Archive for September, 2012

There is a story most of us learned early in Sunday School. It is the story of Joshua and the israelites marching around Jericho until the walls fell down. I want to call attention to one specific aspect of that story. (Joshua 6-7). God told the Israelites to take absolutely no plunder from the city when they conquered it. God said, “It all is to be dedicated to God.” It is the only city that God gave that instruction about. So why? It was the first city, and you may recall that God says that the firstfruits are always His.

Unfortunately, a man by the name of Achan did not obey. He saw some things that he wanted, so he took them and buried them under a rug in his tent. The result? The next city that Israel faced was Ai. The Israelites took a beating. What is interesting is that at the beginning of ch. 7 we read, “The sons of Israel acted unfaithfully.” Only one man acted in disobedience, but his sin was assigned to the entire congregation.

When questioned, Achan said, “I saw . . . I coveted . . . I took.” He was taken outside the camp and stoned and burned. Israel was then victorious. So let me ask: Is the Bible always true? Yes. Is God the same today as He was then? Yes. Can the disobedience of one person in a church impact the entire church? You decide. What if we rob God as a congregation? You decide.

Who Did God vote for?

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

It is interesting to listen to politicians. Actually, I should probably say mostly nauseating. But the element of interest is that al of our problems were caused by the opponent, and all of the blessings were to their credit. Bush blamed Clinton, Obama blamed Bush. So let me ask you. Who did God vote for?

Actually, this is a trick question. Ephesians 1:4 sayas that God chose you and me before the foundation of the world. The word means that God “elected” you. The answer to my question,who did God vote for? He voted for you.

He voted to send His Son, Jesus into the world to live without sin, and then die on a cross in our place, bearing our shame and guilt. He voted for our redemption. He voted for our adoption. He voted for us to know Him in a personal relationship. In the midst of this election year, remember, God voted for you.

Break the Mold

Posted: September 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Perhaps you have heard the expression, ‘They broke the mold when they made her/him.” What they mean is that the individual is one of a kind, they are unique. Well, Psalm 139 says that is true of every single person. God intricately designed each one of us uniquely, and He created us to bear His image in a way that only we can within our uniquenss. Of all the 104 billion people to ever inhabit this planet, no one has ever been like you. Scientists have verified this with the awareness of our DNA.

Of course, sin destroyed the perfect image of God in us, which brought about the Cross. When we trust in Christ, God goes to work to restore His image in us (Rom. 8:29). In the spiritual war that we encounter, the unholy axis of power (Satan, the world, the flesh) continually tries to steal our identity and squeeze us into its mold. Thus, Rom. 12:2 tells us, “Do not let the world squeeze you into its mold.”

It is imperative for the believer to know their identity “in Christ.” You are a blood bought child of the King. You are uniquely His, bought at the price of His precious blood. Redeemed to bear His image uniquely to a lost world, and to all creation.

WHen you struggle with this, remember, “He chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world.” (Eph. 1:4). Before the very first star was breathed into existence by our God, He chose us. Before He created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden, He chose us. Before temptation and sin, God chose us. Before 13 chromosones from your mother connected to 13 chromosones from your father, God chose you. It has absolutely nothing to do with personal merit. It has everything to do with God’s amazing love and passion for you. You are chosen to bear His image in the unique way that only you can.

Stop Counting Beans

Posted: September 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

I love the story of feeding over 5000 men. One of my favorite parts is the exchange between Jesus and Philip. Jesus asks, “Where can we buy bread to feed the crowd?” In true “bean counter” fashion, Philip doesn’t answer the question. He thinks money. “Lord, 200 denairii would not be enough to buy bread for this crowd?”

I can only speculate as to why he chose that number. Maybe it is how much the little band of followers and Jesus had in their money bag, I don’t know. A denarius was a Roman coin that took its name from its original value, 10 donkeys. So 2000 donkey’s worth of money would not be enough.

But John tells us that Jesus already knew where He would get bread, He was testing Philip. I am sure that Philip was a loyal follower and an essentially good man. But we know he was a little bit slow to comprehend spiritual truth. In John 14 Jesus is explaining His approaching departure from them. Philip says “Show us the Father, and it will be enough.” Jesus is obviously disappointed. “Honestly, Philip, after all this time you don’t know who I am?” (My paraphrase).

You probably remember the story. Jesus takes a lad’s small lunch of a few tiny barley loaves and tiny fish and feeds over 5000 men, plus women and chidren. Everyone eats all they want, and then they collect 12 baskets of leftovers. Wow. Later Paul would write to the Philippian church, “My God shall supply all of your need according to His riches in glory.” (Phil. 4:19). God’s Word says that God’s source is not our apparent wealth, but His own abundant heavenly resources made available to us through Jesus Christ. So stop counting beans, and start counting on God.

Identity Crisis

Posted: September 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Some psychologists suggest that there is a critical formation of identity timeframe in American culture, usually adolescence. Young people who emerge from that time without a secure sense of their self-worth and a confidence that they are loved develop an “identity crisis.” From my perspective this is at epidemic levels.

Years ago I attended a conference led by Bill Gothard entitled “Basic Youth Conflicts”. He suggested that issues of adolescence that are not resolved with a Biblical world view will lead to serious adult problems. I think we see that in so many lives today in and out of the church family.

In 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, I believe that the apostle Paul lays out for us three truths that undergird our “identity.” First, he tells us in v. 14 that the love Jesus Christ has for us Secures our identity. The word is translated “controls” or “compels”, even “constrains.” But W.E. Vines tells us in his expository dictionary that the word literally means “secures”. When we know how much we are already loved by God and that it absolutely has no relationship to how loveable we are or are not, then our identity has a security that cannot be rocked. In fact, part of the problem is “self” identity. In Christ we are to “deny self” and we are then able to see from a “spiritual framework”.

Secondly, we discover in v. 17, that our Position in Christ Defines our Identity. When we are in Christ, we see that God sees us in Christ in such a way that we are already a new creation. We are not who and what we once were. Our past does not define us. Other people’s opinions do not define us. The voice of the enemy in our head does not define us. God’s Word defines us in truth. In Christ, we are new.

Finally, in v. 21 we discover that the price tag that God puts on us, Determines our Value. What we are worth is defined by what God was willing to pay to purchase us back from our slavery to sin. God equated us in value to the precious blood of Hiw only begotten Son. God made Jesus to be sin for us, even though He personally never knew sin, so that we might be made the righteousness of God.

Can you say, “WOW”? There is no room for an identity crisis in Christ.

Who are You?

Posted: September 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Over 15 million people in our country each year suffer what is called “identity theft”. Someone steals their credit, their social security, their identification. But the greater identity theft is likely what happens when we forfeit our psychological identity.

Have you ever suffered from inferiority? Have you ever been victimized by other people’s opinions? Have you ever been bombarded with thoughts of guilt and depression because of your past? The truth is we all fight identity crises. Who we are is at the core of our well being and health.

Sunday we are beginning a new teaching series called “Identity crisis”. I would encourage you to come and invite everyone you know. If you cannot attend, go to our church website and watch the message.
http://www.churchunleashed.cc

Do You Limit God?

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

This might seem like an odd question. Can a finite limited human being limit an infinite all powerful God? And yet there is an intriguing verse in Mark 6:5. “And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.”

I am sure some deep thinking theologian will look at this and say, “Well, that is . . .” and minimize the significance of this statement. But Jesus leaves Nazareth without doing a mighty work of God because of the littleness of the faith of the people.

Is it possible that God is waiting on us to believe Him in order to do something significant in our lives and in our churches?