Saturday, February 22, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #8

Hi Friends!

For the next two weeks our focus at Connections Christian Church is on Modeling Jesus with respect to His handling of temptations as described in Matthew Chapter 4: Verses 1-11.

This week (Sunday February 23) we'll look at Verses 1-2 and see that the root of temptation is selfish pride and the ax that severs that root is the humility of Christ-like   faith.

Next week (Sunday March 2) we'll look at Verses 3-11and see that even though Jesus was tempted just as we are, that He never sinned, in part because He disarmed our adversary by quoting and obeying God's Word.

Then (Sunday March 2) we'll also attend the new movie release "The Son of God" and look to discuss the movie with respect to Christ's sinless life and perfect humility. This movie comes highly recommended by many of my peers that helped shape it and I trust it will bless all.

As we process this passage in Matthew Chapter 4 over the next couple of weeks, I put together the graphic above to remind us that as we come to the fork in the road, that God's Word should serve as our guide for each step we take. The Bible teaches that we live in a fallen world with trials that by nature come to us all, and with tests of faith designed by God to bring the best out in us.

And then there is temptation that comes to us courtesy of Satan who lives to entice us to sin and bring the worst out in us and ultimately kill us and have us experience eternal death and separation from God. And so for the next couple of weeks my blog post and my daily devotional emails will be centered on the graphic above and the accompanying Scripture from Ephesians 6:10-19.

I have posted the Scripture below and the link that follows will take you to an on-line reference where you can study this contextually and find many other resources to assist you in overcoming temptation by humbly and fully relying on God's Word.

My encouragement from Scripture is for you to do everything you can do to stand firm in God's Word and to ultimately enjoy His affirmation as Jesus did: to hear your Heavenly Father say and to fully know that you are His child whom He loves and with whom He is well pleased.

God's Peace,

Ephesians 6:10-19

New International Version (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #7

Hi Friends!

Bible Commentaries remind us that when Jesus said, “But I tell you,” he was not doing away with the law or adding his own beliefs. Rather, he was giving a fuller understanding of why God made the law in the first place.

Sometimes I think we feel righteous for having never done a certain sin. We sometimes feel like we can put a notch in our belt for that accomplishment so to speak. But I wonder if there is a blind spot where we are keeping God’s rules but have closed our eyes to His intent?

Jesus teaches that we miss the intent of God’s Word when we read the rules for living without trying to understand why He made them. My conviction from Scripture is that God made rules for living to help us love Him and love others as He loves each of us.

And so with this entry I just pass on to you what I trust is true of the majority of people reading this blog: murder has never crossed my mind but I do find myself being angry from time to time.

And yes, there is such a thing as righteous anger, where we see Jesus being upset over actions and attitudes that are contrary to the will of God. But what I'm talking about here is personal anger, where I get upset because something is contrary to the will of Jeff.

If you struggle with personal anger from time to time, join me in praying that we will see   the resolution to this sinful root to be the unconditional love of our great Savior and in praising Him that through the power of the Holy Spirit living within us, we can root out our personal anger with His great love.

Thank you Jesus for your intentional love!!

God's Peace,

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #6

Hi Friends!

The comments below are centered in some thoughts I shared by email earlier this       week with those who receive the CCC Daily Word. Should you like to receive those daily devotional emails just respond to and let me know and I will add you to the distribution list.

The above verses are the beginning of what is commonly called The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) because Jesus shared these teachings from a hillside near Capernaum. Most scholars believe the sermon was given over an extended period            of time, perhaps days.

Imagine sitting with Jesus on a hillside for several days—imagine hearing Him speak and explain the teachings of God ? If you believe that would be better than anything in this world then continue to read and obey His teachings and be found ready to sit with Him and listen to Him when He returns for His church.

Imagine sitting with Jesus in heaven and listening to Him speak—will you live for that opportunity today and every day of your life? I encourage you to listen to the song "I Can Only Imagine" by the group Mercy Me as it serves well to help us focus today on eternity.

The following link to the song may contain an ad before playing but I hope the lyrics and images will enhance your imagination and inspire you to continue to live for Jesus every day of your life.

God's Peace,

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #5

Hi Friends!

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God (I Corinthians 1:18).

The cross confronts us with the reality of our sin (Romans 3:23). It calls us to repent: to turn away from sin and turn toward Jesus (Acts 2:38). It challenges us to trust Jesus as the perfect embodiment of absolute truth (John 14:6).

Why do people refuse to accept Jesus as their Savior and often react with hostility at the mention of His name? Because the modern mind has been conditioned by moral relativism to believe the cross is foolishness and that truth is self-defined. The problem with such a worldview is that it continually and consistently compounds sin and its consequences.

For example: how many shootings have occurred over the past 14 days on college campuses in America? How many young people have died? Is it because there are guns available to students or is it because shooting someone is a matter of morality and the heart?

Has it occurred to anyone that we are becoming increasingly desensitized to man's inhumanity to man because we have been taught to believe that higher education is possible apart from absolute truth?

Has it occurred to anyone that America led the world in civility, creativity, intellectual construction, and humanitarian compassion when Bibles were open and prayers were offered in public schools?

Could it be that the modern mind conditioned by moral relativism is running out of answers for the consequences of education devoid of absolute truth?

Perhaps we'll pass another law...

Perhaps we'll do some more research...

Perhaps we'll spend some more money...

Perhaps we'll repent and readily admit that higher education apart from absolute truth is in effect lower education with diminishing civility, creativity, intellectual construction, and humanitarian compassion.

Perhaps rather than perish and accept man's escalating inhumanity to man as the social norm and measurable outcome of education apart from God, perhaps rather than being foolish, we once again will see the cross as the power of God that saves us from our sin.

My heart breaks for the diminishing returns in education devoid of absolute truth.

My heart breaks for young people who desire significance and have been conditioned to believe they will find it apart from God.

My heart breaks that we fail to see that education apart from the absolute truth of God's Word is rendering the lowest test scores for humanitarian harmony in American history.

I believe at some point absolute truth will prevail over moral relativism and eliminate the futility of education apart from God. My prayer is that the church be courageous and gracious in modeling Jesus in hopes of returning communities across America into safe havens of higher education.

I've shared this before but in the link that follows Ravi Zacharias speaks to the root issue of sin and waywardness in our culture. May the applause and laughter signify that the battle for the human heart is ultimately God's and we are called as followers of Christ to simply be compassionate stewards of His truth.

God's Peace,