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Make the Word a Growing Part of Your Life

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Make the Word a Growing Part of Your Life

What’s growing in you? Is clear thinking, spiritual passion, a sense of focus and purpose growing in your heart? Or is confusion, dissatisfaction, despair, hopelessness and anger growing in your heart?

As we work God’s Word into the soil of our heart our life will be growing in the right direction.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 says, “Live in order to please God. We ask you and urge you to do this more and more.” (NIV)

How to make the Word a growing part of your life:

  1. Get a translation you like. The Bible was written originally in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). Unless you can read Greek and Hebrew you will not be reading it in the original language! The King James Version of the bible is written in 1607 Old English.
  2. Get a good study Bible. Many app’s on our smart phones and devices are free! I like PocketSword but it only works on Apple devices. Another one that is very popular is You-Version.
  3. Get in a small group. When you study the Word with other believers, it will inspire you to go DEEPER. Acts 2 tells us they met daily; they prayed together. They studied the Word together; they fellowship regularly, and they had a vibrant faith that saw unbelievers come to Christ on a regular basis.

Perhaps one reason we are not influencing the culture around us is because we are not being influenced by the Word of God and strengthened by the fellowship of other believers.

If the Word is a growing part of your life, it will be what grows your life!

You can listen to the audio message here.

 

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Take the Christian Faith as Your Shield

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Take the Christian Faith as Your Shield

“In addition to all these, take the Christian faith as your shield. With it you can put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”[1]

I was privileged to go to Rome in August. We went to the prison Paul was in while waiting to be executed. I stood on the stones where Paul stood. Paul was on death row in Rome. At the end of Paul’s life, as he sat on death row waiting his execution he said in the last chapter he ever wrote, “I have fought a good fight, I finished my race, but greatest of all, I have kept the faith.”[2]

Corrie ten Boom lost her father and sister in a concentration camp. She got out on a technicality and spent the rest of her life telling people about the love of God. She said, “No matter how deep and dark the hell is, the love of God is greater than all that darkness.”

That’s her faith that shielded and protected her.

Relentless, unwavering faith in God will carry you through every battle!

Listen to the complete message here.

[1] Ephesians 6:16 GW

[2] 1 Timothy 4:7

Godly Anger

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Godly Anger

Godly anger motivates us to change the things that must be changed.

Jesus simply couldn’t stand it anymore, so He felt compelled to something radical. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time!

He made a whip from small ropes and threw everyone with their sheep and cattle out of the temple courtyard. He dumped the moneychangers’ coins and knocked over their tables. He told those who sold pigeons, “Pick up this stuff, and get it out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”[1]

In His fury, Jesus quoted Jeremiah 7. He wasn’t misquoting scripture. He wasn’t misapplying scripture. “This is truly wrong! This has to stop!”

  • What heats you up?
  • What causes your mind to race?
  • Is it a small, personal pet peeve that gets under skin?
  • Is it an inconvenience?
  • Or is it a greater cause?
  • Does it affect others who cannot help themselves?

That’s when then Godly anger must move us into action.

This is one of the reasons we engage in world missions. Two months ago today I walked down the crowded streets of Tunis. We walked in groups of four. We couldn’t walk in groups any larger for fear we’d stir up suspicion. We attended a church, a small gather of believers who deal every day with fear. It was very eye opening.

We can’t go in and build a church building. That’s a Western world’s way of doing church. But we can build a community center, a gathering place where relationships are built, friendships are forged, and Muslims experience Jesus love!That’s what motivates us, what moves us into action and calls us to sacrifice our pleasure for the good of others, for the Kingdom of God.

Yes it’s true. Anger is an emotion that can be dangerous and can cause damage.

James 1:19-20 says, “Remember this, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily. An angry person doesn’t do what God approves of.”

But I want to challenge the last part of that verse. An angry person actually can do what God approves when they are angry for the right reason, show it in the right way, at just the right time.

Even at this first Passover, Jesus was preparing Himself mentally to lay down His life for the cause, for the good of all mankind.

Jesus came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. It was our brokenness and our sinfulness that led Him to the cross. The Jews said to Jesus, why did you do this? Who gave you the right?

In John 2:18 the Jews reacted by asking Jesus, “What miracle can you show us to justify what you’re doing?”

I love His answer. Jesus replied, “Tear down this temple, and I’ll rebuild it in three days.” The Jews said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple. Do you really think you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” But the temple Jesus spoke about was his own body. After he came back to life, his disciples remembered that he had said this. So they believed the Scripture and this statement that Jesus had made.[2]

For Jesus, His anger that led to action was always about other people. He left us an example to follow.

 

[1] John 2:15-16 GW

[2] John 2:19-22 GW

Anger Can Move You to Action

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Anger Can Move You to Action

When you look at the ministry of Jesus about the only people He ever got angry at were those who loved worship more than they loved man. The Pharisees were in that group. They loved their rules. They loved their worship. But they didn’t love people.

So, what did Jesus do at the beginning and at the end of His ministry? He thoroughly cleansed the temple (John 2). This story is borderline bazaar. The same man who said, “turn the other cheek” turned over tables. The same man who said, “Love your neighbor” physically drove the moneychangers out of the temple!

Jesus’ anger moved Him into action. And Jesus paid a dear price for it. This act of anger was a challenge to their authority. It so infuriated the Jews that it motivated them to begin planning His murder.

Sometimes godly anger will lead us to do what we would otherwise not do, it will lead us out of our comfort zone so we will FIGHT the good FIGHT.

In the “good fight” the shock value very often leads to change. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s peaceful protest stirred an entire nation into action and laws changed, hearts changed, and life got better for the powerless.

In this story, Jesus did something shocking to challenge God’s people and stir up their thinking. Jesus knew that three years from this Passover, He would become the Passover lamb slain for the sins of the whole world.

The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. He found those who were selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons in the temple courtyard. He also found moneychangers sitting there. 15 He made a whip from small ropes and threw everyone with their sheep and cattle out of the temple courtyard. He dumped the moneychangers’ coins and knocked over their tables.[1]

Jesus was very aware that He lived in a dangerous world. He needed to be smart, but He also knew He needed to speak up. So He did. The Old Testament Jewish form of worship involved bringing a living sacrifice to the house of worship; cattle, sheep, and pigeons. This was part of the worship but some had turned it into personal gain.

What was Jesus so offended by? Was it the fact they were bringing all those messy animals into the house of God and it would get dirty? No. Jesus was offended because these men were exploiting the guilt of the worshippers. They were profiting from it. That’s what angered Him!

It’s good for us to examine ourselves:

  • What motivates my anger? The true condition of our heart is exposed by the things that anger us.
  • Do I primarily get angry about the things that inconvenience my life, or am I angered by the injustice that the powerless experience?

The last night we were in Athens, Greece we saw a large group police in riot gear coming by. There were 2,000 protestors. Our guide said, “It’s a challenge but what are those poor people supposed to do? I would do anything for my family!”

There are so many thorny issues in every society. As followers of Christ we must examine every issue through the lens of biblical values, not just through our own personal opinion.

It’s really not so important how I feel about an issue. What’s most important is, how God feels about it?

  • How would God have me to think about this matter?
  • And what, if anything, does God want me to do about it?

[1] John 2:14 GW

A Right Way to Show Anger

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A Right Way to Show Anger

But our emotions must be examined. They must be sanctified and controlled by the Holy Spirit, or they can easily become sin to us.

Today we’re looking at anger and here’s the deal. Did you know that anger should not always be suppressed? There’s actually a right time and a right way to show anger.

I grew up in a family system that didn’t allow anger (Amish were pacifist). My dad would say, “People don’t get mad. Animals do!”

Consequently, I always thought anger in any form was wrong. People who protested for any reason were always wrong (unions/civil rights movement). Good people never show anger. They never speak out. But I have grown up since then. I have come to realize that silence is not always golden. Sometimes it’s plain YELLOW!

Anger can be a powerful emotion for change. If it’s used in the right way it accomplishes much good, but used wrong, it destroys.

The key is found in Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry, but do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”

The Amplified Bible says; “Be angry [at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger last until the sun goes down [causing you shame]. And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, by nurturing anger, by harboring resentment, or by cultivating bitterness].”

They tell us this election, perhaps more than others, has been fueled by an angry electorate. If that’s true of you, be sure to check your heart. Be certain that you are angry for the right reasons.

And how can we know? Begin by asking yourself, is God angry about the same things that anger me?

Ask yourself, “Is my anger driven by a sense of self-protection or am I more upset about those who cannot protect themselves?”

In the Old Testament, God was angry at His children, Israel because they loved worship but didn’t care one bit about the injustice all around them.

  • God said, I’m tired of you being in love with worship but showing no love to those who are powerless, who daily experience injustice.
  • He said, I hate your festivals, your incense is detestable to Me, your worship has become a burden to me.

God said to the Israelites, be angry about the powerless. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

God also became angry when His people were living in sin but still gathering to worship and acting as if everything was just fine.

Jeremiah 7:9-11 “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears My name, become a den of thieves? I have been watching you!”

Jesus quoted these very same verses when He cleansed the temple.

You see, God’s is always more concerned about the condition of our hearts than the mere form of our worship.

Showing Concern for Others—Antidote for Fear

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Showing Concern for Others—Antidote for Fear

One antidote for fear is to show concern for others. Paul was literally waiting for his execution, and yet he purposely directed his mind and thoughts on the needs and distress of Timothy. I wouldn’t go so far to say Paul had an ulterior motive for doing so, but without a doubt this diversion helped him to refocus his mind and find purpose, even in prison.

In some of my most painful seasons, I too have discovered this secret:  find someone who is in greater need than myself and then invest myself in prayer, compassion and whatever assistance I can give. This action alone always seems to lighten my load. Jesus practiced this concept masterfully.

Paul wrote about it in Philippians 2: “Don’t be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others. Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. He emptied himself….He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, death on a cross. This is why God has given Him an exceptional honor.”

The last time Paul saw Timothy, he was very depressed. Timothy was full of fear, even crying unconsolably. And in spite of Paul’s own fears, he showed concern for Timothy.

When Timothy left Paul, the feeling of concern never left his heart. He longed to see Timothy at peace so that Paul could be at peace.

About Timothy, Paul said, “I remember your tears and want to see you so that I can be filled with happiness.”[1]

Paul’s concern for Timothy helped him cope with his own fears.

[1] 2 Timothy 1:4 GW

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

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