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Make Your Move

August 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Part of the Titus Arch – depicting Romans returning with their spoils after destroying Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.

I’m sure you’ve said the phrase, “I knew I shouldn’t have done that!”  It’s usually after you’re laying on the floor beside the ladder with the sticker on the second to last step that states DO NOT CLIMB ABOVE THIS STEP.  Or maybe it’s after that argument with a family member or coworker…just after those words flew out of your mouth while in your head you’re thinking ‘why am I saying this?’  Maybe it’s while you’re sitting on the side of the road with a car behind you…bright lights flashing…enough said.  Maybe you’ve said, “I knew I should have done that!” instead.  Like when you went to bed thinking I should go to the computer and pay that one bill … midnight passed and the creditor tacked on a late fee.  Or you find out that one of your friends needed some help … and for some reason you didn’t call them when they were seriously on your mind the day before.

Present day situation.  Did you hear of the man in Alabama who just before he drove off a cliff, texted this to a friend: “I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident.”  Now the man is alive, but with a crushed face, broken neck and a fractured skull.  He knew.  He knew ….but still went ahead.

Revelation is an uplifting book to those who know they are in the hand of God.  Yes, we may see tough times and persecution and there may be people against us…but in the end…we win!  It’s already determined who the trophy goes to.  Jesus.  However, throughout the book Christ continues to tell the churches and individuals who have an ear to hear, to start following and obeying or to start again.  They are without excuse.  These readers, who are soon going to experience a situation where their very lives are a stake, are encouraged to not worry about their lives if they are following Christ.

In Revelation 22:10-16, we get the picture that John is kneeling before two figures.  One – the angel who just told John not to bow to him (vs. 9).  And Jesus, who is now going to speak…almost as in wrapping up the whole vision John’s been privileged to see.  But, the point isn’t that John was just invited up to “see” what’s going on.  The point is to have John see…and record…and deliver this message to a group of people.  The message is simple too all of us and the readers in that age.  Jesus wins.  The message for those readers specifically was, there is trouble in the near future, but don’t worry.

But between the messages to those receiving churches and us today, we see a slightly bigger theme.  Remember the man in Alabama?  Knew he was in the danger zone when texting and driving.  The message the angel and Jesus gives here is…you now know what you need to do.  At the end, there is no second chance.  For many in that time…the end was very near as Rome’s plans to annihilate Jerusalem, and the Christians with it in 70AD, were well underway.  If they were killed then, and were a believer and follower of Jesus, they were safe even though they face physical death.  They still would overcome this world.  Today, when our last breath has been taken, it’s over.  The man in the truck had the chance to stop texting because he knew the present dangers it presented.  You know what you need to do with your relationship with Jesus.  Make your move towards Jesus before there’s no more moves to be made.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

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The Church…God’s Dwelling Place


Presermon Notes
ed Barnes … June 21, 2012
Revelation 21:1-7

FYI…I’m writing these notes while sitting among 20,000 Christian brothers and sisters enjoying great and uplifting music at the Alive music festival…on a cell phone keypad to boot so there may be spelling errors galore.  Seeing this many people together, youth groups and families and church families alike, worshiping the same God through the Creator’s given art of music, reminds me of images in the book of Revelation.  Many times John gives us word pictures of the Kingdom worshipping their King.  

Revelation is challenging.  The mind images spoken to the New Testament church we’re privileged to see through the writings of John sometimes leave us dumbfounded.  However, this small section is repeating promises spoken in other sections of the Bible.  John 3:29 and Ephesians 5:25-27, and Ezekiel 37:23,27 strip away all things that we have created to try to explain or market the church.  We are something very special to Jesus, and sometimes I believe we try to do and create things to make ourselves noticeable to those around us…while forgetting who we really are. 

In the verse for the week we read the combination and repeat of the verses mentioned above.  We are one with Christ…which means we live with God and He with us.  We, the church, are his bride.  There is no physical city or temple that is Holy anymore.  We are chosen to be His dwelling place.  Through the Holy Spirit He is with us nearly as close as the Garden of Eden.  His spirit lives side by side with us.  We are the Kingdom.  It’s not.a place or a building.  The king lives in His people…the Kingdom.  This is what has been made new.  Before it wasn’t like this.  The temple had an address.  God had a room in that temple.  But now, through Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins that kept us from God, the Creator lives with His people.  And at some point in time this new way will be made perfect and we will see God and be with Him as it was in the beginning.

This is the church.  But so often we miss who we really are.  We talk.as though we go to church.  We attend church.  Our church has an address and phone number and maybe a website and email and a schedule of office hours when the church is either open or closed.  Many times a church has a name that is trendy and a stage with a light set and large screen video projection.

Our ministries might use these tools…but our church doesn’t ‘have them.’. Jesus’ body, His bride, is a people group connected spiritually to their God.  We already have a name.  We already have a purpose and marching orders and an end goal that defines our success.  And to those that join and overcome, the reward of living eternally with the One who made all things is given.  We are being made into that perfect city, the dwelling place of the Most High, the New Jerusalem.  It’s us.

If we truly understood that, how would that change how we daily live?  How would we make choices?  How would we raise our kids?  How would we spend our money?  What arguments would become ‘not worth it?’

The question is, do u simply attend this church?  Or are you His church?…the new and perfect city created as His dwelling place so all others will know about Him through us.

How will this description of the church in Revelation 21 change how you live this next week and on foward?  Because this verse is really God’s description of you if you choose it as your own.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,
ed

How would he take you out?

May 25, 2012 5 comments

I was faced with a serious question the other day.  It was from an article I stumbled across while on a Christian leadership website.  I’m going to ask you this question…and you need to answer personally and honestly.  I’m then going to ask you the same question in a couple of different contexts.

* How would our common enemy, Satan, take you out, rendering you unable to serve your family and your community?

That’s a very personal question.  But how would he take you out?  What gimmicks would he use?  What are your weaknesses?  This question isn’t just a “how are you tempted most?” question.  How would he take you out?  How would he destroy your service to God?

*How would our common enemy, Satan, take out our church family, rendering us unable to serve each other and the people around us?

This changes things just a bit because now we’re pushed to take a peek inside our local church family.  How would our enemy try to destroy our church families?  How would he get us off track?  What lies would he tell us?  What goals would he give us that are not what Christ wants at the top of our families’ agendas?

*If he could stop or hinder our discipleship process, our raising up of active believers in Jesus and his purpose, how would he do it?

This question makes one assumption…that we’re active in making disciples as Jesus instructs in Matthew 28:19-20.  Our purpose isn’t just to receive our ticket to Heaven and then decide to sit back and ride life away as though there are no expectations.  Maybe you haven’t looked at Christianity like this.  Satan loves to let Christians sit by without a feeling of daily purpose.  In this strategy, we lose the possibility of influencing others to choose Christ as well.

Bible focus: 1 Peter 5:8   Control yourselves. Be on your guard. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow.

This stuff is tough!  I’m convicted.  When we forget we have an enemy that wants us to forget about God’s purpose for our lives, we tend to also forget about God.  Peter tells us to be aware that Satan loves for us to forget about him.  He encourages us to be on guard.  Being on guard means we’re also on purpose.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Article referenced, written by Mike Breen, can be found here:

http://www.vergenetwork.org/2012/02/02/obituary-for-the-american-church-mike-breen/

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

A pirate captain was on the look out for buried treasure.

After months of hard sailing, his ship caught sight of land, the land to which his treasure map had been leading.

He and his first mate disembarked on the island to search out the buried treasure, which was supposed to lie hidden deep within a swamp at the center of the island.

Sure enough, at the center of the island was a swamp, and the Captain and his first mate bravely entered the swamp.

Soon the swamp began to get deeper, and the pirate’s feet, then ankles, and finally entire leg below the knees was covered in swamp.

It was at that time that the Captain banged his shin against something hard. He reached down, searched around, and pulled up a treasure chest.

Prying the lock open, the chest revealed gold and jewels beyond imagination!

The Captain turned to his first mate and said, “Arrrr, matey, that just goes to show ye, that booty is only shin deep!”

One of my favorite books of the Bible is the book of Ecclesiastes.  In 9:1 of Ecclesiastes it says this, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  This was written by the one who asked for God’s wisdom and received it…Solomon.  Solomon realized something very true.  There’s nothing new in relation to human nature.  Today’s verse focuses on something that is as true today as it was when Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 6:19-21.  In fact, they were also as true for Jesus’ followers as they were for the people in Solomon’s time as well.

We like to have things.  We like stuff.  We like gadgets.  We not only like having stuff…but we like having the best stuff.  We like our cars and dresses and tv’s and radios and music and IPods and tablets and game systems and awards and certificates.  We like good smelling things and things that make our house look nice.  We like nice things to sit in and nice things to walk on.  We like cash in our wallets and we like to go buy something when we want it.

Jesus talks straight about this to the people who are listening.  He’s just covered how to give to the needy, how to pray and how to fast.  Those things all seem well intentioned because they look like things done for and with God.  This one’s personal though.  He talks about our personal treasure.

When I was a kid, mom would take my sister and me to the library on a regular basis.  One subject I loved to read about was “treasure hunters.”  I would day dream about being a “hunter” one day and finding a sunken treasure ship that no one had found before.  I remember when we would go on vacation to Florida.  We’d go out to eat somewhere and sometimes the placemat would be a “map” of sunken ships that no one had ever found.  I kept those placemats, thinking one day I just might go and use that map to find treasure.

Well, you don’t see me on TV scuba diving in the Caribbean searching for lost treasure in the sea.  But that doesn’t mean I still don’t search for treasure.  I like my stuff…my treasure…and as Jesus hinted to, it gets in the way of the True Treasure God has for us each and every day.

John Maxwell, speaker and author, says that he can basically tell most things about a person by doing a few things…and in about 5 minutes.  He said let me see your calendar, the books you are reading, and your check book.  From those three things he can get a good picture of what you go after…what your main focuses are in life.  Think about that for a minute.  If he can do that, and I’m confident that he can, what would he see if you opened up your books to him?  What would your checkbook show is important to you?  What would your calendar show is important to you?  What do you focus on in down time and what’s it say is important to you?

Jesus said that the stuff we collect here on earth is not meaningful.  This stuff is not going to last and it can be taken from you.  He said that there is treasure that will not rot away and no one can steal.  The last line of this short passage of scripture is the kicker.  Wherever your treasure is…your heart’s there too, and if it’s not with God it’s somewhere else.

Solomon got to this wisdom late and after many mistakes.  He had used most of his wealth to buy treasure on earth.  Later in life he realized what was really important.  Here’s what he said after talking about his abundance of stuff, “…when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”  He realized that not one of these things got him closer to God.  Luckily, we have his story and testimony and the books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs to help us see a little clearer what’s really important in life.

So where’s your treasure?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • How are you a treasure hunter?
  • How does your treasure interfere with your relationship with God?
  • How does your treasure, or treasure hunting, interfere with your ministry as a Christian…a priest of God?
  • What steps will you take today or tomorrow to change your patterns of behavior?

Lead Us Not Into Temptation 1 – Video


The Plan of Forgiveness


Toward the end of the service, the Minister asked, “How many of you have forgiven your enemies?” 80% held up their hands.

The Minister then repeated his question. All responded this time, except one small elderly lady.

“Mrs. Jones? Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?” “I don’t have any,” she replied, smiling sweetly.

“Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?”

“Ninety-eight,” she replied.

“Oh, Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years & not have an enemy in the world?”

The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said: “I outlived the old hags.”

********

Some people ask where I get these.  I really have no idea….and if I did, I woudn’t say.  Haha

Link for this week: It takes 2 minutes to watch.

This week’s focus is just as difficult for me as last week’s was. This week we focus on forgiveness. Most of us have a problem with forgiveness. We think we deserve forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong, but we have a hard time handing it out when someone has done something wrong towards us. So what we need here is a good working understanding of ‘forgiveness.’

As we’re still working through Matthew 6, Jesus speaks this next request in the model prayer in a different way than we might expect. The way He words this prayer to the Father puts weight on us. The question isn’t only for God to forgive us. We are asking Him to do so in the process of us forgiving those who have sinned against us too. Action required. This isn’t just a “gimmee” request. Jesus knows that would be too easy…and against the true purpose of forgiveness.

Here’s how I look at this. Forgiveness is conditional, but handed out freely. We have to ask for it. We have to be at a point where we believe with our whole heart that Jesus died and rose as the Son of God to bear the punishment for our personal sins…as well as the sins of our neighbor, family member or enemy. Thus, if He can forgive them, we need to do the same.

My guess is that everyone has gathered in close to Jesus as He’s speaking this to the crowd in this section of Scripture. Heads are nodding in agreement with the short statements. “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name,” has been spoken and the “Amens” go up. Jesus says, “Your will be done, here on Earth like it is in Heaven,” and those around Him speak out “Yes Lord” in agreement with the statement of prayer. Jesus then talks about asking for our daily needs. I can hear the people responding again in agreement. Most of them are not pulling down a million five per year. They get it. Then comes the next statement. I can hear Jesus speak, “And forgive us our debts…” and the people’s copy cat response…”Yes please Lord.” Then Christ drops the next line…”as we forgive our debtors.” This is where I can see faces drop to the ground. People look at each other with “uh oh” written on their face. There might even be a few who begin to walk away.

Ok, let’s ask the hard question. What if God forgave us like we forgive other people? How would your eternal salvation look based on your grace and mercy towards others who have wronged you? “Uh Oh!” Don’t walk away!

What is our purpose as a Christian? Jesus asked us to forgive like the Father…in a very dramatic way non-the-less…so this has to fit into this Christian living thing we’ve signed up for. God wants people back with Him like it was in the beginning (Genesis). We, as believers in Jesus, are called the church. The church is called the body of Christ. Therefore the body, you and I, are suppose to look and act and think and behave as Christ would. Christ is forgiving. We are asked to be forgiving in the same way.

What’s the purpose of forgiveness? Why do we need to forgive? Why do we need forgiven? When we see the true purpose I’m sure we will find the reason Jesus wants us to forgive like His Father does. Forgiveness is the only way to fix the problem between us and God. We’ve sinned. He’s perfect. It may seem like we’re completely stuck in a different place than the original plan…by our choice. God’s forgiveness makes a way for us to be back with Him. Forgiveness between people does the same thing. It makes a way for healing to begin. It gets junk out of the way. Satan hates forgiveness, because it messes up everything in his strategy to keep us away from God. When you forgive someone as God forgives, whether you think they deserve it or not, you put handcuffs on Satan. You are acting like God. God loves to see us act like Him…it brings glory to His name (Hallowed be your name). When you forgive, its like you’re turning to God and saying, “Ok, it’s not about me…it’s all about you.” People will see this attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and God promises that through you taking the humble position, others will not see you, but God himself (Matthew 5:16). Purpose defined.

Here’s the specific question. Do people, even our enemies, see God through our acts, words and attitude of forgiveness?

Questions for growth:

  • What do you think is a good way to get better at forgiving?
  • Who do you need to forgive?
  • Do you need to do it vocally or publicly?
  • Have you forgiven yourself like God has through His son’s death?
  • Are you willing to forgive even if you feel it will get you nowhere with a certain person?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

John Maxwell on Forgiveness

July 14, 2011 1 comment

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