Archive for July, 2011
One day he stopped to watch some men doing stonework on a huge church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of stone. “What are you going to do with that?” asked my friend. The workman said, “See that little opening away up there near the spire? Well, I’m shaping this down here, so it will fit in up there.”
Tears filled the man’s eyes as he walked away, for it seemed God had spoken through the workman to explain his ordeal and had said, “I’m shaping you down here, so you’ll fit in up there.”
Let your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised; (Psalm 119:41 MSG
A few months ago there was also a tremendous amount of news covering a man named Harold Camping who predicted the world was going to end on May 23rd. Of course the world didn’t come to an end and so now he’s predicting it’s going to end on October 21st. Over his lifetime he has made a total of 13 such predictions.
So, is the world going to come to an end this year? Is it going to end in 2012? Are we living in the last days? How can we know if these are the last days? What are the signs to look for?
If the world is going to end one day and we are living in the last days, what should we do?
Matthew 24:44 Always be ready! You don’t know when the Son of Man will come. (CEV)
The most important thing you can do to be ready for Jesus in these last days is to accept Him as your personal savior. How about you? Are you ready? Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior? Do you believe He died on the cross for your sins?
If you aren’t ready, you can get ready right now by asking God to forgive you and believe Jesus died on the cross for you.
Psalm 69:32a The humble will see their God at work and be glad. (NLT)
Today I decided to take the afternoon off and go to Disneyland for some fun. Even though it’s summer and Monday is my usual day off, I haven’t had much down time lately and I can always tell when I need to slow down and kick back and relax because it shows up in my sleep habits and attitude.
So as I was driving down the 91 Freeway with thousands of other drivers at breakneck speed to relax, everything came to a screeching halt.
People were going so fast that they didn’t see a 20 foot extension ladder stretched across several lanes. So naturally, they were forced to slow down and some actually had to stop so the debris could be cleared away. It’s a very typical experience on Southern California freeways.
However, it made me think about how that experience is also very typical of many people and their spiritual life.
They are so busy and living life at such a fast pace that they don’t even see a quarter of what’s going on right in front of them.
They’re in such a rush in their life that they don’t see what’s happening in their marriage. They don’t see the struggles that their kids are experiencing and most of the time don’t even see God at work in their life or the world at large.
The antidote is to slow down so you can see things better. After all, the best way to see the scenery is not in a plane going 600 miles per hour at 35,000 feet in the air. The best way is to see it is at ground level going 65 miles per hour in a car.
So, as I sit in the French Quarter in Disneyland listening to a band play some nice Jazz music I’d like to suggest that if you really want to get a better perspective on life, God and His will for your life; SLOW DOWN!
After all, God even rested after he created everything.
At The Bridge Church in Corona we’re going through the book of First John verse-by-verse. It’s been a rewarding study on how to live confidently for God. You can listen to the individual messages online by going to The Bridge Facebook page.
There is a lot of confusion about real love basically because the English language is very imprecise. For instance we say, “I love ice cream, I love the weather, I love my dog, I love my wife, I love you, I love God or I love an activity.” But it’s obvious that you love your wife or husband in a different way than you love ice cream.
On the other hand, The Bible is very precise in the way it uses the word “love.” The Bible has a different word for several kinds of love. There is eros love which is erotic in nature. There is phileo love which has to do with friendship and there is agape love which is the sacrificial kind of love that Jesus has for us.
So, the trick is trying to figure out what God says about love and then loving the way He wants us to love. And there is a difference between the way God wants us to love and the way the world tells us to love.
Real love isn’t just something you say, it’s also something you do. Real love is consistent in what it says and does. Real love doesn’t just talk the talk. It also walks the walk.
1 John 3:18 We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words. (GW)
Real love isn’t some kind of shallow sentiment or a passing emotion. Real love is practical and can be seen in your conduct or behavior.
Romans 12:9a Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them.
On the way home from church a little girl turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, the pastor’s sermon this morning confused me.” The mother said, “Oh! Why is that?” The girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?” “Yes, that’s true,” the mother replied. “He also said that God lives within us. Is that true, too?” Again the mother replied, “Yes.” “Well,” said the girl. “If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”
God wants people to be able to see Jesus in your life. If they can’t see Jesus, then there is definitely something wrong because whatever is inside you will be seen on the outside.
If there is judgment in your heart, it will be seen in your life. If there is hate in your heart, it will be seen in your life. If there is love in your heart, it will be seen in your life. If Jesus lives inside you, people will be able to see Jesus in your life.
Matthew 12:35 Good people do the good things that are in them. But evil people do the evil things that are in them. (GW)
What does it mean to be “like Christ”? The goal of our growth as children of God is to be more like Jesus. Christian growth is about going from infancy to maturity. It means going from being a babe in Christ to becoming more and more like Christ. The question is, “What is the process? What are the steps to becoming more like Christ?”
I want you to think of Christian growth and becoming more like Christ as a bridge. One of the things you need to understand about spiritual growth is that you can’t move from one end of the bridge to the other end immediately.
Many years ago our family went to San Francisco and we decided to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’ve never done this, you need to. It’s a thrill!
Becoming like Christ is like walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s going to take you awhile. Becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. Now the bad news about this is that there are some areas of your life that will never reach the maturity end of the bridge. But the good news is that you can start right now no matter where you are on the bridge. And each step you take is considered a growth step.
Vince Lombardi, the famous coach for the Greenbay Packers once said, “Inches make a champion.” Each growth step you take will help you become more like Jesus.
Ephesians 4:13b We must become like a mature person—we must grow until we become like Christ and have all his perfection. (ICB)
Just recently we celebrated our nation’s birthday on July 4th. Freedom comes from the truth. The more you know the truth the freer you’re going to be in your life, your family, your church and your country. The opposite is also true. The more you give up on truth the more you forfeit your freedom. Slowly but surely our society has been moving away from truth.
A national poll found that 70% of Americans expressed concern about the “decline of moral values” in our society. Our country is experiencing a crisis of credibility. Corruption is everywhere. You can find it in politics, in business, in sports, in schools, in entertainment and even in churches.
What’s the cause of this decline in morals? The answer is truth decay. Truth decay doesn’t happen all at once, it happens very slowly over a period of time just like tooth decay. At first you don’t even know it’s happening. You can’t feel it or see it. But it’s happening and if you don’t stop it you’ll eventually lose your teeth. If we don’t stop the decay of truth in our society all kinds of problems are going to happen that are even worse than what we’re facing right now.
What are some of the signs of truth decay in our culture today? How can we see it happening?
One of the signs is IMMORALITY
When there’s no standard of right and wrong anything goes and people will do whatever they want to do.
Ephesians 4:19 They don’t care anymore about right and wrong and have given themselves over to impure ways… (LB)
Another sign is ILLEGALITY
If there’s no standard of right or wrong then everything is considered legal.
Proverbs 29:18 When there is ignorance of God crime runs wild… (LB)
Another sign is INJUSTICE
When there’s no standard of right and wrong you can get away with anything.
Isaiah 59:14 Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. (NLT)… Truth falls dead in the streets, and justice is outlawed. (LB)
What’s the answer? The TRUTH!
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (NIV)
One of the areas that many Christians struggle with in their spiritual life is because they lack the security and assurance of their salvation.
Eternal security is not the same as assurance of salvation. Eternal security has to do with how God sees you. Assurance has to do with how you see yourself.
The dictionary says assurance is full confidence; freedom from doubt; certainty. It’s a feeling that we have about our salvation. But security of salvation isn’t based on your feelings, it’s based on the work of God. You can have security without feelings, but you can’t have assurance without feelings. And let’s face it, the devil really tries to mess with our feelings so he can get us to doubt if we are really saved.
1 Peter 5:8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (NLT)
So, the question is, “How can I have assurance of my salvation? How can I know for sure that I am saved?”
The obvious answer is because God says you’re saved if you have put your faith in His son Jesus Christ and believe He is the Christ.
1 John 4:15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. (NIV)
Knowing that God never lies ought to be enough to help us be sure that we are saved. But for those who need more, God gives us more.
Throughout the book of First John God tells us over and over how we can be sure we are saved. For instance, read these verses:
1 John 2:3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. (NIV)
1 John 2:5b-6 This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (NIV)
1 John 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. (NIV)
1 John 3:6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (NIV)
1 John 3:10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (NIV)
1 John 3:24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (NIV)
1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (NIV)
Are you sure you are saved?
As Christians our model for maturity is Jesus Christ. We’re to think, act, feel and talk like Christ. He’s our model. He not only came to save us from our sins but also show us how to live.
Spiritual growth is not accidental. You must intend to grow. You must make a choice to grow. That means you’re as close to Jesus Christ as you choose to be. You can choose to be a spiritual baby your entire life or a spiritual giant. It’s your choice.
Matthew 9:9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. (NLT)
Matthew made a choice to follow Jesus. He made a commitment to follow Him. Did Matthew follow Jesus perfectly at first. Of course not. None of us do. If you wait until you’re able to follow Jesus perfectly before you make a commitment, you’ll never accomplish anything for God. First you make a commitment to grow, then you grow into that commitment.
If you want to grow in your spiritual life you have to make some commitments to God in the following areas. First, commit to attending church on Sunday. Second, commit to reading and studying your Bible on a daily basis. Third, commit to having a daily quiet time with God where you can talk to God through prayer while He’s talking to you through His word. Fourth, commit to getting into a small group where you can be accountable to other Christians who will encourage you to grow. Fifth, find a place in your church where you can serve God and others.
These are just a few things that will help stretch you as a Christian and help you to start growing spiritually.
In May, Debra and I flew back to Orlando Florida to Disney World. Have you ever been on a plane and listened to the flight attendant’s instructions about what to do in case of an emergency? They say the same thing, every day on every flight. And no one ever listens to them.
Why? One reason is because the presentation is so boring! Let’s face it, even the flight attendants look bored out of their minds making the presentation! Plus, most of us have flown multiple times and have heard the same thing over and over! So, we just zone out and drift off into “la la land.”
This same dynamic can also happen in our relationship with God. We have a hard time staying close to Him. Our tendency is to drift off on our own and that’s when we get into trouble.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups… Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. (MSG)
Back in 1945 the U.S. Navy rolled out their first digital computer. It filled an entire room. One day though it just stopped working so they called in the technicians. They couldn’t figure out why it had stopped so they called in a few scientists. Finally, after a more thorough search, they found that deep inside the computer, a moth had crawled between two electrical contact points and was stuck. As a result, the circuit couldn’t be closed. As soon as the moth was removed, the computer started working again.
When sin comes between you and God it disrupts your fellowship with Him. How do you get the spiritual “bugs” out of your relationship with God? If you’ve drifted away from God, the best way to get back into fellowship with Him is to simply ask Him for forgiveness.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NASB)
Asking for forgiveness will always restore your fellowship with God and bring you back to Him. And always remember, God’s promise to forgive you is not based on a feeling you have but on His faithfulness and righteousness.