Archive for June 23rd, 2013

Christianity: Is It Down-to-Business, Or Child’s Play?

Do you take your faith seriously?  I don’t mean, “Yeah, sure I do.”  I mean, “YES LORD!!  AMEN & AMEN!!!”  Do you attend church on as many Sunday’s as you are able?  Or do you skip because the pastor is at a conference (the shepherd is away, so the sheep will play)?  Do you read your Bible every day, or at least most?  Or is it that you skip most days, and read it occasionally?  Do you take time to pray every day? Or do you pray at mealtimes…when you remember?  What does Christianity mean to you?

I was in church this morning, half full.  Perhaps because our pastor was gone, or perhaps because it is summer and it is much more enticing to be at the lake with a fishing pole or water skis.  During the service, I noticed that at least 3 cell phones went off.  And one adult person was using their smart phone for something other than reading an online version of the Bible.  The service is only an hour long.  Can God ask that much time of us?  Shouldn’t it be possible to sit through a one-hour church service without having to answer a cell phone or surf the web?  If church is not important enough to give your undivided attention to, then why attend?  I’m not perfect.  I have skipped church because it is inconvenient, or I am tired.  I have had Sunday mornings when my mind wandered to so many places during that one hour that I would have needed a map to find my way back home.  But I wonder, what does this kind of behavior say about the value I put on my faith, and on what Jesus did for me?  Shouldn’t we all be more than willing, eager to go to church to worship and praise the one, true, living God?  Shouldn’t we yearn to delve into the Scriptures and devour whatever message the Holy Spirit delivers through the pastor?

Speaking of the Scriptures, I see a lot of people being spoon-fed at church.  There are so few people who bring their Bibles to church anymore.  Why?  Too lazy to carry it?  Is it forgotten because it is so seldom opened during the week?  Is it because the pastor always puts the words up on the screen anyway?  Let me ask you something…what if he is putting up the wrong words?  What if he is taking the verses out of context?  Just a thought.

There are a lot of reasons to bring your own Bible to church.  One is to test the words of the pastor. Recently I was listening to a nationally known pastor speak.  He is a true man of God, and I have a great deal of respect for him.  But, as I was following along with his message in my own Bible, I realized that he had taken the verse out of context.  He was preaching a true message, but the verse he was using had nothing to do with what he was saying.  This is bound to happen.  The scary thing is that sometimes it is done intentionally, and a congregation is led astray by meanings twisted and warped to stress a particular agenda.  If we believers do not have our Bibles in front of us, how will we know?  We must be on guard at all times.  Peter warns us of this in 2 Peter 2:1 – There used to be false prophets among God’s people, just as you will have some false teachers in your group.  They will secretly teach things that are wrong–teachings that will cause people to be lost.  They will even refuse to accept the Master, Jesus, who bought their freedom.  So they will bring quick ruin on themselves.”

False teaching aside, how can we learn from the Bible if we do not study it?  I don’t know about you, but when I was in school and had a test coming up, I hit the books.  If I needed to rely just on my memory of the lectures, I would have been a straight F student!!  I sat down with my notes, and my text books and read.  I poured over the words.  I jotted notes.  And re-read what I had read before.  The same is true of studying the Bible.  Even in church, you can be studying.  Look at it as school.  A college class that had a fee to attend.  You didn’t pay it, but Jesus did, and it was a high price.  Don’t waist the opportunity to learn!  Pour over the Bible passage that the pastor is preaching from.  Read the verses before and after.  Write notes in the margins.  Underline.  Highlight.  Re-read.  Make that time worth the effort it took to get out of bed that morning.  Get down to business in church.  Come to worship.  Come to praise.  Come to learn!!

Take your faith seriously, Jesus did.  He died for your faith.  Dig in.  Get down to business.  Stop the child’s play.  It is time to grow up, and stand firmly on the promises of God, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is coming again soon.  Would you rather be caught studying His Word or reading a text?

Come Lord Jesus, come!!!

Global Dying

Genesis 1:1 (NCV) – “In the beginning God created the sky and the earth.”
Day 1 – God created the earth, the sky, and light.  He separated the light and the dark to make day and night.
Day 2 – God divided the water, and put air between the water in the sky and the water on the earth.
Day 3 – God created plants, trees, fruit, grain.
Day 4 – God created the sun, moon, and stars.
Day 5 – God created fish in the waters and birds in the skies.
Day 6 – God created wild and tame animals…and human beings.
Genesis 1:31 (NCV) – “God looked at everything He had made, and it was very good.  Evening passed, and morning came.  This was the sixth day.

God created the world, and everything in it, and it was good.  It was pure.  It was perfect.  Without flaw.  It was to exist for eternity.

Then came sin.

Sin did not stand alone.  It was not the only thing to change in this new and perfect world.  It did not just effect the behavior of the people in the world.  It changed everything!  In Genesis 1:29-30, God tells how food is provided for man and beast.  God said, “Look, I have given you all the plants that have grain for seeds and all the trees whose fruit have seeds in them.  They will be food for you.  I have given all the green plants as food for every wild animal, every bird of the air, and every small crawling animal.”  And it happened.

Food was provided for all of God’s creation in the form of plants, fruits, vegetables, etc.  Notice God did not say that Adam was to go out and hunt for a deer to kill and eat.  Lions were not going to attack and tear apart a gazelle for the sake of eating it’s meat.  Why?  Because death had not entered the perfect creation.  Death was an unknown for humans and for every animal, bird, and fish.

Read Genesis 3:17b-19a – “So I will put a curse on the ground, and you will have to work very hard for your food.  In pain you will eat its food all the days of your life.  The ground will produce thorns and weeds for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  You will sweat and work hard for your food.”  The ground was cursed.  The very earth that we live on, that was created perfect for eternity, was now cursed by God.

Just as man would grow old and die (Gen. 3:19b); just as animals would now be killed to make clothing, as sacrifices in payment for sin, and later, to be eaten as food (Gen. 3:21; Gen. 4:4 & Gen. 8:20; Gen. 9:3); the earth would now begin its decay.  It could not stay perfect.  Because perfect had been removed.

The earth has been around a long time.  Longer than any human being.  It has changed.  Mountains shift, rivers bend and wind more and more.  It has continued, but there are changes.  We see more and more natural disasters.  Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, extremely violent storms, flooding, tsunamis.  The earth is dying.  It is not because we humans are killing it.  It is not the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the pollution from our cars, or the amount of electricity we use by burning coal.  The earth is dying because she is old.  There is nothing that man can do to stop the decline.  Anymore than we can completely stop our own deaths.  Eventually, we all die.  Time for this earth is coming to an end (Matthew 24:35).  Soon.  But praise be to God, the creator if these heavens and this earth!!  He has made a way to redeem, and rescue the people who put their faith in Him!  When Jesus died on the cross, he did so to pay the penalty for our sin.  He redeemed us.  Made it so that this dying world was not our only world.  Now we can go to Heaven to be with Him when we die.  And some day there will be a new Heaven and Earth…created pure and perfect like this one was, but without the sin and decay.  2 Peter 3:13 says – “But God made a promise to us, and we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth where goodness lives.”

Come Lord Jesus, come!!!

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