Friday, November 28, 2008

'Tis the Season to Be.....What?

This picture is a familiar scene for many who brave the large crowds and cold morning air on the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, probably the biggest shopping day of the year...Black Friday! One day after giving thanks (prayerfully to the Lord and not simply unassigned gratitude), folks run out to get the best deals on things for themselves and others as the Christmas holiday approaches.

I've never actually been shopping on Black Friday. I've heard enough horror stories about it that I am not interested in going. Sure, I may miss out on greatly reduced prices, but I'd rather not endure the crowds and utter lack of courtesy that is shown this time of year.

I'm sure we've all either read stories, watched news reports or have even had personal experiences with shopping during the Christmas season, especially on Black Friday. People have been trampled in a mad dash to grab the coveted gift. People have stolen things from other people's carts that they couldn't grab for themselves earlier. They push past each other, bump each other and generally show a lack of consideration for their fellow shoppers. It's so bad that many local law enforement agencies place uniformed officers in these stores to try to keep some semblance of order.

People line up as early as 3am (maybe even earlier), just to wait for store openings, and when the doors open, all breaks loose. Common decency often flies right out of the window.

The Christmas season is supposed to be about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It's supposed to represent the time where our gracious God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that all those who will repent of their sin, believe the gospel and place their complete trust in Christ will be saved. Unfortunately, with much of the carrying on (even by some believers), I don't think Christ's example is being accurately depicted during this season, at times.

If the Christmas season was truly all about Christ in America, I'd hate to say that this is what I think might more accurately depict the scene at many shopping areas, just a day after Thanksgiving.

Don't Just Do Something, Sit There!

"Don't Just Do Something, Sit There!"
by M. Adolphus Armstrong

In today's evangelical Christian church, there seems to be a high emphasis on ministry, and rightly so. Everyone should be involved in some sort of service to help the local church.

Many have taken on a very "purpose-driven" mindset about ministry, even to the point where a person may be involved in 5, 6 or even 10 different ministries or more. They always seem to be doing something at the church. They're at this practice, this gathering, this rehearsal or meeting, etc. There's nothing wrong with these things. In fact, they're all very honorable things.

However, what I've noticed is that oftentimes these ministries take up so much time actually doing something that many suffer when it comes to personal time reading and studying the Bible.

Notice that I said reading AND studying. There's a bit of a difference in the two. For instance, I can read my Bible in the morning for a few minutes before I head off to work/school, etc. But, study takes considerably more than just a few minutes. Studying takes time.

But, if we're constantly on the move, where do we find real and substantial time to study? The answer is, we usually don't. By the time we're finished from all of our daily, weekly or monthly duties, we're just too worn out to put real quality time into our studies. So, instead, we wind up going to church and allowing our pastors to spoon feed us everything we know about the Bible. While pastors are put in place to teach us, if we only learn from him and never on our own, we will never go beyond his level of understanding. We will be subject to what he knows alone.

So, that brings me back to the title of this article. "Don't Just Do Something, Sit There!" You might have had to give that a second glance. Usually the saying is, "Don't just sit there, do something!" Well, some of the problems we face in our Christian walk is because we are always doing something, yet never just sitting and learning from God.

I want to share a story with you from the Bible concerning this issue I'm writing about today. Let's look at the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10:

38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving along? Then tell her to help me." 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Here we have Jesus entering into a village, and there He is met by Martha. Martha has a sister named Mary. Martha was so worried about preparing things for Jesus, so cumbered about with ministry (for she was seeking to minister to him), that she missed the most important thing for her to understand. Mary had chosen it, and He said it would not be taken away from her.What was it that Mary had chosen? Mary chose to sit at the Lord's feet and listen to His word. She chose to be still and learn from Him. That was what was most important.

Dr. John MacArthur says this:

"Jesus was not speaking of the number of dishes to be served. The one thing necessary was exemplified by Mary, i.e., an attitude of worship and meditation, listening with an open mind and heart to Jesus' words."

In order for us to truly understand what it means to minister for Christ, we must first know Christ intimately, through personal worship, prayer and the reading and hearing of His word.

Are you taking real time to sit at the feet of Christ? Are you scheduling yourself enough time to really dig into His Word and know Him more intimately? Or, are you cumbered about with so many things like Martha?

I encourage all who read this to carefully consider your own schedule, and see if your study of His Word is lacking. Knowing God rightly is vitally important to being a faithful servant of Christ.

Our Hope in the Resurrection of Christ

"Our Hope in the Resurrection of Christ"

"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death:" Revelation 1:18 KJV

Over 1900 years ago, the apostle John wrote these words of our glorious Savior and King, Jesus Christ. A lot of believers misunderstand the book of Revelation to be about the anti-Christ and the seals and the devil and the lake of fire. Their fixation is upon the eschatological (end times) unfolding within the pages of the book. And while these things are all included, this is not the true object of the book of Revelation.

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:" Revelation 1:1 KJV

The book of Revelation is about He who lived, and was dead, and now lives forevermore. The book of Revelation is about Jesus Christ, the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords, who defeated death on the cross, and was raised up with all power in His hand. It is a revealing of what was once hidden and now made clearly seen. Jesus Christ in His full glory.

While I don't want us to delve into Revelation today, I want us to focus on what it means for us that Christ was raised from the dead and now lives forevermore. Let's look to the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.

"1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also." 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 NASB

Here we have the most important message that the world has ever been delivered, that Christ died for the sins of His people according to the Scriptures, was buried and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. This is certainly good news for us, who were dead in our trespasses and sins and utterly helpless, without hope.

Much is talked about concerning Christ's perfect life of obedience to the will and purpose of the Father as well as His sacrificial, substitutionary atonement on the cross, but many miss the importance of Christ's bodily resurrection. All three of these truths are foundational to the Christian faith.

But, in the Corinthian church, there was some misunderstanding about Christ's resurrection. Yes, they believed in Christ's resurrection, but some of them were having trouble accepting the resurrection of the believers also. At the time of the Corinthians, there was a tenet of Greek philosophy called dualism. It basically stated that everything that was physical was intrinsically evil. Because of this widely held belief, the thought of resurrected bodies was disgusting. We see this type of reaction from the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Acts 17:32:

"Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this."

Epicureans were materialists, and while they did not deny the existence of God, they didn't believe He was involved in the affairs of men. They believed that the body and soul of a man disintegrated when he died.

It's also possible that some Jews in the Corinthian church may have been influenced by the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection even though it was "according to the Scriptures" as Paul noted in 1 Cor. 15.

12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Here Paul begins to lay out the argument for the necessity of the resurrection.

"13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, who He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied."

Dr. John MacArthur writes:

"In these verses, Paul gives 6 disastrous consequences if there were no resurrection: 1) preaching Christ would be senseless (v. 14); 2) faith in Christ would be useless (v. 14); 3) all the witnesses and preachers of the resurrection would be liars (v. 15); 4) no one would be redeemed from sin (v. 17); 5) all former believers would have perished (v. 18); and 6) Christians would be the most pitiable people on earth (v. 19)"

What a hopeless people we would be without the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We'd have no hope of future bodily resurrection and all those before us would have died believing in vain. As seen in verses 13 and 16, the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of believers stand and fall together. If there is no life to come, we'd be better to "eat, drink and be merry" for tomorrow we die.

I'm going to leave off today with the Scriptures. They explain our hope in the resurrection infinitely better than I could even attempt.

"20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 the last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that he is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to HIm, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all"

"54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the say that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY." 55 O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."


Thoughts on Adoption

The doctrine of adoption is one that particularly rings loudly in my heart. I understand, being adopted naturally, the difference between being someone's natural child and being an adopted child.

You see, adoption involves a choice to be made. But, this choice isn't made by the child, but by the parent. I didn't choose my mom and dad. They chose me as a little baby. Their choice to love me despite not having any blood ties to me was one of the greatest acts of love I've ever encountered in 30 years of life. They didn't have to pick me out of all the little babies who were much cuter than I. But, they did.

I was what you'd call "the runt of the litter." I was undersized and underdeveloped for my age (14 months old). I was a sickly child (was extremely anemic). But, they chose me--a sick child, to lavish their love upon. That's amazing grace.

So, when it comes to the doctrine of adoption, I realize that this is exactly what God had done for me, and for all those who are His. He didn't take the most qualified people. He didn't take those who were the greatest of them all. He took the least of us and brought us into His family. He called us His sons. He gave us a distinction that the rest of the world does not have. We are children of the Most High God. We have been allowed entry into an everlasting love relationship with a God who did not have to choose any of us, but saw our sick condition and decided to lavish His love upon us, outside of any human counsel. That's amazing grace.

One of the major differences with natural adoption and spiritual adoption as sons of God, is that my adoptive parents here on earth cannot pass down any of their unique attributes to me. I don't have my father's eyes, or my mother's nose, or even the dark skin of my father. But, my heavenly Father has given me the mind of Christ, made me a part of His own body, and has sent His Spirit to live within me, leading me and guiding me along the way. That's amazing grace!

Oh, the doctrine of adoption! So sweet the sound of God's loving melodies towards His children! May we all walk in this truth and live lives worthy of our calling.

Praise the Lord!!!! I'm FREE!!!!!

I'm so thankful that the Lord has seen fit to allow this blog to be released from blog purgatory! LOL. Now, before anyone starts trippin' about my use of the word "purgatory", please understand that it's just a joke. Purgatory does not exist. It's completely foreign to the pages of Scripture.

But, I'm so thankful that I can now post freely. Praise the Lord! So, watch out for new blogs coming soon! I'll actually be moving some of my old blogs here today as well!

Grace and peace,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brand New Blog!

Hey Everyone:

I decided that my old blog name ( was too close to an existing blogsite. I didn't do this intentionally, but after I realized how close it was, I decided it be best if changed my blog name/address. So, I'll be posting here periodically. So, be on the lookout for some blogging in the coming weeks. I actually have one in mind that I may get to today.

Until then, Grace and peace.