The Scripture teaches that Jesus gave up His life for us individually. That is, He gave up His life for all those who love the Lord and call on His name (John 3:16; Acts 2:21). Paul wrote to those of Galatia, “who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4, ESV). Reflect on this for a moment: Jesus gave up His life, that we might have life. We should respect this gift of life given to us in such a way that our lives are changed, changed in the direction of holiness. “…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16, ESV). RT
Doctors, researchers, and health officials have been telling the public to cut back on soda consumption for years, and it appears that people have been listening. Soda no longer tops the list of Americans’ favorite beverages; it has been replaced by bottled water. —via Soda is No Longer America’s Favorite Beverage
Is it because doctors, researchers, and health officials have been warning about the dangers of soft drinks for years? Perhaps so. It’s hard to say. That they are bad for health is a no-brainer. A can of Coke has 9 teaspoons of sugar. That’s just for starters.
People change habits because they see dangers on the one hand and benefits on the other. Continue reading
Must-read: Rick Kelley’s article on his blog, “50 shades of rationalization.” Don’t miss a single word of it.
Scripture: “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 1:2)
Thought: The saints in Colosse were of the faithful brethren as much as the faithful brethren were saints. Sainthood has nothing to do with achievement or accomplishment or merit; sainthood is not “climbing” the heavenly ladder of success in God’s eyes; nor is sainthood a “class” of Christian designated by a “church hierarchy.” Paul was not recognizing two “classes” of Christians any more than he was saying the Colossians “only” loved a certain “class” of Christian in 1:4. Rather, Paul was reminding all of the Christians at Colosse about who they had become, and who they were continually called to be in Christ Jesus as citizens of God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:9-14), much in the same way that Peter told his readers to be holy in all of life’s conduct (1 Peter 1:15-16).
Prayer: Father, help us to remember our calling as your saints. Help us to see our citizenship in Heaven and help us to live our lives here in accordance with your standards of holiness. Help us to trust your restoring and reforming grace that has been made available through the blood of your son. And may we, as your people, reflect in our heart, hands and feet what the beauty of your holiness is able to accomplish with our simple clay.
I had the chance last week to attend the “Leadercast” event which is held in Atlanta but then broadcast live throughout America and other parts of the world.
This was the second time that I was able to attend the event, and if my mind’s not slipping me; maybe it is, I want to do as I did last time and share a few thoughts about my experience.
Most often, especially in Middle Tennessee, the simulcast events are held at church buildings due to locality and other logistically related issues such as seating. So as the case was last year, this year’s venue was a church building in a neighboring county.
The thought that I would like to share this morning comes from something the church’s pastor said to the people in attendance. He invited everyone to visit the church and then added this caveat: if you’re not messed up don’t visit our church, we don’t want you here, cause we’re a bunch of messed up people.
My first reaction to that was, “That’s messed up.” My feelings had nothing to do with a self-righteous, high-horse, better-than-you attitude. It had to do with the fact that if a person is looking for some spiritual guidance then they need to find it from others who have it together – not from people who are messed up.
This has nothing to do with believing that I’m sinless (outside of the sinlessness that the blood of Jesus provides). This has nothing to do with believing that I’m perfect (outside of the perfection that is found in Jesus). This has nothing to do with with believing that I’m a “holier than thou” individual (outside of the holiness attained and provided through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Jesus as the provider of the church). It has everything to do with the responsibility of the church’s membership to be distinctly and inherently different from the world (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). You know, the very things than an apostle of Jesus Christ corrected the church at Corinth for doing – they were messed up and Paul said that that was messed up!
But before you say Paul was messed up (as it seems a whole lot of religious people like to do), I would like to remind you that it wasn’t only Paul who felt that way – so did Peter (1 Peter 1:13-17), so did John (1 John 2:15-17), so did James (James 1:27, 4:1-4), and so did Jude (Jude 16-18). That doesn’t even include the recorded words of Jesus in the gospels that call us out of our messes and into his light. I can’t resist (Luke 13:1-5).
When I’m having car troubles I don’t want to take my vehicle to someone who has never had car problems. But then again, I don’t want to take it to someone who doesn’t know how to keep their car in good running condition! That doesn’t mean their car never has problems, but it does mean that when the problems come up they know where to order the parts from to fix them.
I’m not looking for a church that’s full of messed up people and neither should you. I’m looking for a church where the people have it together, and doesn’t mean…well, back up three paragraphs because I’m not going to rehash that hot-potato.
Am I messed up for feeling this way? Share your thoughts if you think so, or even if you don’t.
In my previous post, I reflected on how God’s forgiveness and discipline intertwined in our lives, gleaning principles from Psalm 99 and Hebrews 12. Psalm 99 also teaches some powerful truths about holiness and the sovereignty of God in connection with prayer by heroes of faith. Psalm 99 has universal perspective: People from every nation (and even the earth itself!) should tremble at the realization that God rules. While, especially in Western society, people cherish autonomy, Psalm 99 reminds us that even rulers, priests, and prophets are accountable to God. The psalm mentions Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Each of these three had a connection with priesthood; Moses and Samuel also functioned as rulers and prophets in Israel. The role of prayer in the ministry of all three is noted when the psalm’s writer observes about Samuel, “…Samuel also was among those who called on his name,” in a literary structure that equates the service of Aaron and Moses with that of Samuel. While all three were spiritual leaders of the people of God, Moses and Aaron especially were held accountable for sins committed in the course of leading Israel. Even Samuel had to answer for the unethical behavior of his sons after he delegated some of his responsibilities and authority to them.
Psalm 99 emphasizes the holiness of God in its call to worship him: “Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!”(verse 5) and “Extol the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy” (verse 9). We know the LORD is holy because he is a “lover of justice” and has “executed justice and righteousness”(verse 4). In regard to the prayers of Aaron, Moses, and Samuel, verse 8 observes, “O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.” The psalmist also notes that this trio of faith heroes “kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them.”
God’s holiness is to be reflected in the lives of his worshipers; passages like James 3 underline that teachers and leaders of worship especially should live holy lives. The lives of the three leaders named above reveal that even flawed leaders can lead God’s people well, but that there is a personal cost for their sins. Psalm 99 applies this truth to leaders, but also to all in our world who call on God’s name in prayer. Prayer is not a glib conversation with a friend, but a dialogue with the holy Creator of life and our world. As Hebrews 12:28 states, “Therefore, since wee are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.” When we “call for fire” in prayer, we must pray with awareness of the power of the One to whom we cry.
Christians at Thessalonica were encouraged to “abound more and more” in holiness. The same encouragement is needed by the church of Christ today. God’s people must live a holy life. You must devote your life to following Christ.
“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8) Continue reading