Monday, May 25, 2009

Why must our new lives produce results?

Read John chap 2

We have a God who cares and comes to serve us. Jesus went to a most important and joyful event to show His support and care. This was also at Jesus' hometown; everyone there knew Him as He grew up and now, He displays His first miracle before them. The image in this passage is Jesus in everyday life and at a great celebration.

The questions are, is Jesus invited to your events and life? Is He the Great Miracle Worker in you? Are you celebrating life because Who and What He has done for you? Is your life joyful because of Christ? Does your faith allow for joy and obedience to His Lordship?

Jesus is calling us to Him. He calls His followers from the darkness and despair of their lives to a new life filled with wonder and hope. Jesus came to overcome and trounce hopelessness and bring hope to us for a triumphant life. Jesus comes fulfilling the Law and the Prophets, the promise from Eden foretold throughout the Scriptures, now fulfilled. Christ is the incarnation, God coming into humanity, a radical transformation that gives us our radical transformation and abundance. We are new, beyond measure and thought; we have reason and hope beyond what the world or any religious or philosophical system can bring us. We have Jesus the Christ in us when we accept and receive His gift into our lives.

We have Him; the question is, what are we doing with Jesus in our day-to-day lives?

The joys of the world will fall and fail, and before they fail they will be fleeting. The Joy Christ brings is eternal. Allow Christ to also be your source of life and joy!

How can you produce more products of His Love and Fruit? How can you better reflect how you are to God and others?

If you do not understand Jesus, how can you trust in Him? How can you do so more?

What do you need Jesus to do to turn your water into wine and not whine?

What are you doing with Jesus in your day-to-day life? What do you need to do more of?

What needs to happen in your life to challenge you to the very depth of your soul? Do you think you have real faith in action? What can you do to have more? What would your life look like if you did?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Are you Shallow?

Jesus Got mad at the Temple leaders, a precursor to the Church! Would He be mad at your church? Would He call you shallow?

During the Passover, Jesus and His Disciples went to Jerusalem to celebrate and visit the Temple. Jesus saw shame and deception in the Temple as merchants were selling the wares for worship—even the animals needed for the sacrifice. This was an abomination. Jesus got mad and justly so; He fashioned a whip out of some rope and chased the deceptive merchants and their animals out of the Temple area. He overturned the tables and proclaimed, get these things out of here because you turned my Father's House into a den of thieves and trade. Later, His Disciples remembered the prophecy from Scripture that, “passion for God's house consumes me.”

Jesus was purifying the Temple as the Levites had been called to do but had forsaken their call. Jesus' just anger was also a demonstration for the love and zeal to God and His Holy Place. God is just in His anger against sin and unrighteousness as well as deception and profiteering in worship rather than worshiping the One True Holy God. A warning here that God's judgment often begins in His own house, His Church (Mal. 3:1-4; 1 Pet .4:17).

Why? We have to remember the Holiness of God and respect and reverence Him, especially in His House. Here, Jesus was forceful but not cruel. What we may rationalize as a convenience can be a detriment and an abuse to true God-honoring worship (Zach. 14:20-21)!

The challenge for us here is what is our true priority in how we do our church?

Where is our focus, rationale, and purpose?

Is it about God's glory or ours? Is it about what we want or what He requires?

The purpose of the Church is to proclaim and worship who and what Christ has done for us. It is all about His glory and the production of His work through us. The Church exists for us to be in Christ our Lord, to be His people, His hands and feet. Don't wait for the whip; get on your knees now and turn your heart and your church to Christ and His purpose for it (Mal. 3:1-6; Rom. 12:4-8; Eph. 1:21-23; 3:10; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:15-23)!

Why do we do this? One of the deficiencies and fickleness of character that humans have is the propensity of being shallow. We like a charismatic speaker over being told the truth, a flashy dresser over something practical, and a celebrity over an intellectual or even a friend. We want a religion that does not convict or teach because we want to indulge ourselves with what we want and to feel good. We want our ears tickled and our problems solved; we want to feel good but we do not want to grow in faith or learn from adversity. We want comfort and not have to bother with the time and work that true spiritual formation takes. Jesus walked away from and condescended to these people who were flocking to Him. The question we must ask, is how shallow am I? Where do I need conviction; in what areas do I need to grow? And then, we need to get up and follow Him who comforts and assists us to do it.

Questions to ponder

How do you prepare for worship?

Why do we need to prepare?

What happens when we do not?

How does bad or misdirected worship demean and dishonor God?

What are the things we tend to do wrong?

What can you, your church, and your leadership do to do it right?

Read more here

Monday, May 11, 2009

Do you know what it means to be Born Again?

Are you Born again?

Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, came to Jesus with questions. As he complemented Jesus and acknowledged His miracles, wisdom, and that He was from God, Jesus challenged him. He told him that he must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God! This perplexed Nicodemus; “How can I do that?” he said, thinking he had to climb back into his mother’s womb!

So what do you think?

Jesus then said, “It is true you have to be born again—not out of your mom but rather out of your will and into God’s. You must be born from God anew; if not, you can’t see the Kingdom for understanding spiritual things or encounters. Just as a woman gives life to her baby, God gives life to His children so we are born of the Spirit.”

Do you understand this?

Nicodemus still did not understand. Jesus asked him; “why, as a teacher of the faith, do you not understand? Why, after all that you have heard and seen, do you not believe?” Jesus told Him of His coming sacrifice and how He would be lifted up, just as Moses lifted up the bronze snake, to pay for the sins of humanity, and that those who believed in Him would have eternal life.

So what does this the key catchphrase of what it means to be a Christian mean?

Born again? It means conversion, being “born from above” or “rebirth”—that God converts or “re-births” us, that our old life is old and obsolete, useless, and even detrimental, and it is no longer who we are. This term was also used by the Romans when someone adopted a child and that child’s former identify, family, and status were relinquished and his or her new Roman citizenship took over.

The Jews used this as a term that referred to a new convert who would sever all ties to any former religion and ethnicity. This also means regeneration; Christ changes us by His act of sending the Holy Spirit to supernaturally renew us. We were dead in sin; now, because of Christ, we can have newness of life. This is paramount because we can’t earn or achieve our salvation by any other means besides the work of Christ; without Grace, we cannot be forgiven or move forward in our spiritual life here or gain eternal life.

We have been given a new life and new nature, one that is in Christ. Being born again means we are born from above by God. It is the work of the Spirit (John 3:3-6; Rom. 3:9-20; 8:14; 1 Cor. 12:3; Gal. 4:6; 5:22-23; 1 Pet. 1: 3-12, 22-2:3; 4: 1-11) because we cannot do it on our own.

Did you know that everyone is condemned because of sin; no one can ever escape it. No one since Adam and Eve has ever been born right; that is why we have to be born again. All this is a result of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of redemption, His permanence, and His love for us. He lived, died, and rose again for you and me! This is the primary theme for being a real, saved Christian where Jesus Christ is one’s Lord and Savior; we are born again because God adopts and changes our nature as in starting again as new (Jer. 1:11-12; Ezek. 36:24-27; Micah 1:10-15; John 3; 7:37-39). In Jesus’ time, this phrase also referred to Gentiles who converted to Judaism. Now, He switches it to those who will convert to Christ as the new living Hope, inheritance, security, and God. Thus, the question implied is, what are we doing with it now? Our new life must produce results (Deut. 6:4-9; 11:17-20; Jer. 1:11-12; Micah 1:10-15; John 1:12-13; 19:11-13; Rom. 9:7-8; 2 Cor. 5:17-20; 2 Cor. 5:17; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; Titus 3:5; James 1:17-18; 3:15-17).


Being born again is our eternal rebirth and beginning of our new spiritual and effectual lives. It is all about the work of God in us, His work that comes into our being. It can’t come from us or be produced from our works or thinking. It is not about “me” or what I have done or can do; it solely rests on His Person and His Work, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ filling us. It is mysterious and undeserved. It is hard to explain to or be examined by a person who is saved and impossible to fathom to a person who does not know Christ. It is the depths of what it means to be a Christian as our lives are now with God and all about God. We are new, even though we may look the same on the outside. All is new in our soul on the inside. This is what gives us our new life, our purpose and reason for living and being. It is not just the entrance to the Christian life, it is the Christian life--our intimacy with Christ and dedication to His Sovereignty and Lordship. Our old nature has been swapped out, transfigured for His; our lives have been totally turned around from self-focused to Christ-focused, from carnal to faithful, from prideful to loving, from self-interested to fruitful and obedient. We can’t earn our favor with God, but we can run and live our lives for Him through His commands, nurture, and help. This is where not just our life comes from, but also our morality and ethics for decision-making and our righteousness for conformity to His will.

We need to all ask ourselves, is there a hunger in me for more out of my relationship with Christ? If so, what do I need to do to get there? If not, what is holding me back?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Do you look to Christ?

Read John 1:35-51

Jesus walked by John the Baptist and he proclaimed, Look, there is the Lamb of God. Then Jesus began to call His twelve Disciples personally.

Look! Look to Christ! See who He is and what He has done! Jesus is the great Victim, the pure, sinless One who sacrificed Himself for the dirt of humanity and the dirt of life; He lived and breathed as we do, experienced all as we do so He would know our burden and then lift it from us. Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to save you and lift your burden from you and give you a triumphant, new, eternal life of real, effectual hope and wonders beyond wonder. Think about this: if each one of us was more like Andrew, excited about our faith and bringing even just one to the Gospel, how much stronger the Church would be; how much more could be done.

Look! Look to Christ! This is the message that the preacher gives, not to have us look upon him but upon Him. Look to Christ and not to me. Any true Christian leader will always point people to Christ and not to themselves. Ministry and life are about Christ, not about “me;” it is not selfish or self-focused—it is always about Christ and nothing else matters. When a leader draws attention to himself or is prideful, it is a certainty he is not from above, but from down below; you can count on that they are up to no good.

Questions to Ponder

1. What major transitions have you experienced in Life? How has your faith helped you?

2. Why is it important that Christian leaders not look upon themselves but to Jesus? Why would they not? What enables pride and presumptions to take over? How does this diminish our Lord and damage His Church?

3. Where do you dwell (what consumes your thoughts and ideas and concerns) in your mindset and faith; where do your hope and trust lie?

4. If Jesus asked you what do you want in life, what would you say? He is asking; so what do you think He sees in your heart and motives? Is what you want lined up with what Christ wants and has for you? What do you need to do?

Jesus is the One to whom we are to look!

More here: