April 2012


April 29th – God says “There is no difference!”

 Mark 3:1-6 “Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.  He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.” 

 We read this text often and preach about the POWER OF GOD and against legalism in the church and the hardness of mens hearts towards God’s Law of Love. 

 Perhaps today, in your life, there is something deformed – something you feel is not exactly right; something that continually reminds you of an imperfection, failure or problem.  Jesus is Here and HE can help and heal whatever is broken in your life; even if it is your heart.

 These are true and well keeping with the text.

 But there is something more here, something very disturbing.

 View this text from the view of the disabled man who was hurting, yet remained faithful to his religion.  The man who came to God’s House looking for hope – DAY AFTER DAY, The man who then heard his religious leaders profess that he should remain disabled and used him as an excuse to plot the death of the One Man who was willing to help.

 Mankind has a long and dark history of hurting or ignoring those who are not like the majority; whether they be the elderly, the unborn, the disabled, the alien, the prisoner, the very skinny or the very fat. 

 The woman we deem to be to “easy” or the man said to be “too wild” or “Too bizarre” are often shunned by society and driven forcibly into the dark corners of our community. 

The GAY student, the STD sufferer and the EX-CON are all forced into their various sub cultures and pushed into financial slavery and menial tasks. 

 All these and more are pushed away from the “DECENT FOLK” and they become societies “Shadow People” – they are there but we never really see them.

 We push out the life’s margins those who make us “squirmy” and have nothing to do with them.

 How opposite of the teaching of Jesus!  Look at the evidence:

 In John 4 there was a Samaritan Woman at the well who had a terrible reputation with the men of her city.  She was treated so poorly by her community that she could not even get water at the regular times.  Jesus did not ignore her, He went to her and offered her the Living Water of Eternal Life.

  1. In Matthew 20 we are told the story of two blind men who were seeking Jesus, the crowd around Jesus told them to “Be Quiet” but Jesus ignored the crowd and asked them what they wanted Him to do for them.
  2. Few people were more shunned in the Old Days than those with leprosy.  They were forced to announce their illness to the world with shouts of “Unclean, unclean” wherever they went.  Crowds would part and heads would turn away as a leper passed down a street.  Yet, in Luke 5 we find Jesus Christ not just talking to a leper, but also TOUCHING HIM! And healing him.
  3. 4.      We all remember when the disciples…yes THE DISCIPLES…. Tried to keep those snot nosed, squirmy wormey dirty little children away from Jesus and Jesus stopped them and said “Let the children come to Me.  Don’t stop them!  For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

   Whether we will admit it or not, we are bullies to many people in our community.  Maybe we are not teasing them or hitting them, but purposefully ignoring someone, or a whole group of people, is bullying.  Keeping them from living the same quality of life we enjoy is bullying them.

 Withholding the Love and Gospel of Jesus Christ from them is bullying them in the worst possible way.

 Colossians 3:10-11 “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.”

 Mankind has divided ourselves into thousands of categories and subcategories.  We divide by illness, orientation, color, economics, size, shape, birthplace, language, education, hobbies, sins and preferences.

 God only has two categories. 

 Those who have been born only once and those who have been born twice.  Lost or saved…..And He has done everything He can to reach out to the lost and developing a life changing and lifesaving relationship with them; even giving His only Son to die on Golgotha’s Cruel Cross so our sins could be forgiven and an eternal relationship possible.

 Today God wants you to know that He has not labeled you.

 Today God wants you to know that it is not too late.

 Today God wants you to know that He is here for you.

 Today God wants you to know He loves you.

 Today God is calling out to you, “come to me all you who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

 Will you come.

Advertisements

April 22, 2012-Are you a true Christian?(Henry Ford’s great idea)

Can a believer not be a Christian?

Is it possible for a person to believe in Jesus Christ as their savior, be born again and not be a Christian?

YES!

Being born again is an EVENT.

Being a Christian is LIFE! It is a choice to Follow Jesus and strive to be like Him.

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines the word Christian as: An adherent or follower of Christ. – A Christian is a disciple of Christ who follows the way and the Word of Jesus Christ.

Many who profess Christ as Savior, NEVER FOLLOW HIM!

We tend to focus on the moment of salvation when we use the term Christian. “They accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior and now they are Christians like us.”

1. They are correct. A heartfelt, life changing, epiphany of Jesus Christ as Savior.
a. He died so you could live
b. Romans 3:23-25 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” NLT
2. While they are correct, they are incorrect.
a. THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING – the first step
i. A new F-250 is not a complete truck simply because the frame is on the assembly line and all the parts are ready
ii. It still needs to go through the process of being built before it is ready for its new home.
3. Our next step of assembly after accepting Jesus Christ is BAPTISM
a. Acts 2:38-39 “Peter replied, “Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” NLT
b. Baptism is a testimony of our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as our Redeemer.
c. Baptism is symbolic of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus – the price He paid for our sins. Baptism is not salvation. The Bible is clear that salvation comes only through repentance and faith made available through the grace of God; not works of any kind.
4. After Baptism comes our lifelong journey down God’s Assembly line of life
a. Sanctification: “The process of God’s grace by which the believer is separated from sin and becomes dedicated to God’s righteousness. Accomplished by the Word of God (John 17:7) and the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:3-4), sanctification results in holiness, or purification from the guilt and power of sin.” Nelsons Bible Dictionary
b. 1 Peter 2:4-5 “You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
c. This process belongs to God
i. He builds into our lives the gifts, talents and abilities we need to fulfill His purpose for our lives.
ii. God invites us to join Him in fulfilling His Will, strengthens us as we chose to obey Him and make the necessary adjustments in our life to love Him.
iii. Through this journey we come to know God more, become more like Him and become closer to Him.
d. As we make this journey down the assembly line we begin to take the shape of a Christian.
i. We look less and less like the world and our self
ii. We begin to look more and more like Jesus Christ
iii. We are becoming complete
5. The question remains “Are you a Christian?”
a. Not based on a one time, perhaps only emotional experience.
b. Not based on some action you took to make someone else happy
c. Not based on something you did to get something you wanted
d. Are you a Christian based on God’s Will and Love for YOU!
e. Or are you only fooling yourself?
i. Matthew 7:17-23 “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ NLT
ii. John 14:15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.” NLT
f. Are you even on the assembly line?
i. SO Many people, unfortunately, are frequent visitors to God’s Factory. They have seen believers being made so many times that they think they have been as well.
ii. Others are waiting for something before they “get on the Line” so to speak. Waiting for someone to be here (grandma, cousin, friend, etc); waiting until they are older, wiser or more willing to “Settle down.”
1. So they keep coming to “the factory,” but never begin the process of faith that leads to salvation and completion.
iii. Is your life one that feels like it is still laying on the assembly room floor in parts?
iv. Do you know you need help “putting it all together?”
g. Is your Spiritual Formation stagnant?
i. It is time to turn the Assembly line back on with Prayer, Bible Reading, Church Faithfulness and obedience
h. Perhaps you first need to search your heart and determine your location.
i. Are you on the assembly line?
1. Are you being built for God’s purpose
ii. Are you still “off Line”
a. Do not be found “off line” when “production” stops!
b. Do not be without Jesus Christ when the final day arrives.
i. Once you are on the assembly line NEVER HIT THE BRAKES!!!
i. Keep allowing God to build you until you are complete!
j. Maybe this final question will help:
i. “Is God your steering wheel or your spare tire?”
1. Are you depending on Him daily to give control and direction to your life? Or are you trying to “USE GOD” for emergencies only? You never check if He is there. You never look. You just assume all will be well if you get a “FAITH FLAT”