Monday, June 30, 2008

TOP TEN REASONS TO BELEIVE IN THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

This was sent to me by E-mail Ministries (a yahoo group). I thought it was great, so I am passing it along to you...

TOP TEN REASONS TO BELIEVE IN THE CHRISTIAN FAITH:

1. The Credibility of Its Founder: Peter spoke for Jesus' closest followers when he said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God." (John 6:68-69)

2. Reliability of Its Book: The integrity of this historical and geographical record is supported by archeology. The Bible continues to speak not only with spiritual power but with convincing prophetic accuracy.

3. Explanations for Life: It is the Christian faith that reflects a caring attention to detail so evident in the species and ecosystems of the natural world. It is Christ who clothed himself in our humanity to feel what we feel and then to suffer and die in our place.

4. Its Continuity with the Past: The Christian faith offers continuity with our deepest ancestral roots. Those who trust Christ are accepting the same Creator and Lord worshiped by Adam, Abraham, and Solomon.

5. Its Foundational Claim: The first Christians were witnesses. They risked their lives to tell the World that with their own eyes they had seen an innocent man die and then miraculously walk among them 3 days later.

6. Its Power to Change Lives: Not only were the first disciples dramatically changed but so were their worst enemies. Paul was transformed from a killer of Christians into one of their chief advocates (Galatians 1:11-24)

7. Its Analysis of Human Nature: The Bible says that society's real problems are problems of the heart. In an age of information and technology, failures of character have scandalized institutions of the family, religion, and the arts.

8. Its View of Human Achievement: Generation after generation has hoped for the best. We have conceived technologies that will deliver us from the oppressive slavery of work. Yet we are as close as ever to what the New Testament describes as the end times. (Matthew 24:5-31)

9. Its Impact on Society: From roof tops to necklaces to earrings, we see the sign of the cross, bearing visible witness to Christ's death. Social relief agencies have been fueled by the direct or residual values of The Bible.

10. Its Offer of Salvation: No other faith offers everlasting life as a gift to those who trust the One who has overcome death for them. No other system offers assurance of forgiveness and adoption into the family of God.

-- Author Unknown

Monday, June 23, 2008

An online devotional...

From time to time, I come across various tools that really help us in our Christian faith.

Last week, I came across an online prayer referance called Sacred Space. This guides you through a short prayer time, usually less than 10 minutes, if you tarry at each screen and reflect and pray. There is a short Scripture passage that makes a wonderful meditation starter. Just read the passage, and spend some time reflecting on it.

Try it out today, let me know what you think...

Click on the link... Sacred Space

Friday, June 20, 2008

Joy and willingness...

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and
grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
- Psalm 51:12

As I was reading along and came to this verse, something very simply struck me about it. This may sound a little strange, but it was the location of the comma.

For some reason, the location of that comma jumped out at me. Maybe I’m reading a little to much into this, perhaps I am looking too hard for things to sustain me. But it’s not just the joy of our salvation that sustains us, it is the joy of our salvation, combined with a willing spirit.

If you find yourself struggling at times, remember that the joy of our salvation goes a long way, but we need that willing spirit as well. God will sustain us when we come to him filled with joy over our salvation, and with a humble and willing spirit.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The ups and downs of a life of faith...


I was reading in Psalm 73, and I came across a passage that speaks of utter and complete devotion to God. Here is what I read:


Yet I am always with you,
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire beside you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:23-26)
I believe that this is what God had hoped for in creation. A people that would be completely devoted to Him, who love Him beyond measure, who look to Him for guidance and counsel. Sometimes, I am like that people. Sometimes, I am just as devoted as the Psalmist.

Yet sometimes, God feels far away. Sometimes, even though I work through my devotions, I read Scripture, I do a Bible Study, and I spend time in prayer, I don’t sense the closeness of God. I don’t feel like he’s there.

Perhaps I found as much comfort in the beginning words of the very next Psalm as I did in what I just quoted:


Why have you rejected us forever, O God?
Why does your anger smolder
against the sheep of your pasture?

It’s a comfort for me to know that even the Psalmists sometimes felt that God was far away. Even thought they did what they felt was right, they didn’t feel like He was there.

Truth is, God hasn’t rejected any of us forever. But at times, it might feel that He has. In those times, continue working on in your faith. Continue the Bible Studies, continue the Scripture reading, continue your devotions and prayers, and know that even the Psalmists sometimes felt that God was far off. But when God is close, and you feel His presence, there is no better peace in all of mankind!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Do we offend...


“May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me,
O Lord, the Lord Almighty;
may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me,
O God of Israel.”
- Psalm 69:6



I’m struck in this verse by the thought of how easy is it offend. We don’t mean to, but sometimes we do. A joke here or there at the expense of someone else. A comment, perhaps taken out of context, that causes others to be offended. A deed, unbecoming of a follower of Jesus Christ, witnessed by someone we didn’t know was there.

It speaks to how careful we need to be as we live our faith. We need to realize the statement we’ve all heard: we are the only Bible some people will ever read. How will they read us? Will they find a life consistent with the faith we proclaim? Or will they find hypocrisy?

As I reflect on ways that we might reach more youth in our church, I have been speaking to a number of families, and found some very distressing news. Many of the people I have talked to told me that they used to attend this church. In most cases someone did something or said something, and they realized the faith of the leaders at that time might not have been as genuine as they thought, and they stopped coming. Some joined other churches, others fell away altogether. And though in many cases it’s been twenty years, they have no desire to return.

It’s so easy to offend. We must be on our guard, as the Apostle Paul wrote, to avoid even the appearance of evil. Because someone seeing or hearing something out of context may even walk away from the faith.

Perhaps our prayer should be that of the Psalmist: “May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me…”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Examples of faithfulness vs. unfaithfulness...


In the book of Acts, I find a very unfortunate chapter break. It’s where chapter four ends, and chapter five begins.

The Bible wasn’t written with chapter and verse breaks written by the authors. These chapter and verse breaks were added much later (during the 13th century) to make it easier for us to find things.

Some of these verses and chapters are not always found in what I think are the best places. This spot in Chapter 4-5 is an example.

In Acts 4:36-37, we hear of “Joseph, a Levite from Cypress, whom the Apostles called Barnabas,” who sold his fields and gave the proceeds from that sale to the early church. This is the first time we hear of Barnabas, but it’s certainly not the last! Barnabas took Saul with him to go and collect an offering for the brothers living in Judea (Acts 11:29-30). In the beginning of Acts 13, we see Barnabas and Saul, again going out on a mission together, to bring the Word of God to the Gentiles.

Contrast Barnabas, who is faithful to God and gives God the money from selling his field, to Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, who also sold a field in the beginning of Acts 5. They told the church they were giving the proceeds of the sale to the church, but in reality, they held back some for themselves. They are each confronted for their lie (to God, not men), and are struck dead.

Seeing this story in connection with the story of Barnabas in 4:36-37 gives us a clear message. Be faithful and generous, and you will be rewarded greatly, and used by God to do great things. Lie to God, don’t be faithful to God, and keep things promised to God, and you will be cursed. Maybe you won’t be struck dead, but you won’t receive the power of the Holy Spirit either.

God will work through the faithful ones. And his ultimate reward is reserved for those who are open to Him.

Monday, June 16, 2008

June 15 - What is Worship?

This Sunday's message was titled, "What is Worship?"

We looked at a defintition of worship, and several charachteristics of worship that pleases God.

If you would like to see the full text, click on the link below:

June 15 - What is Worship?

Thanks for reading!

Real miracles...


Raising the dead!
Salvation!

Which is the real miracle?

We have such a fear of death that we see the raising of the dead, or even the healing of someone who is suffering from a terminal illness, as the ultimate miracle.

Perhaps the ultimate miracle is that God has provided the way of forgiveness, that we might be saved from the death penalty our sin has earned us. If we were truly created for an eternity in the presence of God, as Genesis tells us, then perhaps Salvation is a far greater thing than even being raised from the dead…

Friday, June 13, 2008

Satan's work policy...

Here is something to think about…
Satan’s work policy:

If I see a people who believe in a false god,
I will give them poverty so they will cling all the more to their false
god.

If I see a people who believe in the true God, I will
give them incredible wealth, so they won’t need Him.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Doing the work of the Lord...

Are you busy doing the work of God?

Often, we become very busy doing what we think will benefit the church. We become very busy doing things for God.

On the surface, that seems all well and good. But can it be that we become so busy doing things for God, that we’re not actually helping God? Can it be that we are spending our time doing what we think God wants, while altogether missing what God is really calling us to?

Have you ever prayed, “Lord, help me do this work”? "Lord, help me do this thing, or that thing for you.” If you’ve ever prayed that, then perhaps your focus is on your work for God, rather than God’s work.

Instead of “Lord, help me do this work,” make your prayer, “Lord, let me help you in your work.” Instead of “Lord, help me”, make your prayer, “Lord, let me help you…” Only then will our focus truly be on the Lord. And only then will we know we are truly doing His will.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Power and the Holy Spirit...

In last Sunday’s message, I talked about the faith of children. How children live their faith and expect you to live your faith. But we are often worried about what others might think or what they may say, so we often remain quiet about our faith. As such, we are very powerless Christians.

Where does our power come from? If we were to become powerful, where would that power come from? It is the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.

How might we get this power? It is the power that comes to us as we submit to God. It is in submitting that we receive the Holy Spirit. It is in submitting that we receive God’s power.

Look at Peter’s example. The evening of Jesus’ arrest, he was just like you and me. Even though he had just spent the last three years with Jesus, in the courtyard, Peter denied even knowing Christ three times. Yet in Acts chapter 2, we see a powerful Peter, a transformed Peter. When Peter preaches in the streets over three thousand people come to faith in Jesus Christ.

What was the difference? The difference was the Holy Spirit! In the beginning of the chapter, the Holy Spirit came on the disciples. Even Peter, a disciple of Christ, perhaps the most sincere of all the twelve, could do nothing without the Holy Spirit. But with the Holy Spirit, there was no limit to His power!

If you want to be more powerful in your faith and in your witness for Christ, submit. The irony is the first shall be last - those that submit will be filled with Power. Because the power doesn’t come from within us. The power comes from God, and His Spirit working through us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The great danger of pride...

I think that the great danger of pride is that our will becomes so much more important than it really is.

Truth be told, our will really isn’t very important at all. We boast, we want, we do, but in the end, isn’t it really God’s will that is done?

Furthermore, it is very possible to live our lives without any will of our own at all. In fact, we will do much better in life if we ignore our will, downplay it until it no longer exists, and just submit to the will of God.

The idea of submission to God’s will is so important in our life of faith, that the word submit appears some twenty times in Scripture! Perhaps, instead of being such a proud people, we should be a submissive people – submitting to each other (other believers) and to God.

It’s only when our will lines up perfectly with God’s will that we will find inner peace in our lives.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Children of the Bible

Sunday (June 8) was Children’s Sunday at the Almond Union of Churches. Some of the children present participated in the service, and the message, while we couldn’t get one of the kids to share anything, was about how God used several children in the Bible.

If you would like to read it, you can click on the link below…

June 8, 2008 – Children of the Bible

Thanks.

Poverty is not a curse...

Poverty is not a curse.
Homelessness is not a curse.

But maybe it can be a blessing!

Do you realize that God can use anything in our lives to draw us closer to Him? God can use whatever means necessary to clear away the stuff that distracts us, the stuff that keeps us from turning to Him.

Trials and temptations of all kinds might come our way, not to punish us, but to turn us around, and to cause us to seek God. Even poverty and homelessness might actually gifts, blessings, intended to clear our lives and turn us back to our relationship with God.

If you are struggling today, don’t think you’re being cursed. Don’t think of it as some judgment condemning you. And most of all, don’t think that God isn’t there. Don’t think you’re alone. Instead realize that God may be much more involved in the situation than you think, drawing you to Himself. God intends to have a relationship with you. God loves you. And He will use whatever means necessary to clear away the stuff that distracts us, the stuff that keeps us from turning to Him.

Poverty is not a curse.
Homelessness is not a curse.

But maybe it can be a blessing…
If we turn to God.

God's Omnipotence and Omnipresence

Food for thought... Last Sunday we had a visitor in services.  After service he came forward and introduced himself and told me he had h...