Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Love Your Enemies?

Jesus Christ was very clear about abiding in HIS commandments. We are reminded again and again in Scripture "We know that we have come to know Him if we obey his commandments" (1 John Chapter 2: verse 3). The first is to LOVE GOD...and the second is to LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR as JESUS LOVED US.

That is easy to do when you care about someone. But what about the people you despise? What about the people who have hurt you? What about the people who have ignored you or passed you by? Can you LOVE them?

Scripture tells us that although we may not be able to do this on our own, the Holy Spirit will not only convict us that this is the right thing to do....the Spirit will also enable us to do it by the power of the risen Christ.

Remember that Christ has forgiven you and loved you...and now you MUST pass this profound and often difficult love onto others.

So next time you come up against someone who has injured you in some way...remember the great commandment and allow Christ's work of redemptive love to move through you and out into a needy and hurting world.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Knowing Jesus

What we know about Christ is that he was in fact the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth. He existed and is vouched for by pagan as well as Christian writers. He was a real human being who ate, slept, wept and lived his daily life.

We also know he was a testament to a certain set of ideals. As John Stott, minister and author, points out in many of his books on Christianity, “Jesus was a fearless critic of the establishment. He championed the causes of the poor and the needy. He made friends with the drop out of society. He had compassion on the very people who despised and rejected him. And although he was fiercely and unjustly attacked, he never retaliated. He told his disciples that they must love their enemies and he practiced what he preached.”

We also know that Jesus was the unique Son of God. There is ample testimony to his power and authority. He taught the multitudes, He healed the sick, He governed nature, He had power over death, He performed miracles and He forgave sins.

But the most intriguing and powerful aspect of Jesus Christ is what He said about himself. He referred to himself as “the light of the world”, “the bread of life”, “the way, the truth and the life”, the resurrection and the life, and finally he put himself forward as the object of people’s faith.

And as John Stott continues to proclaim.... this is the ultimate paradox of Jesus Christ. He proclaimed things about himself that seemed insane and yet he showed no signs of anything but ultimately reliable.

Jesus asks in the Bible: "who do you say that I am?"

Can you answer that question for yourself????

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Out of the Heart

Free speech is an amazing thing. It is one of the tenets of freedom we honor as Americans. But often we don't think before we speak and there in lies the problem. This week was particularly stirring because we had so many bad examples of people's speech.... Serena Williams screaming at a line judge during the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament using profanity and threats because she did not like the call. Joe Wilson, screaming "Liar" to the President of the United States of America during a televised Joint Session of Congress because he did not like what the President was saying regarding Health Care Initiatives, and Kanye West dismissing Taylor Swift's win at an award ceremony because he felt another person should have won, leaving her in tears on national television.

All of them have left their indelible destructive imprint simply because they opened their mouths before thinking. And haven't we all done the same thing??

The Bible is very clear about one's speech. It says in Luke Chapter 6, "For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." The Bible warns us to be careful about what we say and reminds us that words may be small but they have the power to change the world. God's word reminds us to look at what's in our heart before we speak.

We all need to choose our words more wisely.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Finding Purpose Inside Yourself

August Turak (http://www.augustturak.com) is a fascinating individual who has been a seeker of spiritual wisdom his entire life and has been on a journey of finding purpose. He discovered truth and answers at Mepkin Abbey Monastary where he encountered the Trappist Monks. One of the most profound discoveries of his life is that we are all in search of transformation but the problem arises on how we achieve that goal. Many of us look for transformation outside of ourselves. We think fame or fortune or a list of credentials will change our state, but in fact all that ultimately changes is people's perception of us. If we want real transformation, then we need to change from the inside out. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was very clear, that once you surrender your life to him, only then can you have real change. He said, "you must lose your life to find it". The Apostle Paul also said after he had encountered Christ..."It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me"
If you want transformation and a real purpose for your life, go the source and ask Jesus to send his Holy Spirit to reside in your heart and just watch what happens!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Perfect Role Model for Us Perfectionists

Women love their role models. We want Heidi Klum’s body, Oprah Winfrey’s success, Martha Stewart’s decorating talent, Susie Orman’s financial savvy and Hillary Clinton’s perseverance. We are constantly looking around to see if we measure up. We check Glamour magazine, we check the scale, we check the mirror, we check out each other.

We wish for, we strive for and we demand perfection.

But the Bible suggests that Jesus Christ is, in fact, the perfect role model.

We know that Jesus was the unique Son of God. There is ample testimony to his power and authority. But He also taught us a specific set of ideals. He cared for the poor, He had compassion on his enemies, He made friends with people the rest of us might despise, He served everyone he met and He used every opportunity to speak about the Kingdom of God. The most fascinating thing about Jesus is what HE said about Himself. He claimed to be the one and only son of God, he said he was the light of the world, the salt of the earth and that he was the image of the unseen invisible God, the full manifestation of God himself.

Now I would call that a remarkable role model!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Read The Bible...You Have Got To Be Kidding Me?

A fascinating survey was done on who was actually reading the Bible. 92% of Americans own a bible and every household has at least three of them. However as George W. Gallup, the nation's foremost religion pollster, has put it, “We revere the Bible but we simply don’t read it”.

Many reasons are cited for the apparent crisis in biblical illiteracy. 64% of Americans don't read the Bible because they're too busy, and a large majority, 80%, say the Bible is confusing and way too cumbersome to read, finding the “Shakespearean-era” language difficult to get through.

What is troubling is that the Bible is frequently referred to as the keystone of American values, however a Gallup survey shows that 6 of out 10 Americans can't name half of the Ten Commandments, fewer than half of Americans can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis), and only one-third know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount (many named Billy Graham, not Jesus).

Only about one-third of Americans today believe the Bible is absolutely accurate and that it should be taken literally word for word. The rest feel that the Bible is the inspired word of God. And most of us agree that the Bible "answers all or most of the basic questions of life”.

However the Bible itself says it is the infallible WORD OF GOD. I can attest personally to the fact that if you read the Bible, your life will change in ways you cannot anticipate or imagine and it is all good because you are tapping into the most powerful resource in the universe - God Himself. The Bible puts it this way in Hebrews 4:12
”For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

But don’t judge a book by its cover. If you have never read the Bible….open it up, read it, and decide for yourself!

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pray, It Works

In today’s world we have never been more plugged in and less connected. In our search for answers, we turn on the television, we Google, we Twitter, we text, we phone, and we email. We listen to Dr. Phil, Oprah, the therapist, our life coach, talk radio, girlfriends, magazine advice columns but we rarely go directly to God. Many times these solutions can be a good temporary fix but they don’t usually speak to us at the most essential level or give us the sense of personal fulfillment that we crave. And that is where prayer comes in.

The truth is that there is a profound difference between the information the world gives and the wisdom that God imparts.People use various methods to pray. Prayer can be oral or mental, once in while or constant, formal or informal.Most of us approach prayer with the idea that our petitions can affect the outcome we desire and, in addition, we hope that through prayer, we might get a direct experience of God.

John Calvin, the French Protestant theologian summarized prayer this way, “Believers do not pray with the view to inform God about things unknown to Him or of exciting Him to do his duty, or of urging Him as though he were reluctant. On the contrary, they pray in order that they may arouse themselves to seek Him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating on his promises, that they may relieve themselves from anxieties by pouring them into His bosom; in a word that they may declare that from Him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others all good things”.

Pray, It Works!