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.
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In connection to the interaction recorded in John 4:46-54, Allen Webster makes the following observation and follows it up by asking a good question to think about:
Jesus said to him, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). He reproves him without so much a pleasant greeting or a kind word. He did not say, “Well, I’m sorry about your son” or, “Thanks for coming,” or anything courteous. He surprises the man by seemingly chastening him.
We expect Jesus to use this strong manner to an insincere, hardhearted Pharisee who was trying to catch Him saying something he could use to accuse Him (Matthew 22:15), but not to a hurting father with a son about to die. We would expect Jesus to say what He said to the Centurion, “I will come and heal him” (Matthew 8:7). We are sure that if there ever was a sincere-from-a-tender-heart prayer, it was this man’s humble request. Why, then, did Jesus say this? Was He really trying to push him away?
(When Jesus Healed a Boy He Never Saw, Glad Tidings Publishing, House to House/Heart to Heart Bible Tracts, p. 4-5)
What do you think? What was going on when the King of kings responded this way to a father and royal official with a sick child?
There’s a reason why praying in the name of Jesus is so important – more than one actually.
In John 14:13-14, Jesus told the apostles:
“And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the father may be glorified in the son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
Don’t hear the reasons?
- It rests upon the accomplishments of Jesus by asking something of the father based upon the ability of Jesus to fulfill the request (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- It rests upon the accessibility of Jesus who is always residing in the presence of the father (Hebrews 7:25).
- It rests upon the authority of Jesus because of the rights bestowed upon him from the father (Matthew 28:18).
Some people may believe any avenue of prayer toward God is acceptable … but only one avenue assures us of our prayers making it directly into the throne room of Heaven.
God does not need our prayers to be who he is in his relationship with humanity. As a matter of fact, humanity’s silence can actually be a sign that affirms his omnipotence:
“But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” (Habakkuk 2:20 NKJV)
You see, it is not God who receives strength to exist from hearing our prayers; to the contrary, it is us who receives strength to exist from God hearing us and answering.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)
Some of these questions are meant to have answers straight from the text while other questions are meant to encourage discussion of the text.
- What “greater commandment” do you believe encompasses the directive of Deuteronomy 22:1-4?
- Outside of the encompassing “greater commandment”, can you think of another New Testament scripture/principle that teaches what Moses was saying? (Deuteronomy 22:1-4)
- Does the principle of Deuteronomy 22:5 mean a man shouldn’t wear a kilt or that a woman shouldn’t wear pants today?
- What does the fact that “building codes” existed in Israel say about Moses’ law in general? (Deuteronomy 22:8)
- According to Deuteronomy 22:17-19, were there any consequences for falsely accusing a woman of unfaithfulness?
- According to Deuteronomy 22:21, which two people bore the responsibility of infidelity/unholiness before marriage?
- What was the consequence of rape in the land of Israel? (Deuteronomy 22:25)
Nehemiah’s last request was an OMG moment, but not like the frivolous, contemptuous and hollow way people use it today.
His last request reveals his first desire – the result of seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and a yearning to receive the grace of its king. Such is the reason why his request should be ours (Matthew 6:33).
“… Remember me, O my God, for good!” (Nehemiah 13:31 – NKJV)
We could be remembered by God for a lot of things, to put it lightly. What, though, wouldn’t be so light would be the negative things our Creator could so easily bring to mind. Thank God for his listening ear and intentional “memory loss” through the blood of Christ (Jeremiah 31:33-34; Hebrews 10:11-12, 16-17).
To be remembered by God for the good we have done is a holy desire and a mindset of the finite seeking the infinite. We should have it! But we must remember a simple principle that goes along with Nehemiah’s godly cry – we must be about our Father’s business of doing good and serving in such a way that we give him plates of food, cups of water, rooms of charity, clothes of comfort, visits of edification, and medicines of healing to think about (Matthew 10:40-42; 25:34-36; 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Acts 10:34-35, Luke 6:33-35, Galatians 6:10; 1 Peter 3:11, Hebrews 13:13-16; 1 Corinthians 15:57-58).
“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward his name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (Hebrews 6:10 – NKJV)
Some of these questions are meant to have answers straight from the text while other questions are meant to encourage discussion of the text.
- What was the first required step if a dead body was found in the promised land? (Deuteronomy 21:2)
- After the cow was sacrificed, what were the elders of the city required to do, and why? (Deuteronomy 21:6-9)
- In relation to this described situation and remedy, what do you believe was the underlying principle of God’s command? (Deuteronomy 21:9)
- How were the captive women to be treated if chosen by a man of Israel? (Deuteronomy 21:11)
- Did these foreign women under consideration have any rights if a divorce took place? (Deuteronomy 21:14)
- In relation to the previous question, what was the alternative in the other nations around Israel?
- Did law or love govern inheritance rights in the land of Israel? (Deuteronomy 21:17)
- Is this “death penalty” approach to children meant to have been used on teenage temper-tantrums? (Deuteronomy 21:20)
- What New Testament author connected Jesus’ crucifixion to the curse of God mentioned in Deuteronomy 21:22-23?