Friday, March 28, 2008

Will You Stand Against the Storm?

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called -- Ephesians 4:1
The bird in this picture may be hard to see. But he is sitting on rocks jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico. Little was he aware of the storm that would later hit this very place, as a hurricane blew in and the winds buffeted his home. In the picture, he was caught up in the quiet of the morning.
It is unfortunate that many of the people who claim to be God's people are just as ignorant of the spiritual storm that is brewing. For a few minutes earlier today, I sat and talked with a very nice young woman about her life. She told me of talking to the dead and the fear that someone she knew was involved in black magic. Of course,she didn't want to talk to just anybody when she spoke to the dead, for fear they were wicked! She told me of visions and nightmares and dreams. I tried my best to explain that this was not what God wanted His people to do. I appealed to the scripture and encouraged her to surrender her life to Christ. Her look at me was a blank stare as she tried to explain to me that she operated her life under certain principles which she felt were right, which in my observation, have been very destructive to her. Much to my pain, I had taught her in church camp!
I guess we can't be too hard on her. Many people today, some who have been strong in the faith in the past, are finding it hard to deal with Christianity and standing firm--and none of us are perfect, I know that only too well. Maybe we can't be too hard on her, based on our personal examples, but she still isn't right in terms of God's word and that she flatly rejected! And she must answer to God for those decisions and choices, as will we all.
A. W. Tozer, a 20th century preacher, quoted in "Against the Wind" by K. P. Yohannon, p. 20, notes the following: "That this world is a playground instead of a battleground has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of fundamentalist Christians . . . Our religious mood is social instead of spiritual. We have lost the art of worship. We are not producing saints. Our models are successful business men, celebrated athletes and theatrical personalities. . . Our literature is shallow and our hymnody borders on sacrilege. And scarcely anyone appears to care."
Folks, are you the bird on the rock? The waves will come, the winds will blow and the tides will challenge our strength. We must be ready, able, and willing to stand firm in this day. We will be threatened and sometimes we might waver in the wind. But we can be victorious if we follow Jesus, the leader and his way, and not try to make it on our own, because we can't anyway!
Father God, in the face of adversity, help us to be strong. Help us to realize that it is not how much fun we have, how much the music touches us, or what people think of us that matters. We know trying times will come and we will face storms. Simply, help us to be faithful and to live that faith out in front of those around us. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Thoughts (3)

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (Luke 24:5-7, ESV)

In an old spiritual we find these words:

Hallelujah! He is coming!
Hallelujah! He is here!
Hallelujah! He is coming!
Hallelujah! He is here!

This song about the birth, death and resurrection of Christ speaks volumes to those of us who follow Him. He is here. He is here because He is not there—in the tomb that is. He has risen and this gives us reason to rejoice.

Say it with me, say it out loud, “Hallelujah! He is risen!”

Father, make us bold to shout your rising to the world around us.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Thoughts (2)

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30, ESV)

It’s Good Friday—the day that Jesus was Crucified.

How? You ask. How can it be “good” if it is the day commemorating such a heinous death penalty? As a matter of fact, how can any death be looked upon and seen as good? The answer to this important question is in what happened on that first Good Friday. I’ll not go into detail about how awful the practice of Roman crucifixion was. Plenty of preachers have done that in the past. If you really want to know the cruelty of this form of punishment find a copy of The Passion of the Christ and watch it.

It isn’t that Jesus was crucified that makes today such a good day, but why He died and what He accomplished by going to the cross. Simply put, people are sinners. We are born that way. We can’t avoid it any more than I can avoid having blue eyes and curly hair. It is part of who we are. We defy and disobey God every opportunity that we get. The price of that sin is death, our death. Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross (because He was sinless) paid the price of our sin for us.

Why “Good Friday”? Because on the Good Friday Jesus made the escape from sin punishment possible. So celebrate! Sin is conquered through the crucifixion of Christ. It is Good Friday!

Father, Thank you for sending Jesus to make my sin payment and conquering my sin when He died.

Easter Thoughts (1)

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it." (Luke 22:7-8, ESV)

Today is the day that Jesus met in an upper room with the disciples. The room prepared for the observance of the Passover feast. In that room, Jesus made the Passover come to life. In that room He explained that to the Twelve that He would die. Not only would He die, but He would be sent to His death by the betrayal of one of them there.

They did not understand all that happened as Jesus taught them lessons. Lessons about serving one another, lessons about the payment for sin, lessons that would become real to them in a few short days.

The Passover meal was one that was to remind the Israelites how God rescued them from their bondage to slavery in Egypt. What we call “the Lord’s Supper” is a reminder to us that through the death of Jesus (the perfect Passover Lamb) God would rescue us from our bondage to slavery in Sin. During this most holy of remembrances, think about what Jesus did on that night—giving a visual representation of the breaking of His body not one day later.

Toward the end of the meal, Jesus sent His betrayer away to make the final arrangements. Afterwards the rest of the disciples accompanied Jesus to a garden to pray—a time of dedication in preparation for the miracle that was to come. It was here that Jesus was arrested.

Today is a day of remembrance, a day to consider what this season’s payment is for us all.

Father, teach us again what you did on the first Easter weekend.