Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April 22-28 Matthew 7:15-27 Tests

Read Matthew 7:21-29
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Now I need to be honest when I hear about people prophesying, casing out demons and performing miracles. I don’t doubt their salvation or their grounded ness in Christ. I know that God is showing up in those place, and he is working through those people. So how can the same people who are apart of these amazing things not have a firm foundation? I did not understand.
Then I meet a man who spoke with a prophetic power that opened up the word of God and shared its truths with amazing clarity. He could speak to children, youth, adults all with the power of God. He often prayed for people with the result of healing. And I thought wow there is a man of God. I had come to respect him deeply, and observe his ministry. Then suddenly his marriage ended in divorce, he had been unfaithful to his wife, but this was not the first time, he had been constantly unfaithful. And I was shaken I thought how could God have been using him to do these great things?
Prophesying, casting out demons, and miracles are works of God, and God is the one who does them. Some of us are fortunate to be apart of these works, but they are not our works. They do not form the foundation of our relationship with God.
An amazing worship experience is exciting, and it is exciting to encounter God and see him heal people, but this is not the foundation of our faith.

I find it interesting that the rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew on both houses. The one built on the sand, and the one built on the rock. Did you know that Being a Christian does not mean that nothing is ever going to go wrong in your life? The difference is the outcome, what the house looks like after the storm.

I am from Idaho and if we got the rain in Idaho that you have here I think the state would float away. But in both states rain is needed to give the ground nutrients and life. To help the crops grow. In our lives I believe the rain can often seem like a difficult trial or test or just a big pain in the neck. But it is rain because it cares the potential to help us grow. As our faith in God and our obedience is tested it grows stronger.

I can get so focused on my agenda for life that rain is just a hindrance to all I want to get done, but I am starting to understand that when it starts raining my biggest opportunities for growth are coming.

Rain is the chance for Disciples to sink their roots deeper and grow up in Christ

Unlike rain, flooding is not a good thing.

The crashing of a plane into a tower on September 11th was not a good thing. Finding out you have a fatal disease is not a good thing.
However, these things happen to the obedient and the disobedient a like. The difference is the foundation.

Knowing about God is not enough when a flood hits. We need to know God, we need to know that he comes through when we stick our necks out. When need to know that he draws near to us when we are obedient

I experienced one of my first floods last Spring. My uncle who had taught me how to build card houses and in general enjoy life. This uncle came to Salem and I was overjoyed. He was always around when I went fishing or hunting, or when he tried to teach me to water ski. But it wasn’t soon after he moved her that he started getting really sick, and he went to the doctor over and over again with no relief. I wasn’t until after he sat in the hospital for 3 days with a fever (105) and a hematoma on his brain a, spell of dementia, and a close encounter with death that the pieces got put together, and he was diagnosed with a unique case of Lupus that had attack his vascular system. In the weeks and months of recovery, he had to reconstruct his life and who he was.

The Flood had changed the landscape, The foundation of his house had held firm, but allot of the other things in his life had changed and some had been swept away.

People in Floods need help.
Being here in Salem meant that I had (the chance) to change the way I lived my life to help my uncle. He need help with allot of things (rides to work, and appointments). Neither of us had chosen the flood. He could not avoid it. Me on the other hand had been on the edge and could chose to enter in a help or run.

The Verse also states that the winds blow

I have a definition of wind for us.
Wind is the Movement of air relative to the surface of the Earth.
Wind is an important factor in determining and controlling climate and weather. It is also the generating force of most ocean and freshwater waves. Wind occurs because of horizontal and vertical differences in atmospheric pressure.

God is all powerful, and nothing exist outside his will. However, the devil is a powerful force in this world. He has a certain dominion over this world. We have victory over him ‘in Christ’, but there are many in our world who are not ‘in Christ.’

We have the power of God the vertical force in the world, and then there is the less powerful but present force of the devil. These two differing forces create a spiritual wind in the world.
That even when we are trying to do everything right sometimes things go wrong. Even though we try to be without sin, the devil continues to tempt us, and push on us. The wind reminds me that our world is still fallen even though in Christ we are raised up, our houses are going to feel the wind.
Even when we obey God and love our neighbor they still might hurt us.Even when we try to honor our parents they may not return our love.
For many of us it is the challenge of our everyday decisions that grind us into dust. It is often not the big decision, but the daily decisions of how I treat my wife, how I act towards my coworkers.
The desert was not formed in one day, but each day it grows, covering over the fertile ground.

The world we live in is windy, and we need a firm foundation if we want to have a chance of standing up in it.

So what is this FOUNDATION that will weather the storms of life?

7:25-26 message
These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock….
But if you use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who builds his house on sandy beaches.

There are two choices in this passage observation and Obedience.

We can observe God, by coming and hearing his word, being apart of great Worship services, teachers can tell you allot about God.

But this is not going to be good enough when the storms come. The fact that others have seen God work in their lives through tough times is not going to be enough. The fact that God has healed others of their addictions is not going to give you enough confidence. The fact that others have seen the power of God mend their relationships with their family through obedience to God is not going to cut it.
Our world is a hard place to live.

Listen to this news clipping. “Gambling, robbery, sexual immorality, and violence is prevalent. Half of all children are born out of wedlock; purity and fidelity to the marriage vow are sneered out of fashion. Corruption in politics is rampant. The world is broken.” This clipping is from 1694.

It was in this time that John Wesley began preaching to the poor, a message of new life through the free grace of Christ. His message was one of assurance and the power of the Spirit. He taught that while sin remained it could not reign. In addition to a great preacher Wesley was an organizer, and those who accepted Jesus as Lord where put into bands. In these bands people strived to put scripture into practice and they called it holiness. Wesley had a great deal of observers, but his goal was to bring them to obedience of Christ

They called their small group ministry “Bands” and these bands helped bring England, into a great awakening. These groups did not look much like a Bible study. They usually asked a few questions, we would probably look at the questions and call them accountability groups

We are going to call ours Life Groups. And they are what we are starting to help us build strong foundations. We want to start being obedient to God, and not just knowing allot about God. These groups will be asking, “How do I apply this my life, and then did we apply that to our lives?” The groups will strive for a balance of Sharing, Prayer, Application of God’s word.
Sharing because we are design by God to be in community
Praying because that is where his power is
Applying his word because it is obedience to Jesus that is the firm foundation not observation.

Jesus knows us, and how easy it is to be observers. He also knows that unless his observers become obedient to his teachings their faith will be crushed by the storms of life.

The difference between a house that will last and one that will fail is obedience to Jesus. Be encouraged that what is thrown at you does not have the power to crush those who are in Christ. The storms of life will only serve to strengthen your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Obedience to Jesus and his teachings is the foundation that will weather any storm.

Does this understandings of Storms and Foundations resonate with your life? Do you have an example?

Meeting at the IKEBOX this THURSDAY at 6:30 pm

Sunday, April 16, 2006

April 15-21 Matthew 6:5-18 Prayer

I believe the Lord's Prayer is the most clear stament from Jesus about Salvation, Community and our relationship with God. The early church would teach all new believer to understand the Lord's prayer as the foundation of their faith and relationship with God. In the evangelical church we often teach people to pray the "Jesus Prayer," but this prayer is not uttered by Jesus of found in the Bible. The "Lord Prayer" is what I believe we should be using to explain salvation and community to new believers.

There are 6 easily divided phrases in the Lord's prayer. We will discuss each of these at Emmaus on April 22nd and at our face to face on April 27th. The early church would take weeks pouring over these 6 phrases with new believers.

What maybe helpful for you in this space is to reflect on 1 or more of these phrases and what it teaches you about who God is.

1. Our Father in heaven

2. hallowed be your name

3. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

4. Give us today our daily bread.

5. Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors

6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Next face-to-face discussion Thursday April 27th (6:30pm) at the IkeBox

Sunday, April 09, 2006

April 9-16 Stations of the Cross

This Saturday Emmaus will be presenting a walk through the stations of the cross. If you have ever walked the stations or studied them I would like to hear about your experience and insight.

1. Jesus Condemned
Pilate brought Jesus outside and said to the people, "Look at your king!"
At this they shouted, "Away with him! Crucify him!"
Then Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.

2. Jesus Carries his Cross
Jesus was led away, and carrying the Cross by himself,went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, Golgotha.

3. Jesus Falls
Jesus emptied himself,and took the form of a slave,being born in the likeness of men. He humbled himself,to death and a Cross.

4. Jesus meets his mother
Simeon said to Mary his mother: "This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed. And you yourself shall be pierced with a sword, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be laid bare."

5. Simeon Helps Carry the Cross
A man named Simon of Cyrene, was coming in from the fields, and they pressed him into service to carry the Cross.

6. Veronica Wipes Jesus Face
He who welcomes you welcomes me; and he who welcomes me, welcomes him who sent me. And I promise that whoever gives a cup of cold water will not want for a reward.

7. Jesus Falls a Second Time
But I am a worm and no man; the scorn of all, despised by the people. All who see me scoff at me.

8. Jesus meets the Women
A great crowd of people followed him, including women who beat their breasts and lamented over him.

9. Jesus falls a Third Time
I am like water poured out;all my bones are racked.You have brought me down to the dust of death

10. Jesus Stripped
They stripped off his clothes and began to mock him saying: "All hail, king of the Jews!"

11. Jesus Nailed to the Cross
After carrying his Cross, Jesus came to thePlace of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha).There they crucified him and two others with him.

12. Jesus Dies
Jesus said, "I thirst!"and they gave him wine.
"It is finished"!" he cried,and gave up his spirit.

13. Jesus is taken down from the cross
Mary’s 33-year-old son, the Messiah,
Crusted with blood, naked,
And dead is beyond her help,
She, too, is helpless

14. Jesus is Buried
Joseph of Arimethea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and wrapped it in perfumed oils. Then he buried Jesus in a tomb close at hand.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

April 2-9 Matthew 6 Investments

The question is not to do good deeds or not. The questions is, are we doing them in order to be seen? When we do a good deed and hope to be recognized and praised by others, God does not stand in the way, but grants our request. We are honored by others, but miss our on the bless and reward of God.

The purpose of giving is always first and for most to meet the needs of the poor and needy. What is translated “deeds” can also be translated “alms.”

It seems silly to us that some who blow a trumpet right before they give something to the poor or help a person in need. We are much more sly about getting our praise now. We have our names written on the outside of the building, and put up plaque to have or deed continually praised.

A second reason for giving is no less important than the first. To treasure God and his Kingdom more and anything else in this world. The act of giving is among the greatest possible expressions of love, character and virtue. It is a loving God who give himself over to humanity, suffering and death to show his commitment to our redemption. By our giving (however, big or small) we being to display that heart and character that has its origin in God. Giving to God’s Kingdom and the poor is a movement of treasure and allegiance from this world to the Kingdom of God.

Giving should not be restricted to money, but should include all “deeds” (ability, time and money).

Comments in two direction might be helpful to discuss.

1. Is the community of Jesus followers (the Church) know for their giving to the poor today? Why? Why not?

2. Can an individual Kingdom member treasure God without giving money to the Church? Why? Why not?

Next face-to-face discussion Thursday April 27th (6:30pm) at the IkeBox

Mesothelioma Attorney
Mesothelioma Attorney