Sunday, January 26, 2014
I want to encourage you to take a moment and read Matthew 2: 1-12 which is the passage we'll be leaning on and learning from this week at Connections Christian Church. www.connectionscc.org
This passage is often examined in the Christmas season and rightfully so as it speaks to both the natural and supernatural events surrounding the birth of our great Savior Jesus Christ. But let me ask you this: do you think we might miss something that God would have for us when we limit a particular Scripture to a particular season? If so, read the passage above and I believe you will be blessed with some wonderful truth from a glimpse of Christmas in one of the coldest January's on record.
I was impressed through prayer, Bible study, life experiences, the Holy Spirit (pretty much every pass that I took at this text) with a single word: worship. The word shows itself multiple times throughout this short passage and as a Christ-follower I believe it is a word (an experience) that is to show itself with my every thought, attitude, action, and even my every breath.
Compare and contrast the differences between the way the Magi and Herod use the word. Ask yourself whose example we should follow? Then ask yourself if we are following it? My thought is that we should see the Magi pouring out praise to Jesus expecting nothing in return as a model we should ask the Holy Spirit to reproduce in our lives. And what of Herod?
Well, I'm convicted there's more of Herod in us than we might care to admit. Our worship seems to be something along the lines of what we can get from Jesus as opposed to what we can give to Jesus. In effect I think that's why many people in American culture tend to see the reality of church as a day at the mall. If I can't find what I want at store A then I just go to store B. We tend to be consumers of worship rather than givers of worship.
How will you worship today? tomorrow? Tuesday? Wednesday? Thursday? Friday? Saturday? and next Sunday and everyday thereafter? Will praising God for who He is vs. what we can get from Him be the heart of our worship? Will our worship be more like the Magi and less like Herod or will we come to Jesus in an attempt to have our way with Him vs. letting Him have His way with us?
Don't get me wrong: because of God's inherent nature we will always receive much in worshipping Him. But the reason we worship (the motive if you will) should be something other than looking to swipe our card with the supernatural cashier, trusting we got what we paid for and will be happy with it. And if not, well then, we'll just return it or pitch it as it is no longer useful to us.
Where's your heart when it comes to worshipping God? Are you looking to make a transaction or are you looking to offer your life as a gift of gratitude for the inherent nature of God our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, and Friend?
I remember my childhood preacher and I've heard many other preachers say "wise men still seek Him." I'm thinking wise men (women and children) still worship Him as Magi. My prayer is that we might be found worshipping Him in Spirit and Truth in every season of our lives just because He is who He is.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Each morning this year I have been sending out a daily email to a group of you as requested. I've expanded the email from simply providing a Scripture verse to also providing a short introduction to the verse as well as some possible applications from the verse. I will do my best to be consistent with this and ask for your grace should there be a day from time to time where I am unable to do so.
Should you not be receiving the email and would like to receive it, please click the following link: firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. My goal in sharing the Scripture verse each day is to help others 1) go deeper in The Word and 2) go deeper in the world without becoming part of the world.
As stated in prior posts, these are my goals for Connections Christian Church in 2014 or stated another way, we are looking to "Model Jesus" and have His "Love Take Us Over." Thank you for your positive feedback about our goals and lesson series from the gospel of Matthew. This week we will be reflecting upon the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus.
Matthew 1:18 says, "This is how the birth of Jesus came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit."
Matthew 1:22 says, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel'-which means, 'God with us.'"
Do you believe in miracles? If you desire to "Model Jesus" you must believe in miracles. A miracle is literally an act of God contrary to the laws of nature as we understand them. Some skeptics, even some scholars, mock the virgin birth of Jesus. What about you?
Thanks to modern medicine a virgin can give birth today through artificial insemination. In light of what man has learned to do, should anyone really doubt what God has already done? The miracle of the virgin birth is critical to salvation.
Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in a virgin giving Him a sinless nature that manifest itself fully on the cross of Calvary with His humble, atoning sacrifice for our sins. Therein lies another miracle of life.
We celebrate The Sanctity of Life this Sunday at Connections Christian Church. We also celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this Monday. We celebrate both knowing that the miraculous story of Jesus allows every conceived child of every race the opportunity to be one in Him.
Long before there was legalized abortion or even a formal civil rights movement there was a song that I learned as a child. It says "Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world; red and yellow; black and white; they are precious in His sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world."
That song is still true and the miracle of Jesus' birth, death, burial, and resurrection prove it. The only thing I would add to the song is a lyric that says, "Jesus loves all the children of the world; children of all races; all born and all unborn; all nurtured in their mother's womb; Jesus loves all the little children of the world."
If you believe in miracles, please join me in asking God to supernaturally bring all people to saving a relationship with Jesus Christ through the preaching of the gospel and the ministry of His Church. In so doing, abortion clinics would shut down and racial harmony would just be known as harmony amongst all God's children.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
People awake every morning and immediately check the weather, the stock market, sports scores, you name it. I want to encourage you each day to check your heart...not the physical health of your heart that is best assessed by an MD...but the spiritual health of your heart which is best assessed by the teachings of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you have a pulse for God's Word?
More specifically do you have a pulse for the teachings of Jesus Christ?
Consider reading the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7) this week and reflecting upon what Jesus has to say about the Christian life. Warning: not all of His teachings are easy! Reward: all of His teachings are completely true and profitable for right living on earth and eternal life in heaven!
Having read the Sermon on the Mount take a few moments to record your spiritual pulse. Where by God's Grace and Obedience to His Word can you overcome sin and live a healthier spiritual life? Pick a pulse point and focus on your faith in Christ and ask Him to put you in perfect rhythm with His Will. The joy is in the journey...just check your spiritual pulse daily.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Matthew (Levi) was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. Once he was a despised tax collector, but his life was radically changed by Jesus. Matthew wrote this Gospel to his fellow Jews to prove beyond doubt that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah and Savior of the world) and to explain God’s Kingdom.
This Gospel forms the connecting link between the Old and New Testaments and is filled with Messianic language (“Son of David” is used throughout) and Old Testament references (53 quotes and 76 other references).
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).
References: Matthew Henry Bible Commentary; NIV Study Bible and Commentary
References: Matthew Henry Bible Commentary; NIV Study Bible and Commentary
What does it look like for Jesus to fulfill the
Law and the Prophets through us (His Church)?
See last week's blog and listen to the lyrics of "Love Take Me Over" by Stephen Curtis Chapman. This continues to be my prayer for the church as we seek to go 1) deeper in the Word and 2) deeper in the world in the New Year!