Sunday, March 31, 2013

"I Have Seen the Lord!"

"Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 
They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?'
They have taken my Lord away,' she said, 'and I don't know where they have put him.' At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
'Woman,' he said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?'
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.'
Jesus said to her, 'Mary.'
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher).
Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: 'I have seen the Lord!' And she told them that he had said these things to her." John 20:10-18

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's Friday, But Sunday's Coming

"At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?'--which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' 
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, 'Listen, he's calling Elijah.'
One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 'Now leave him alone. Let's see if  Elijah comes to take him down,' he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, 'Surely this man was the Son of God!'" 
Mark 15:33-39

Friday, March 22, 2013

Using the Gospel to Justify Drinking?

There seems to be an attitude, especially among young Christians (by young I mean late teens on up to 30-somethings) that in order to share the Gospel with those who drink, the person sharing the Gospel must also drink. I was told that this is especially important in Europe: that it is “offensive” to sit and have a conversation in a pub and not drink alcohol.

My husband spent almost three weeks in Russia on a business mission trip with a secular organization. It goes without saying that in Russia, alcohol is a part of life. My husband does not drink. At first, the Russian businessmen he was working with were taken aback, but when they heard my husband’s explanation of why he doesn’t drink, they were fine, and in fact, respected my husband for his alcohol-free life.

To those who believe one must drink alcohol in order to share the Gospel with drinkers in America, Europe or anywhere else, I say: Be sure you are not using “sharing the Gospel” to justify your own desire to drink. Because--just a thought--what if the guy in the Irish pub is looking at you and thinking to himself, “This bloke is no different than me. Here he sits in this dark pub, drinking beer, and yet I’m supposed to believe that Christ has changed his life.” Our goal is not for folks to see or hear us, it’s for them to see and hear Jesus.

If the main motivation behind the “drinking is necessary to share the Gospel” ministry mindset is to justify one’s own drinking (and I believe it is), then Jesus is being used. The Gospel does not “need” alcohol as a prop. 

“For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16

“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”
Romans 14:20-21

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Romans 1:16-17

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Hebrews 12:1-4

Thursday, March 21, 2013

He Came to Die

Quote of the Day:

“The Cross of Christ is the revealed truth of God’s judgment on sin. Never associate the idea of martyrdom with the Cross of Christ. It was the supreme triumph, and it shook the very foundations of hell. There is nothing in time or eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross—He made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God. He made redemption the foundation of human life; that is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God.
The Cross was not something that happened to Jesus—He came to die; the Cross was His purpose in coming. He is ‘the lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8). The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. Beware of separating ‘God was manifested in the flesh...’ from ‘...He made be sin for us...’ (1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The purpose of the incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take sin away, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both.
The Cross is not the cross of a man, but the Cross of God, and it can never be fully comprehended through human experience. The Cross is God exhibiting His nature. It is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. But it is not a gate we pass right through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there.
The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.” Oswald Chambers, April 6 devotion, My Utmost for His Highest

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:24-25

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Not a Martyr

Quote of the Day:

“Now I want to repudiate the statement that He (Jesus) died as a martyr: People say He laid down certain principles that finally took him to the cross; that the cross was an accident, He couldn’t help it, and He died as a martyr to His principles. Not a word of truth in it! Christ never died as a martyr, and the Bible doesn’t say it anywhere. He laid His life down voluntarily. Do you want proof of it? Hear His own words: 
     ‘I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.’ Jesus Christ could have gone up on the other side of the cross just as well as this side. The law had no claim on Him. If He had broken the law, He would have had to die for His own sin, but He was a Lamb without spot or without blemish, and He died as our substitute voluntarily. That is the teaching of Jesus Christ.” Dwight Lyman Moody, The D.L. Moody Collection, p.318-319.

     “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 
     "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:11-18

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Lies That Bind

In C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape, the devil, is teaching Wormwood, his underling, how to tempt people. This book could be the sole book and curriculum for every psychology program; that is, if those who taught and studied in psychology programs believed in the devil and demons. If one wants to be fully enlightened in understanding their personal struggle with sin, as well as evil in general, one must read The Screwtape Letters

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” C.S. Lewis in the preface to The Screwtape Letters

“But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is ‘the results of modern investigation.’ Do remember you are there to fuddle him.” Screwtape, in a letter to Wormwood, advising him on how to keep his “client” in the dark regarding Christianity, page 4, The Screwtape Letters

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.’” John 8:42-47

“However, it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thought of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-16