Monday, March 30, 2009

Do you know what Easter is all about?

Thoughts and questions for your consideration this Easter season!

Do you realize what Jesus did for you?

A Listing of the Many Sufferings of Our Lord, Borne On Your Behalf!

Jesus was rejected on your behalf!
By His country and culture (John 1:11)
By His hometown (Luke 4:28-29)
By His friends (Mark 3:21)
By His own family (John 7:5)
By the religious Leaders (John 7:1; 9:22)

Jesus was tempted by Satan on your behalf! (Luke 4: 1- 28)

Jesus was ridiculed on your behalf!
Because of His hometown (John 1:46; 7:52)
Because of His background (John 8:41; 9: 24 - 29)
By the Roman soldiers (Luke 23: 36 - 37; Mark 15:16 - 20)
By the crowd (Luke.23: 35)
By the chief priests (Mark 15: 31)
By the two thieves (Mark 15: 32; Matt. 27: 44)

Jesus was threatened on your behalf!
By Herod (Matt. 2: 16)
By his hometown (Luke 4: 29)
Because of His claims (John 8:58 - 59; 10: 30 - 33)
Because He healed on the Sabbath (John 5: 16; Luke 6: 10)
Because of His teachings (John 8: 40; Luke 11: 53 - 54; Mark 12,12; Matt. 26: 1 - 4)
Because of His miracles (John 11: 53; 12: 10)
By the Devil (Matt: 26:37- 38; Mark 14: 33--34; Luke 22: 44)

Jesus was homeless on your behalf! (Matthew 8:20)

Jesus was betrayed on your behalf! (John 13:21; 22: 47--53)

Jesus was denied on your behalf! (Matthew 26:58, 69-75; Mark 14: 54; 66-72; Luke 22: 54 - 62; John 18,15 -18; 25-27)

Jesus was misunderstood on your behalf! (Matthew 15: 16; 16: 6--11; Mark 6: 52; John 10: 6; 12:16)

Jesus was abandoned on your behalf! (Luke 22: 54 -62)

Jesus was misquoted on your behalf! (Matthew 26: 61)

Jesus was indicted on false charges on your behalf! (Luke 23:1 - 2)

Jesus was Illegally tried seven times on your behalf!!
Before Annas (John 18:12-14,19-24).
Before Caiaphas (Matt. 26: 57-58; Mark 14: 53 - 65)
Before the Sanhedrin (Matt. 27: 1-2; Mark 15:1; Luke 22: 66-23:1)
Before Pilate (John 18: 28-38; Matt. 27: 1-26; Mark 15 1-5; Luke 23 1-6)
Before Herod (Luke 23: 7-12)
Before Pilate again (John 18: 39--19:16; Matt. 27:15-26; Mark 15:6–15; Luke 23:13-25)
Before the Roman soldiers (Matt. 27: 27-31; Mark 15: 16–20)

Jesus was tortured, and died on your behalf!
Slapped (John 18:22)
Blindfolded (Luke 22:64)
Spit upon (Matt. 26:67)
Beaten (Matt. 26:67)
Scourged (Matt. 27:26)
Beaten on His head (Matt. 27:30)
Pierced with thorns (Matt. 27:29)
Crucified (Matt. 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19)

Jesus is risen to redeem you! (Matthew 28:10; Mark 16:1-13; Luke 24: 1–12; John 20:24-29)

How does Jesus affect and effect you?

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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Essential Christian Life Requires the Fruit of the Spirit!

We are in the midst of an article series on the Fruit of the Spirit, click on this Bible study series for more detailed and devotional thoughts on each of the Fruits. and Bible studies on the Fruits are here:

Are you willing to learn more about the Holy Spirit, God’s active love and work within and through us so we bear and convey His Fruit?

Our Fruit shows us that the Christian life comes with a responsibility to take the knowledge we have gleaned from His Word, our faith, discipleship, prayer, and devotional life, and then applying it while His love is working in and through us! Then, we are to ask, "How then do I live? What can I do now, today, or this week to implement the instructions given to me with my relationship to Christ, to others, and to myself?” No matter where we are or what circumstances besiege us, scare us or excite us, from the drudgeries of life, to daunting places, and/or to the opportunities at hand, His Fruit must direct us and lead the way. His Way paves the path; His Fruit lights our way giving us comfort, knowledge, hope, and life. Consider this: as Christians, our primary job is faith, the atonement of Christ exhibited in us! This is what we have in Christ: Love—His loving devotion to us, and our response of obedience to His love. We do this out of love from His love, not out of legalism or mere obligation, but rather from gratitude and devotion.

This means that we are partakers of the divine nature. We partake in Christ so we can live out our lives in Christ. We participate as sons, (and) children of God as we are conformed to the likeness of Christ. We are not made divine through either our efforts or His, or through purification, and we are not little gods. We have the image of God in us and we have the Holy Spirit, the Divine Nature living in us, guiding, leading, motivating, and fulfilling us. He gives us His actual presence as well as His precious promises. Knowing the promises of God will help us escape the evils of the world. This is a tremendous way to take hold of our trust in Him and grow our faith through our obedience. A Bible Promise book is a necessity (Gen. 3:5; John 1:12; Rom. 8:9-21, 29; 2 Pet. 1:9, 11).

The Fruit of the Spirit is also a description of who we are to be in our entirety. This is the basic, foundational character upon which the other characters rest. God's Spirit empowering and working in us summarizes the essence of character in general as applied to our entire lives as Christians. It encapsulates the work of God in us. This is what builds a life emulating God and building a church upon Him where people will want to go. We all have the ability to be good or be bad, to take what Christ has given us and use it, or ignore or even perverse it. This not just about our reputation and ambassadorship in Christ; it is how we are to serve and be if Christ has a hold on us and our church (2 Cor. 5:20)!

Is this Fruit working in me?
How do I now exhibit this Fruit in my daily life?
How can I use this Fruit to develop a better willingness to respond to others—especially to the ones I love—with a since of awe and fear of God, and respect for people?
What blocks this Fruit from working and being exhibited in me?
How can I make this Fruit function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainly and stress?
Think through the steps you would take to put this Fruit into action in a specific instance, or, to improve it. Consider the examples from the passages in God's Word.

And do not forget to be in prayer during all of this. Have someone you trust hold you accountable or get in a small group to learn and practice.

So, how is your “Fertility?”


Monday, March 16, 2009

Got Good Stewardship?

The word, stewardship, simply means to manage someone else's property.

For the Christian, as Scripture proclaims everything belongs to God, we manage the property of our Lord. Since everything belongs to Christ, we need to have the attitude and view that our things how little or great, what we have now or potential are His things. Our stuff that we have now or what we want to acquire are His stuff, that all we could have now, all we have lost, all we will have, is His, including our very bodies, opportunities and spiritual gifts. We are mere lessees of the property, money, relationships, talents, time, and even our lives.

That means all that we are and all that we have is not really ours to begin with. They belong to God. So, the duty of the Christian is to learn how to become responsible stewards of our Lord's resources entrusted into our care. To manage everything to the best of our abilities for His glory, 1 Cor. 4:2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Some Christians will have a big problem with what I am trying to get across here. Perhaps their will, pride, greed and assumptions have clouded their thinking. Or they think we are entitled to health and wealth, but the Bible tells us the opposite. All we need to do is carefully and honestly examine what God's Word has to say! 2 Corinthians Ch. 8 and 9 will tell you all you all you ever need to know about this topic…

Here are some things to think about

· Stewardship is a priority! We need to take what we have and put it to the right use.

· Stewardship is also about exercising the gifts He gives, not letting them waste away or control us. We are to find them and put them to use with joy and not allow their results, such as money to rule over our will and plans. To do otherwise is a big waste and a travesty.

· Stewardship is being His faithful servant. It is the understanding of who we are in Christ and being grateful for that. In addition, it is being willing to put forth the effort to please Him, even though we do not have to.

· Stewardship sees tithing as an investment, with eternal values in mind, not a loss of temporary goods.

· Stewardship means trusting in our God, who provides for our spiritual and physical needs.

· Stewardship is also being wise to the ways of the world, so we do not fall prey to it.

Are you giving what's right, or what's left? 2 Corinthians 8-9

God is concerned with what is in our hearts, and a good heart has responsible character assigned to it. That is what being a good steward means. This is shown to us by our role in taking care of creation, the testimony of the Law, and the Psalms, to name a few. Stewardship, in Hebrew, means “house law and rule.” It means that the person who is hired is to manage the affairs for the owner. This means that the property, resources, money, and previsions are under the steward's control and responsibility. They belong to God, and are entrusted into our hands. Thus, all dimensions of management are under the word and theme of stewardship! So, all that we do in the affairs of our daily life is under stewardship too! Is God concerned with what is in your heart? Yes, He is, and being a good steward will show that you have a good heart!


Monday, March 09, 2009

How does Jesus want you to handle Money?

What do you tend to be generous with, time, money or? What causes you not to be generous?

There are two ways in which a Christian may view his money--How much of my money shall I use for God? or How much of God's money shall I use for myself?

Have you ever wondered what the wealthy think about money?

Over two years ago, I helped my mom, who is a caterer in Carmel, do a party hosted by Warren Buffet's daughter for some of the richest people in the world…Buffet, Bill Gates to name drop a few. They were amused that a pastor was tending bar, and one that raised his own support…I can't tell you what they told me, but I can tell you the same with these quotes:

· I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness--John W. Rockefeller.
· The care of $200,000,000 is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it--W.H. Vanderbilt.
· I am the most miserable man on earth--John Jacob Astor.
· I was happier when doing a mechanic's job--Henry Ford.
· Millionaires seldom smile--Andrew Carnegie.

What does stewardship or finances mean to you?

When stewardship or finance comes up, we may realize our failings. Guilt and Greed rears their ugly head, and calls for the primordial reaction of fight or flight. Or we lust to get what we want that overtakes us, ignores God's precepts and diminishes our faith. Thus, we can think we can fight or hide or run where there is no such requirement or responsibility for money, so we hide in our fears or run for the riches thinking this is where my happiness lays.

Or we can think this way, I received my gift of grace, yet I will not send a thank-you to God, nor will I use it for His glory. It is to sit on my shelf for my comfort and insurance only. And, for the most part, God will let us keep it there. But, with the beauty of grace--no strings attached. But, what good is a car if all it does is stay parked? Without care, it will rust, degrade, and be of no value, even with 0 miles on the odometer. Yes, grace is given without strings attached, except for our faith. We have a higher calling and opportunity…

Two verses for you:

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)

The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)

The key is Looking to God and not to One's Self!

Try to see it like this: we are on a playground that God owns, all of the buildings, equipment the sand and the Sun all for the furtherance of the kingdom and His SON. At the same time, the storms of the devil and our complacency cause a hindrance and breakdown to the equipment affecting our work and our fun. With spiritual strength we can fend off the devil, but it takes diligence, and a will surrendered to God to build the park and play the game of life well.

Here are some things to think about: Healthy living and contentment is found in one key word, Gratitude! What Christ has done for you! Stewardship honors God with all of the relationships and resources in our life! Thus, we are able to give Him gratitude for what He did for us and recognize His sovereignty, which is His control and ownership of all things. In this way, we can honor Him with our worship as well as with our material goods and abilities and trust Him with our future too. The result is a life of better decision making, joy, stress free and as they say in the land down under, no-worries.

Helps to get out of debt:

A warning: beware of your motives. Do not give because you expect to get! God is not a divine bellhop, and He is not required to give you anything. Yet, He does, out of His love and grace! Some very bad teaching has been sneaking in like a snake its way in our churches and airwaves, called the “Health and Wealth” gospel. It says that if you give your money to the preacher or church, God will bless you or give you ten times more, or whatever amount they come up with. They tell you that “Jesus wants you wealthy,” “Jesus wants you rich,” “Jesus wants you prosperous,” and “God wants you rich!” (Direct quotes from Christian Research Institute by several different preachers!)

Key Bible verses on Stewardship: Psalm 24:1; Proverbs 3:9-10; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 8-9; Ephesians 5:15-16; James 1:17

more here:

Monday, March 02, 2009

How is your Faithful Service to Christ!

Be a person who loves and serves, one who exhibits appreciation and faith and desires to do what it takes to put it in action.

Read Colossians 4:7-18

This passage is all about faithfulness, which is what makes a person attractive to God and others. People with friends are also persons who are friend-makers because they listen and show appreciation and are not consumed with personal issues and hurts. Being grateful while being a greeter is also what builds and grows a church. It is about leaders being faithful and members being loving and hospitable. It shows our Lord's love and makes a church a place people want to be a part of. Our faithfulness, along with the Holy Spirit's empowerment and illumination, is what carries on the work of our Lord, demonstrates His love, and shows that His message is working so others will want to be a part of it.

Our real service comes from realizing who we are in Christ and allowing our devotion to translate into application. What God wants is for us to do and move our faith—to go beyond the mindset of “I have my salvation and thus, I need to do nothing more.” This is actually true; we cannot buy more favor or work for our salvation, but we can, as these people exhibited, be faithful and devoted. Exercise your faith and take advantage of your opportunities to grow and promote Christ's Message. Faithfulness and helping one another by service and collective action is what matters to God. The more we put into our faith and come together, the more we are used to get the Gospel out. This is also about encouragement and service; it is contagious and mutually shows one another our faith while it is also displayed to those who do not know Christ. Paul and his fellow companions and coworkers, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Barnabas, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, Nympha, and Archippus demonstrated what it means to be mobilized to serve and sacrifice. Not only did they contribute to Paul's ministry, but they are immortalized in our Bible and in Heaven too. Our service also reflects into eternity, touching others and our Lord too!

What we need to get into our lives is this, the principles of the Gospel must impact us so we are influenced and energized by it. If the leader is not excited, the message will drop off and fall flat. The learner and hearer will not desire something irrelevant and unexciting. If they see no excitement in the leader, why would they want to be a part of it? The nature of the Christian life is the joy and excitement of being in Christ over all else, and this should be the biggest motivation so the excitement the leader receives from his growth becomes contagious to those around him; this is influence. Being in Christ means living our lives for Him with excitement in all times and all places. This is influence.

Holy living is not forced upon us. We are not adhering to a religion, but a relationship with our Lord! Holy living comes from a life that is transformed and renewed by what Christ has done for us! We can't mature in the faith by punishing ourselves, or seeking mystic or special revelations; rather it is knowing, trusting, and obeying Christ as LORD, realizing Who He is and what He has done for us and then responding in gratitude, trust, and obedience. The Colossians had a skewed idea of God's purity and our sinful nature; they had it half right, that God is pure and we are sin. However, the application that we can do as we please since we are in Christ is purely wrong. This now becomes a form of relativism. Such thinking and behavior equates a life that is meaningless and produces little to no fruit.

Questions to Ponder

1. How do you see the people in this passage exhibiting faithfulness and devotion? Do any of these people inspire you? How so?

2. What must happen in your life (assuming you are a Christian) for a deeper and more radical transformation?

3. Look back on your life, comparing how you once were with how you are living in Him now. Has there been progress? If not, what must you do?

4. How can you be challenged more to continue and complete the ministry Christ has given you?

5. How does the fact that Paul experienced strife and then was able to move to reconciliation establish a model for you?

See more here