Sunday, April 16, 2017

Earthquakes Rock

This Easter, I've been thinking and meditating on the Apostle Paul’s words … his heart’s desire that he wrote in Phil. 3:10
that I may know him (Christ) and the power of His resurrection, and 
may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death,

to Know Christ = to Experience All that is Christ
Have you ever read this verse … or heard a message on Phil. 3:10, and thought to yourself, “I want that!”  “I want to know Christ … I want to Experience Him in such a profoundly meaningful way … I so desperately want my relationship with Him to be so full that I’m willing to consider everything else in life to be worthless in comparison to Know Him and the power of His resurrection.”

to Know the Power = Explosive Miraculous Mighty Power of His Resurrection
On the surface, It may seem like Paul is just stating the obvious, or even thinking out loud about what it must have been like to witness Christ’s Resurrection. 

He is not saying that he wants to be a spectator is some grand theatre watching the events of the resurrection unfold. No, he wants to be in the middle of it.  Present with Jesus to experience it first-hand.  

Let's consider the events of this past October (2016) with the Chicago CUBS. It’s one thing to watch Game 7 of the World Series from home on your couch or even to be one of the few who could afford tickets to in the stands … But it’s something entirely more profound if you are one of the players on the field experiencing the exhilaration of the final out that secures your victory as a thunderous ovation erupts and roles over you in the moment.  In just a small way, that may give us a glimpse of Paul's expressed desire to experience everything that Christ has experience including the Power of His Resurrection.

In the narrative of Jesus' death and resurrection, Matthew writes about 2 cataclysmic earthquakes.  One at His death in Matt. 27:50-54 and a second at His resurrections in Matt. 28:1-10. At these 2 moments we see Resurrection Power as Life burst forth. At Christ's death, many dead saints were awoken and came to life and revealed themselves in the Holy City, at Jesus' resurrection, the Son of God burst forth to ultimate victory over sin and death.  

But we also see that the Rocks of this earth moved and cried out.  Remember, just days earlier, Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on a donkey as the crowds gathered crying out in praise and adoration for the Messiah.  The Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin instructed Jesus to stop the people, to which He replied,
“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”Have you ever considered that these earthquakes could very well be the fulfillment of Jesus' words? At horror of Jesus' death and the still of the morning on the day He rose from the dead, the silence was broken by the rocks themselves in thunderous applause of explosive resurrection power.

Friends, let me encourage you to do a character study of the life of Peter, the one Jesus calls...
... you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Matt. 16:18.
 Revisit some of the events of Peter’s life with Jesus
  • He was called to be a fisher of men and he followed Jesus
  • He witnessed so many amazing miracles by Jesus
  • He walked on Water
  • He Loved Jesus and so boldly proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah the Son of the living God.
  • He denied Jesus 3 times even when he knew it was going to happen and Rejected Jesus when He was on Trial 
  • He wept bitterly.
  • He raced John to the empty tomb
  • Jesus made breakfast for him.  He jumped ship to swim ashore… Only to asked 3 times if he Loved Jesus. Jesus recreated the very moment when He first called Peter to be a fisher of men and reset the "rock" on which His Church would be built.

This is the Gospel ... the Good News ... that Jesus, God's Son, willingly suffered, died, was buried and rose again in ultimate victory over sin and death for you! You can know Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection by allowing Him to explode your curse and slavery to sin and death in you while raising you to new life (eternal life) in Christ.

Easter Prayer
Lord, on this Day of Resurrection, open my eyes and heart that I may know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, Amen.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Family Challenge: Memorize the Beatitudes & Romans Road

Take up the Family Challenge! Every day during Sept. 15-30 work on memorizing God's Word together as a family.  Even if your family only memorizes 1 verse during this 15 day period, you'll be amazed how God's Word will affect your family, and then we want you to share your experience with us.

The Beatitudes:
The beatitudes come from the opening verses of the famous Sermon on the Mount delivered by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 5:3-12.  The word "beatitude" comes from the Latin beatitudo, meaning "blessedness."

Matthew 5:3-12  - The Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Romans Road clearly defines:

  1. Who needs salvation.
  2. Why we need salvation.
  3. How God provides salvation.
  4. How we receive salvation.
  5. The results of salvation.

Romans Road of Salvation

  1. Everyone needs salvation because we have all sinned.

    Romans 3:10-12, and 23
    As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” ... For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (NLT)
  2. The price (or consequence) of sin is death.

    Romans 6:23
    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)
  3. Jesus Christ died for our sins. He paid the price for our death.

    Romans 5:8
    But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (NLT)
  4. We receive salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

    Romans 10:9-10, and 13
    If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved ... For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (NLT)
  5. Salvation through Jesus Christ brings us into a relationship of peace with God.

    Romans 5:1
    Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. (NLT)

    Romans 8:1
    So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)

    Romans 8:38-39
    And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)

Responding to Romans Road

If you believe Romans Road leads to the path of truth, you can respond by receiving God's free gift of salvation today. Here's how to take a personal journey down Romans Road:
  1. Admit you are a sinner.
  2. Understand that as a sinner, you deserve death.
  3. Believe Jesus Christ died on the cross to save you from sin and death.
  4. Repent by turning from your old life of sin to a new life in Christ.
  5. Receive, through faith in Jesus Christ, his free gift of salvation.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Parenthood, Pancakes and Obedience

Did you see the episode of Parenthood on NBC where Julia made blueberry pancakes for her kids one morning?  Sydney is her natural child and Victor is her foster child that Joel and Julia are hoping to adopt.  Victor has been acting out and pushing the limits lately, and defiantly refuses to eat Julia's blueberry pancakes as just a taste of his overall attitude of defiance when it comes to obedience. (Click the picture below to see the clip)

I can't seem to shake this image out of my head as I consider how we obey.  Recently, I had the opportunity to help a group of students make a connection between Moses, Jonah and Saul.  These three men have more in common than you may initially think.

Each man experienced a profound and extraordinary meeting with God. In their meeting with God,  God called them to a specific mission to fulfill with a response of obedience and then they learned three truths about God.
  • Moses met God in a burning bush and God called him to lead His People out of the bondage of slavery and into the land that He had promised Abraham. Moses Reluctantly Obeyed. Exodus 3:1-12.
  • Jonah met God twice through the power of His word and was called to go to Nineveh with His message that would free them from wickedness through repentance. Jonah Defiantly Obeyed -- after 3 days and nights inside a fish. Jonah 1:1-3.
  • Saul met Jesus (after Jesus had ascended into heaven by the way) in a blinding light on his way to persecute Christians. Jesus called him to stop the persecution and start proclaiming the true message  and gospel of Jesus Christ. Saul Immediately Obeyed. Acts 9:1-22.
Each man learned three distinct and true characteristics of God and His Son during their meetings.
  1. God is Holy.  
  2. God Sees and Knows All Things.
  3. God Promises to be Present.
When given a choice to obey, how do you respond?  Are you Reluctant like Moses? Defiant like Jonah and Victor? or do you Immediately obey the call of God because you understand the truth -- God is Holy, sees and knows all things, and is present with you like Saul?  It's your choice.  Either way, your obedience is required.  

I am convinced that my moments of reluctance and defiance are just as appalling, frustrating and selfish as Victor's.  How sad, embarrassing and immature?  I so want to practice obeying immediately and with God's Grace teach my children to follow that example.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

13 Devotional Suggestions for Kids and Families

Happy New Year Families!

Here are 13 Devotional suggestions for your family in 2013.  As Parents, every day we have the opportunity and privilege to influence and shape our children spiritually, but sometimes (honestly - most days) we just don't know where to start.  Consider using a resource like the ones suggested here to create moments where you and your kids can grow in God's Story and God's Word.

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