Tuesday, September 28, 2010
In Luke chapter 1 a wonderful story is told. It is about the miraculous pregnancy of both John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. The narrator goes into all the signs and revelations that are revealed to both husbands and wives. When reading this chapter one can’t help but feel like they are departing on an adventure that is close to a fairy tale. Is it a fantasy story? Are all these stories found in this book just a bunch of fables that entail fictional characters that are engrossed with magic and power? Looking at it from a Christian perspective, this idea brings the hairs on the back of the neck to a standing posture. Some might get defensive and others might get violent.
So is it all just one big lie? I was thinking about this question while I was reading this really cool chapter in Luke. This chapter is the start of the most influential character in history. This man Jesus is responsible for a change in the world as a whole. This is the person that brought most impact in society and continues to bring impact every day either by combating poverty or even war. That fact right there brings heavy weight to one side of the argument. If this whole bible is just a story, why is it in circulation still? Why has it made such an impact on countries and societies of all different cultures and practices?
These are all huge questions that probably have volumes of books written for each individual topic. I just want to pose them for you to think about. Look at the depth of the characters; there is so much about the individual and so many different stories about everyone. You might say “Well, I know many novels that are written by authors that seem to have such a depth.” But on the contrary, if Luke was not even around during the time of Mary’s pregnancy how would he know. If he just made it up, why would the other books of the bible agree with it? The bible is written not by one author but many. I’m not talking about 3 or 4; on the contrary, I am talking about well over 25. They all seem to connect to each other in some way. They were also in different time periods! I can’t explain it because I am no theologian or scholar. I am just here to pose the challenge of this miraculous literature. It is still circulated. If you look at it from a secular perspective you cannot deny the impact it has. If you add in a little of Christian experience, you clearly see that it is a book of miracles and had a sort of divinity about it. For myself, it has not steered me wrong. In all the social psychology concepts that society seems to accept, like love your neighbor and all that. It seems that the bible has been telling us that all along.
I just wanted to pose the question once again, is it just one huge lie or is there something more to it? It is definitely the most impacting work that has hit our world, and it still makes a difference today. It helps the individual but it also has the potential to lead society; however, do not get me mistaken. If you follow this book without realizing the real author, you are just following a concept that is impossible on your own power. Now that is even more food for thought.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
We have all seen horror movies with monsters and demons. If not, you have heard stories of these terrible creatures and dark powers. In some stories, they kill dozens and in others, they deform others. Some of us have cringed at these images and others have not been able to sleep at night because of dreadful nightmares.
We have glimpsed perceptions of evil either with our imagination or with other tools such as movies and TV. It is interesting the response that rises in our bones, the fear that we have all experienced. There is also something far more intriguing; did not Jesus cast out this type of evil? There are numerous stories about Jesus casting out demons that oppressed people, and some of them are found in this very section in Luke. The peculiar thing about Jesus and demons is that there is no fear that gets aroused within us. We usually don’t get scared. The reason is that next to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God, nothing can even compare to that power. This Jesus casted out demons as if he was crushing ants; Jesus is so powerful.
Let me say that again; JESUS IS SO POWEFUL! In this same section Jesus goes on a healing spree. He begins to heal all these people that come up to him. We have all been in a hospital and seen so many sick and dying. In Jesus’ day, there were no hospitals, so imagine a person walking into a hospital and when he walks out, every patient is following him. He is so powerful.
Let me say that again; JESUS IS SO POWEFUL! So you need to stop getting over burdened. Your problem in life is nothing compared to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God. I don’t care if you have family issues, illness, dying, oppressed, poor, etc. JESUS IS SO POWERFUL! Really, try to take in that concept. We all know the stories of Jesus. This person conquered death; that is something none of us can do. We all have issues. My challenge to you is to realize the power of Jesus and rely on him. He can get you through anything; he will carry you if he has to. Life is tough, but CHRIST is tougher. Problems are confusing to solve, but CHRIST has the answers. Have faith and rely on him. STOP UNDERESTIMATING HIS POWER, and please stop underestimating his love for you. He loves you so much and hates to see you hurting, angry, depressed, and (fill in the blank). Come on, you’re not alone
Friday, September 24, 2010
1st kings 19
We all go through times of loss and pain, times of loneliness and heart ache. Maybe you feel abandoned or depressed. You feel like the whole world is rallying against you or the walls around you are crashing down. In times like these it seems even hard to breathe. Maybe you’re crying out to God and even he to seem like he is not paying attention, and the only voice you hear is your own echo.
There is a story of a great man in this chapter. This great man was Elijah; he was a prophet of God. In his lifetime he saw his brothers, sisters, and countrymen turn away from God and follow all these other false names. He saw them give themselves to sexual sin and their evil desires. He saw them cutting themselves and chanting in order to communicate with their new gods. Imagine the loneliness he felt His mission was to let the people know that God was real in a time when people turned away. See, he did so many miraculous signs that proved God was the real and true God, but he felt like no one listened. The people in power constantly wanted him dead and he lost hope. He ran away to the middle of the dessert to literally crawl in a whole and die. This great man, who did extreme works of God, was now begging for his life to be taken away. He lost hope.
Even though he lost hope, God did not. God told this man to go to the mountain top in order to see him pass by. Elijah did and this is what happened. “All at once, a strong wind shook the mountain and shattered the rocks, but the LORD was not in the wind. Next there was an earthquake but the LORD was not there either. Then there was a fire, but the LORD was nor in there. Finally there was a gentle breeze, and when Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his coat.” (1st kings 19:11-13)
Many times when we are alone or hurting, we want God to show up in this miraculous way. We want him to do something wonderful and so spectacular that it would blow our minds. Elijah saw all these powerful forces but God was not in them. Then there was just a small and gentle breeze and that was where he was. Sometimes in our life and in our trials we need to sit and listen. We need to calm down and just breathe and focus on God. If you are seeking him out, he is always around you; you just need to look and listen.
This story ends with God telling Elijah that he is not the only one left. There are many other people who have not turned away from their true God. That was what Elijah needed to hear. My encouragement for you today, especially if you are hurting, is to just stop and listen. God does reveal himself in mighty ways; however, at least in my life, he mostly comes in those cool and refreshing breezes.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
1st kings 18:21
Our world today is a very secretive place. Danger lurks around every corner and this make life difficult. I think almost every Christian would agree with me that being a Christian in a world like today can be very hard. This is the thought I want to expand on.
In the time of the 18th chapter of Kings, most of Israel forgot all about God. They started to serve another god. His name was Baal, and he was a major pagan deity. They worshiped him through sacrifice and prostitution. Some say he was the god of fertility. If you look before this chapter (in the time of David), you will notice that he was not majorly on the scene and especially not as popular in Israel’s past. However, for some reason, he became the major god of worship. Now Baal he is a tricky fellow; he was able to snatch the hearts of the Israelites.
See, we all have a Baal in our life. We have something that can distract us from God. Individually, most of us know what that Baal is. For some, it can be relationships, money, video games, and even school. Anything that distracts us has a potential of leading us away from god. Baal is tricky like that. It has happened many times in my life as well as probably yours. You might even be in that place right now trying to figure out how to get back. There is always a way. First identify what it is that distracts you and then start taking action. If it’s television for example, set yourself a specified time of watching it. Same concept goes with videogames. If it is partying, identify the reason you’re doing it. Maybe you just need to let go of some influences in your life.
I hope this encouraged you today in some way. If, at this moment, you are not distracted, then I encourage you to help your family in Christ that is. We all need help at times and we all need that support in our lives. So let’s do this.
“…How much longer will you try to have things both ways? If the LORD is God, worship him! But if Baal is God, worship him.” (1st kings 18:21)
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I must begin by saying that this whole chapter is really cool. It has some really cool thoughts but something really peaked my interest. There is a very important message that John the Baptist tries to say. His whole ministry was to prepare that way for Jesus Christ, but he was also called to preach. He actually was a tool to help people get forgiveness. Actually, he taught people how to be forgiven. He taught the meaning of repentance.
When John came out to baptize, many people followed him in order to be baptized. One really cool quality about John was that he told it how he saw it. He spoke his mind and was not afraid to tell the truth. In verse 7 he calls everyone in the crown a “bunch of snakes”. That is like teling people that they are stupid, ignorant, deceptive, etc. That was harsh in those days; however, this is where the message lies. “Do something to show that you really have given up your sins. Don’t start saying that you belong to Abraham’s family. God can turn these stones into children for Abraham.” (vs 8) See this is a very intense statement that can be applied to all Christians everywhere. In those days, everyone was staggering to the title of being a child of Abraham. If you were, that meant you were God’s chosen people. If you were not, then you were outside of God and you were not favored. Kind of sounds harsh huh?
The first part of the verse is really where you find the essence of John’s message. Baptizim was a sign of repentance. It was the sign of forgiveness of your sins. Repentance means turning away and in the Christian sense it means turning from your sin. “Do something to show that you really have given up your sins…” So many times in our lives, at least in mine, we do something stupid. Yet so many times we say something like “God please forgive me”, yet we do it again and again. John is saying that there needs to be some sort of change in our lives after we repent. We should be acting something out. Of course we will constantly stumble but maybe it will be less and less severe. For example, you have a major issue with lying. Maybe after repenting you put in the effort to lie less and less. Eventually, the lies are not severe and you realize you are telling the truth more; consequently, you are becoming more honest.
John the Baptist warns us about not truly repenting. He warns us about not acting. If you are a Christian, you are a child of God; however, God is so magnificent that he can make the stones his children. We need to stop just saying sorry and really turn from our sin. We need to show God that we are serious. Maybe you need to be more charitable, or maybe your eyes and heart need to be more pure. You know your flaws, stop saying sorry and start acting. God loves you so much and he wants you to become more like him. This is my challenge for you today.
Read the chapter, it is pretty cool. Another cool thing is it goes into Jesus’s lineage. That brings some more food for thought.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Why do you do what you do? This is just a very heavy question. Why do you do what you do? Why do you work? Why do you exercise? Why do you play video games? Why do you act? Why do you do your favorite hobby? These are all interesting questions with many different answers. They can range from making the big bucks to just simply having fun. How about this question: Why do you serve? Even this question has many answers; some are for popularity while some are for God.
“The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:8). This verse is great. In the past I used to question about if I am doing the right thing? In the past I even questioned my salvation: Am I on the right side of God? If you serve in order to please Jesus, then you are on the right side. If when you donate and it is for the hope that you are impacting it positively, if beyond everything, it is ultimately for God, you are on the right side of God. You are pleasing the Spirit. So back to the question, why do you do what you do?
On the other hand, it has a negative side. What if everything you do is for a selfish purpose? What if you give to a charity in order to make yourself look good? What if you serve at church in order to be popular? What if everything you do is for yourself? What happens then? “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction…” That is a scary thought. I mean we all have done something completely for ourselves. I have served in church in order to get recognition before. I mean its fun and it is self pleasing; however, even when I have done this, it has always left me with a feeling of wanting more. I am never satisfied. I am always thirsty. I am always hungry. So let me ask you one more time; why do you do what you do?
Here is a cool thought, what if you worked to please the Spirit? What if you exercised in order to please God? What would that be like? What about playing video games? What about driving your car? What if everything you ever did or will do, was in order to please God? I know for a fact it brings security. It makes your day feel beneficial. It makes it feel like unwasted. Doing it to please God makes you honestly feel good. I challenge you to think about this today. I challenge you to do it. See what your day is like. “…the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
Monday, September 20, 2010
1st Timothy 2:2-9
I was just wondering while I read this passage this morning, when you pray, what do you pray for? How do you pray? These two questions surfaced in my thoughts and it is a very interesting question. When you pray, do you pray mainly for yourself or do you pray for the people that you know? Most people will claim that they pray for others but they tend to pray for people that they only know. Don’t worry, I do the same thing. I might be a little worse actually; most of my prayers revolve around my personal life and the people that influence it. Selfish aren’t I?
In this passage, Paul talks about how to pray. He doesn’t only tell us how but, he tells us what to pray for. He states that we should be praying for EVERYONE. We should pray for our country, our leaders and other leaders of the world. He tells us that we should be praying for everyone we can possible think of. Do you know why? The reason is that God wants everyone saved and when we pray for these things it actually pleases God. We pray for our leaders because they LEAD us. Most of us reading this live in a country where we are free to worship. There are many countries that do not have that LUXERY. Paul tells us to be thankful for the things that God gives us. Yes, you can thank God to. Are you starting to get the picture? There are so many things that you are able to pray for. You have students in the youth, the poor, the church, your teacher, your family, world events, the president, our enemies, etc. There is a plethora of things.
When you pray you will see many things begin to happen, not only in your life, but in the lives around you. You will see hearts and lives change. It is so cool to witness that. Now I will be honest, I don’t pray like I should and I am working on it to. So you are not alone. The one thing that I do think I do right though, is I will share my heart with God. If something is troubling me, I will just break out in a convo with God. I know it may sound strange but it is awesome. When I pour out my heart it becomes more personal. It is not those typical “Lord, please bless my family and friends…” It is a lot deeper then that and it is talking intimately with him. It is like talking to your dad about your struggles or telling him how you feel about the flood in Pakistan. It is like telling your dad about how you love this country you are in and that you are thankful. It’s like laying out all of your complaints and frustration to your dad so you can get it off your chest. It is the why you are thankful, why you are hurting, why you care for so and so, why you want this person’s life changed. It’s the why in prayers that are really important. All of this is what prayer should look like.
I just encourage you after you read this to pray.
“This kind of prayer is good and it pleases God our savior.”
1 Timothy 2:3