Saturday, September 27, 2014

Values from the Kingdom of God - message outline

“Values from the Kingdom of God”
Luke 9:37-50
September 28, 2014

Values from the Kingdom of God......

I.   Jesus succeeds where we fail (37-43)

37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him.
38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”
41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”
42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him.  But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.
43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

II. Keep focused on Jesus’ ultimate Messianic mission. (44-45)

44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.”
45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

III.  Our human understanding of greatness does not belong to the Kingdom of God (46-48)

46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.
47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side
48  and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

IV. The boundaries of God’s work and grace are wider than we suppose (49-50)

49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.”
50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Humurous Headlines


* Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
* Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
* Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
* Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
* Miners Refuse to Work after Death
* Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
* War Dims Hope for Peace
* If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
* Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
* Enfield Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
* Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
* Man Struck By Lightning Faces Battery Charge
* New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
* Kids Make Nutritious Snacks   (from Humorama newsletter)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What is heaven like?

What is heaven like? Why do we have to wait for heaven? What does the Bible say I need to do to go to heaven?

After finishing a tour of duty with the Army in Germany,  I flew home and surprised my family and friends. After my long absence and finally arriving to see family and friends, I felt truly connected and enjoyed my renewed relationships with them. Heaven is like the ultimate home going.

When most people think of heaven, they think of a  place. The Apostle John in the last two chapters of the Bible (Revelation chapters 21 & 22) describes heaven as a glorious place. However, the key joy of heaven is not the amazing sites, but the fulfilling and continuing of our relationship with the Lord.  Jesus spoke these words “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  John 14:2-3.  Heaven is the place where we will continue our relationship with Him

The main reason that we wait for the fullness of heaven until we die or when the Lord returns is that God is at work in and through us to accomplish the purpose of building His kingdom  A key phrase in the Lord’s prayer emphasizes this idea, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”  Matthew 6:10.

Heaven and hell are both logical extensions of our relationship or lack of relationship with God.  The Apostle John gives an invitation to establish a relationship with the Lord, in John 1:12 : “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  We enter the family of God through faith, which is another way of saying ‘receive’ and ‘believe.’  The Greek word (exousia) translated ‘right’ in this verse has the meaning of power and authority which comes from being adopted into the family of God through faith in Christ.

Eternal life starts when a person places their faith in Christ.  This establishes an eternal relationship with God which is ultimately fulfilled in heaven. While many put off a relationship with the Lord, this is foolish since we do not know when we are going to die.  We should be enjoying a relationship with God now while we look forward to spending eternity with Him in heaven, our ultimate home going.

Bible Difficulties

Luke 9:27 (ESV)
27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

 From “The Expositors Bible Commentary”, Vol. 8, p 924:

924]9:27}This is a perplexing verse. “Some who are standing here” may refer to the disciples as a group as opposed to the crowd, or some of the disciples as opposed to the rest of the disciples. Marshall (Gospel of Luke) argues well for the former. But both are possible. Even if the larger group from whom the “some are selected is broader than the Twelve, that does not mean that the select group includes all or even most of the twelve.
There have been a number of different proposals as to what specific experience Jesus had in mind when he said these words.
>If he meant the future consummation of a literal kingdom, he would have been mistaken, as that has not yet occurred.
>He may have meant Pentecost, for the coming of the Spirit brought the dynamic of the kingdom (mark 9:1 has the word “power”, but the imagery is not obvious.
>The resurrection of Christ declared him “with power to be the Son of God” (Romans 1:4), but the that event does not seem to be understood in Scripture as an expression of  the kingdom as such.
It is true that Pentecost and the Resurrection are expressions of the same power, by which the kingdom of God proved itself of the kingdom of Satan and his demons in Jesus casting out demons.
There is, however, another event, the Transfiguration (28-36) which Luke is about to describe, that may suit the saying better. It focuses even more sharply on the kingdom. The Transfiguration is, among other things, a preview of the Parousia, which event is clearly connected with the reign of Christ. Moreover, the specific reference to the brief interval of time between this saying and the Transfiguration, which is made even more specific by Luke “about eight days after Jesus said this” (v.28) – tightens the connection between the saying and that event.

In 2 Peter 1:16-18…..
2 Peter 1:16-18 (ESV)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

In 2 Peter 1:16-18, Peter mentions in connection with the Transfiguration the elements of  power and the coming of Jesus that are associated with the kingdom. If Jesus was referring to the Transfiguration in this saying, then the “some” who would not die before seeing the kingdom were, Peter, James, and John, who saw Jesus transfigured. Why Jesus said they would “not taste death” before participating in an event only days away is perplexing. But he may have chosen those words because people despaired of seeing the glory of the kingdom in their lifetime.

A thorough commentary will address Bible difficulties. There are other works like “Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties” Gleason L. Archer. Zondervan Publishing which also address challenges to our understanding of the Word of God
Don’t immediately reject something in the Bible because you do not understand it. But use that as motivation to seek out answers.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Does God care what I wear?

It depends on what you are asking. Does God care what color you wear? I don’t believe there is  superior or inferior color.  However, color can be important for other reasons. In certain gang areas of our country, wearing certain types of colored clothing can be an invitation to trouble.  On a very practical level, if you are out walking your dog at night, wearing light colored clothing makes it easier for drivers to see you.

Does God care what type of clothing that I wear?  God cares about what you wear in the sense that your outward clothing can reflect your inward attitude.  If someone wears a t-shirt with various profanities emblazoned across the front and back, it communicates that person’s inner attitude toward life.  If someone wears revealing clothing in public, that is more of a distraction to members of the opposite sex, than an expression of beauty. We need to ask ourselves-how does my dress affect those around me? We should also ask-what does my clothing say about my attitude toward myself and others?

The Apostle Paul wrote these instructions to a young pastor leading his congregation: “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; [10] but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness.”  1 Timothy 2:9-10.  While these comments are directed toward women, they also have application to men.
The definitions of the underlined words are helpful:
Modest-Having a regard for decencies of behavior or dress; quiet and humble in appearance, style, etc.; not displaying one's body; not boastful or vain; unassuming; virtuous; shy or reserved; chaste.
Discreet-Lacking ostentation or pretension; "showing good judgment"; prudent; cautious; careful about what one says or does.

The focus in these two verses is that people should not be preoccupied with outward adornments, but with inward godliness. While it is appropriate to dress nicely, our preoccupation should not be the latest immodest fashion. Our preoccupation should be with godliness and the resulting good works.

While  there is cultural variation in what is considered modest and discreet, we should be alert to the sensitivities of other people. Schools have dress and conduct codes so students can focus on education, and not be distracted with inappropriate dress and behavior.  A student wearing a bikini would be a needless distraction for the teachers and other students and would hinder the educational purpose of the school. We can not get away from considering how our dress and behavior affects other people. Most work situations have dress and conduct codes so the company’s business can be done without needless distraction.

We should be aware that people make assumptions (fair or not) about our character and reputation by how we present ourselves in public.  By being modest and discreet we encourage other people to get to know us for who we are, not for who they perceive us to be. The bottom line is that God does care about what you wear because what you wear reflects your inward attitude and behavior. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Antinomy

An Antinomy
From the Merriam-Webster: “a contradiction between two apparently equally valid principles or between inferences correctly drawn from such principles”
The contrast, conflict, conundrum between God’s Sovereignty and People’s Free Will is something which Bible scholars and theologians have wrestled with for many centuries. The Bible clearly teaches both, many times in apposition to each other. 

Consider what Luke wrote in Acts 2:23:1  “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” The first half of the verse clearly states God’s sovereignty (“the definite plan”), while the second half of the verse describes the free will and thus accountability of the people who crucified the Lord Jesus (“you crucified”).

The Apostle Paul eloquently describes the absolute sovereignty of God in the 9th chapter of the Book of Romans; then in the next chapter he passionately describes the imperative of the preaching of the Gospel and the need for people to respond to it.

How do they both fit together? There are a couple broad camps in this issue. A Calvinist theologian will interpret free will in light of God’s sovereignty. An Arminian theologian will interpret God’s sovereignty in light of people’s free will. Which position most satisfyingly deals with the theological issues?
There are verses like Acts 13:48 which will make any Arminian uncomfortable. ““48“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

There are verses like 1 Timothy 2:3-4 which make a thoughtful Calvinist ponder.  3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

The following verse in Acts 2:24 describe Christ’s ultimate victory,   24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”

That ultimately is the bottom line.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Finished Project

Throughout the late Spring and Summer 2014 Steve, his son Grant, and I worked on a crib for Grant's coming baby girl (born last week). We spent Monday mornings working on this project. My best guess is that we have at least 150 man hours into making it. The red oak wood and hardware were close to $500. I found a youtube video of a father and son doing this project ].

My father made many wood projects: roll top desk, toy box, bunk bed, etc...I never understood the effort required until I inherited his tools, set up a shop, took a class, and started to make things.

The value of doing this crib was spending the time with an old friend, Steve, and making a new friend, Grant. As the little girl grows, they can share how dad and grandpa made the bed for her.
I once read that 'the process is more important than the product.'  If the process is done well, the finished product will turn out.

I think that can be a good life lesson. We go through life with a variety of experiences (some apparently good, others bad, others neutral, and others unknown), and we don't know the end purpose to many of them. But if we seek the Lord through them, they are not wasted.

The Bible has a good promise that God works through all things to accomplish His purposes in our lives.

 Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

May we all hold on to this promise.