Monday, February 15, 2010

Why Me?

John 9:1-23

If you have seen the Tim Tebow Super Bowl commercial and know a little of his story (, it also mimics our story too. No, I am not a football player, but when my wife was pregnant with our son, we too were pressured to have an abortion. Yet, this, to us was a miracle pregnancy. We tried for over 10 years to have children, and we were finally “with child” and the hospital administers and insurance folks said, no, you must abort! We had to fight for our child’s life before he was even born. Why? Because, they thought he had down syndrome and cystic fibroses. And, my wife was in a very intense high risk pregnancy. 3 ½ years later, today, we had to rush him to the hospital with a very high fever, vomiting and coup… very scary, after a weekend of sleepless sickness. This was another terrifying “bump” in life. Where the question, why me seems to crop up. We are back, with the wonder drugs in hand and us grateful parents with a fussy child… and so far he is doing good. Obviously, our precious son was not aborted, how heinous and evil that would have been. And, except for today, he has been an example of perfect health and extreme intelligence. He could at 2 ½, say his ABC’s forward and backwards, do simple math and now, read and…well I won’t say, it might be like bragging-lol. Well, as a friend just said, welcome to parenthood and life…For us and many, the “why me’s” are at hand. The hardships of life keep coming at us, and what we went through today is a mere speck to what we have been through and that was a mere speck to what our Lord has done for us.

This passage addresses this common complaint of “why me” to those of us in sufferings and mishaps; why did this happen? As this blind man and his parent’s must have lamented. But the why we usually seek is personal; why me and not someone else? I do not deserve to go through this. But, Jesus’ response was for us to look beyond the “why” to the “how”—how can we lift ourselves up from the mud and muck of life so we can see His purpose for us? How can we, with Christ’s empowerment and precepts, go wash, so to have meaning and a call, and to heed it, to learn and grow for God’s glory? How can we look beyond our circumstances and strive for the goal of what Christ has for us so we can grow out of our fears and hurts and not be held captive by them and not be founded on our inadequacies or limitations but be able to move forward in the faith? God will take us beyond what we think we can do or even dream if we let Him in His time. Further, how can we refuse to allow ourselves to be hindered by perceived ability, but seek how God can use us where and how we are? What steps can we take to not let setbacks, past disappointments, or wounds limit us and keep us from moving, but rather progress toward a better, more godly and contagious example for the faith? How can we fulfill what God has sent us to do in the journey of our lives and relationships, no matter what situation in which we find ourselves or kind of past we have?

This passage also depicts the power and compassion of Christ. In the midst of God’s power, purpose and love is His call for us to obey. He has set up instructions for us to live by that are meant to help, guide, mold, shape and protect us. They also help us grow, mature and create community and fruitful living. This is a tough concept for many who want things their way and do not like authority or the progress of faith that is honed by life’s irritations and opportunities. But before we can be illuminated more in faith we have to escape the darkness of what holds us back, our sins and frustrations, our fears and misguided beliefs. We have to learn to grow beyond our “why me’s” into what does Christ want of me!

Questions to Ponder

1. What do you need to wash off, so you can have more meaning, hear your call, and then heed it, learn, and grow for God’s glory?

2. What are the things that cause mud and muck in your life? How can you lift yourself up from the mud so you can see His purpose for you? How can you do it with Christ’s empowerment and precepts?

3. What would your life look like with a more godly and contagious example and display for the faith of others?

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Jesus is God, but who do you say He is?

John 8:48-59

After Jesus gave some starting insight to His Divinity, the spiteful religious leaders reacted viciously; instead of a debate by the Scriptures or by the Law, they resorted to calling Him a devil, saying that He was possessed and even threw in a racial slur. Jesus again stood up for His position and defended it by saying His purpose was to honor His Father. As the religious leaders were seeking to glorify themselves, Jesus was pointing to the Father and proclaiming Him as the Judge. Then, He reassured those faithful ones who were listening that whoever believes in Me will never die! This further aggravated His opposers and insulted their pride and positions; they then just called Him more names. They could not wrap their minds around the fact that God was there in their midst, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe in their very presence—and all they could do was call Him childish names. Yet, they knew He was claiming to be God—Yahweh, the One True God—and they could not accept Him!

The religious leaders continued to challenge Jesus’ claim as the promised Messiah, but resorted to name calling and innuendos to attack Jesus because they could not win an honest, logical argument with Him. These were cheap shots, while as Jesus was centered in a very hostile environment and such cheap tricks worked with a people who refused to reason or search the Scriptures. Jesus left them to their ignorance and sin. John also used these events to validate the claim that Jesus was the Messiah and to answer the skeptic’s rebuttals.

When John pinned this Gospel twenty plus years later, this was a great reassurance of faith for a new, fledgling church, because they saw that Jesus had faced what they faced and had gone through what they either already had gone or would have to go through because of the extreme opposition He encountered—just as the original receivers of this Gospel faced and as we face today. This was of great encouragement to them, to know that God was not aloof but active, caring, and involved and we/they could identify with Him as Savior and Lord. This is also a retort to those early Christians who after becoming Christians, under pressure from their families and religious leaders, left the Church and betrayed Jesus and the faith community (John 6: 6:67-71; 1 John is a letter that addresses this as one of its prime themes).

What does this all mean to us today; yes Jesus is God, but what then? What now?

God is more interested in how we are than what we are.

He wants us to be good more than He cares what we do in vocation or living. He wants character, faith, and fruit from our spiritual growth, not spiritual descent from our disobedience, lack of faith, pride, or relying on what is not true or fleeting, like relying on one’s ancestry as these religious leaders were doing.

We must beware of our preconceptions, and not be so entrenched in falsehoods or bad thinking that in the process of trying to convince others or ourselves, not fully knowing what we are saying because we did not think it through.

Questions to Ponder

1. How has the Truth, set you free both for eternity and for the here and now of daily life?

2. What helps you to wrap your mind around the fact that God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe is here in your midst, giving you grace?

3. Why do some Christians see their lives of faith like a buffet, picking and poking only at what looks and feels good, ignoring what is needed to be fed and healthy? What can you do to make sure this is not you?

4. What evidence of Christ’s life, teaching, and works are being exhibited in you? How do you point to the Father?

5. How does belief lead to trust? How does trust lead to commitment? How does commitment lead to obedience? Why can’t belief stand alone and lead us nowhere?

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Building a Legacy

My goal is to get you to think and pray to focus more upon Christ and His Word to see what legacy you are creating—and hopefully it will be one of Hope and one that shows your life means something, that you touch people, and that you know our Lord and seek to love and grow in Him. Hopefully, your life can be about something much greater than yourself; that it is and was all about how to glorify God and enjoy Him so your life is an impact no matter what has happened or will happen. You can live a life of hope because what you have in Christ is so much better than anything else you have or could have lost.

What is a Legacy?

A legacy is what we hand down to our children and others whose lives we have touched. In the legal arena, it is mainly property and assets, but it is also theme and character, like a dynasty of a family formed by its patriarch, or the founder of a school or sports team or a great coach. For us as Christians, it is all the above—the assets we have in Christ, our character, and the theme that recognizes our spiritual growth from our trusting confidence and identification with Christ. The wake our life will leave is formed by what we are doing now. This is spelled out in our dependence on and obedience to Christ—of believing and trusting in Him, then obeying His precepts so we can have faith and confidence in that faith. In addition, a continual warning is at hand against apostasy, so we must take our responsibility of being a Christian seriously! This is the true legacy that we leave and also the assets that will echo into eternity.

As we have seen, life is not fair; we are not always dealt a good hand nor do good things and situations always come our way. So, our hope must be placed in something more tangible and greater than money or physical assets because we have so much more to lose that mere money or reputation. We need to be saved and we need to grow. We are full of sin; we are unable, on our own, to heed His call or receive His rest. So, we must make every effort to progress on to maturity and go deeper with God (Gen. 14; Psalm 110; Heb. 5:6; 7:1-10).

Christ is the One who saves and points us to our eternal inheritance that we do not deserve, yet do receive by the grace of our Lord and Savior. Our salvation is something we can never obtain by our own efforts, power, wisdom, or time; it is purely and solely a gift that is given because Christ intercedes on our behalf. Even though
Jesus never succumbed to temptation, He deals ever so mercifully and gently with us who do; this is a great attribute of His grace and an attribute we are called to extend to others too. Of course, this must be done with discernment, proper boundaries, and in the Fruit of the Spirit.

What is Your Legacy?

You can be the example of faith and stewardship of what we have, which always comes from somewhere we did not make or refine. God is the Great Maker and Refiner; we give to Him and we become His representative as a show of gratitude and devotion. We can show character in adversity and in power that resounds though time and history long after we are gone. Character ripples with an incredibly strong effect; it is needed and it is timeless. The question is does it flow from you? Do you look for it in others and encourage them to let it flow too? If you want a safe and comfortable place to know and worship God or to raise a family in a hostile world, God’s Word and our character of response is what God calls for and is ever so needed.

This legacy is what we leave when we pass on into heaven and God’s wonders, rest, and rewards—how we live and how we hand down hope by the way we lived and how we touched others. However, as I have done this sermon over the years, I could not help noticing and even be convicted by the Holy Spirit that this is also about building a successful church with a legacy of hope that impacts His people in the world in which we live—the touch we leave that glorifies His Kingdom.

Read this adapted sermon, place your name in the _blanks_ and ask yourself these questions in prayer:

• How is your life’s legacy and call doing? How can you build it better?

• How can you lead a life of Hope for others who so desperately need it?