Saturday, May 30, 2009
Many Christians rightly associate this thought with the gift of salvation. However, we often think that freedom in Christ only has to do with salvation.
Or...we will misinterpret it as license to do whatever we want...wrongly thinking that somehow God doesn't mind our sin because of His attributes of mercy and grace, misusing Romans 5:20 as their support.
I contend that this freedom in Christ doesn't stop with salvation, but is a consistent element in our sanctification. It's scary sometimes to do what God has called and commanded us to do. We often feel like it's too dangerous on many levels to obey...whether that means sharing the Gospel with our co-workers, standing up to your boss when he asks you to do something unethical, or moving to the ghetto and living the rest of your life in order to share God's truth with your neighbors.
If you are not free in Christ, you have a valid excuse not to do these things. If I'm not free in Christ then it's a HUGE risk to move to a scary neighborhood...or its a HUGE risk to stand up to your boss...because in the end you aren't sure what's gonna happen to you.
BUT...when Christ has freed you...you no longer live in fear of what might happen. Why?? Because what's the worst thing possible about living in the ghetto...you get robbed and killed?? Well then that gets me to what I've been pursuing...an eternity with the Most High God. There is no fear because God has set me free to do what He's calling me to do...knowing that ULTIMATELY it's going to be ok.
So...are you living with a freedom in Christ??? And I'm not just talking about salvation.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Why did John write this? What does it mean to you? Why? How can we live this verse?
There are no wrong answers please share your thoughts they will be much appreciated.
Monday, May 25, 2009
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. So, if all scripture is God breathed and is here for the sole purpose of teaching us, shouldnt we respect that word and try to lock it in for a few minutes....
maybe its just me that needed that sermon,
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I thought this was super interesting and artistic so I had to share it with you guys. In his book, Miracles, CS Lewis describes that just like us, Nature will be redeemed and restored to her original perfected state. CS Lewis explains this concept in a way that only he can. Check it out:
"Only Supernaturalists really see Nature. You must go a little away from her, and then turn round, and look back. Then at last the true landscape will become visible. You must have tasted, however briefly, the pure water from beyond the world before you can be distinctly conscious of the hot, salty tang of Nature's current. To treat her as God, or as Everything, is to lose the whole pith and pleasure of her. Come out, look back, and then you will see..... this astonishing cataract of bears, babies, and bananas: this immoderate deluge of atoms, orchids, oranges, cancers, canaries, fleas, gases, tornadoes and toads. How could you ever have thought this was the ultimate reality? How could you ever have thought that it was merely a stage-set for the moral drama of men and women? She is herself. Offer her neither worship nor contempt. Meet her and know her. If we are immortal, and if she is doomed (as the scientist tell us) to run down and die, we shall miss this half-shy and half-flamboyant creature, this ogress, this hoyden, this incorrigible fairy, this dumb witch. But the theologians tell us that she, like ourselves, is to be redeemed. The 'vanity' to which she was subjected was her disease, not her essence. She will be cured in character: not tamed (Heaven forbid) nor sterilized. We shall still be able to recognize our old enemy, friend, playfellow and foster-mother, so perfected as to be not less, but more, herself. And that will be a merry meeting." - CS Lewis
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Proverbs 6:12 "A worthless person, a wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth; he winks with his eyes, he shuffles his feet, he points with his fingers;"
The perverse mouth part jumps off the page to me, how many times do people around me hear something foul or unfruitful come out of mouth? Today I was enjoying a nice high quality breakfast at a local establishment called McDonalds (heard of it) and I overheard an older woman judge four people she didn't even know. She went into detailed about four different scenarios that she observed by just berating their motives and actions. This woman wasn't affected one bit by these instances but she felt she needed to judge them as plain stupid. It sounded so awful, I felt the Holy Spirit urge me to say something like "Hey it's a beautiful day isn't it, God bless you today." I failed to even move from my seat and continued to listen to this conversation, it sounded so terrible. Some of her statements made me think that she might be a believer, this made it even worse for me. I started to look inward and (Matthew 7:3-5) wonder how many times a day I sound like this, gossip is a struggle for me. This woman probably is a nice old woman but today she wasn't showing her best colors.
Solomon continues on in chapter 6 by bringing it back to scripture in verse 20.
Proverbs 6:20 "My son keep your fathers command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck."
At first look I thought "fathers command" refered to God commandments (Bible) but my study bible teaches that it is in support of the law of your mother which is known as the laws and institution of marriage. The point I was trying to make was focused on the idea of binding them around your neck or wearing your faith on your sleeve in a way that brings glory to God. Too often we mix in and laugh when people talk about trying to get a fan to show the bullpen her boobs. Thats shameful and in know way making God smile, I can see God saying "where were you at on that one Ben?" What about the times where guys are talking about their night life and we feel the prideful desire to share a story of debauchery from our past just so we can be seen as cool for a minute? Why, who are you, are we that doubleminded? These are the challenges of living in a fallen world but we can stand up for righteousness and make an eternal impact. Who wants to make an impact, eternal impact? Do you really want to make an impact or are you just after His blessings? We all need an occassional "fruit inspection" so take a minute to check your motives. More often than not one of these 7 sins is at the bottom of our problem, sniff it out and kill it, pray for God to reveal it. Brian Dailey recently shared with me a script from Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all."
This script is in conclusion to Solomon rapping (the whole book of Ecclesiastes is like a rap album from King Solomon to me, it's certified) about how he had it all and none of it brought him happiness. Living it is all we can do men, pursuing righteousness and a deeper understanding of our Lord. Nothing on this earth can bring you what you're looking for! That's truth.
I got some bread for everyone served hot and fresh from Paul’s bakery. As we all know, Paul became a Christian on the road to Damascus and took off running with the gospel. He was perhaps the most influential man in the history of the early church and wrote most of the New Testament. Recently, three verses from three of Paul’s letters have opened up my eyes to what true growth in a relationship with the King really looks like. Check this out:
Early in Paul’s ministry, he makes the following statement in his letter to the Corinthians. "For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." - 1 Cor. 15:9
Paul humbly considered himself the least of the 12 great disciples. Here’s the formula: Paul is less than 12
Later in Paul’s ministry, he makes the following statement in his letter to the church in Ephesus. "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." - Eph. 3:8. Now Paul considers himself the least of all the believers which at this time was probably around 10,000 or so. Paul is less than 10,000
Towards the end of Paul’s ministry, he makes the following statement in his first letter to Timothy. "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." - 1 Tim. 1:15. Paul now considers himself the worst of all the sinners.
Paul is less than All
What a tremendous example of what growth in a relationship with the King really looks like. As our relationship with Jesus grows so should our humility. Paul’s growth is clearly seen in the scriptures:
Paul is less than 12
Paul is less than 10,000
Paul is less than All
What’s your formula look like?
Thursday, May 14, 2009
How many opportunities do we have to give and pass it up. Im talkin more than just cash, cuz for some of you that aint no sweat. Im talkin maybe sacrificing your time or even sharing you r talents with another and getting nothing other than maybe a thank you. The Bible talks a whole lot about giving. I think we all know it blesses Gods heart when we do, but if you didnt know, heres a few scripts to help you get it: Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " Proverbs 11:24-25 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.Isaiah 58:6-11 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf o f the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.Since we now see how badly God wants us to give hears a few verses on exactly how our we are to give. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.Chew on this for a few days and get back at me. I wanna know what you are planning to do next. Humbly yearning to serve,Sam
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I woke up Friday got up for my 4:15 alarm, put my slacks and "schmoogy" (nice shirt that you wear to attract positive vibes) on to catch that shuttle to the plane to get back to Rochester from Louisville. Later in the day I arrived at the yard only to get pulled into the managers office to have him tell me I'm fired. Dang! Fortunately, God showered my heart and mind with peace and I was able to deal with it. It's wierd because I was so sure that this was going to be the year I got to the big leagues and I was going to have a great story to tell about perserverance and God's power. I don't know why this happened, I'm not happy about it, I can't see the light right now, and I now have to try to find a job in a tough market. My wife is pregnant and her job expires in June so there is some pressure on me to make this boat float. What can I do? How will I avoid falling into depression?
I have been doing what I know best, pray and talk to God with honesty and just pile up all these issues at His feet and let Him give me direction. My fire is dying out and it has been dying since spring training, I hope that it hasn't affected this group. I'm sure it is possible that some of you might have your fire burning low right now or maybe it has at one time dimmed. Let's turn to the Word and see how we can get some spiritual kindling for are dying fires.
Psalm 19:7 "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul."
Psalm 23:2-3 "He leads me besides still waters. He restores my soul."
The law of the Lord is the commandments in His word the instructions that the Bible gives all through out the books and chapters. Reviving and restoring the soul implies that we all need "pick-me-ups", encouragement, and experiences that heat us up again. Being led beside still water means that sometimes God has to put us in situations where we can do nothing but be quiet and wait on Him. For me that time is now, I'm home right now contemplating many things but more importantly I need to spend some alone time waiting on God to direct me. The temptation is heavy for me to throw my resume out there and look for a job that pays a lot of money and offers little fulfillment. I have learned over the span of my christian walk that money can't make me happy and being outside God's will is a painful place to be.
So my encouragement to everyone who reads this is to spark back up, rekindle your fire, read your bible, and wherever you are stick it out because if God doesn't want you there He will take you out. Consistently pray to be in God's will and have the desires of your heart match those of His. If your working the 9 to 5 know that God can use you to be a light to the men around you. If your still playing a sport know that God wants you to succeed. However part of the game is handling failure and that is when your biggest testimony is built, don't act like the rest of your teamates who don't know Jesus, you're called to be different. I know there are many High School players who read this, please remember that baseball is a game that it is meant to be fun, playing as if every pitch, out, swing, is played to glorify God. Make that idea your treasure and start enjoying life and the game more than you ever have.
The only way I can explain the peace in my heart right now is to say that God is real, Jesus saves us from our own selves when we dive into a deep daily relationship with Him. It's crazy man! I'm ready for my new adventure, I'm ready for a new Lion to chase. What's it gonna be?
Monday, May 11, 2009
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." (Isa. 61:10)
However, when someone really explores the Bible and seeks to know who God is more deeply...you get the opposite effect (or, at least, you should). Why??? Because our faith isn't a category of academia. Everything we learn isn't by learned by our own determination or discipline...it is only learned because God chose to reveal himself to us in that way. It is only understood because He allowed us to understand it. That our faith isn't achieved by our own power that we may not boast in it, rather, it is a GIFT that we are to receive humbly. This pursuit of holiness is not compatible with pride and arrogance.
It is a reversal in concept from academia. I can study economics and will my way to learn it...when I do, I can take pride in the fact that I've done something. When I study scripture...the more I know God, the more I realize how much I don't know, thus, realizing how much I truly need Him.
No subject of contemplation will humble the mind more than the thoughts of God...
When it comes to my profession I don't have a problem with taking the time to do anything. I don't seem to forget to prepare for each game I'll pitch. I make sure I get my gym time in, and my running done, and my film watching so what the heck. I only speak for myself when I say this but God deserves better than the time I have given him to this point. I will pray that He gives me the strength to honor Him with the time that He has given me. Romans 12:2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:1-3 (in Context) Romans
heres to not conforming anymore,
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
How about this, when you are in a relationship with someone how much time do you spend with them and how often do you think about them? How would they take it if you started to spend less time with them and more with some one else? How long could that last before your relationship was broken? You might be thinking that the description above sounds like my wife Christy but it's not necessarily, that description can often be about a "girl named World". She is tricky and she can seduce us in many ways, do you know her, have you been in love with her, or are you currently?
1John 2:15 "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him."
Matthew 16:26 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?"
Are you in love with Jesus? Think about it, if a lawyer were to ask you that question what evidence would you have to support it? Would it be safe to say that you are currently more in love with the girl named world than you are with God? Look in the mirror be real, it's just you, God and your computer screen, who do you love? Embarrassing isn't? We don't love Him enough. God is so in love with us that He sacrificed His only Son to have a relationship with us and this is how we do him. He wrote us a book that some have called His "love letter" for us and we don't even read it. I'm embarrassed are you? What can we do about it? 1 thing is to stop feeling sorry for ourselves all the time and get back in the game, let's go! Dump that broad named World and get back to mending our relatioship with our creator. Fall back in love with Jesus the Savior, the Author of our salvation, the bridge for the gap, the Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus! Start living this life not just to miss the bus to hell but to flourish in heaven. Quit playing the fence, you're either or not, you're either a candle for Jesus or you're part of the crowd in the dark. Some of us may never have been in love before well here is your chance or some may have fallen out of love because of our sinful nature. Let's fall back into love with Jesus our God today.
Heavenly father we praise You because You just are... Please forgive us of our sinful past, wash us clean because we need You. Lord today we vow to fall back in love with You never to fall away and out of Your prescence again. Strengthen us to dump the other loves that we have developed and focus just on You. We want to see more of You and less of dingy sinful selves when we look into that mirror. Show us what real love is. Thank you for this day. Amen!