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The Gospel Isn’t Meant to Be Strawberry Pie- We’ve got things mostly together on our own, but we are hungry for a little Jesus to sweeten up our lives. And so we sing about being hungry for Jesus…But I think we are really just singing for some strawberry pie.
Mentoring 101- Biblically, and as far from cultural influences as we can get, mentoring is actually a relationship between two Christians—an older one and a younger one—for the purpose of fostering growth in grace in both people, but especially the younger one.
Your Great-Great-Grandma and Her Friends Were Just as Silly as You- That stodgy, somber look folks put on for portraits? It was all an act.
Word of Faith Teachers: Origins and Errors of Their Teaching- I know it’s long, but what’s three hours compared to your eternity and where you’ll be spending it if you follow this anti-biblical teaching?
“Are you or someone you know a follower of the likes of Joel Osteen, Kenneth Hagin, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes etc.? This film takes a responsible look at the major doctrines which separate this movement from historic biblical Christianity.”
Behold: Here Are the Two Worst Arguments Against Homeschooling- As a homeschooler myself, it’s hard to narrow it down to just two, but I heartily agree with him.
Baby Monkey (Going Backwards on a Pig)- Yes, this song is going to get stuck in your head. Yes, it’s totally worth it.
Dear Single Lady- If there’s one thing I long for all of you to know, it’s this: The One who holds our future in His hands—He is GOOD.
It’s time for another awesome blog swap! Blog swaps give me the opportunity to share other talented bloggers with you, plus offer you fresh content that’s a great supplement to our regular fare here. If you’d like to do a swap, click on the link above for more information.
It’s my pleasure to bring you another swap with Pamela of Guarding the Deposit. Pamela has a very timely article for us today. If you’re into alternative medication you’ll want to be sure to read this important article, Reiki- Satan Masquerading as an Angel of Light.
These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.
Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 42 ~ Oct. 12-18
Matthew 8:14-11:30, 12:22-14:36, Luke 8:1-9:17, 11, Mark 4-6, John 6
Last week we took a look at this pattern:
God—>God calls and trains His people—>God’s people minister the gospel to others
We saw it across various contexts of the Bible: the “macro,” or overall theme from Old Testament to New, the “micro,” or the way God works in our personal lives, and the “messianic,” or the way this pattern applied to Jesus’ own life. This week’s reading was another example of this pattern, the “ministerial,” or the way it applied to Jesus’ and the disciples’ ministry.
In this week’s reading we saw that Jesus’ ministry started with Jesus, Himself. Next He called out and trained His disciples through many parables and healings. Today, we will be looking at the passage where He sends them out to minister the gospel to others. In His final training session before Jesus sends out the twelve, He wants to make sure they’re ready for what they’re about to face.
Go Ye Therefore- 5-13 (10:7-8, 5-6, Mark 1:14-15, Isaiah 35:5-6)
Jesus is sending out the disciples. What is He sending them out to do? Verses 7-8 tell us that their ministry was two-fold: first, they were to preach, just as Jesus did (Mark 1):
the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
Second, they were to perform various signs and wonders. Notice that the signs and wonders are secondary to the message of the gospel. Wasn’t the gospel enough? What was the purpose of the miracles? When Jesus perfomed miracles, the miracles were both a fulfillment of prophecy (Is.) to help the Jews to understand that He was the promised Messiah, and they also authenticated His message of the gospel to the gentiles and others who weren’t familiar with the prophecies. Street cred, in other words– if He can do that, what He says must be true, and we’d better listen. The miracles the disciples were to perform were to serve the same purpose– to point to Jesus as the Messiah and to give credibility to the gospel message.
Who were the disciples sent to? Jesus told them not to go to the Samaritans (half Jew, half gentile, as we studied last week) or the gentiles, but “rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Why? Because He didn’t love gentiles and want them to hear the gospel? Not at all. We saw last week that He had already been to a Samaritan village to preach the gospel. And, of a Roman centurion (a gentile) whose servant He healed, Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith,” and went on to say- to an audience of Jews- that there were many gentiles who would make it to Heaven while many Jews would not.
Jesus sent the disciples to the Jews because that was the order God had ordained- first the Jews, then the gentiles. Why?
1. His promise was to the Jews, not the gentiles. God had promised that the Messiah would come through the Jews and to the Jews. All of Jewish history and ceremony had been pointing to this moment in time. God had been laying the ground work through types and shadows and prophecy for millenia. It was only right that Messiah should be revealed to them first.
Imagine if you’ve been promising your child since the day he was born that when he turned 16 you’d buy him a car. Over the years you talked about it together, looked at pictures, visited car lots, and finally picked out the perfect one. Then, on the day of your son’s 16th birthday, you run into a random 16 year old on the street and buy him a car first. Even if you immediately thereafter drove your son to the car lot to buy him his car, would that be the right way to do things?
2. At this point in history -Jesus’ earthly ministry through the birth and spread of the church- we’re looking at very rapid Kingdom growth. Teachers and preachers are going to be needed, like, fast, to shepherd these thousands of new Christians, most of whom are clueless gentiles.
If you work at a computer company and you’re launching a completely new type of software that you want to make accessible to as many people as possible as fast as possible, are you going to hire field representatives who have a professional background in computers or someone who’s never used a computer before?
Same idea here. The Jewish people already had a background in “messiah-ology.” Once saved, they could be up and running as teachers and pastors much faster than your average gentile.
Good News, Bad News- 14-25 (John 3:19)
God is sending out His people (the disciples) to tell His people (the Jews) that He has kept His promise and sent Jesus, the long awaited Messiah. Plus, they’re going to heal a bunch of people and do other miracles. What Jew in his right mind wouln’t be overjoyed at this awesome news, right?
So, what’s all this stuff about the disciples being hated and persecuted and charged with criminal activity? That’s not the way people usually respond to someone who’s bringing them good news. But God’s news isn’t good news when you don’t love God, and these Jews didn’t. That’s why Jesus referred to the people He was sending the disciples to as “lost sheep.” They were just as lost as any gentile.
1. They loved darkness rather than light (Jn.). The good news of the gospel is bad news when you love your sin and don’t want to give it up, because the gospel requires us to forsake our sin -all of it- actually admit that we’re scum, and fling ourselves on the mercy of Christ for forgiveness. It’s only by the gift of God’s grace that we’re able to do that.
2. They wanted the idol-messiah they had fashioned in their minds, not the Messiah of Scripture. Many in Israel were expecting and/or hoping for a messiah who would come in, conquer Rome, sit on David’s throne, re-establish the theocracy of Israel, and bring them back to prominence and prosperity. In other words, just like the woman at the well from last week, they wanted the temporal stuff, not the eternal. A Christ who would set them free from Rome and poverty, not a Christ who would set them free from sin.
That’s why, to many people the disciples preached to, the good news was bad news.
Fear Not- 26-39
Jesus is delivering a pretty sobering message here. When the disciples preach the gospel (now, and in the early church era), they’re going to be: shunned (14), turned over to the courts (17), flogged (17- and they’re not too far from seeing this happen to Jesus), dragged in front of kings and governors (17), betrayed to the enemy by family members (21), hated by all (22), fleeing for their lives (23), slandered (25), executed (28), and alienated from their closest family members (35-36). That’s a tough row to hoe, but Jesus wants them to understand that what many of the Jews are expecting -Messiah will re-establish the kingdom of Israel and bring peace (34)- isn’t reality, and when they tell people that, things are going to get ugly. He hasn’t come to bring earthly peace, instead, standing with Christ will be the hardest thing they’ve ever done.
But what is their response to this persecution supposed to be? Are they to give up, retaliate, cower? No, Jesus tells them to do two things:
1. Don’t be afraid of them (26). The worst thing they can do is kill you. If you’re going to be afraid of something, fear God and fear denying Him (28).
2. As long as you’ve got breath in your body, you preach the gospel. You preach it loud and you preach it long (27). Do. not. stop. no matter what.
Why? Because God loves you. He values you. He’s going to take care of you. And He’s in control.
The Demands of Discipleship Today
There are Christians today in countries like North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and other areas, who understand all too well what Jesus was warning the disciples about. They experience the same things on a daily basis. Those of us born in America have very little grasp of just how blessed we are to be able to worship God openly, freely, and without much real persecution.
But the times, they are a-changin’. Fast.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the last couple of years, you’ve seen stories about the Bible, prayer, and Christianity being systematically removed from and prohibited in public places. We’ve seen Christian bakers, photographers, and t-shirt company owners sued for declining to provide their services for homosexual “weddings,” rallies, and other events. Just last week, we saw Houston officials subpoena sermons and other materials from pastors in an effort to bully them into silence about their homosexual agenda.
Real persecution is coming to America at breakneck speed. And in the same way that the disciples were persecuted by both gentiles and the “lost sheep of Israel”, we will face persecution by both the world and those who claim the name of Christ, but actually follow a messiah-idol of their own making. Those of us who stand with the true Christ of Scripture and His word will be shunned and rejected by our closest family members- even those who claim to be Christians. We will be hated and slandered. We will be arrested, prosecuted, and even executed by both lost people and church people.
But Christ’s message to us is the same as it was to the twelve. Keep preaching the gospel. Preach it loud, preach it long, and preach it with your dying breath. Love Me more than your family, more than your reputation, more than your very life, because I care for you. How could we fail to stay true to Him after all He has done for us?
Everybody seems to be walking around scared these days. I’m a little scared, myself. It’s understandable. There’s a lot of scary stuff happening. Boko Haram. Ebola. ISIS. The persecution of Christians abroad, and, increasingly, here at home.
Terrorism, suicide bombers, the seemingly daily acts of violence that take the lives of innocent bystanders– that all used to happen over there. Thousands of miles across the ocean. And all we had to do to make it go away was turn off the TV, click over to Farmville, or put down the paper. Problem solved. It was unfortunate, but didn’t really touch our lives in any meaningful way.
Now we know that there are terrorists living among us right here in the United States, as well as those trying to infiltrate our country by stealthily crossing our borders. When will the next beheading or 9-11 take place on U.S. soil? Who will the next victim be? Will it be you? Will it be me? Will it be thousands of us in one fell swoop?
Any reasonable person would be afraid of that.
That’s what Jesus said. Just don’t.
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
We’ve got bigger fish to fry in the fear department. Even though it would be awful, the worst thing that could happen to someone is not being killed or even tortured by a terrorist. The worst thing that could happen is for someone to spend an eternity in Hell because she has rejected Christ (which should tell you something about how horrific Hell is).
If you have never turned from your sin and placed your faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection as payment for the penalty for your sin, how you’re going to die is the least of your worries compared to what’s going to happen to you after you die. That should scare the living daylights out of you.
The good news is, Christ offers to forgive you today. His goodness for your badness. His purity for your sinfulness. His grace for your gross. He will set you free from your sin so you’ll no longer fear standing before Him on the day of judgment.
And, if you belong to Christ, you have nothing to fear in this life or the next. Take a look back at that verse. It says to “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” But if you’re in Christ, you no longer have to be afraid of him. And the first part of the verse says not to be afraid of people who can kill your body but not your soul. Nothing to fear now. Nothing to fear later.
So what’s left to fear? Nothing.
Originally published March 29, 2008
When my husband and I have looked for a new church in the past, we’ve had our choices narrowed down for us because we are comfortable in our denomination and are not looking to change. When you’re starting from scratch, you have a lot more choices to wade through, so it can be more difficult. Here are a few guidelines I’d suggest.
1. The absolute most important thing is to find a church that preaches and teaches only what matches up with what the Bible says, and all of what the Bible says. In other words, they shouldn’t be teaching anything that’s clearly contrary to Scripture and they shouldn’t be leaving things out that are unpopular because they’re afraid they won’t attract as many people.
2. Pray about it. Ask God to lead you to exactly the right church in which to serve Him.
3. If you were raised in a particular denomination and felt comfortable in it, that might be a good place to start, either at the same church or a different church of the same denomination.
4. Ask around. Ask Christian friends about their churches and try visiting with them one Sunday. If you end up joining, you have the bonus of already knowing someone.
5. Do your homework. If there’s a particular church or denomination you’re interested in, chances are, they have a web site. There will probably be a section on the web site called “Our Statement of Faith” or something like that. Check that out and make sure all the tenets line up with Scripture. A lot of churches also have their pastor’s sermons and/or their music on line, so you can get a feel for how things go on Sundays. You’ll also be able to find out when services start, what kinds of programs are available, whether or not they have a nursery, etc.
6. “Interview” churches. Most pastors I know would be thrilled to death if a prospective visitor would call up and make an appointment to come in and talk to them about the church. Ask him whatever you want, find out what’s required for membership, share your concerns, etc. He should be able to answer your queries openly and honestly. I would be very leery about attending a church if the pastor seemed secretive about general doctrinal issues, his own background, or church activities. Sometimes just meeting with the pastor will give you an idea of whether or not you want to give the church a try.
7. Try it on for size. You might fall in love with the first church you try, or it might be like shoe shopping and you have to try several before you find one that fits.
Don’t give up. God has a place for you somewhere.