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Showing posts from 2011

"Behold, the bondslave of the Lord."

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And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

There is no doubt in my mind that there is much to learn from the story of Mary being told that she will conceive a child who will be the long awaited Messiah. However, one of the most profound things I see in this passage in Luke 1 is the characteristic that Mary displays in the statement you see above. That characteristic is submission.

If we look at the passage as a whole we see that Mary gives us a miniature snapshot of the entire Christian life. In verse 28 we see that she has experienced the grace of God. One of my favorite definitions of grace is, "unmerited favor." That is, we get something we don't deserve. There is no earthly reason why God would choose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah and yet He did. Mary experienced God's grace. Further along we see that Mary believed the Word of God as spoken through th…

Say What?

How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years. Luke 1:18

Have you ever been just plain confounded, or shocked at the way God chooses to answer your prayers? Make no mistake about it, God hears and answers our prayers. My question is, how do we respond to His answers?

In the first chapter of Luke's Gospel he gives us something that none of the other gospel writers do, an introduction to John the Baptist's parents, Zacharias (Zachariah) and Elizabeth. He does this in the context of telling of the miraculous circumstances surrounding the birth of the forerunner of Christ. We are told that Zacharias and Elizabeth are a godly and righteous couple who, despite their close walk with the Lord, have not been blessed with children. The feeling that we get from the chapter is that this lack of children had been a matter of fervent prayer for these two for who knows how long. In the end, however, Zacharias is performing his priestly duties in the …

Basketweaving and Change

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I was contemplating the idea of change today when the Lord gave me a beautiful metaphor that I think is worth sharing. You see change is one of those things that, even though it is inevitable, we often resist it. Sometimes it is good to resist change because it is for the worse but the opposite is also true and if change is for the better and brings us closer to the will of God we need to do it whether we like it or not. Change though, however necessary, can break people and organizations if not done with care. This is where the metaphor comes into play.

My grandmother on my mother's side of the family, Mimi to be exact, used to weave baskets. She made big baskets, small baskets, round baskets and square baskets. There were all kinds and made out of all shapes and sizes of wood slats. One day I was with Mimi and Pop-pop down at the lake house and she was going to teach me how to make a basket. Well, the first thing that we had to do was take all the slats of wood and soak them fo…

Ezekiel, Tyre and the U.S

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It always amazes me how much the prophets of the Old Testament have to say to us in American today. Honestly this should be no surprise because we know that the Word of God is "living and active" and even though it was written thousands of years ago it is just a applicable today as it ever was. This morning part of my Bible reading was Ezekiel 27 and 28 which is a lament over Tyre and a prophecy about the overthrow of the king of Tyre. The words of God through Ezekiel are haunting, especially when you look at them in light of where we are in the United States in 2011.

Chapter 27 is a lengthy description of how prosperous and great the city of Tyre was in its heyday. It was a powerful merchant city that had influence and connections all across the Mediterranean and Middle East. Their merchant ships carried all kinds of riches and good across the trade routes and it seemed as if none could touch them. However, we see in verse 27 and following that none of that will stand when…

Songs of Revival: All To Us

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This weeks song of revival comes to us from one of today's foremost worship leaders, Chris Tomlin. The lyrics speak truth about who Christ is and the nature of revival in God's people. Pay close attention to the chorus;

Let the glory of  Your name be the passion of the Church,
Let the righteousness of God be a holy flame that burns,
Let the saving love of Christ be the measure of our lives.

Indeed, we are waiting on Jesus because He IS "all to us." May this be a song of a revived Church of Christ.

Godspeed,
Christian

Idols first, then business.

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Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? Ezekiel 14:3

Let's be honest with each other for a moment. We all have idols in our hearts, do we not? If we look very carefully at out lives I think each of us will find that at times there is something (or somethings) that gets in between us and God, something that takes our primary focus off of Him. Maybe I'm the only one that struggles with this, but I believe that even the most spiritually mature among us deal with the issue of idolatry at one time or another. I am certainly not saying this is the constant state of affairs but occasionally it pops up. There is a reason that the first two commandments address this problem and it is because God's people, almost from the very beginning, have been guilty of idolatry.

By the time the prophet Ezekiel emerges onto the scene Israel is still confounded …

Characteristics of a Godly Watchman Part 3: Holy Anger.

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So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away; and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the Lord was strong on me. Ezekiel 3:14.

When we look at the pantheon of Christian virtues holy anger is probably one that most people miss, or have a hard time placing alongside things like meekness, love, generosity, patience and peace. I freely admit that the Bible is full of admonitions to not be angry. Ephesians 4:26 tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger. Colossians 3:8 tells us to put it aside, and James 1:19 explains that we should be slow to anger.However, I firmly believe that anger coming from the right place, in the right time, for the right purpose is a powerful characteristic of a godly watchman. Look again at Ephesians 4:26 it says,

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

Equally as clear as the instruction to deal with anger before the sun goes down is the statement, "Be angry." This tells me two things. First, …

Songs of Revival: Song of Hope (Heaven Come Down).

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Music is an important part of our spiritual life. It is by far the most commonly used tool in worship. With that in mind I would like to start compiling some great selections that I think carry the message of revival or contain revival truth. These may be classic hymns or, like this one, contemporary songs that are drifting to us over the airwaves of Christian radio.

Today's song is by the Robbie Seay Band. The thing that struck me the most when I heard it was the cry asking the "God of Heaven" to "come down." That is indeed what we are seeking in revival. I also like the element of hope and the connection that the band makes between hope and God coming down. Many of us have come to believe that God visiting us in revival is the ONLY real hope for our nation.

Enjoy!
Christian

Characteristics of a Godly Watchman Pt. 2: Listening.

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Characteristics of a Godly Watchman Pt. 1: Vigilance

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Most everyone has heard an alarm go off. It may be something as mundane as the alarm clock every morning that tells us it is time to get up and get ready for work, or it may be something as frightening as a fire alarm. No matter what the specific purpose of the alarm they all share one common theme: they are meant to alert people and warn them of impending danger.

In Joel 2:1 the Lord commands the prophet to; Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountainbecause the day of the Lord is coming. That is, God’s judgment is coming upon Israel for their sinfulness. Further along in the chapter, in verse 15, Joel is again commanded to blow a trumpet but this time it is to call the assembly of the people together so that they can, consecrate a fast. This tells us two important things about the role, or the duty, of the prophet of God. First, it tells us that the prophet is to act as an alarm to warn the people of God’s coming judgment. Secondly, the prophet is also to be the mo…

Jesus Who?

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Through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3b.

If you ask people whether or not they believe in Jesus you would probably find the overwhelming majority of people answer affirmatively. In the face of the historical evidence for His existence denying that a man called Jesus lived in first century Palestine would be like denying gravity, or holding to the idea that the earth is flat. The simple fact is that history shows that Jesus lived. The trouble comes, not from verifying His life, but in understanding what that life meant and who, exactly, this Jesus was. The answers that people give to the questions of who He was and what He did provide us, as Christians, with a critical litmus test for discerning true and false doctrine, and true and false teachers.

In his second letter Peter is tackling the problem of false teachers and profits in the Church. Just as Paul does in his first letter to Timothy, Peter not only uncovers false and decepti…

Overcome By Christ

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For by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 2 Peter 2:19.

In chapter 2 of 2 Peter the disciple begins to give warning about false prophets and teachers (As a side note there is a strong focus in the New Testament on being aware of false teachers that we should take note of today.). Around about verse 12 Peter starts to paint a picture of the offerings of the false teachers which looks an awful lot like a list of sensual, fleshly desires and lusts, and it is. Then in verse 19 he explains that false teachers offer freedom but in the end all that is received is bondage to sin. As you see in the quotation above the last part of the verse tells us that whatever it is that overcomes us, or overwhelms us, is what will ultimately enslave us.

The obvious take-home lesson here is that if we allow ourselves to be overcome by sin we will, undoubtedly, become slaves to it. That being said, Peter does give us a prelude to this "bad news" in 1:3;

seeing that His divine power has …

The Priority of Prayer

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The leaning tower of Pisa is one of the most iconic pieces of architecture in the world. This tower that was built beginning in 1173 suffers from a very obvious tilt to one side. The reason for this is two-fold 1) the foundation is inadequate and 2) it was built on unstable soil. No matter how beautiful the columns, arches or marble are it will forever be canted to the side and in danger of toppling completely.

There is an obvious lesson to be learned from the Tower of Pisa in regards to our theology. Jesus points this out in Matthew 7:24-29 in his famous analogy of the two men and the foundations they chose upon which to built their houses. As Christians out faith, doctrine and theology (all of which go hand in hand) are founded on Jesus Christ. This is the issue that Paul addresses to Timothy in his first letter to the young pastor. False and pointless doctrines were being taught in the church in Ephesus and Timothy's charge was to correct it. In verses 12-16 Paul lays out the …

False Prophets = Captivity

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In the Bible there seem to be some books that get far more attention than others. For us Christians we lean heavily on the Gospels and books like Romans or Philippians. If we are going to focus on the Old Testament then it often means we're looking into the Psalms. I mean think about those little "Testaments" that the Gideons pass out, it is the New Testament plus the Psalms. Don't get me wrong, I am not ragging on the Gideons. They have an amazing ministry and one day we will find out just how many millions of people came to know Christ because they were given, or had access to, a Gideons Bible. My point is (and I am guilty as charged) that we often lose sight of some of the smaller books in the Bible. I'm not sure why this is. It may simply be a product of the fact that when we flip through the Bible we pass right over books like Titus or Joel.

The reason I bring this up is that while preparing for Bible study yesterday I nearly passed right over Lamentations b…

When the House is on Fire is Not the Time to Be Silent.

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This past Wednesday evening in our Bible study at church we discussed the book of Jeremiah. In this study we are trekking through the Bible one book at a time. This was a series that our former pastor began before he was called away to another church and I have picked up the teaching in his absence. The primary purpose behind the study was to see how Christ is made evident in every book of the Bible. Apart from that we also look at some background information on the book and draw out a few lessons. Unfortunately we cannot go in-depth each Wednesday evening because we only have one hour for Bible study. Some may argue that we should take as much time as necessary to cover each book completely and in a different format that would be extremely valuable and edifying. However, the overarching goal is see Christ throughout the Bible not study it exhaustively at this given time. Exhaustive study of the Bible, as I see it, is the responsibility of every believer as they trod the road of life.