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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/

Evil is Real

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Evil is Real – “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”  1 Corinthians 13:6

  • Romans 12:21 ~ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
  • Deuteronomy 30:15 ~ See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…
  • Luke 6:45 ~ A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.
  • Psalm 23:4 ~ Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…
  • James 3:16 ~ For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
  • Proverbs 21:15 ~ When you do what is fair, you make godly people glad.  But you terrify those who do what is evil.

Just recently, in our American political arena, the concept of evil was brought up.  A specific American leader, whom I won’t mention by name, said in no uncertain terms that there is evil in the world and Satan’s plan is to destroy us.  Yes, this was said publicly.  The backlash he received from making the assumption that there are things that are evil and things that are good and that Satan is real was amazing…but not surprising.  Many in journalistic circles were really questioning why someone would even think that there is such a thing as evil.  Calling something evil is so mean and callous.  Who gave this political figure the right to call something wrong and evil?  Yes, these were many responses and questions surrounding this man’s statement that evil is in our world.  1 John 5:19 says that if you a Christ follower you are God’s children and that the rest of the world is under the control of the evil one.  Evil is named.  Numerous times Jesus, recorded in the Gospels, point evil out.

The above Bible verses state the concept of evil…and those are just a few of many.  I think at this point we need to define ‘evil’ so we can best understand the verse we’re focusing on.  Evil is that which keeps us from God.  It is the thing that we need forgiveness for.  It creates separation between humankind and their Creator.  Evil prevents us from residing close to our Lord.  Jesus came for a reason.  His purpose was to defeat evil.  Over and over our Bible, God’s word, calls out evil as that which God hates.  And why would God hate evil?  It is the opposite of what we were created for.  Evil pulls us away from God.  The exact opposite of the relationship we see first played out between God and Adam and Eve.  After evil entered the heart of the woman and man respectively, they needed to leave His presence.  Perfection and imperfection cannot mix.  They are like oil and water.

Paul writes that love “does not delight in evil.”  Sounds poetic.  ‘Delight,’ at first glance, seems like a not-so-heavy word.  When I hear this word, my ‘stuck in this world brain’ thinks of someone smiling after eating chocolate pudding.  Delight.  I see a child giggling after opening a Christmas present.  Delight.  I don’t think this is what Paul meant though.  The Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it this way, “…Love finds no joy in unrighteousness.”  Now that certainly spins a different picture.  Don’t get me wrong, I know what our translations are trying to say.  Remember, Paul is giving us a word picture of Jesus in the chapter of the Bible.  Paul is giving us what Jesus is and is not.  And if Jesus is God, and God is love, and God is against all evil, then the mere hint of evil shouldn’t even bring a grin to our face.  But it does…doesn’t it?

How many of us have LOL when a comedian tells a rude joke?  How many of us have ever smiled when we see someone we disagree with fail?  How many of us have ‘delighted’ in something that we know is a sin?  How many of us have intentionally acted selfishly and enjoyed our personal gain at the expense of another?  How many of us have enjoyed a time when we were bashing someone else because of their sin?  Ever enjoyed a good gossip story?  How many of us have used anger to ‘feel’ better when someone did something wrong to us?  Pride?  How many times have we smiled at ourselves when we boast of our wisdom, money or strength rather than knowing God personally?  How many of us claim an arrogance that places us above other people in our minds?  You see where this is going right?  Paul’s little “delight in evil” phrase is completely the right thing to picture when we’re talking about the opposite of true love.

Paul quickly writes the opposite of this statement of evil.  Pure love rejoices with truth.  There is such a thing as absolute truth.  This truth rests in Christ Himself.  The evil one is called the Father of all Lies.  God is real.  Man was created by Him and for Him.  Evil keeps us away.  Christ can forgive our evil sin.  Christ is the only way to return to a perfect relationship with God.  Christ came to serve for this reason.  We are to be like Christ.  That’s the truth.  And if Jesus doesn’t smile at evil, then we shouldn’t either.  We should rejoice, be glad, be overjoyed, jump for joy, be extremely happy in the ways of God … no matter what the world thinks of us.

Simply put, Truth drives us closer to God.  Evil pulls us away from Him.  Now this won’t be easy.  A Star Wars fan I am…here’s a quote from the series, “Evil flourishes where it is not opposed…”  Since our nature is evil, it is easy to sin.  It is easy to delight in evil.  That’s why Jesus had to do something against it.  We just can turn away from it, it is a fight.  It is something we will struggle with.  But the first step in fighting well is recognizing and knowing who or what you’re fighting against.  We are to fight and oppose evil by doing good (Romans 12:21).  Will this be hard?  Yes, it will.  It will because everywhere we see people, even through history, doing good in the name of Jesus, they’ve been persecuted and used and abused.  So will it always be cotton candy and Ferris wheels?  No.  Will there be times of extreme joy?  I think that’s what Paul talks about when he says, “rejoice with truth.”  Throughout the book of Acts, you’ll read of where the disciples were ecstatic about being flogged and thrown in jail!  They knew they were fighting evil and winning when that happened.  They rejoiced.

Are you willing?  Can you commit to this kind of righteousness?  It’s what we’re called to and it’s what we were made for.  We were made for times such as this.  Let’s go, with God moving through us as the church, and confront evil face to face.  Jesus said, “…the gates of Hell will not overcome…” His church.  That’s a promise for you and for me.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Have you ever thought of evil extensively?  By this I mean everything from the slightest grin from hearing an off color joke to murder?
  • What types of evil do you personally fight against?…within yourself?
  • How will you stand up against evil this week?…Can you think of something that will probably happen…a situation that is usual for you to be in, where you can confront evil with good?
  • What ‘good’ will you do instead when this evil approaches? (Defeat Evil with Good)
  • Who will you try to speak truth to this week?  What will you say?

Nailed to the Cross

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

What if what happened then changes everything now?

3/28/10

I Have the Promise of Eternal Life – Palm Sunday

Luke 23:35-43

The lesson this week is just one of those that are bitter sweet. The reason is that it both reminds us of what we are and what we have. We often need to hold close the fact that we need a savior/sacrifice. In the same sense, we also need to grip to the promise that our imperfection is being perfected.

Probably the most simple illustration of how one person can choose to deny Jesus and another can embrace him is in our story today. Luke records in his Gospel that while on the cross, Jesus hung between two thieves…on their respective crosses. One thief makes Jesus out to be a bum. The other asks Jesus to remember him. Jesus ignores the first, but to the one that humbled himself, Christ says, “Soon, you’ll be with me in Heaven.”

Wow, can you image what that thief then felt. Sure he was on a cross. His arms were probably tied to the cross beam. He had probably been beaten. He probably couldn’t breathe. He probably felt guilt for what he had done. However, Jesus just said, “See you on the other side…you’ll be with me.” I can imagine that a small grin came over that thief’s face. His next breath might have been one of peace…like inhaling deep when you walk outside on a crisp spring morning. A peace was there that wasn’t there before. Dying was now not an end…it was a beginning.

Rembrandt painted a crucifixion scene with himself at the base of the cross. Wow, to have that immortalized in art history forever. It seemed he wanted to visualize himself at the point in eternity where Jesus died for specifically him and his sins. Mel Gibson tells the story that when it came to point of recording the scene where the guard nails Jesus’ hands to the cross, he wanted his hands doing the nailing in the scene. It is considered the highest honor to be chosen as the male who is picked to represent Jesus in many Latin American celebrations of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The person picked is beaten and actually nailed to a cross.

Why would someone want to get that close to the scene of death? Why would someone want to remember Jesus in these ways? Well, I would pose that they are not remembering Jesus’ death. They are remembering that they were partly the reason Jesus had to die. It’s personal! It’s all about them…and believe me, that’s not a pride thing. Jesus wants us to know that it’s all about us. We are why he died. He wanted to give us a gift. He wants us to grin a little…to take in a deep breath of peace like the fresh spring air…and to know that we will be with Him forever.

My Life Can Change

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Matt 26:36-27:10, John 21:15-19


This week, we,re focusing on the two circumstances of Peter and Judas. First, both denied Christ. Judas denied Him by turning him into the authorities…obviously stating that this Jesus was not the Christ, but a bother to society…or Judas was just money hungry. Either way, Judas turned his back on Christ. Peter, 3 times, told people that he didn’t know Jesus. After the third time, Jesus turned from where he was standing and caught Peter’s stare. Peter’s guilt overcame him.

Now, we have to outcomes to these two decisions. Judas felt so guilty that he threw the money back to the priests saying that he should not have done this thing. He then, overcome with grief, committed suicide. Peter, well he stuck around. He was probably near when the crucifixion took place, but then quickly, along with the other disciples, locked himself in a house. At the word that Jesus tomb was empty, He and John ran to the place of burial to find it was empty. Some time later, Jesus was eating with his disciples and asked Peter if he loved Him….3 times. Significant? Yes.

Two men. Two different circumstances. Two different outcomes. Judas could not hang on to what he had done. Peter thought there might be hope for forgiveness.

Where are you? When you make bad choices, and you know it, do you ask for forgiveness and repent? Change is possible and a clean conscience is possible as well. Both come through Jesus. As we lead the people of this church family, will others see how we deal with bad judgment and choices? Will they see us holding on to Jesus and asking for forgiveness? Will they see us in true repentance…meaning that we do a U-Turn with our behavior? We can learn all about forgiveness and repentance, but until we experience it or see it in someone else’s life, we’ll never see it for what it truly is in Jesus.

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