Posts Tagged ‘jesus’

Quick Post: Scripture based Prayers

“They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in…The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters.” Genesis 7:15-16, 18

Heavenly Father, Thank you for rescue from the flood of judgment against my sin and guilt through the Ark of your Son. Keep me in the safekeeping of that ship; shut me in that I might be kept by you, for you. And bring me safely to the new earth in due time.


“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

Heavenly Father, thank you for being well pleased with Your Son and His Work, so that you are well pleased with me. May I rest today in Your pleasure.

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Clean Up on Aisle Life

Life is messy.

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I wish it not were not so.  In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding messes.  Which is foolish, because you can attempt to avoid or plan your way around them, but things have a way of getting spilt all over the table of your life.  This is what happens when we sin and others sin and we live in a world full of fellow sinners.  And it is what happens in a world wrecked by sin.  We get tornadoes and cancer and death.    

 

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 And I hate tornados and cancer and death (among other things).  They leave messes behind.  Messes that can’t be quickly mopped up with the “quicker picker upper” or whatever the best brand of paper towels happens to be right now.  It takes time and help and hope to deal with such things.

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But in the mess we also find Jesus.  Right there in the middle of it all.  Picking up debris and sitting in an infusion center or holding your very heart when you feel it might break into a thousand little pieces.  Jesus is there.  In the mess. With you.  

And He promises that one day there will be no mess (Revelation 21).  For now, cast all your “messes” or anxieties upon Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7, also Philippians 4:4-7).  Messes, yes. But Jesus too.
 

Cancer & Sin

I Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls aroundlike a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
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I wish this weren’t true, but it is.  And I mistakenly thought that Satan might give me a break from temptation – at least for a little while.  After all, haven’t I suffered enough.  And aren’t I doing a good enough job on my own? (yes).  But that not the way things work.

Jesus’ Temptation is instructive at this point.  Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness.  And no, at the end of it all, Jesus didn’t catch a break from Satan.  No, instead he waited to attack and tempt Jesus at the end of that time when we would he would be at his weakest and lowest point.  He waited until Jesus would be hungry and thirsty for a way out and an end to his trials, which were only just beginning.  But thankfully for us, Jesus prevailed.

And so, I find myself still struggling with sin in my life.  Temptation comes from all sides and often when I am at my lowest point.  Of course, like Jesus, my best defense is to arm myself with the Word of God and be prepared for the attack to come.

But that’s hard isn’t it.  We don’t see it coming.  And we don’t recognize temptation for what it is.  Let me give you an example of such sin struggles in my life at this point.  I love to use Faceboook.  We use for the church.  I use it to keep up with family and friends.  And they have used to send me reminders of their prayers or other such encouragement.  So, I enjoy Facebook.  But there has been a sin that I don’t I have wrestled with as much in the past (of course, I could be very wrong about that!):  Envy and Jealousy.  These are what Jerry Bridges would call “respectable sins” in his great book by the same title.  They are subtle.  What happens is I see all the happy people on Facebook taking their wonderful vacations to the beach or the mountains.  And they are eating such scrumptious meals and having all around good time.  On one hand, I can be happy for them and glad they can delight in such things.  On the other hand, I don’t understand why they deserve such goodness and I have received such hardship.  What did I do to deserve this?  Why did all my plans get wiped off the map with the mention of one little word: cancer.    Envy and jealousy then creep in and I find myself loathing my friends and myself.  No, there is no let up in the temptation.  Sorry, I wish I could tell you otherwise. 

What is happening in my heart when I begin to entertain the sin of envy and jealousy.

  • I have forgotten God’s goodness and His Sovereignty
  • I have neglected to use a powerful weapon to combat this sin, as Jesus did:  the Word of God.
  • I have failed to realize that everything God gives is a gift of His grace and none of us is worthy.
  • I have failed to love my friends and family well.
  • I have not believed that God is sufficient for all my needs.
  • And I have not believe that my Savior has completely vanquished my enemy and I am victorious in Him.
  • And I forgotten how good God has been to me and my family.

No, there is no let up in the temptation.  Sorry, I wish I could tell you otherwise.   Thankfully, I can also tell you that there is no let up in the mercy and forgiveness of God, that covers all our sins.  Especially the ones that we so often let pass and do not recognize.  Envy and Jealousy in Him.  What subtle and respectable sins do you find yourself struggling with?

I Peter 5:6-11:  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. Andafter you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Help My Unbelief: Mark 9:14-29

This is a sermon manuscript, which is written for the ear, not the eye.  So, it’s full of grammatical errors and incomplete sentences, I imagine.  Also, I try to attribute thoughts to others, but my sermon is the product of much reading of others, to whom I am indebted.

 Help My Unbelief  (Mark 9:14-29);  One of my favorite passages and verses (I know I have a lot):  “I believe, help my unbelief”.  After two sermons on miracles in the Gospel of John, I want to turn our attention to one more desperate father and one more healing from Christ.  This is a story that we will find ourselves somewhere in, but I hope that we also find our Savior in this story.   

[Introduction]: 

Do you ever think of your life as a story?  Or maybe you picture yourself in a movie, complete with a soundtrack.  And in general, we love a good story.  And some of us love to tell a good story.  Part of the fun of our Wednesday night gatherings is the opportunity to fellowship over a meal and tell the stories of our week.  Sometimes, they are of our foibles or our frustrations, but in those moments we understand ourselves as living in a story.  Obviously, you know that my use of the term “story” does not imply fiction, but the truth of our lives as we experience them.  Aren’t you glad that the Bible gives us stories?  Yes, we get lots of other things we need:  teaching, prophecy, poetry, included.  But we also get stories.  And here we have another story from the Gospels.

What are the five elements of story (you may have learned slightly different terms): the plot, the characters, the theme, the conflict, and the resolution.  Well, we definitely have that today in this story from the Gospel of Mark.  And we have those in our lives.  Do you know conflict in your life and your heart?  Aren’t our lives full of characters, especially here in the Deep South – we have some real characters here.  And whether we know it not,

Let me tell you the theme of this story that were going to explore, and thus the theme of this sermon:

Theme:   You can have an imperfect faith, if you have a perfect Savior. 

 Your faith can falter & fail, if you know Jesus.  You can struggle with unbelief, when you also believe that God is bigger than it.  Isn’t that who we are?  And where we live most days?

BB:  We’re going to take a slightly different approach this morning.  We’ll get the outline of the story and then we’ll look at the details as we consider the characters in this story.    So, my main points our The Story, The (Usual) Suspects, and The Savior.

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Inspirational Profile: Jesus

Yesterday, I began a mini-sermon series within our series on the Book of Colossians from Colossians 1:15-23.  I am attempting to ask and answer this question:  Who is Jesus? 

Here’s how I introduced this series:

There is no doubt that there still remains uncertainty about who Jesus, whether with regard to his person (that is, who He is) or His work.  Take for instance this book that we received as a parting gift from friends in Norfolk….  The World’s Best Bathroom Book: An Inspirational Collection of Wit, Wisdom, Humor, and Fascinating Facts – a book published by a well-known Christian publisher.    Sounds interesting regardless of where you read it.  I am thankful for the kindness of this gift, but I was discouraged by what I found inside.   The first main section is a collection of about 50 or so alphabetically organized “Inspirational Profiles” starting with Neil Armstrong and ending with the Wright Brothers.   So, where does Jesus of Nazareth fit in?  Well, under J of course.  The first sentence is thus:  “Jesus Christ, to the Christian, is the Hero of all people who make a difference”.  The profile does go on to proclaim the Gospel of Christ clearly, but in my mind the damage is already done.  Jesus is just another Inspirational Profile, in between Galileo and Martin Luther King.

Paul has something radically different to communicate to the church, than that Jesus is just another good ______ (prophets, teachers, heroes, examples), in a long line of other good _______ (prophets, teachers, heroes, examples).  What Paul tells us about Christ, in line with what Christ said about himself during his public ministry, will not allow us to be so casual.”

If a Christian publisher doesn’t distinguish Jesus from other “inspirational” people, how can we expect those who don’t believe in Christ to trust Him with their lives?  Why should they?  If the Church is going to be unclear about the supremacy and all-sufficiency of Christ, how can we fault others for being clear that they don’t need Christ?

October Books

As of writing, I need to complete seven more books to reach my goal for completing 52 books this year.  Here are the books that I completed reading during the month of October.

  • What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris
  • When gods Die by C.S. Harris:  These are the first and second books in a new series of a mystery series centering around Sebastian St. Cyr.  These books are set during the Regency period of England and so have an interesting historical/societal/political element that helps to frame the mysteries.  These are well-told stories and each book asks a philosophical question in the midst – these questions from the title of each book.
  • Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Brashears:  Excellent book that seeks to answer twelve critical questions about Jesus.  The book follows Driscoll style that sometimes offends but I think he uses his wit and cutting edge effectively to communicate the Biblical teaching about Jesus and His importance to those who trust Him for salvation.  This would be a very good resource for helping someone who is wrestling with various questions regarding Christ including the Virgin Birth and His Resurrection.
  • Half-Life/Die Already by Mark Steele:  I really liked this book.  I cannot remember where I had heard about it, but I started reading it during a trip to Barnes & Noble.  I ended up spending most of time there sitting in a big comfy chair reading this book…I decided I ought to buy it.  This is a laugh-out-loud memoir of a couple of years of his life that really helped me think through some of my frustrations and wrestle with my jaundiced perspective.  Steele is a Christian and writes as one, but the book is not didactic in nature.  I hope to read Steele’s first book, Flashbang, soon – I found it the used bookstore!
  • Total Church by Tim Chester & Steve Timmis:  Great book that really challenged me in several areas about the way I think about church and how church is done.  While I didn’t agree with everything or some thoughts gave me pause, I found the authors to be incredibly humble, Gospel-centered, and biblical.  The subtitle of this book is “A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community”.  After arguing for both from Scripture, Chester and Timmis show how these apply to various areas of ministry and practices of the church.  Very helpful and persuasive and I am inclined to believe that when we miss on one area (gospel or community) we will miss out on the fullness of both – ultimately they are intertwined.  Just found this (Audio/Video from a Total Church Conference), but have no idea when I might be able to listen to some of it.
  • Watchman by Ian Rankin:  I started reading Rankin a few years ago with the Inspector Rebus series books, which tend to be dark in content and feel.  This is a stand alone book, was actually Rankin’s second book to write and this is the American publication of that work.  The writing is not as strong as Rankin’s other works, I think partially due to his attempting to build suspense.  Watchman is essentially a spy novel but the main character is more of an everyday spy than a Jason Bourne type.  Anyway, decent and entertaining read.