, but now she’s upset with Mary for not helping! (vs 40) She even scolds Jesus for not making Mary help her! When you begin to have problems with others in the church for not serving like you do or getting frustrated with the Lord for not moving others to do what you do, then you know that you have become more focused on the activity than sitting first at Jesus’ feet.

Third, serving the Lord can cause use problems when we over assume authority. Martha not only assumed she had to take care of everything, but she assumed because she was serving so much she had the right to tell Mary what to do. Have you become bossy of others? Do you overstep your bounds in the church with others about what they do or how they do it? If so, it’s a clear sign you have forgotten to sit first at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him!

Jesus’ reminds Martha that only one thing is necessary: spending time with Him! In life there will always be opportunities for service and activity at church. But spending time with Christ is far more important than activities. This is not to say we shouldn’t serve or be active. But it is an issue of priorities in the right order. If we spend time in worship, then that will direct and guard all of our activities for the Lord. Our service will be a blessing rather than a burden for us and others if we sit at Jesus’ feet first!

February 29, 2016

When Doubts Arise, Part 2

Grace to you! Last week we looked at how we, like John the Baptist, doubt Jesus at times. We saw that John’s suffering in prison and an unmet expectation tempted him to question who Jesus was and what He was doing. This week we’ll some other things that foster doubt and how Jesus answers them.

Luke 7:18-23 says, “ 18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Recall how faithful John had been to preaching Jesus. Yet now he gets rewarded with prison for all of his faithfulness. This struggle is often the same with believers who have sought to honor the Lord Jesus in their lives. It can seem the more we try to be faithful to Jesus the harder things get.

Further, John most likely stumbled was happy about the Father’s plan for Jesus. John thought that the fullness of the kingdom of God was going to come at any moment. God’s enemies would once and for all be done away with and the righteous would finally be rewarded. (See Luke 3:9) Yet Jesus basically says, “The kingdom is here. It has started. But the fullness of the kingdom is still future.” We too can feel doubts arise when God doesn’t work out His plans according to our imagined time tables!

So how does Jesus minister to John and his doubts? First, Jesus doesn’t reject him for doubting Him. This is amazing grace! Imagine if Jesus gave up on us the moment we doubted Him! We’d all be ruined! Second, Jesus sends help back to John. Jesus could have demanded John’s helpers stay with Him but He sends them back to John for comfort and reassurance. Biblical friendship is a key to overcoming doubts in our lives. Third, Jesus points John back to the Scriptures that predicted what the Messiah was going to do. There’s no remedy like the old worn path of going back to the word of God over and over. So instead of your doubts leading you away from God’s Word, let the doubts drive you back to the surety of God’s word.

When Doubts Arise, Part 1

February 29, 2016

Grace to you! What do greats like Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and Gideon all have in common? They all were giants of the faith. They accomplished great things for God by believing Him in insurmountable odds. They are even included in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 of people whom we should look at for what it means to ‘believe’ God. Yet ironically enough, they also have something else in common. At some point in their life, they doubted God. How can they be great warriors of faith and yet have had doubts? And how come we still have doubts at various times? Does that mean God can’t use us? An incident in the life of the John the Baptist can help us through our own doubts. We see how Jesus graciously dealt with his time of weakness and lovingly put him back on the right track.

Luke 7:18-23 says, “ 18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

John the Baptist, who preached Jesus so clearly earlier in his ministry (John1:29), is now beginning to have doubts. What caused his doubts and what can cause ours? First, John was in prison. His suffering in prison made him question what he confidently believed earlier. There are times when we go through suffering that it can tempt us, although not make us, question the Lord in various ways. The human soul can feel itself weakened when it faces suffering. This has been the struggle for many throughout the ages, “Why am I suffering?” John the Baptist was no different. His suffering raised a big question in his mind if Jesus was really who He claimed to be.

Second, unrealized expectations tempted John to doubt Jesus. What was John looking for? When he was preaching, John was looking for the fullness of God’s kingdom to come at any moment. John was anticipating immediate judgment for God’s enemies and full blessing for God’s people. What did John get? A delay in God’s program while he wasted away in prison. Often we think God is going to work one way or should(!) work one way in our life and yet He does something totally different. It can knock us off our feet because it is so contrary to what we were banking on. Next week we will look at other things that tripped John up and how Jesus led him out of his doubts! Stay tuned!

How To Love Jesus More!

February 29, 2016

Grace to you! If we are honest with ourselves, we know that the greatest love in our life should be for Jesus Christ. But why is it that the One who is the greatest oftentimes gets the least amount of our affection? Why is it that our hearts reserve so little for the Christ who died for us? Biblically speaking, is there an answer to this question and a way to encourage our hearts to love Jesus more? As we could expect, the bible will give us clear direction for our lives.

In Luke 7, Jesus is eating a meal at a Pharisee’s home. (Luke 7:36) A Pharisee was a religious authority figure that often taught the bible and helped lead in societal matters. He was, to put in our modern way of thinking, a pastor who was very involved with the religious and social life of his community. A Pharisee believed all the right bible teachings and knew more about the bible than the average person in the street. He was seen as one of the most devoted religious persons in his community.

The Pharisee invites Jesus into his home for a meal when something scandalous happens. A very sinful woman bursts inside the home and sobbingly falls at Jesus’ feet. She begins to wash His feet with her hair and pour precious ointment on Him. (Luke 7:37-38) “How can He let her do this? Doesn’t He know she’s the moral scum of our society? We are all nice and clean in here and now look at how she’s acting!” was the Pharisee’s thoughts. But Jesus saw an opportunity to help the religious leader see a greater truth.

Jesus tells a story about a man who loaned out almost 2 years worth of wages to one man and two months of wages to another man. Neither could be repay so the loan officer dropped the loan amounts for both. Jesus asked, “Which would be more excited about having his debt amount dropped? The one who had a small amount forgiven or the one who had a large amount forgiven?” The Pharisee answered correctly stating that the one who had the larger debt forgiven of his loan would be happier. Jesus then reminds the Pharisee how the woman who had great sin and was forgiven showed great love towards Jesus and how the Pharisee who supposedly was ‘righteous’ had not shown any affection to Jesus. The Lord’s point? “He who is forgiven little, loves little.”

The same is true for us. As long as we think we have it together, as long as we keep making excuses for the wrong we have done, as long as we don’t see what it cost Jesus to forgive us of our ‘great debt’ of sin, we will never love Jesus like we should. If you keep thinking you are a good person without Jesus, then you will never love Him. It’s only those who know they are in great debt and that Jesus has ‘paid it off’ by His cross that people will love Jesus. How about you? Is your love for Jesus strong or weak? You will only love Him to the degree that you see He has loved and forgiven you!