What’s Your Standard?

In this podcast, I am speaking from Proverbs 14:12, which reads, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

If the way that seems right to us leads to death, then how do we decide what is right?  Is there a standard by which we can evaluate our choices?  What should it be?  Should it be how we feel?  What about advice from people we trust?  What about books or TV?  Where can we turn for the wisdom that leads to life instead of death?  The answer may seem obvious, yet we don’t always act like it.  We say Jesus is the answer, but in our daily lives we look everywhere else.  If we submitted every choice we made to God in prayer and sought wisdom from His word and His Holy Spirit, what kind of people might we be, and how might our world change?  Listen and explore with us the wisdom of His Word.

Trusting in God

We’re all told that we should trust God.  If You’ve been a Christian very long you have probably heard Proverbs 3:5 quoted, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”  That quote is pulled from a series of instructions about how we should live and what the results will be.  The problem is, sometimes things don’t seem to work out that way.  If anyone has ever told you that Christians are supposed to live a life free of trouble, they haven’t read their Bible very carefully.

So, what does it mean that we are to trust in the Lord.  What are we trusting?  What does trust mean?  As I and mine go through difficult times, these are questions I have asked for myself.  In this podcast, I share with you what the Holy Spirit is revealing to me.

What’s Important to You?

what is important to you?  As churchgoing Christians, we’ve been pretty well trained to give the right answer to a question like that, but what is the real answer that is reflected by how we live our lives?  We will begin with Matthew 21:28-31.  Jesus tells a story in response to the Pharisee’s questioning of his authority.  Earlier in the chapter we read that they saw all the great things He was doing, but instead of glorifying God, they were indignant about the children who were praising Him.  They had a problem with priorities.  This parable is the first of several that Jesus tells to illustrate the position that the Pharisees were in.  It should make us think about our own lives.  is what we say we Will do what we actually do?  What’s really important to us?

The Gift of the Season

This week I want to share with you something that God has been doing in my heart the last couple of years and that I think will bless you too.  Most of us really enjoy this time of year, but it can also be hard.  Maybe we have sad memories.  Maybe we feel overwhelmed by the expectations that we feel are placed on us.  Maybe we just don’t like what we see happening to the season, or maybe we even have some conscientious objection to celebrating it.  The truth is that the timing is wrong and many of the trappings are adopted from pagan practice.

What God is showing me is that we have been given a gift, and we should rejoice in it and make full use of it.  Have you considered that even amidst the commercialization and even anti-Christmas attitudes that we’ve seen in recent years, this is still a time of year when people are more open to hearing about Jesus than at any other time?  Though less often than we might like, you can still be out shopping and hear Christmas carols in the stores.  People who are normally uninterested in anything to do with Christianity will attend Christmas presentations, put up manger scenes, and maybe even go to church!

We have a wonderful opportunity here.  Howe will we use it?  Will we get all wrapped up in the trappings and forget the purpose, which is to celebrate the coming of the Savior of the world?  Will we shun it entirely as I confess I have wanted to do in the past?  Or will we take advantage of the gift of this season to share the real Gift of the season?  Let’s do that!

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Pet. 3:15 NASB)

Behold: When God Says, “Pay Attention!”

One day, I was reading in the Bible and a word jumped out at me.  It’s a seemingly insignificant word.  It occurs so often in the Bible that many commentaries and word study resources ignore it. The word is, “behold.”  Look!  Pay attention!  Take note!  Sometimes it’s part of conversations between people and may not have any more significance than when we preface our sentences with something like “look” or “you see.”  But maybe we should look a little more closely when Biblical authors use it to highlight what they have written.  Maybe we should pay special attention when God says, “Pay attention!”  Walk with me through some key places in the scripture when God said, “behold!”

When God Was Born

This time of year we sing the songs about the sweet little baby and create idyllic scenes depicting the story, often with questionable fidelity to the actual account.  We know that He was born to save us.  We acknowledge the miracle of the virgin birth and retell the amazing story of the night that God came down to us.  I wonder though if we really grasp the awesomeness of what happened.

It’s a difficult thing for us to understand, how that God the Father could remain in Heaven while God the Son came to live among us, yet did not cease to be God.  Jesus Himself said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) For us to fully understand what Jesus did, we need to remember this; He lived his life among us as the perfect man, yet he was and is God.

Several false religions begin by attacking this critical issue, so I would like to take some time to point out the scripture that shows that Jesus was and is God.  If He isn’t, our whole belief system unravels.  To paraphrase the late C.S. Lewis, by His own claims, Jesus must be either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.  We of course know that He is Lord, but I will share with you a few key verses so that you can be ready the next time someone challenges the deity of Jesus.  In deference to the season, we’ll start with Matthew 1:23, which is a quote from Isaiah 7:14.  I hope you’ll listen as we discover anew the wonder of “God with us.”

Name That Prophet

It would be hard to find many people living in the western world that aren’t at least somewhat familiar with the story of how Jesus came to spend His time with us.  Though the actual facts of His birth may not be quite what our traditions portray, we’ve all seen the depictions of Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus in the manger.  What you may not know is that many of the facts of Jesus early life were foretold centuries before they happened by the prophets in the Old Testament.  Every prophecy that covers events that have already occurred is completely accurate.  What does that tell us about the ones yet to come?  Who were these prophets?  Listen as we look at these men blessed by Yahweh to give His people the signs that pointed to Jesus the promised messiah.  We’ll be reading from Matthew 1-2 and Luke 2.

If you’d like to see some more of the prophecies about Jesus that were fulfilled by His life, death, and resurrection, check out the link below.  I don’t know anything about the organization behind this site and haven’t looked at any of the other material so this is not an endorsement of the site, but this page has a neat little summary of just some of the prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus.  The commentary is pretty good too.

http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/m_prophecies.shtml

Who Do You Think You Are?

You’ve been told that God has a plan for Your life, but maybe you have some doubt about that.  I certainly have.  I have often thought that even if God did have a plan for my life, surely I had messed it up.  Now here is the revelation that I have had about God’s grace and sovereignty.  You can’t mess up His plan.  We’re going to look at all kinds of people in the Bible that we would probably think God would never use, yet they are key players in God’s master plan.  From Abraham to Paul, God chose messed up people just like you and me to do His work.  Who do we think we are that we could thwart Him even if we tried.  Not even a whole nation can do it.  Read what he says about Israel in Romans 11.  I hope you’ll listen and be encouraged.

What is Your Platform?

Each election cycle, the political parties meet and decide on their platforms.  In a physical sense, a platform is a raised flat area on which one can safely stand.  Metaphorically, that’s what the party platforms are about.  They lay down a set of principles and ideas that are meant to form the foundation on which each candidate will govern.  Though individuals may not adhere completely to the party platform, it tells you something about them that they will run under the banner of a particular party.  I urge you to read the platforms of the major parties prayerfully and make your choices with that in mind.

I want to ask you a more important question.  What is your platform?  What are the foundational principles and ideals that govern your life?  Do you indeed stand on them?  Do you live what you say you believe?  Does your belief touch every area of your life?

Our nation’s problems didn’t start with the politicians.  They started with the people who chose those politicians.  If we will not choose leaders who reflect Godly principles, we will get what we deserve.  If we are not devoted to knowing God’s laws ourselves, we cannot hope to select leaders who will uphold them.

Jesus is our rock.  He is the foundation on which everything must stand if it is to survive.  Everything that we think, believe, and do should be subjected to the standards found in His word.  In this podcast, we’ll explore it together starting with Matthew 7:15-27.

Saved from What?

During a previous sermon, a church member asked me, “saved from what?”  In this podcast, I’m going to talk about getting “saved.”  Most if not all of you who are likely to be hearing this have already given your lives to Jesus.  You may consider this a very elementary topic, but I have found over the years that even among sincere Christians there is a lack of understanding that makes it hard for us to communicate to those who may question the importance of the Gospel message.  In fact, if we do not understand what it is we were saved from and why we needed saving, we may need to reevaluate what it was that we did when we prayed that special prayer.  Certainly we will have an incomplete understanding of the grace and mercy given to us by God.  It is my prayer that after listening  we will have a greater comprehension of what Jesus did for us and a greater depth of knowledge from which to answer the question, “saved from what?”