Thursday, June 29, 2006
A few verses later, the Apostle Peter says, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Peter still didn’t understand that Jesus was after more than what is on the surface. Jesus wants to capture our hearts. He does speak of family, houses and lands as things that will have to be given up to follow Him, but, even more, from His dealing with this young man we see that He is after our motivation for why those things are so important to us. It is only there that we are able to see how much we love tangible things and intangible things.
Earlier in the Gospel of Mark, the disciples had one of many arguments as to who would ultimately be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. This discussion was rooted in pride and self-centeredness. Rather than cooperating with God to raise up Jesus as the greatest in the Kingdom, they were trying to figure out how they could find their way to that spot. My point is that we hold on to more than just stuff. We hold on to ideas, methods, desires, motivations, reputation, etc., which cannot be touched but can certainly be idols.
Won’t you ask God to help you see what you love more than Him? Why not ask Christ to help you love Him above everything else? Ask Him to show you the idols in your life and grant you the grace to surrender them to Him. Then act…turn over your temporary treasures to Christ…for One that will last forever and bring peace and joy to your heart!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Why is it so difficult for the rich man to enter the Kingdom? What if you don't have much money, is it still difficult for you?
The point of the interaction is not necessarily about money, but about what the young man loved. What is in your life that you love more than Christ? It might be people, a place or stuff, but it might be ideas, accolades or accomplishments as well. What is your heart anchored to that is keeping you from loving and following Christ supremely?
Think through this to begin, then, join me later this week as we think about the graciousness of God in saving us.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Mark 9:42-50 (ESV)
Because of His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, God has made Jesus Christ the One that can offer forgiveness and life. Repentance of sin is our asking Jesus to forgive us of our sins, the acceptance of His substitutionary death for us, and the living of a new life in Him that is lived for His glory while we turn away from sin. When we trust Jesus, the punishment of death for our offensiveness toward God, that we rightly deserve, is fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have now been freed to live a new life that honors God and shows that our greatest delight is in Him.
This is where our influence comes into play. Our lives are to influence people so that they see our greatest hope, dependence and joy is in Jesus Christ. Since He has restored us, the Christian life is one of turning away from sin and turning to Him. This should be very influential as it should be reflected in anything and everything we do. Our turning away from sin and turning to Christ should be seen in the way we talk, how we work, in the way we treat people, how we plan for the future, how we spend our money, and on and on. Being a follower of Jesus soaks into every part of our life because we love Him and long to obey Him and honor Him.
The other component of this life and our influence in it is what we won’t do. We are called to hate our sin and to do everything within our power to resist it. That is new life! We don’t live this way because we are trying to jump-through-the-hoops and earn our salvation; we turn from our sin because we know there is something sweeter and better – Jesus.
Now, Christian, perhaps you should make some plans for today. How will you influence people with your life? The greatest way is to live in a way that proves you love Jesus Christ more than you love sin (or anything else for that matter).
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Is someone watching you? Are people looking over your shoulder when you don’t know it? Most likely, they are. They probably aren’t watching you with bad intentions, but there is a great chance that people are taking notice of your words and actions today.
Jesus had this in mind in Mark 9:42-50,
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (ESV)
In this passage He is speaking to the disciples about some false teachers that are doing miracles, by using His name, for their own fame. The motivation of these false teachers is misguided as they are helping people for their own glory instead of working for the glory of God. While these false teachers doing miracles is an interesting issue, Jesus seems most concerned with the influence we have over other people.
From the context of Mark 9 we can see that Jesus had just been holding some small children as He spoke to the disciples. Most likely, then, He has them in view as those who are being influenced by the adults around them. However, we need to realize that we influence people of all ages every day by our words and actions.
Jesus offers a stiff penalty for those that would use their influence to encourage sin and ungodly behavior. I pray that you will take this warning seriously. I also pray that you would live your life with this warning and encouragement in view. Too often, we live as if what we say and do actually matter very little. This is not the way Jesus lived and it is not the way He expects His followers to act.
Today, you are influencing people. What are they learning from you?
Friday, June 16, 2006
1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.
Isn't God amazing?
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
But even more than knowing the pain of our hearts, He has suffered through that pain. Isaiah 53 calls Jesus a "man of sorrows" who is "acquainted with grief." The word acquainted is there to help us understand that Jesus knows grief well. It is an emotion He has experienced often and in great depth.
Jesus knows grief well because of His own life with us, as God takes on flesh and lives among His creation. He knows the pain of being separated from a close friend in his greatest time of need and, consequently, losing that friend, the pain of being doubted and misunderstood by his closest followers and of being betrayed into the hands of the chief priests by one He called His friend. He has seen hunger, frustration and broken hearts. He is very familiar with sorrow.
Yet, there's more to the story than this. He is familiar with sorrow because He knows the pain that only God knows. That is, He has felt the agony of facing an inevitable and overwhelming burden on behalf of not only those who love and serve with him, but also those who mock Him and deny His identity. Jesus willingly bore the pain and humiliation of our sin. God poured out His wrath and righteous anger on Jesus at the cross. The punishment for sin that will, ultimately without Jesus, cost us our life was absorbed by Him for all those that will place their trust in Him.
Jesus knows the pain of being a Creator that is rejected by His creation, and He knows the pain felt by the creation because of the consequence of rejecting their Messiah. Let us find great hope and rest in Him as we place our burdens in His strong but loving hands. His shoulders are broad, and His heart is tender. He is always ready to help us carry our load of sorrows, and as He tells us in Matt. 11:30 His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Thank you for the article, “Who Rules?” by David Winfrey that was featured in the June 6, 2006 edition. As a Pastor in a church that has recently transitioned to being elder led, I would like to ask some questions of the article.
First, is being elder led and congregational mutually exclusive? If we study Scripture, don’t we see both of these ideas? We hear Paul call Titus to appoint Elders in every town (Titus 1:5) and we see Paul working with a group of Elders in Ephesus (20:17). At the same time, we hear the words of Christ calling for the church’s authority in Matthew 18:17 and Paul echoes this in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. It seems that a church can be and should be elder led and congregational at the same time.
Second, is moving toward elder leadership really a step away from historical precedent as the article presented? While the article referenced the 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message stating that the word “elders” does not appear there, it did not point out that the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message says of “The Gospel Church”, “Its Scriptural officers are bishops, or elders, and deacons.” (http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfmcomparison.asp) Therefore, it was less than 100 years ago that the SBC recognized elders as leaders in the local church. Perhaps some churches moving this way is not much of an historical shift after all.
Finally, shouldn’t we be concerned about what Scripture says rather than what we have done in the past or even what we are doing now? Before we start labeling ideas as Calvinist and Arminian, or conservative and liberal, for the glory of God and the building up of the church, let us seek to be Biblical above all.
Grace, Brandon Porter
Pastor, Smiths Grove Baptist Church
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Whether we hear the words of Jesus, the wisdom of the Proverbs, the heart cries for God in the Psalms, the direction and theology of the New Testament letters or the many narrative lessons of the Old Testament there are thousands of places we can find insight for every day of our lives. What a treasure we overlook so often!
I would encourage you to read the Word of God now. Stop reading this blog and go pick up your Bible and get lost in it so that you might find the grace of God that leads to life abundant!
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Here's what I've come up with so far in their relationship...
Jesus was --
-- Obedient and Submissive to the Will of God (Matt. 4:1)
-- Constant in Prayer (and Fasting) (Matt. 4:2)
-- Well Learned in Scripture (Matt. 4:4)
-- Aligned in the Understanding of Real Treasures (Matt. 6:19-21)
-- Concerned with Glorifying God (John 17:1)
-- Consistent with Serving Others (Matt. 20:28)
-- Passionate about the Salvation of People (Matt. 23:37-39)
-- Generous to People, Even His Enemies (Matt. 5:38-42)
That's my quick list. Think through these and compare your life to them.
Then, leave a comment and add to this list if you like.