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A Look Beyond What to Why

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A Look Beyond What to Why

We are continuing our blog series, Christmas through the Eyes of John.

The Apostle John had special eyesight. He was a lot like Superman with x-ray vision and can see into deep space. John saw the whole story. He took us beyond what happened and led us to why it happened.

John seemed to be able to see the cosmic battle between darkness and light. It’s why God chose him to write the Book of Revelation. He saw our fight with sin and the encounters we’d have with demonic forces.

And unlike any other writer, John saw the power of love. So much so, he became known as the Apostle of Love (I always want to say that with a deep voice). John was kind of the Barry White of the gospel writers.

John was so fixated on love that his name evolved into John the Beloved. If you look at how many times he mentions love in his writing compared to the other gospel writers, its kind of astonishing.

  • Matthew – 11 times
  • Mark – 5 times
  • Luke – 12 times
  • John’s Gospel – 44 times
  • John’s Epistles – 40 times

Only John captured the depth of God’s love for our broken world and wrote what is arguably the greatest verse in the entire Bible, John 3:16: “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life,” (GW).

It’s interesting that all the other writers completely missed the profound statement Jesus made on love; “By this shall everyone know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35 GW). That’s such a clear call that should guide every church.

Jesus said we should be known more for our love than for our judgment. In the very next verse John 3:17, says Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world … the world was already condemned. He came to save the world through the power of God’s love. It seems to me the church needs John’s writings more today than ever.

Christmas is all about love and during the Christmas of 1885 Christina Rossetti wrote:

“Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine; Love was born at Christmas, Love incarnate, Love divine; Love shall be our token, Love be yours and love be mine.”

We’re going to look at three things John says about love that will make all the difference in the next few upcoming blogs. Stay tuned!

You can watch the complete message on video or listen to the audio here.

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I Know How to Overpower My Wife, But God Knows How to Overpower Me

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I Know How to Overpower My Wife, But God Knows How to Overpower Me

Over the years, I’ve come to know how to dominate my wife. I know I’m stronger than her physically. I know how to  intimidate her if I want to. I’ve never physically pushed her around, but I know how to be punitive and push her around mentally. I know how to get the upper hand. I know how to control my wife, if I choose to.

But I have found out that God knows how to dominate me!

I have learned that when I dominate my wife I lose spiritual power.

  • My prayers don’t work.
  • My inner peace is gone.
  • There’s a wall between God and me.

1 Peter 3:7 says, “You husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”[1]

Guys, whenever I use domination in our marriage, a powerful spiritual force goes to work too. God cares about his daughters. If we don’t treat them with true honor, He will deal with us!

It’s HOLY ground!

Ephesians 5:21-22, 25, 31-33 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

[1] NLT

Put on Your Gospel Shoes—Spread the Good News

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Put on Your Gospel Shoes—Spread the Good News

Put on your gospel shoes so that you are ready to spread the good news.

In Ephesians 6:16 we discover a little known secret to fighting the devil. “Put on your shoes so that you are ready to spread the Good News that gives peace.”[1] When the devil knocks you down, refuse to stay down. Put on your gospel shoes. Go out and tell others how excited you are to serve God, even though your heart is breaking. Find others to tell them how good it is to serve Jesus even though you’re in the battle for your life.  Your spirit that cannot be defeated intimidates the devil.

Nothing ticks the devil off more than a Christian who won’t quit!

The more the devil fights you the more resolved you become to give witness to the wonder of Jesus. When Satan lights you up with trouble, light him up with an undefeatable spirit.

Last fall my wife, Dorene and I, along with a group from Lakeview visited Philippi. I had the joy of standing on the very spot where Paul and Silas stood before the magistrate. They were beaten with rods, thrown in jail and yet they lived the testimony of faith by singing praise to God from their prison cell.

God will open your prison doors when you fight back by sharing the Good News of Jesus with as many people as you can!

Listen to the complete message here.

[1] GW

Fasten Truth Around Your Waist Like a Belt

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Fasten Truth Around Your Waist Like a Belt

If you want to defeat the enemy, you have to become a lover of the truth. “For this reason, take up all the armor that God supplies. Then you will be able to take a stand during these evil days. Once you have overcome all obstacles, you will be able to stand your ground. So then, take your stand! Fasten truth around your waist like a belt.”[1]

What does that mean? It means whenever there’s a problem, a conflict, a big mess to overcome, truth gets lost.

In every battle we write our own version of the story and very often our story is not quite accurate! But we totally believe it.

There were two buddies; they liked to hang out. They grew up together. One was named Lies; the other was named Truth. One day they decided to go skinny-dipping. They took their clothes off, draped them over the bushes and went into the water. They were playing and having a good time. Lies said to Truth, “I have a great idea. Let’s see who can stay under the water the longest, and whoever does that is the best man!”

Truth says, “Yeah! I’d love to play that game.” So Truth plunges down, while Lies goes to the bank, gets all the clothes and runs home.

Truth is under the water, and he finally comes up. He looks around and calls out to Lies. “Lies, Lies, did you beat me?” He looks toward the bank and realizes his clothes are gone! He realizes Lies is gone! He is so mad, and he gets up and run—RUNS—to lies house. He knocks on the door. Lies opens the door and Truth asks, “Why did you do that? That’s embarrassing. You took my clothes.”

He then realizes Lies is wearing his clothes. He says, “You’re wearing my clothes!”

Lies says, “I’m not wearing your clothes. I’ve been home all day.”

Truth and Lies start fighting. And they end up rolling around in the street and a crowd gathers because when Truth and Lies confront each other, people gather around. They have to decide who to believe. Were they going to believe Lies dressed in Truth’s clothing, or were they going to believe naked Truth?

It’s easier in our culture to accept the lies, because it’s dressed a little better. Truth is naked and we don’t want to look at that. Until you become a lover of the truth, you’ll never know what side to stand on.

Whenever we are in the battle we have to seek out the truth, and not stop until we find it.

It’s not always easy to find the truth. We’ve learned that it helps to reach out and find someone who can help us find the truth. There have been many times when we sought out a counselor, a trusted friend, a pastor to help us find the truth.

Listen to the complete message here.

[1] Ephesians 6:13-14 GW

He is A God of The Basics

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He is A God of The Basics

Jesus prayed to the Father, “Give us our daily bread today.”[1] Bread is the most basic food we eat! God hasn’t promised that we will always have abundance in every season, but He has promised is to meet our needs abundantly.

God has promised to always cover our basic necessities. Truthfully, we want the abundance so we don’t have to trust for the basics. And scripture is very clear about this principle.

James 4:2-3 says, “You don’t have the things you want, because you don’t pray for them. When you pray for things, you don’t get them because you want them for the wrong reason—for your own pleasure.”[2]

On the one hand God says, “You may be asking for things that I know won’t help you. I have promised I will meet your basic needs every day of your life.”

Have you ever had the experience where God gave you what you asked for, and then He let you struggle through the challenge of the very thing He gave you?

Sometimes God gives us things we don’t need to teach us to learn to accept His “no.”

Every “no” that God gives comes with His foreknowledge. Every closed door is closed for a reason. We have to trust that God knows what is best.

God says, lean into me. Be content. Be grateful. I will meet your needs.

People who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth imagine that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.[3]

Just because our God is a giving God doesn’t mean He’s going to make every Christ follower rich in earthly riches. God knows what we need. He gives to us according to our God-given capacity.

Some of us are destined for more. Some of us are destined for a little less. It doesn’t really matter how much we are destined to oversee. What matters is how well we watch over what God has given us.

Do you enjoy what God has entrusted to you? Do you utilize it for the good of others? Are you content with God’s provision?

 

Listen to the entire message on Lakeview’s podcast. http://www.lakeviewchurch.org/2016/10/09/living-the-jesus-perspective-provision/

[1] Matthew 6:11 GW

[2] GW

[3] 1 Timothy 6:5-10 ESV

The Devil’s Trojan Horse

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The Devil’s Trojan Horse

I seriously doubt anyone reading this blog has ever taken the time to carve out an idol, set it up in your home, and then gathered the family to worship it, but I know everyone struggles with idolatry in one form or another because idolatry is very subtle.

The Apostle John concluded his Epistle with these words, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”[1] Why did John say that? Because idolatry is common. Idolatry is so easy.

The NLT makes that verse even clearer. John 5:21 says, “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.”

Kyle Idleman, the author of the book, gods at war, says, “The instant something takes the place of God, the moment it becomes an end in itself rather than something to lay at God’s throne, it becomes an idol.”

Do you remember the story of the Trojan Horse? The Greeks had been trying to defeat the city of Troy for 10 years to no avail. Finally, they devised a plan to construct a huge wooden horse to be given to the men of Troy as a gift to their gods. But 30 select warriors were hidden inside the horse. They deposited it at seashore and pretended to sail away. The men of Troy pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night skilled warriors crept out of the horse, opened the gates of Troy for the entire Greek army and destroyed the city. It was a brilliant plan!

The term “Trojan Horse” has come to mean any trick or strategy that unknowingly invites the enemy into a protected place. When a hacker tricks us and gets into our computer it’s called a “Trojan horse.”

The devil has a Trojan Horse that he wants to gift wrap to the Church of Jesus Christ! Satan has tricked and deceived more Christians with this Trojan Horse than any other weapon in his arsenal. It is the idol of RELIGION and we’re going to explore that in my next few blogs.

Listen to the full message on our podcast.

[1] I John 5:21 GW

Spiritual Illumination – The Second Motivation of Tithing

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Spiritual Illumination – The Second Motivation of Tithing

Abraham’s grandson, Jacob was not a very godly kid. In fact, he was very deceptive. The name, Jacob actually  meant deceiver, trickster, manipulator. He was concerned about “what’s in it for me. ME first!”

In Genesis 28, we find Jacob running for his life after he deceived his older brother, Esau out of his birthright.

We see the blessing of God was on Jacob even though he was not living for God. Because his grandfather, Abraham, and father, Isaac were faithful tithers.

Tithing doesn’t just benefit me. It benefits generations to come.

Notice God’s blessing on Jacob. “May God Almighty bless you, make you fertile, and increase the number of your descendants so that you will become a community of people. 4 May he give to you and your descendants the blessing of Abraham so that you may take possession of the land where you are now living, the land that God gave to Abraham.”[1]

God meets Jacob in a powerful, spiritual dream. Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. When he came to a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had gone down. He took one of the stones from that place, put it under his head, and lay down there.  He had a dream in which he saw a stairway set up on the earth with its top reaching up to heaven. He saw the angels of God going up and coming down on it. The Lord was standing above it, saying, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give the land on which you are lying to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be like the dust on the earth. You will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. Through you and through your descendant every family on earth will be blessed. Remember, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will also bring you back to this land because I will not leave you until I do what I’ve promised you.” Then Jacob woke up from his sleep and exclaimed, “Certainly, the Lord is in this place, and I didn’t know it!” Filled with awe, he said, “How awe-inspiring this place is! Certainly, this is the house of God and the gateway to heaven!”[2]

There was so much about God that Jacob was blind to and ignorant of, but God removed the scales from his eyes in one encounter. Jacob had an immediate reaction to God’s touch. I must tithe! Where did Jacob’s response come from? He was taught to tithe by his grandfather, Abraham and his father, Isaac.

Through this spiritual illumination, his eyes were opened.

Until your eyes are opened to the power and beauty of tithing, it’s hard to see it. When we tithe we see God in a new way. We see giving in a new way—not as obligation but as it truly is—a spiritually illuminating experience.

 

Listen to this full message by our podcast at http://www.lakeviewchurch.org/2016/08/14/tithing-matters-pt-1-pastor-ron-bontrager/

 

[1] Genesis 28:3-4 GW

[2] Genesis 28:10-17 GW

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