Posts Tagged ‘bible’

Bonsai “Faith”

10/13/2011
A Eurya (Eurya emarginata) bonsai on display a...

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Completing our two-part message about typical “faiths“.

Most of us know what Bonsai Trees are. They are tiny little trees. They really are miraculous displays of how small nature can be, when it is contained. Contained, is the best word possible being that the reason Bonsai Trees grow as small as they do, is because they are originally grown in containers. That big tree in your yard, or neighborhood could have easily been a Bonsai Tree if it was grown in a small container.

Our first part of this message was about exercising only when at church. Your church is not a gym. And likewise the “church” is not a container, it is a body. A body that you are a part of, if you are a real Christian. A real disciple of Christ. Your spiritual growth is not meant to be “contained” in a building every week. It is meant to flourish. So ask yourself the following questions:

1- Do you only read the Bible on Sundays or when at church activities?

2- Do you only talk about God when at church or with church friends?

3- Do you practice your faith in your home life with your loved ones?

4- Do you pray on your own? Or with your family members?

 

If you answered no to those, then you are not on your way to being a California Redwood. You, my friend, are a Bonsai and unless you do what it takes to change those “no’s” into “yes'” you will always be a Bonsai.

 

Chris

Step 1: Blaming God

09/21/2011

Thanks for stopping in for Episode 21 of Inspired Audio, you can listen to today’s audio by CLICKING HERE NOW.

Lose your faith in five easy steps!

09/20/2011

Today is the first in a five-part series I am titling “Lose your faith in 5 easy steps”. That probably sounds a little counterproductive to what we normal shoot for at I.M., but I think it is far past time we talk about the five main things that immediately kill our faith, and these things aren’t even the BIG things people normally think about, these are the small things, that eat away at our faith like a cancer slowly but surely over a long period of time. I was inspired for this series by reading the book Weird, which I recommend, Craig Groeschell is an awesome Christian author.

Have you ever found a piece of glass on the beach? Probably not, but trust me, they are there. The thing about glass shards dropped on beaches is that over time, the elements smooth the rough edges, grind the piece down, and eventually, it just looks like another smooth-sided pebble on the beach. We have a choice to avoid becoming like very other pebble on that beach by resisting these five things.

First on the list is our title for today, BLAMING GOD. We will be getting in to that tomorrow in our audio section, stay tuned!!

Women & The Gospel

09/01/2011
Jesus on the Cross

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My current Bible studies have been based on a mix of Biblical, Historical, & Archaeological facts about the Apostle Paul’s life and ministry. For the women in ministry out there, and the men who arrogantly believe they have no place in ministry, the following is for you. An excerpt from the book The Life of Saint Paul, by Prof. James Stalker, D.D.

“A prominent feature of the work in Macedonia (Greece) was the part taken in it by women. Amid the general decay of religions throughout the world at this period, many women everywhere sought satisfaction for their religious instincts in the pure faith of the synagogue. In Macedonia, perhaps on account of tis sound morality, these female proselytes were more numerous than elsewhere.”

“They pressed in large numbers into the Christian Church. This was a good omen; it was a prophecy of the happy change in the lot of women which Christianity was to produce in the nations of the west (America). If men owe much to Christ, women owe still more. Christ (especially through Paul’s message) has delivered her from the degradation of being man’s slave and plaything and raised her to be his friend and his equal before Heaven.”

“While on the other hand, a new glory has been added to Christ’s religion by the fineness and dignity with which it is invested when embodied in the female character. These things were vividly illustrated in the earliest footsteps of Christianity in Europe.”

“The first convert in Europe was a woman, at the first Christian service held on European soil, the heart of Lydia being opened to receive the truth; and the change which passed upon her prefigured what woman in Europe (and eventually the rest of the world) was to become under the influence of Christianity.”

“In the same town of Philippi there was seen, too, at the same time an equally representative image of the condition of woman in Europe before the gospel reached it, in a poor girl, possessed of a spirit of divination and held in slavery by men who were making gain out of her misfortune, whom Paul restored to sanity.”

“Her misery and degradation were a symbol of the disfiguration, as Lydia’s sweet and benevolent Christian character was of the transfiguration of womanhood.”

You see, for my fellow-men out there, who make the mistake of telling women where there place should be in the church, this critical study from Paul’s travels tells us that if anything, women add to what Christianity is supposed to be and if they were still subjected to teaching Sunday School and keeping nursery alone and nothing more, our faith, our church, would not be what it is today.

God Bless

Chris

David’s failure to obey.

06/14/2011
Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy ...

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Quite often we hear that Satan makes people do things. How many times have you heard the phrase “the devil made me do it”? While many people like to write bad things happening off as some consequence of our own personal actions, if we believe the teachings of the Bible we know why bad things happen. There was no sin at all in the world until Satan brought it in through Adam and Eve. This was known as the first “fall on mankind”. This also ushered in tons of bad things. We also know that sometimes God makes or allows bad things to happen to ultimately lead people to himself or make things better for those who the things happen to.

So, either God makes it happen, or God allows Satan to make it happen, through us doing things that God doesn’t approve of. The Bible is full of examples of Satan turning God’s people against the Lord, because God doesn’t force us to follow him, he wants us, to WANT to follow him. This brings us to King David of Israel. We know that David had twice the army that Moses had originally counted. David did not know that, and God told him not to count his men, but the Bible tells us:

“Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel” (1 Chron 21:1-2).

So, being a flawed and weak human, David took the census anyway. This angered God, so to punish David, God sent a plague that killed 70,000 of David’s soldiers. David’s advisors and closest friends warned him against testing the Word of God. But we see that Satan personally took arms against Israel (presumably in a spritiual sense) and caused David to do this. It is my belief, as a reformed egomaniac, that Satan attacked David’s pride and insecurities by making him feel weak against his enemies. Maybe, Satan made David feel that his numbers were not nearly as much as he thought. God simply wanted David to trust that HE had it all under control. The outcome of that very census made it clear that God had it under control, because we know the numbers had doubled since the last time Israel conducted a census.

You might be thinking now, “Why would a loving God kill 70,000 innocent men and soldiers, just to get even with David?” Nowhere in there does it say that those men were righteous men. Nowhere in there does it say that those men were NOT taken directly to Heaven to be with God for all of eternity. One way or the other, we can’t hold God, the creator of everything, to the same standard that he holds us to. We have no right to do that whatsoever. Being that Father’s Day is approaching, I feel that I need to point out that tons of mother’s had to sit their children down and tell them that all because of David’s failure to obey God, their Daddies wouldn’t be coming home anymore. One man, can make a difference, for either the good or bad. And David’s inability to simply obey and trust, proved that.

This is the same David, that God trained to be a responsible and righteous leader when he was just a child herding sheep. This is the same David that God had protected hundreds of times from his enemies. This reminds me of my wife’s dog Lola. When I let her out at night, she walks from the garage, through the kitchen, and out the back door. When she comes back in though, if the door that leads to the garage (and her dinner) is open she runs directly to it, because she see’s that I have made the way for her. However, if that door is closed, she circles behind me, and sits down waiting because I have not made the way, but she trusts me, and obeys the unsaid order to wait.

I wish more of us could be like her and wait for God. David did not, and it cost the lives of 70,000 men. What does it cost when we don’t? What does it benefit when we do? So much more than what is lost. I want to leave you with this today:

“Integrity, combined with faithfulness is a powerful force and worthy of great respect.” (Former Blogger ‘Real Live Preacher 2006)

God bless,

Chris

Make every day PAY-DAY (2)

06/02/2011
Dispute of Jesus and the Pharisees over tribut...

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(Jumping right back in where we left off yesterday)

If you or I were Jeph, we would have responded to Israel’s elders as well as his brothers by saying “You kicked me out when I was a helpless little kid, now you come knocking all these years later after I have made a life of my own, only because you need my help? No! You laughed at my tears of sadness when I was just a child, now I laugh at you as adults!” Thank God Jeph was not any of us. He didn’t seek revenge at all. Instead he accepted, with only the stipulation that he be given some alone time to worship God and pray privately.

Haven’t all of us been in those shoes? I wish we could all be like Jeph. I’m sure some of you were hurt by somebody, maybe that someone was a church member, and you haven’t had any use for the church ever since. But Jeph was greater in heart than we are. He began his great test. The test that would bring him to the spiritual pay-day in the very near future. Keep in mind that this type of pay-day is not the same as ours. This type of pay-day is when we keep our word to God regardless of the cost. Your test, won’t come when you are at the office with a Christian co-worker on either side of you. That would be too easy. Your test, is what your faith can do for you in the middle of a godless crowd. Daniel was tested in the lion’s den, remember? Remember what the king said to Daniel? “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20b In my mind I can see Daniel cracking a smile in response while petting a lion.

Jeph, went to battle on the altar of prayer and made one of the BOLDEST promises to God that has ever been made. Jeph promised that when he returned from battle, the first thing or person to come through the tent door to greet him and welcome him home, he would sacrifice to God. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Jeph was a single father, who lived with his only daughter, you cannot possibly convince me that you would make that promise knowing what could come of it. Jeph was exhibiting RECKLESS FAITH. Today we are all so proud of our self-control. We take pride in the fact that we are not that person a few seats over in church that falls on their knees in worship because they know it is only about them and God and not maintaining appearances. We are so proud that we can keep our hands in our pockets while half the congregation is raising theirs in honor and praise of God almighty.

Some of the Bible’s key characters though, exercise RECKLESS FAITH. A faith where the consequences are not weighed and total confidence is placed in God’s hands. Remember Mary? She wasted a whole case of perfumes and oils when she washed Jesus’ feet. What about the widow at the temple who gave very little, but to her it was a great amount because she was a very poor woman, remember Jesus telling the Pharisees that she had given way more than they had regardless of the amounts they gave? The recklessness of these two ladies made them immortal in our hearts, and the hearts of every Christian in the world throughout all of history. Jeph made a vow, and when the time came, he knew he owed it to God to keep his word.

Now we come to Pay-Day. Jeph returns home after winning all of his military battles, and what happens? Yes. His beautiful daughter steps out of the tent singing a song of greeting and welcome to her father. What does Jeph say to her? “Alas, my daughter you have brought me very low”. After telling her of his promise to God, she agreed and was sacrificed. What?!?! Does that make you shake your head? Does it make you think Jeph is a bad guy? It shouldn’t. You cannot hold Jeph to our modern 21st century standards, we have to judge his actions based on the times in which he lived. He kept his promise, his word to God. “I given my word to God, and I can’t take it back”.

My friends, I wish there were a lot more “can’t take it back” men out there. When Joseph faced the greatest temptation of his life, he said “I can’t do it”. When the apostles were ordered to keep silent and not preach about Jesus they said “We can’t do it”. And Jeph here, with a breaking heart said “I can’t take it back”. Many of us would think to ourselves “nobody knows I made that promise but God”. We can justify it however we want. We think “it won’t matter much to anyone other than God”. Think about that! The one person we are supposed to live to please! Jeph didn’t tell anyone about his promise to God. It wasn’t peer pressure like Herod had to deal with when he ordered the killing of John the Baptist. Jeph was urged to do it based on the strength and conviction of his faith.

The lessons from this are so plentiful that I feel the need to extend its conclusion until tomorrow. Stay tuned.

God Bless

Chris

Explaining the seven spirits

05/12/2011
Illustation to Book of Revelation

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This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the seven spirits  before his throne. Rev 1:4

We know from reading the Bible that the number 7 is usually associated with completion. Bible scholars are in agreement that the seven spirits are in fact the broken down spirit of God himself. When this scripture mentions Asia, it is not the same Asia we know, but instead was a province in what we now know as western Turkey. Much like the lampstand in Zechariah 4:2 that is only one lampstand, but serves seven different functions, the spirit of God is one, but with the intensity of seven. At the time John wrote the Book of Revelation, he foresaw the church degraded, and in a very dark age, therefore the seven times intensified spirit is necessary for God’s work to be done on Earth. The spirit of God grants grace, peace and leadership for us now, but in the end times, will serve an intense purpose. This verse also indicates the crucial need for the intensified spirit’s move to counteract the fall of the church in those days.

From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. These are the seven Spirit of God.  Rev 4:5

In his vision of the end times, John is looking at the throne of God, and describing to us what is going on in Heaven while the Earth is being tormented beyond all imagination for its wickedness. Here John is describing what the Spirit looks like, the Spirit is such a vivid thing to view, that the brightness of the one, is as bright as seven torches of fire. I gave you a verse in Zechariah to support the meaning of the seven spirits, now you can read further in Exodus 25:37 for even more study and confirmation. In Exodus the command is to set the lamps where the light is reflected forward, this indicates for us, proof and encouragement in moving forward in, or pursuing the spirit. It is there for believers seeking guidance, we only have to reach out.

Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.   Rev 5:6

The seven eyes symbolize constant searching and observing. The Lamb in this verse, is Jesus who was killed, but now stands as powerful as ever. The seven horns indicate something that can inflict damage and harm, they indicate the power of Jesus, and both times you will notice it uses seven to symbolize the intensification of things during these times. 

Reading the parts in the Bible about the seven spirit’s must be confusing to many, but there is no need for that. It is symbolic of how everything concerning God is seven times more intense than we could imagine. That is the whole point.

God bless,

Chris

 

A matter of trust.

05/11/2011
Haida gold box - Bill Reid

Image by 2sirius via Flickr

God gave me two boxes, one was black and the other was gold. He instructed me to place all my sorrows in the black box and all my joys in the gold box. So I did, I placed all my sorrows in the black and all my joys in the gold. As time went on, I noticed the gold box was getting heavy. I decided to check the black box, it was much lighter. That’s weird, so I opened the black box and to my surprise it was empty! As I was looking in the box, I noticed a hole in the corner. I wondered, where did all my sorrows go? I showed God and mused , where could all my sorrows be? He smiled gently at me and said,”My child they are here with me.” I thought further on this & asked another question. Why did you give me these two boxes? He responded,”My child, the gold is so you can count your blessings and the black is so that you let go of your sorrows.”
 
I want to thank my friend for sending me the above story, it really came in a time of need. I believe the point of this story is that we truly give God our sorrows. We make that black box a part of our walk with God. So many times we hold on to the past, instead of looking to the future God has for us. When we hold on to the past, it hurts us even more. Anger, jealousy, sorrow, and all the many hurts we have in life, tend to make us bitter and depressed. God gave us the Bible to tell us how to live. If you read it, He shows us how to deal with all this stuff, in such a way , that we get past it and even prosper because of it. We need to remember that God will make all our wrongs right, if we let Him handle it. Instead we sweep it under the rug or even worse than that
we try to fix it in our own strength, the worlds way. Which usually turns out bad and definitely not to our good.
 
“God will fight for you and you will hold your peace” Exo. 14:14

God is so good that if you trust him, he  gives you peace. This is so true! God gave me this word to stand on when I felt ill-equipped to fulfil the purpose he had for me. He led me to the tools I needed or sent someone else to fight for me. He also made right my wrongs and used them to help other people. When I listened or followed, there was such a peace. I kept my focus on the purpose God had for me, and the wrongs were made right. My issues were dealt with and I was able to go onto the future. Was it easy? No! Was it worth it? Most definitely, Yes!
 
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” Matt.6:33
 
Look for the purpose that God has for you and he will work all of your issues out. Letting go, means trusting that God has you and if you fall, he will be there to lift you up. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Trust him, It is just a matter of trust.

God bless you all,

Hope                                    

Tale of two cities

05/09/2011
whale saying Hello

Remember being a kid and your parents telling you to go somewhere, then you going somewhere else against their wishes? One of the most famous stories in the Bible that we learn is the story of “Jonah and the whale“. Whale, fish, either way same story. Kids take one thing from this story…..the fishy part.

The main part of this story however, is about making the choice to do what God wants you to do with your life. Quick summary here, Jonah was a man of God, a Jew. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to minister and preach to the bad people who lived there. It was a nice town, just full of gentiles which, at this point in history were the Jews biggest enemies. The way the Jews believed was that, when there was food in Israel and famine in Nineveh, that was God’s blessing and his own way of saving the blessings for Israel and not for them. When God allowed there to be famine in Israel, and food in Nineveh however, that was God’s way of punishing Israel for their wicked ways. No Jew, especially a man of God like Jonah, wanted good things to happen to Nineveh, they wanted to keep all of God’s blessings for themselves, and to heck with everyone else!

Scripture says “The word of the Lord came to Jonah saying ‘Wake up and go to Nineveh, and cry against it”. God was calling the people of Nineveh to turn from their wicked ways, stop being heathens and depend on him. Jonah decided instead, to travel to Tarshish to get out of having to go. But on the boat to Tarshish the storm came, the heathens were terrified and woke up Jonah who was sleeping. Jonah knew that this storm was the work of the Lord, so knowing that it was his own fault, he threw himself from the boat, the storm calmed, the whale came, and we know the rest of the story, at some point Jonah repented and went to Nineveh and ministered the way God wanted him to.

It is not important how the word of God came to Jonah, the important thing is that it DID come. That is the main thing in your case and mine, isn’t it? God constantly comes to us, speaks to us, and tries to lead us. How often do we actually listen. You see, Nineveh was a great city, despite the fact that the residents were heathens. Even still, Jonah did not want to go. His reluctance wasn’t because of conviction over knowing that few if anyone in the city would actually listen to his message.

Often we feel that it is useless to try to speak to certain people in our lives about God. At one point people said that missionary work was pointless. How often we forget that deep inside every human being is an emptiness and hunger that only God can fulfill. Jonah was terrified that Nineveh would repent, and the Jews would have to share their blessings with them. Jonah, despite knowing that God created everything, still viewed God as only the God of Israel. In Jonah’s mind there were only two cities on his map! There was Nineveh, a place where he could fellowship with others in God’s name. Then there was Tarshish the place at the end of the road that is travelled by the rebellious. I don’t know where your Nineveh is, but I know you have one, because I know that I do, and everyone I know does too. It could be your Bible that you run from, your church, an outreach project, singing in the choir, greeting at the doors on Sundays, or tons of other things that God could be calling you to do.

In the end the question is simple, will you listen? Will you run away to Tarshish in order to be comfortable? Or, will you willingly and proudly walk into the front door of Nineveh with your head held high! In one sense, Jonah was a very insightful man, even during his troubles. Jonah knew, that to run away from your duty, was to run away from God. When you make up your mind to refuse to move in the direction God wants you to move in, you also make the decision to refuse the friendship that God wants to have with you. You can’t walk with Jesus, and rebel against him at the same time. It won’t be sunshine and roses just because you walk with Christ, but Jesus makes all things work together for the good of his believers. Let’s face it, a man with his mind made up to do wrong things, if far more at rest than the man whose mind is not made up at all. If you are reading this now and want that friendship, want to give that obedience to God but do not know how, and have yet to find true salvation, or have been away from Jesus and want to accept him again, and do it the right way, I have outlined exactly how to do that. Just click HERE.

Today, if you already have salvation, and are entirely certain of it, then I present one question. Which city are you heading to?

God bless you,

Chris

SALVATION

04/19/2011

What does it mean to be saved?

I come that you may have life and that more abundantly. John 10:10

Q:What is humanity’s relation to God?

A:Paul writes in his letters to the Romans that “All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23)  This doesn’t say that God has rejected everyone, or that God doesn’t like them. It does say that we, as human beings have fallen short of the glory of God. Genesis 1:26 says that we are created to be like God. Then in verse 28 we learn that we were given control over the Earth by God. In Psalm 8:5 we learn that we were made a little lower than God, an image of him. Fact is, we all have fallen short of this wonderful goal of emulating God’s character and of using our full capabilities.

God hasn’t separated himself from us, we have separated ourselves from God. (See Luke 15:11)

Q:Who is Jesus?

A:Let’s first ask what Jesus did? Jesus brought to us understanding of God’s character in Hebrews 1:3. He carried the burden of our sins and opened a door for us to be saved in 1 Peter 2:24. Jesus opened the way, directly to God in Hebrews 4:14-16. Jesus has shown us the glorious purpose God has for us and how we can attain it.

God’s Son has all the brightness of God’s own glory and is like him in every way. Hebrews 1:3

Now a brief outline of how you accept Jesus:

a) Pray and accept the message that God has sent you through Jesus.

b) Determine to turn from the things that keep you away from God’s full purpose for your life.

c) Fine a group of Christians who believe in living the Word of God on a daily basis and join with them in worshipping him.

d) Look for ways to make your world line up with God’s plan.

and;

e) Read your Bible daily as you grow to learn God’s voice.

Now, Moving forward.

Q: What does it mean to surrender my life to Christ Jesus?

A: The idea of surrendering control of one’s life to someone else is very frightening to some. But what is it that God is actually asking of us? Think of someone standing by a high cliff. There is a choice to be free of the laws of nature and jump, or to accept them and take proper care. To choose life by surrender is not to give up anything good. One simply accepts the physical laws that exist and by which the universe runs. Accept them and live; reject them and die. It is the same thing with Christ‘s moral laws: accept and live or reject and die.

Today I am giving you a choice. You can choose life and success or death and disaster. Deut 30:15

Q: What does it mean to live a Christ-like life?

A: Jesus said that the most important commandment of the law was “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind” the second most important commandment is “Love others as much as you love yourself”. The Bible also teaches that we must put this into action, not just words (1 John 4:20-21).

Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, not merely by talking about it. 1 John 3:18

Q: What about Heaven and Hell?

A: For many people the point of Christianity or any religion is to assure one’s place in another world. But there is much more to following Jesus than that. Jesus showed us a good way of life HERE and NOW! The Bible tells us about an eternal reward and eternal punishment, but what it tells us most about is following Jesus in this world, while preparing for the next.

By following Jesus in this life we are preparing to be in His presence for eternity. (See John 14:1-3)

Finally, if after reading, and you haven’t already. Below is a very simple prayer that will give you the peace you have been desperately seeking. It isn’t a guarantee of earthly happiness or even earthly health, but God has told us that is the most important transaction you could ever make. You are accepting a free ticket to salvation and eternal life. If you have made this decision today, I welcome you as a brother or sister and cannot wait to see God’s work through your life and testimony, and at some point your own personal ministry even!

Prayer for salvation:

“Father, in Jesus name, I thank you now for another opportunity that you have allowed me to come before your presence. I ask you now to forgive me of all of my sins. Forgive me for anything I’ve done or anything I have said that has brought shame to your Holy Name. I confess with my mouth and I believe in my heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead and He now lives in me. I know I am a sinner and do not deserve your grace and love. And I proudly accept this gracious gift of eternal life in your son Christ Jesus. Thank you Lord that I am now saved by grace, and I will serve you for the rest of my life. In Jesus matchless and precious name, Amen.”

Feels good doesn’t it? Welcome to the family. If you just prayed that then my heart has never been happier. Right now the angels in Heaven are throwing a party in your honor, the Bible says so.

Now, go and blessed. It will not always be simple, but in the end, there is no greater cause to serve, and no greater love than God has for us.

Chris

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