Sunday, November 27, 2011

Follow Me Follow My God

Follow Me Follow My God
November 28, 2011
1 Corinthians 11:1 "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."

In the Old Testament, there is a beautifully written story of love and tragedy. It is the true story of a woman whose husband died and left her childless; the woman's name was Ruth. You've heard the story, I'm sure, of how Ruth ended up marrying Boaz and they were blessed to become the great, great grandparents of the famous King David, and subsequently were part of the lineage of Jesus. There is another character in the story, however, who sometimes gets overlooked as a hero. Her name was Naomi, and she was Ruth's first mother-in-law. After Ruth's first husband died, Naomi recommended that Ruth go back to her own people to find a new husband, but Ruth refused to leave Naomi's side. Listen to Ruth's words of loyalty, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." Most mother-in-laws have a bad reputation, but not Naomi. She was a woman to be followed.

Naomi must have been such a wonderful person that Ruth was willing to be a widow for the rest of her life, willing to leave her homeland forever, and even willing to follow a new god. Ruth was willing to convert to Naomi's religion, willing to serve the One True God, all because of who Naomi was, because of the example Naomi must have set with her life. Notice Naomi did not ask Ruth to follow her; Naomi simply lived her own life in such a way that pleased the Lord. Ruth took notice of how Naomi lived and wanted to be like her. Ruth followed Naomi because Naomi followed the Lord; she was drawn to the Lord because He lived inside of Naomi.

You and I need to be like Naomi. We need to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, simply living our lives to honor Him. If we did, more people would be drawn to us, and consequently drawn to the One who lives inside our hearts. Our lives would then be an example. People would want to be with us and want to live the way we live. They would want to know our God and follow Him.

In the New Testament, Paul instructs us to live this way. He said, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Paul realized that since not everyone could see Christ, sometimes they need an example of Him in order to understand His ways. Paul was willing to be a living example of Christ and recommended we follow this model. We are to live our lives as exemplary Christians and others will naturally follow. You don't have to be a leader; your job is not to lead them. Your job is to follow Christ and recognize that everyone is watching you at one time or another. Your example, your daily living, is the only representation of Christ on this earth.

You will lead them to Christ naturally, since people will be following you. Have you known a few people whose lives truly represent wholehearted service to Christ that you can emulate? Its your turn to live that way. People will be drawn to your God when you live your life to Him. If they aren't, then maybe you should examine how you live.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ruth 1:1-16, John 12:25-26, John 10:26-28, Cor 1:3-5, 1 Cor 1:11-13

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Father Knows Best

Father Knows Best
Nov 21, 2011
Proverbs 16:1 "To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue."

This verse, "To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue," is rather easily interpreted, but difficult to grasp in all its fullness. Some translations of this text differ in the last part of the phrase, reading "but to the Lord belongs the reply of the tongue." This verse simply means that a man can plan and dream all he wants but the Lord has the final say in it all. The Lord will always have the last word regarding our plans and it will be the correct one. What the Lord says becomes law; there will be no other back-talk, regardless of what He decides. This doesn't usually rest well with us as we always like a rebuttal, the opportunity to convince a higher authority that our plans are correct, that our way should be right. For some reason, even with the Heavenly Father, we always want an appeal process to argue our case and possibly change His mind, in an effort to get what we want.

The Heavenly Father is not a mind changer, He is not wishy-washy in His resolve on any matter. It is firmly decided ahead of time, because He already knows what we want, what we think, and what we will do in every situation. He knows the prayer requests that He is going to answer and He knows ahead of time the proper answer for the course of our plans. He knows His timing in answering our requests and He knows what is right for us in each and every scenario, regardless of what we planned. In short, The Father knows best.

This usually does not sit well with us. We think He has it all wrong sometimes, that He might not have it right this time around. Sure, He is probably right 99% of the time, but just this once He might have made a mistake, a mistake we are quick to point out in an effort to change the situation, to get our way, to make our plans the right ones. We wish, want, desire, and pray to get our way, but the last word on the subject comes from the Lord.

In order to wrestle with this verse correctly, to relax in knowing that The Father knows best even when our plans do not go as planned, we must re-read the last part of the verse. In this particular translation the words appear as, "proper answer." In understanding this verse, we need to realize that the Lord has our best interests at heart, that He is on our side even when our plans do not work out the way we want in life, what we think is appropriate. We have to trust in Him. That's the tricky part, trusting in Him. We have to trust that He is still in control, looking out for our best interests even when we get the opposite of what we planned.

You may have a complaint in your plans right now that you can do nothing about and might believe the Lord is in error for not changing the situation. I assure you, He knows best and is working it out the way He sees best. So, instead of complaining about your plans gone awry, you have an opportunity to thank Him for working it out with the "proper answer." If you cannot do this, then re-think how much you truly trust in the Lord. If you cannot thank Him for your plans going in a different direction, or for the things you want to change, then you don't trust Him as your Lord and Savior. You may have plans, but He has the final say in how they work out in your life! But don't worry, your Heavenly Father knows best.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ps 33:11, Pr 3:5, Pr 16:2-3, Pr 19:21, Rom 8:28

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Women Are Weaker

Women Are Weaker
Nov 14, 2011
1 Peter 3:7 "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."

There is a peculiar verse in the Bible that suggests women are the weaker sex. While a few might argue the interpretation of that being men are superior to women, they would be displaying their ignorance. On the contrary, this verse must be interpreted using the entire text of the Bible, supporting the fact that women are completely equal to men in the eyes of the Lord. When the verse was written, as is true even in modern times, women were often exploited, kept down, and ruled over by aggressive men. This was then perpetuated over the years, creating a societal norm. The Lord was quick to write about this through the Apostle Peter, in an effort to put an end to the subjugation of women.

If you read the very beginning of the Bible, you'll be reminded of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. As part of the curse received from eating of the forbidden fruit, a woman's desire would be for a man and that man would rule over her. This desire then leads to the temptation and opportunity of allowing a man to dominate her life. Couple this with a man's own sinful nature to overpower and his ability to do so through his strength, and an environment is created where a woman can be subjugated to the point of being truly controlled by a man.

Since this phenomenon is a direct result of the curse, then the opposite would have been true in the Lord's original design. He created them in His own image, with the ONLY difference from each other being gender. Neither was stronger or weaker, neither desired to rule over or be ruled. His own words describe them as in His image, male and female (together reflecting all the qualities of the Lord). Otherwise, they were created equally, to be partners in life and co-heirs in eternity.

But because of the curse and our own sinful nature, we must be aware of the tendency to subjugate women, thinking they are the weaker sex. To help combat this, Scripture says it is a man's task and responsibility to overcome it, not a woman's job to break free and rebel against it. It is a man's job, then, to be cognizant of his own tendency to overpower a woman physically, emotionally, and sexually. He is to be respectful of her, in the manner of Christ's love. This respect is defined as lifting up and honoring a woman, supporting her in the important roles she plays in our lives. The word for respect was not simply being kind or nice, but one of physical action propelling her onward and upward in Christ and in her place in this world. To respect a woman is to hold her in high regard for her tremendous value.

If a man does not lift her up and honor her, Scripture says the Lord may not hear his prayers. If you read throughout the Bible, the only prayers the Lord ignores are the prayers of a wicked man who is on his own path to destruction and Hell. Peter was not necessarily saying that the man who did not respect his wife would be going to Hell. He was, however, trying to stress how important it was to the Lord's own heart, that treating a woman with the utmost of respect and supporting her was more important to Him than any other prayer request a man might have. It is to a man's benefit, then, to lift up and honor women as it means he will have the attention of the Heavenly Father who is the giver of blessings and rewards in this life and the next.

If a man is dominating a woman, thinking she is the weaker sex, he is only demonstrating folly and his own weakness as a man. It takes a strong man to honor the women around him. It takes a true Christian to lift her up.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 1:26-27, Gen 3:16, 1 Cor 12:22

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Basics

The Basics
Nov 7, 2011
Romans 8:39 ". . . neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Christianity is founded upon one basic principle. It is one that we know extremely well but take for granted. It is the simplest concept, yet so simple we doubt its truth. That principle is this: Jesus loves you. Some of you just shut your brains down because it is too elementary of a topic. You are too sophisticated in your thinking to stop and ponder the validity and magnitude of what such an easy principle can do in your life. We teach this basic principle to little children in sing-song effect, but we stop there. Because it is so easy to understand, it becomes only a child's Sunday school lesson, one that is seldom repeated again due to its simplicity. But it needs to be preached often, as we rarely grasp what it means for our lives.

If we truly lived with the understanding that Jesus loves us, then we would live differently. It would be easy to live out our Christianity because we would be in love with The One who loved us first. We would gladly live in service to Him, as it would be an outward expression of our gratitude for what His love did for us on the cross. We would never have issues with our self-image, pride, or sinful desires. Our emotional struggles would cease to exist. We would find fulfillment in life and never question our place in this world. Yes, it is an easy concept, so easy a child can understand it--but for some reason we don't get it. The Bible teaches that we must become like a little child in order to grasp the concepts of Heaven. So, to help you better understand, please click on the link below to learn from an expert.

This video was recorded at our breakfast table a few weeks ago, just before my daughter's third birthday. Her name is Brynley and she is an expert child. She also understands the very basic principle upon which Christianity is founded. Do you?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matt 18:3, John 3:16, John 8:42, John 14:15 & 23, John 21:16, 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:17