If you told a story meant to convey the truth on a matter, which would be easier to complete: fiction or non?
Perhaps for some people nothing would be easier than teaching through experience and reality.
Perhaps for some people nothing would be easier than teaching through possibility and imagination.
No matter the choice, the choice could say something about us … but even if it says nothing, what matters is whether or not it could say something to others.
Jesus knew how to tell stories of truth, to both those who thought with the mind and those who thought with the heart. Sometimes it only took one story to satisfy each version of the student!
The stories Jesus would tell still need to be told because he told stories like no other in mankind could ever tell.
“Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”” (John 7:45-46 NKJV)
Perhaps it’s due to its birth, but Calvinism likes to play semantics with the sovereignty of God. One moment God is sovereignly controlling all things and the next moment he’s not in control of his own sovereignty.
You see, according to the doctrine of Calvinism, God’s sovereignty controls everything, including whether or not an individual is capable of being unconditionally saved. When God’s sovereign grace, according to the said doctrine, is gifted upon the unconditionally predestined individual by grace alone, only then is he or she capable of producing works of genuine repentance which evidences his or her reception of salvation from God. Therefore the logical end-result of Calvinism’s beginning says a person can only repent and be saved if it’s according to the sovereign will of God.
There are times when certain people may wonder if God can use their mixed-bag life. “It’s too complicated,” is the thought that too often comes to mind.
Situations such as historical family traditions and casserole-like religious experiences create doubt about our ability to serve God with certainty. Other issues like our birth-culture or maybe even our birth-name seems to be too contrary to sound Christian theology thus creating questions about our ability to be the salt and light who fulfills the calling of God. But I assure you, despite the questions, wonders or doubts, God can, and will, use you for the purpose of exalting Jesus.
Listen to Acts 18:24 and pay attention to the descriptions given to one interesting Christian:
This time of the year is one of my favorites because of lightning bugs. They’re wonderful little insects. So wonderful, in fact, Christians can learn no less than three applicable lessons from these bioluminescent creatures.
Here’s a good read from Apologetics Press about Jesus, temptation and sin. It’s a little lengthy but considering the subject it’s very concise.
In the past, I’ve had a couple of conversations with people about Jesus’ nature and his “relationship” with sin. If you get the same opportunity, the above article could be helpful.
If the church warns about the detrimental affects of certain behaviors from a spiritual perspective the world will hiss and boo and jeer the message and despise the messenger. But if the same message is presented by a messenger who does not represent the church and spiritual righteousness, the world will actually cheer! To a certain extent this principle can be seen in Jesus’ message to the apostles in John 15:18-19.
I hesitated to share the following link due to the speaker using a cuss word twice during their presentation (as usual, when the world is desperate for a laugh it believes the best way is to use profane language however unnecessary it may be), but the aforementioned principle is so undeniable observable after the presentation is over I believe it actually represents a teachable moment for the church.
Some believe an individual is not capable of understanding Bible truth unless they understand the original Bible languages. To the best of my knowledge, Jesus did not tell his apostles to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to read, write and speak in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek (much less Latin). And yet the individuals hearing the gospel would still be able to have faith and enjoy salvation in Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16).
This is not to say understanding what an original language user would hear or see when listening to or reading the scriptures is void of value. Quite the contrary! Truth of the matter is, sometimes things get lost in translation and great lessons, however simple, are missed even though the possession of truth is still attainable. Hardly is this truth more apparent than when it comes to the names of God’s prophets of old and the importance of the meaning behind these names.
In our English tongue and English Bibles and English/American culture, we know the names of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, along with the additional names of the major and minor prophets. And to most of us, when we hear Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel that is all we hear – the names. But to the original tongues and ears of the speakers and readers, these names of the prophets meant so much more because they wouldn’t miss the “Yah’s” and the “El’s.” They would not miss the fact that when it came to these prophets, God was in their name and their name was their message! Continue reading
Celebrity worship – it’s not just an American thing … it’s an unfortunate weakness of humanity.
The agenda of the Hollywood driven forms of media and Internet personalities want to convince the general public that celebrities are worth celebrating (and by celebrating of course what they’re looking for is your money and a lot of it) because they’re more “beautiful” or because they’re “smarter” or because they’re “funnier” or because they’re more “talented” in every possible category. The list is limited by your imagination.
Speaking of the ability to imagine. When it comes to celebrities, one glaring weakness is social media. A social media account that comes straight from the “celebrity” (which means I’m not talking about the accounts administered by paid staff to promote the “flawless” persona of the celebrated person) is the one place the general public has the ability to see who exactly is being celebrated. Continue reading
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” (Colossians 1:9-12 NKJV)
A few things are worth noting from this short section of scripture when it comes to the importance of knowing God’s will:
- It was necessary to their walking pattern with God
- It was necessary to working fruitfully for God
- It was necessary to avoid wavering without the strength supplied by God
- It was necessary to a willful thankfulness for the accomplishments of God
Living a life void of the knowledge of God’s will in the 21st century is no more beneficial than it was during the 1st century. Therefore it easy to see why Paul’s desire for the church at Colossi (and Laodicea – Colossians 4:16) remains the desire of the Holy Spirit for all of the church today.
It’s not enough to know that God has a will – it’s knowing that God’s will would have us know and believe what that will for us is as individuals and as the collective church.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)
In the context of dark geopolitical (and obviously geospiritual) times, the God of Heaven gives a message to Isaiah for the faithful (and faithless) upon the Earth:
“And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
Isaiah 8:19-20 NKJV
Without the law there was no light. Without the law there was no dawn of hope. Without the law there was no promise of deliverance because without the law the people were without a relationship with the living God. The governing law of God was the only guarantee of a guide who had the people’s best interest in mind (Isaiah 9:6-7).
A powerful lesson shares the roots of Isaiah’s message and still resonates with true fruit to this day. If we want a hope filled light that has its source in the God of Heaven then we must trust the word that shares the origin of the trustworthy hope, for the building blocks of hope are only as strong as the foundation they rest upon (Ephesians 2:19-22, 4:4; Revelation 22:14-16).
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:16-21 NKJV)
Concerning his goal with the gospel while in Crete, Paul told Titus:
“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:”
Titus 2:1 (NKJV)
Sound doctrine? Did I hear that right? Did you hear that right? If Titus were a student in “seminary” today would he have to clean out his ears? You mean, according to the grace of God that Titus was called to deliver (Titus 2:11-15), all doctrine is not equal?
While the result of sound doctrine within our heart may depend upon the condition of our ears (Mark 4:10-12; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; Revelation 2:7), speaking sound doctrine has less to do with our eardrums and the volume of our words and more to do with the ingredients of the words being served to the listeners. In regards to the righteous standards of the gospel, all words are either sound (as in healthy, wholesome and beneficial) and worthy of consumption, or, for the sake of our soul’s health, they are better left on the plate (Titus 3:9-11).
Contrary to the sugarcoated words of those who disagree, sound doctrine remains a pivotal part of the calling and election of Christians today, even if people choose not to talk about the subject (Ephesians 4:4-6; 2 Peter 1:10-12; 2 John 1:9-11).
“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God….”
Christians live with God under the law of liberty (Romans 8:2), but this does not mean we are free from the law of loving our neighbor (Romans 14:13-15).
The law of loving our neighbor comes with responsibilities. These responsibilities include being aware of how our behavior, even when we think we are right, could negatively affect our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Corinthians 8:9-13) … or even unbelievers (1 Corinthians 10:23-24; 27-33).
Just because we can does not mean we should. Do responsible parents not teach this to their children? If this lesson should be remembered by earthly children, then how much more should it be laid upon the heart of God’s spiritual children? (Hebrews 12:9)
The aforementioned principle may not come naturally or easily be submitted to, but with the mind of Christ we can come to a point of maturity that recognizes the moments when the pattern that we are creating for others is more important than the “liberty” we are seeking to enjoy for ourselves (Romans 15:2-3, Philippians 2:5; 12-15).
Short, simple, but hopefully useful.
Luke 23:39 – The Challenge
Luke 23:40 – The Caution
Luke 23:41 – The Comparison
Luke 23:42 – The Conclusion
Luke 23:43 – The Compassion
To God be the glory.
Here’s a barebones outline for Luke 23:26-43. It can be used for a sermon or a Bible class.
- Luke 23:26 – The Traveler
- Luke 23:27-31 – The Travail
- Luke 23:32-34 – The Track-record
- Luke 23:35-39 – The Trying
- Luke 23:40-41 – The Truth
- Luke 23:42-43 – The Trust
Hope you find it useful.