Saturday, March 13, 2010
Address: Ephesians 1:20
Phone: Romans 10:13
Website: The Bible. Keywords:Christ, Lord, Savior and Jesus
Hello. My name is Jesus -The Christ. Many call me Lord! I've sent you my resume because I'm seeking the top management position in your heart. Please consider my accomplishments as set forth in my resume.
•I founded the earth and established the heavens, (See Proverbs 3:19)
•I formed man from the dust of the ground, (See Genesis 2:7)
•I breathed into man the breath of life, (See Genesis 2:7)
•I redeemed man from the curse of the law, (See Galatians 3:13)
•The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant comes upon your life through me, (See Galatians 3:14)
•I've only had one employer, (See Luke 2:49).
•I've never been tardy, absent, disobedient, slothful or disrespectful.
•My employer has nothing but rave reviews for me, (See Matthew 3:15-17)
Skills Work Experiences
•Some of my skills and work experiences include: empowering the poor to be poor no more, healing the brokenhearted, setting the captives free, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind and setting at liberty them that are bruised, (See Luke 4:18).
•I am Wonderful, Counselor, (See Isaiah 9:6). People who listen to me shall dwell safely and shall not fear evil, (See Proverbs 1:33).
•Most importantly, I have the authority, ability and power to cleanse you of your sins, (See I John 1:7-9)
•I encompass the entire breadth and length of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, (See Proverbs 2:6).
•In me are hid all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, (See Colossians 2:3).
•My Word is so powerful; it has been described as being a lamp unto your feet and a lamp unto your path, (See Psalms 119:105).
•I can even tell you all of the secrets of your heart, (See Psalms 44:21).
•I was an active participant in the greatest Summit Meeting of all times, (See Genesis 1:26).
•I laid down my life so that you may live, (See II Corinthians 5:15).
•I defeated the archenemy of God and mankind and made a show of them openly, (See Colossians 2:15).
•I've miraculously fed the poor, healed the sick and raised the dead!
•There are many more major accomplishments, too many to mention here. You can read them on my website, which is located at: www dot - the BIBLE. You don't need an Internet connection or computer to access my website.
•The great teacher- my father, JEHOVAH (Psalms 83:18)
•Believers and followers worldwide will testify to my divine healings, salvation, deliverance, miracles, restoration and supernatural guidance
Now that you've read my resume, I'm confident that I'm the only candidate uniquely qualified to fill this vital position in your heart. In summation, I will properly direct your paths, (See Proverbs 3:5-6), and lead you into everlasting life, (See John 6:47). When can I start? Time is of the essence, (See Hebrews 3:15).
Wow! Have you heard the news? They’re talking about reconciliation in Washington D.C.!
Oops! Unfortunately they’re talking about a political procedure that forces, contrives and imposes. Most of all, it’s the complete opposite of true reconciliation, deep division.
In the Bible, another word for reconciliation is “peacemaking process”
This is Jesus’ specialty – reconciliation.
People who don’t know Jesus have a problem.
Today’s scripture (v.21) says they are people like you and I, who know Jesus, used to be:
Alienated from God = made into an alien (foreigner, outsider). Think how difficult it is for a new person in your school, community, work, or even church, to feel they are a part of things.
Enemies of God (in your way of thinking) because of bad things you do. You think that God must not like you because of the bad things you do. (Some guys think – “she could never like me because … I’m such a jerk, I’m so ugly, etc.”) That’s the way many people think about God. God could never like me … I do such bad things; my life isn’t worthy, etc.
Jesus can solve this problem, specifically through his death (v.22) and blood, shed on the cross (v.20). The cross brings reconciliation with God. Because of Jesus’ cross, we are reconciled with God.
WHO IS JESUS? The world is still trying to figure out Jesus.
Who is this guy who asked his disciples to carry their cross?
Who is this guy who carried a cross himself?
Who is this guy?
We aren’t the first to ask this question.
Disciples in boat: Who is this, he commands the wind and the waves to obey him? (Mk 4:41)
Pharisees & teachers of the law: “Who is this who speaks blasphemy? Only God can forgive sin.” (Luke 5:21)
Jesus entered Jerusalem: the whole city asked, “Who is this?” (Mt. 21:10)
Pilate: “Who are you Jesus?” (John 18)
Jesus allowed people to figure out for themselves who he was.
And once they “got it” nothing could change their mind.
JESUS RESUME (see this blog entry) What if our associate pastor search committee received this?
Here’s the “kicker,” he works for free! But it costs everything you have.
Look at verses 15-18 – this is an impressive resume
1. “image of God” – true creation (in Genesis humans were created in the image of God)
2. “firstborn / lord over all creation” – as a firstborn son, Jesus has the authority
3. Head of the body / the church
In verse 20 – Jesus’ job = reconcile / make peace for “all things” “all creation”
LET US UNDERSTAND THIS TYPE OF RECONCILIATION
It is Reconciliation between powerful (God) and weak (us). How would you reconcile differences between USA and the country of Grenada (Caribbean country 133 sq. mi. and 90k residents)? It should be easy to reconcile the differences between these two. The USA tells them how it should be and Grenada agrees to obey.
The same with God reconciling with you and me?
It would be easier for God not to seek to reconcile – God could simply dominate and order us to obey, and we would have little recourse except to do what God says.
The scripture says that God reconciled himself with us / made peace with us – through Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross. God sent Jesus. (Phil 2: 6-8) God let go of his power to meet us as equals – people whose life also leads to death. And in doing so, God brings us true reconciliation with him. God made the first step - Jesus died on the cross for our sins / we respond by asking forgiveness.
What does this have to do with us?
We are part of “all things” and “all creation”
Go back and read verses 15 to 22. Replace the phrase “all things” and “all creation” you’re your name. That’s the relationship God wants with you.
Do you know what a mondegreen is?
It’s a misinterpretation or a mishearing of a phrase in a song or a poem, slogan or saying.
* CCR “There’s a bad moon on the rise” becomes “There’s a bathroom on the right”
Crystal Gayle “Doughnuts make my brown eyes blue”
*Christmas Carol “Sleep in heavenly peas”
*I used to like the hymn about the “kinky turtle”: Lead on o King Eternal
*We all know God’s name is Andy “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me”
*Except for the boy who said that God’s name is Howard “Our Father, who art in heaven, Howard be thy name”
We had a letter from "Gladly, the cross-eyed bear (from a line in the hymn "Keep Thou My Way" by Fanny Crosby, "Kept by Thy tender care, gladly the cross I'll bear")
Keep Thou my way, O Lord, be Thou ever nigh;
Strong is Thy mighty arm, weak and frail am I;
Then, my unchanging Friend, on Thee, my hopes depend,
Till life’s brief day shall end, be Thou ever nigh.
Keep Thou my heart, O Lord, ever close to Thee;
Safe in Thine arms of love, shall my refuge be;
Then, over a tranquil tide, my bark shall safely glide;
I shall be satisfied, ever close to Thee.
Keep Thou my all, O Lord, hide my life in Thine;
O let Thy sacred light over my pathway shine;
Kept by Thy tender care, gladly the cross I’ll bear;
Hear Thou and grant my prayer, hide my life in Thine.
JESUS CHALLENGED HIS DISCIPLES TO CARRY THEIR CROSSES
The Apostle Paul knew about carrying the cross; he spoke about it often.
Paul was a highly educated man who thought he had things figured out.
When he encountered Jesus – everything changed. He understood things very differently.
And he understood that people, who don’t have Christ in their lives, aren’t going to understand.
Here’s what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:17 to 2:5 (NIV)
17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
v.18 – the message of the cross: foolishness to those who are perishing / power to those who are saved.
We live in a world of power: we enjoy power, we know it when we see it.
I’ve hear church folks talk about the power of their hunting guns, cars, monster trucks, tractors, power tools, (and these days, who has the most powerful snow blower).
In conventional terms, this is the way most people think of power … when we look at the cross, do we see an instrument of power?
In Jesus’ time the Cross was a symbol of defeat / punishment / the ultimate loss of control of your life.
The cross was a way the Romans used to stop the power of a person.
Jesus has a way of turning things around.
First shall be last
Weak shall be strong
Lost shall be found
The message of the cross: A life that is heading in the wrong direction – can be turned toward the right.
WHAT HAS THE MOST POWER IN YOUR LIFE
What has the power to save you?
What has enough power that your life depends on it?
In Paul’s day, people believed there was power in secret and special teachings. This was rampant in places like Ephesus, Colossae and Corinth.
Paul asks (verse 20), what has the ultimate power to save you? Wisdom? Studies? Philosophies? Reason? (all of these are good and well, but they will not save you. If you believe that if you study hard enough, if you go to school long enough, if you get enough degrees, God will save you … you are horribly mistaken) These are good things, tools for life, not a means of salvation.
It’s interesting that the one thing that brings salvation is the death of Jesus on a cross.
Next Paul talks about miracles (verse 22). Some believed that miracles were the way to God. This was especially true of the Jews in his day.
When Jesus was asked to perform a miracle (Mt 12:38&ff) as a sign of his power, he said the only miracle they would see is the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Miracles won’t save you: everyone who was healed eventually died; everyone who was raised from the dead (except Jesus) eventually died.
If you’re looking for the power of wisdom or miracles to save you, Paul says that the cross will look like foolishness and a stumbling block.
TRUE POWER COMES FROM GOD
John 19:10 - Pilate told Jesus, “Don’t you realize I have the power either to free you or to crucify you?”
V 11 – Jesus replied, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”
Psalm 89:48 asks the question:
What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave?
There is one thing that is outside our “power” to do: Live forever / not die.
As God’s chosen people, we receive eternal life. It doesn’t come through our own understanding or by a great miracle – these can point us to God – but they cannot save us.
CHRISTIANS ARE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE
But what were we like when we were called? (Before we were chosen)
Do you remember sports pick-up games on the playground? There was the line-up. Two captains chose their teams. I was usually among the last chosen (and for good reason).
The Bible says that we are the chosen people – sometimes we think that’s a big deal.
What does this passage say?
v.27 – God chose the foolish things of the world
God chose the weak things of the world
v. 28 – God chose the lowly and despised things of the world, the things that are NOT.
v. 29 - So that no one may boast. (not by my power, but by God’s power)
What does your faith rest on – your ability, your smarts, your ability to figure everything out?
God’s power / the Greek word “dunamis” (root for dynamite) means ability, strength, and virtue.
For Jesus, the cross meant stepping way outside his comfort zone. But without the cross we would not have seen the power of God to rise victorious over death.
When it comes to the cross, let there be no mondegreen; let there be no misunderstanding.
Paul said, for those of us being saved, the cross is the power of God.
There is power in the cross! Power to transform our lives into what God wants us to be. Power to enable us to make good decisions. Power to live the Christian life. Power to share the gospel with others.
Jesus challenged his disciples to carry the cross and follow him.
We are Jesus’ disciples today.
It’s not that important that you wear a cross pendant; it is important that you wear the power of the Cross in your life.
Friday, February 26, 2010
“Carry the Cross Challenge” Matthew 16:21-28
In today's passage, Jesus is getting ready for his final journey to Jerusalem. It's important that his disciples have a firm grasp of who he is and what he is about.
Earlier in the chapter, Jesus and the disciples travel to Caesarea Philippi (a pagan place of worship built for Roman domination and venerated as a place of worship for the god Pan). Jesus asks the questions: Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am?
Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
After this passage, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on a mountain (Transfiguration).
Today's Scripture is what happens in between those events.
The Cross is an instrument of control, domination and death.
Faith in Christ = is about life - abundant Life and eternal life.
It's Ironic that at the very center of our Christian faith is the symbol of a violent death. Can you think of any other religion that has an instrument of death as its central symbol.
Crucifixion was used by the Persians, Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans for nearly a thousand years, from the 6th century BC to the year 337 AD when Constantine banished the use after he adopted Christianity as a religion of the Roman Empire.
In the Roman Empire the cross is used for the death penalty, a public display to warn others, “this is what happens to people who go against the authority of the empire.” It was a slow, painful, gruesome death. It was humiliating and public – to make anyone think twice before they would commit such a crime.
Here in USA, we don’t have public executions anymore.
Just the same in some instances it has become difficult to show and live our faith.
We often take our freedom to live our faith for granted. We become complacent.
There have been lawsuits in U.S. and other places
- British Airways check-in worker (Nadia Eweida) was fired for wearing a cross at work. Friday, February 12 – Appeals Courts upheld the Nov 2008 judgment. Company policy (no religious symbols) vs. religious discrimination.
- Earlier Cindy Dunn, a Target employee in Alabama, was fired because she refused to hide or remove her cross.
- In Kentucky (2002), Kimberly Draper, a librarian, was fired from the public library for wearing a cross.
Possible problem in society: Wearing a cross will not make you a Christian. Many musicians & actors wear it as a piece of jewelry or a tattoo adornment. You need a Christian life and testimony to wear the cross.
There is persecution in the world (see christianpersecution.info)
- Christians jailed on N. Korea to celebrate Kim Jong Il’s 68th birthday.
- Pakistan, Muslim radicals burned the home of a Christian family (Feb 15)
- Feb 6 – two street preachers in Boynton Beach, FL were shot and killed by a teenager who opposed their message.
- Feb 2 – the one year anniversary of the arrest and disappearance of a Christians Rights advocate in China.
- Pastor in Cuba remains behind bars.
- Every continent, almost every country.
Jesus warned about this: “They will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.” “All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair on your head will perish, by standing firm, you will gain life.”
Do we take our religious freedom for granted?
Jesus told his followers, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt. 16:24-25)
This is not an isolated instance. Jesus made similar statements on a number of occasions.
When Jesus made these statements, the disciples didn’t understand that this was the way the Jesus was going to die. After the fact, I’m sure they realized this. The disciples saw crosses all over the place. According to church historian Josephus, it was a common occurrence – a visual deterrence from disobeying the Roman authority. I’m sure the disciples wondered why Jesus brought up this particular instrument of death. Of all the ways to die, it was not heroic, but humiliating.
In verses 21ff – Jesus tells them, "I’m heading toward Jerusalem, I’m going be put to death."
Peter denies him.
Jesus tells them to carry the cross.
What does it mean to carry the cross?
The cross is a mark that we belong to God (Ash Wednesday – cross on forehead, it should not be just a tradition). What does it mean?
1. In some ways it is the myriad of inconveniences, trials, tribulations and frustrations that Christians must bear during our earthly life. Carrying the cross will bring difficulties. Carrying the cross is stepping outside our comfort zone.
2. Persecution. If we live the Christian life, we may be persecuted.
3. More than that, the deeper and more difficult things = public humiliation, pain,
4. It meant that Death was coming.
The cross is much more than stepping outside our comfort zone – it is a willingness to step so far outside our comfort zone – that we are willing to follow Jesus to the death. Mt. 16:24 (restated) “If anyone wants to come after me, he must step completely outside his comfort zone, and take up a cross that leads to death.”
It means death to self (not what I want for my life, but what God wants for me).
Here’s the rub - my ambitions, goals, desires, etc. … need to come from God, not from me.
During Lent we will explore what it means to carry the cross.
At the basic level, carrying the cross means not denying Jesus.
Peter learned that when Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan!”
After Jesus was arrested, in the courtyard of the guard. Peter was asked, “Do you know him?” (If this was today, Peter would cover his cross / or tuck it in his tunic). He told them, "I don’t know him."
During Lent we will discover what it means to carry the cross.
You are invitee to take the cross and carry the cross as we head toward Easter.
It’s the "carry the cross challenge."
Jesus – tells his disciples he must suffer and die, and he headed toward Jerusalem. Jesus knew what it meant for him. The cross was not an inconvenience, or a frustration, or a trial. It was a painful death. He wants his disciples to know what it means for them. It’s not a decision to take lightly.
Jesus challenged his disciples to carry the cross; We are Jesus' disciples today.
You are challenged to carry the cross.
[people came forward to receive a simple wooden cross necklace]
[people came forward to receive a simple wooden cross necklace]
As you carry the cross there is an inward and an outward reminder.
(Use common sense: there is no spiritual value in getting your cross stuck in a skill saw)
Personal (inward) reminder:
- I am a Christian (I belong to Jesus who died on a cross for my sins)
- I want to set aside what I want, and I want to know what God wants for me.
- We tell the world we belong to Jesus, who suffered and died for our sins.
- We testify that we want others to know the joy of eternal life that comes through following Jesus.
What do you tell others? "I made a commitment to give my life to God. I am making every attempt in my life to be like Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus."