Friday, April 18, 2014

What's So Good About Friday?

[Jesus] said, "It is finished!" Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.
          John 19:30 (NLT)

Today is Good Friday.  But what's so good about the day we remember the death of our Savior and King?  It's good because Jesus, God in human form, came down from Heaven and gave himself up for us so that we could be free.  In his dying, death was defeated so that we could have eternal life.  We need to remember this because without the dying on Friday Easter would simply be another Sunday.

What's so good about the Friday that Jesus died?  It's good because no one could kill Jesus.  Neither the Jews or their leaders put him on that cross.  It wasn't Pilate or the Roman soldiers who put him there.  Some would say it was us and our sins who put him there.  But even that is not correct.  He chose the nails.  He chose the cross.  He chose to die for our sins.  That's what's so good about Good Friday.

Remember the sacrifice that our God made for us today.  No other religion that I know of can make the same claim of a God who loves His people so much that He would sacrifice himself for them.  Our God is an awesome God who loves us and desires us to be close to Him.  That's what's so good about this Friday.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

How lovely is your dwelling place,
  O LORD of Heaven's Armies.
 I long, yes, I faint with longing
  to enter the courts of the LORD.
With my whole being, body and soul,
  I will shout joyfully to the living God.
                          Psalm 84:1-2 (NLT)


“How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven's Armies!”  For the Israelites traveling in the wilderness the dwelling place would have been the Ark of the Covenant where the stone tablets with the Law of Moses presided.  Later, the Temple became the dwelling place.  What the Psalmist is speaking of here is the home of God.  And it’s at this place that we come to worship, whether we call it a synogogoue or a church or something else.  It's wherever two or three are gathered for the purposes of praising God and coming closer to Him. 

Read this portion of Psalm 84 again.  Do you hear the passion in it?  Is this how you feel about worship when you enter in on Sunday mornings or whatever day and time you meet with others in God's name?  Are we as eager to encounter God as the Psalmist seems to be here?

In the love of Christ,
greg

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
                                               Romans 15:7 (NIV)

People are so different.  How many ways can you think of that we are totally different?  There are different skin colors, genders, lifestyles, aptitudes, ways of thinking, ways of talking, ways of walking, interests, skills, personalities, agendas, likes, dislikes, eating habits, sleeping habits, etc.

But no matter how different we are, we are all loved the same by God.  And that is why God sent Jesus for all of us.  That is why the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  Every single one of us has a chance now because of Jesus.  

When we accept Christ, Christ accepts us.  So as Christ has accepted us, let us accept each other; those who are in his fold now and those who may possibly be in it later.  In doing this, we will bring praise to God.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thought of the (Tax) Day !!

Inspirational illustration of Romans 13:6-7

Happy Tax Day!!  I say this as I prepare to sign the sheet for my tax refund from federal that will be used to pay my CPA and state taxes.  Joy of joys.  So why do I say Happy Tax Day?

First, I say Happy Tax Day!! because if you are paying taxes it means you have a job.  There are many today that don't work for a variety of reasons including laziness, disabilities, too young or too old.  But many today have families to support and have been laid off or fired.  They need work and have had a difficult time finding a job or when a job becomes available they are underqualified or overqualified.  Or the job the get just isn't enough to pay the bills.  I'm happy today to have a job where I'm paid, and paid adequately.

Second, I say Happy Tax Day!! because we live in a system where elected officials (whether you voted for them or not) govern us.  According to Paul they are God's servants.  If you have a difficult time believing that our government could ever be servants of God then I'm sure you are right there with the people Paul spoke who weren't too keen on the Romans who governed them either.  Yet Paul still said it.  Was he a liar?  No.  They are God's servants.  And just like all of us they have the ability to choose which way they serve.  And just like all of us they will be rewarded in Heaven or judged accordingly for how they've served.

Finally, I say Happy Tax Day!! because as the Psalmist writes and we sing sometimes on Sunday mornings, "This is the Day that the Lord has made!  Let us rejoice and glad in it!"  Find good in each and every day my friends.  And find ways to share that good with others today.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Monday, April 14, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth."
                                        John 1:45 (NLT)

Jesus has issued the call to Philip to become a disciple.  What's the first thing that Philip does after this?  He runs and tells his friend Nathanael the good news.  Can you hear the excitement in Philip's voice as he proclaims that he's found the one they've all been waiting on?  He's excited because he's met Jesus.

Imagine yourself in a prison somewhere halfway across the world after being sentenced to death and waiting for it to come at any moment.  Now imagine how excited you would be when the Navy Seal team shows up and tells you that they are there to save you.  I imagine you'd be pretty excited. 

Yet Jesus has done just that.  He's saved us from eternal death.  How excited are we about that?  Maybe you wake up every morning excited about Jesus and what He's done for you.  Maybe you once were, but have become complacent.  I don't know about you, but daily I seem to see unexcited Christians walking this earth who not only aren't excited about Christ, but also hardly ever even mention His name. 

How will the world know the Good News if the ones who supposedly have it aren't even excited about it?  Get excited about Jesus today.  Show others this excitement.  And it just might spread.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Friday, April 11, 2014

Early Requirements of Church Membership

I was just reading where in the Early Church (around 200 AD) converts to Christianity had certain requirements they would have to meet before being baptized into the Christian religion.  In most denominations today if a person claims to have accepted Jesus then they are baptized and brought into the Church.  In this day, however, background checks were made, assessments were made of the candidate's suitability, and then they were given training on what it meant to be a Christian.  This training would last three years.  Only then could they become members of the Church.

The profession of a person also had a lot to do with whether one could become a Christian or not.  For example if one were a prostitute they would be excluded.  Other examples of professions that would keep you out were anything to do with magic or divination or the theatre.  What I read did not say whether or not if they could become a Christian if they gave up that profession.  I would hope so.  Otherwise the teachings of grace and forgiveness would be null and void already.

There were also certain professions where one would have to make certain vows about their jobs.  Soldiers could join provided they vowed never to take part in an execution.  If ordered to do so, they must deny the order at risk of being executed themselves.  Painters and sculptors could become Christians only if they vowed not to make idols.   

To us today this may seem like a lot.  On the other hand, you might think they had the right idea.  Either way, I believe that joining the Church today can be done very easily without any actual repentance or even true belief or desire for Jesus.  I wonder how different our churches would be if things today were more like things in the third century.

In the love of Christ,
greg


Thought of the Day !!

Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their sorrow.
                                        Isaiah 49:13 (NLT)

There is hope in our Lord.  And as long as there is hope, we can sing for joy.

Oh there will be times of sorrow for us all.  There will be times when our tears are of sadness instead of joy.  But even then, our God is with us.  His comfort can be found.  For it is deeper than the great seas for His children. 

In the love of Christ,
greg


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
                                    Philippians 3:13b-14 (NLT)

The Christian life is a continuous struggle.  We’re caught in tension within ourselves.  It’s a struggle between our worldly desires and God’s desires for us.
   
This is why it’s so important to do as Paul did.  He left his past behind.  This is not a one-time thing.  Instead it’s a daily decision we must make.  For Paul, there was hatred and arrogance and self-righteousness in his past.  Did he continue to struggle with his past sins…probably so.  Will we struggle with past sins…surely.  That is the very reason we have to leave the past behind each and every day.

Paul knew that even though this was difficult, it wasn’t impossible.  The devil tries to convince us that past failures, guilt over past sins or pain over past hurts will keep us from being made right with God.  The devil also tries to get us to give up maturing in our faith, telling us it’s too hard.  But the devil is all about lies and deceit.  Don’t listen to him.  For doesn’t this idea contradict the very things we proclaim about a loving and forgiving God?

Each day live for the day God has given you and don't let the past get you down.  Each new day brings about new possibilities.  We choose what we do with these possibilities.

In the love of Christ,
greg