Friday, March 27, 2015

Thought of the Day !!

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 
                                      Romans 14:1 (NIV)

Think about people that you might have disputes, disagreements, or differences of opinion with.  It is very easy to judge them based on your own perceptions.  Is it possible that you are judging people based on any perception that you may have of them?  

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
                                     James 4:11-12 (NIV)

In judging others we take on the power of God.  We claim that we are right and they can't possible be if they disagree with us.  Ask yourself, "Am I really qualified to judge somebody else?"

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
                                                  
                                        Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV)

How many of us have no planks in our eyes?  In other words, how many of us are without sin?  We should be working on our own selves and leaving the judging up to God.  We can always pray for people and try to persuade them in love to be the people that God wants them to be.  We can lovingly point out that there might be some sin in another person's life that is harmful to them.  But we should always do so in a manner that shows that we're not perfect either.  The key is to care about people and look up to them in humility, not down on them in judgment.  

In the love of Christ,

greg

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thought of the Day !!

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever would lose his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.
                                           Mark 8:34-35 (ESV)

Just how serious do we take this passage?  In light of what our culture teaches us, which is to deny ourselves nothing and strive for everything, this can seem pretty incredulous.  The only time we are taught to deny ourselves is when we are being denied certain foods so that we can gain a better looking body, which according to the world today means skinnier.

Some Christians are denying something in their lives over the season of Lent.  They are basically fasting for this season, giving up something that was important to them for Christ.  I remember one year giving up caffeine.  When Easter morning came I gorged myself on coffee and then later soft drinks.  I was on a caffeine high all day.  Is this truly denying ourselves for Christ?

So what does it mean to deny myself and take up my cross and follow Jesus?  The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that for me it is taking a stand against what the world teaches me is important in lieu of what Jesus teaches me.  It means that my success is not all about numbers or what the world sees as success.  It's about what makes my Father in Heaven proud of me.  I can be a huge success in this world, but if I have to do so by living by the world's standards, then I lose any rewards I could have stored up in Heaven.  

In this life we can lean on Jesus in the difficult times of our lives.  But we need to learn what it means to lose ourselves for Him in the other times as well.  For our success is predicated only upon how much we are willing to lose our lives for Him and the Gospel.  

In the love of Christ,

greg

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thought of the Day !!

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
                   Luke 22:44 (ESV)

This all happens right before Jesus is betrayed and turned over to the Jewish leaders and then to Pilate.  It takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

As Jesus prayed, he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.  What was Jesus agonizing over so much?  Was it his impending torture and death?  Was it that his closest friends still didn’t understand?  Was it how the religious elite had become so corrupted and misused their services to his Father in Heaven?  Was it the lostness of world?

Maybe he was agonizing over all of this.  And the agony of it all led to him pray his heart out.  I can just imagine him pouring his heart out to the Father.

How many of us have prayed till we sweated drops like blood?  How often are our prayers so intent that we get lost in ourselves and absorbed in the presence of God?  It’s then that we really connect and often times are strengthened, given understanding or given peace.

In the love of Christ,
greg


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thought of the Day !!

But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself.  For a day of anger is coming, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.  He will judge everyone according to what they have done.  He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.  But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.
                                Romans 2:5-8 (NLT)

Those who know me know that I'm not a "Hell, fire and brimstone" kind of preacher.  I would much rather instruct the faithful or speak the love of Christ to an unbeliever.  But we must take seriously the eternal effects of our lives.  So today these verses came to me (in a round about way), and I feel compelled to speak on them.  

There will be a Day of Judgment.  Christians differ on the specifics of this.  When will it happen? How many judgments will there be?  etc.  But the one thing we can all agree on is that everyone will come before God and be judged.  

Even though I don't have all the answers, I feel confident about this.  One day everyone will come before the Lord.  It might be when they die or when Jesus, Himself comes back to Earth.  At some point Jesus will judge between the righteous and unrighteous.  In the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:14-30 he tells us that we will be divided into those who go to Heaven and those who will go to Hell.  This is a straight forward "yes or no", "enter or do not enter" decision.  

The bible teaches that there will be another kind of judgment.  This may happen at the same time or at a different time.  For those who've spurned God and lived this life for themselves the bible makes clear that they will be judged by their selfish deeds.  "The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead.  And all were judged according to their deeds." (Rev. 20:13 NLT)  These, John writes, will be thrown into the "lake of fire."

But those who love Jesus, who place their trust in Him instead of themselves, who are willing to turn to Him and His ways, will be judged as well.  But this judgment is not about picking out all the wrongs we've done.  Jesus teaches forgiveness.  David wrote about our sins being cast away as far as the east is from the west in Psalm 103.  So what is this judgment about?  Jesus shares in Matthew (on his Sermon on the Mount) that we are to store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven.  This judgement is not to punish, but to reward.  

There is one central truth that all will come to understand at some point in this life or after it.  This truth is that there are two destinations.  One is eternal death and judgment of sins.  The other is eternal life where we are rewarded for the ways in which we follow Jesus.  If you have not placed your trust in Jesus, loving Him more than life itself, then look to Him and ask for what He desires so badly to give you.  If you have accepted Him into your life, let these verses remind you of the significance of our sharing His love with others.

In the love of Christ,

greg

Monday, March 23, 2015

Thought of the Day !!

     As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road.
     When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"
     "Lord," he said, "I want to see!"
     And Jesus said, "All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you." Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.
                                 Luke 18:35, 40-43 (NLT)

If Jesus were to ask you what you want, would you ask for sight?  Maybe not, seeing as how you may not be physically blind.  But think about just how important sight is.  We need a vision for our lives, a vision for our churches, a vision for service, a vision for ministry.

Lots of people are walking around today and are spiritually blind.  They don't know Christ, or if they do, they don't know what His desires for them are.  Let us seek God's counsel through the Holy Spirit as we pray for sight.

In the love of Christ,
greg