Archive | March, 2014

Who Deserves the Gospel?

March 12, 2014

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Supper at Emmaus - 17th century - Matthias Stom (fl. 1615–1649)

Supper at Emmaus – 17th century – Matthias Stom (fl. 1615–1649)

They sure could frustrate Jesus!

After everything that happened on the last three days of Jesus’ life, the eleven remaining disciples chose not to believe the reports that Jesus was alive. Peter and John had even seen the empty tomb.

Jesus was frustrated enough with them that he rebuked the eleven the first time he was with them. (Mark 16:14) Hardness of heart seemed to be an ongoing problem for the twelve throughout their training. (cf. Mark 6:52)

Did they not really believe Jesus could be risen or was it something else?

Since he appeared first to Mary Magdalene and a couple of unnamed guys, I’ll go out on a limb and say it was something else. Why would Mary and these two unnamed disciples, that weren’t of the eleven, be who Jesus chose to see first?

There are an awful lot of Christians that act like that.

Somehow they are a little more deserving, they are a little more righteous or a little higher rank than another. God just doesn’t work like that though. (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11) The gospel is for everyone and the Apostles were told to make sure all creation heard it (Mark 16:15)

As for us, we are to follow that example and make sure that we do all we can to spread the word exactly like they did. (2 Timothy 2:2) Sometimes it is a little difficult to reach out to another who is not like us. Whatever the reason for that is, it is a dangerous position to be in!

Take some time to consider Jesus’ rebuke when faced with a decision to help someone. A hardened heart does not get us to heaven.

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How Doing Nothing Can Be Sinful

March 11, 2014

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Ecce Homo - 1871 - Antonio Ciseri (1821–1891)

Ecce Homo – 1871 – Antonio Ciseri (1821–1891)

It is hard to avoid feeling compassion for Pilate. (Mark 15:1-15)

In some respects, he tried to do the right thing. He knew Jesus was innocent. He attempted a few things to get the Jews to release him. He took the time to talk to Jesus personally. He even discussed it briefly with his wife.

But where it counts, he failed miserably. He might even be representative of weak people in general.

  • He was the leader – Nothing could really stop Pilate from declaring Jesus innocent and setting him free
  • He was free to not grant the mob’s wishes – Just because a mob demanded it did not mean he had to rule in such a way. He even had the military strength at his disposal to break up the crowd
  • He had the legal system as reinforcement – Even if his personality was too weak to stand up to the Jews, Pilate knew there was no legal reason to execute Jesus.

Once Pilate washed his hands of Jesus’ fate, he contributed as much to Jesus’ death as the Jews’ illegal trials or the person that drove the nails.

“Washing our hands” of something we know to be wrong is usually as bad as assisting in the sin. We often know someone close to us is sinning, but we say nothing.

It is difficult to rock the boat.

It is difficult to go against the crowd.

It is easy to hope it “just works out.”

Washing our hands of something we can influence – just hoping it will work out – is as good of a strategy as waiting for something different to happen without making a change. It is our duty as the “salt of the earth” to be an influence for Christ.

What did Jesus say about salt that has lost its ability to influence the taste of food?

It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. – Matthew 5:13

Sometimes we have to be strong enough to face the crowd to set things straight.

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How to Attract Seekers

March 10, 2014

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Christ before Caiaphas - ca. 1630 - Matthias Stom (fl. 1615–1649)

Christ before Caiaphas – ca. 1630 – Matthias Stom (fl. 1615–1649)

The Jews needed something. Anything.

And they weren’t going to stop until they got it.

As Jesus was enduring his first trial in front of the council, every word he said would be twisted against him. Jesus would finally give them what they wanted when he was ready, but they would take any and every lie, any bit of hear-say, or snippets of his teachings and try to convict him. They weren’t being too choosy about it. (Mark 14:53-72)

People aren’t much different now.

If someone doesn’t want to believe in God, it is easy enough for them to come up with a way to get to that conclusion.

Want to deny Christ?

It’s easy, just scoff at one of the key parts of the gospel and a denial can be completely justified. (At least in that person’s mind)

Even in light of all the miracles that were witnessed during Jesus’ ministry, the Jews ultimately believed what they wanted to believe. They didn’t take the time to investigate what they heard about. They didn’t take the time listen to Jesus and compare it to their own teachings. At the end of the day, crucifying Jesus was about being able to maintain the life they knew.

It takes a lot of time accept the gospel.

It takes even longer to want to live a Christian life.

What we do and what we say will give others a reason to accept or reject Jesus. The challenge for us is life a godly life without getting in our own way as a teacher. To do that we have to be:

  • Consistent – Sin is sin, we can’t be caught waving the Bible about one type of sin and letting another type slide
  • Knowledgeable – We have to know what we are talking about and not say things that simple logic or trivial Bible knowledge can dispute. Basic errors can cause our whole case and the best of our intentions to be suspect
  • Loving – Teaching is done best with a kind heart. Showing others a better way should be done with a gentle approach. Remember that we are asking them to change their life.

The key to making others interested is living a great life within the bounds of God’s word. We have an expectation of a generous reward – we should be wearing that on our sleeves!

We have the power of God supporting us.

We have a savior that told us not to worry.

Now go give them a reason to ask why we are so happy! (1 Peter 3:15)

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Why Should I Read My Bible?

March 5, 2014

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Bible slice

Wow. Seven years.

From the very beginning, this site was intended to be a place to encourage Bible reading and scripture memorization. For my personal growth, it has helped me to stay accountable to my Bible study routine. For those of you who read and study along with the thoughts I post here, I appreciate your comments and sharing and requests to reuse the material.

This week is the seven year anniversary of the first post I made on this site! (March 5th) It was a simple post that took me a few hours to get just right. It simply answered the question, “Why should I read my Bible?” Since seven is thought to represent a perfect number in the Bible, I’m going to consider this a milestone year and celebrate a little.

First, a reprint of that post:

Why should I read my Bible?

  1. To easily detect misuse of Scripture (Matthew 4:5-7)
  2. To be ready to answer tough questions (1 Peter 3:15)
  3. It has all we need to guide us (2 Timothy 3:16)
  4. It fills our minds with good things (Philippians 4:8)
  5. To show God you care (2 Timothy 2:15)

Second, this is the 7th anniversary, so we need two more in the list:

6. It causes our faith to grow (Romans 10:17)
7. It is dangerous not to mature spiritually (Hebrews 6:1-7)

Third, encouragement:

Read your Bibles daily.

Study it.

Memorize some of it, and learn where to find the rest of it.

Eventually, it will become a real habit.

Eventually, you will become an expert.

Are you a daily Bible reader yet? Reply below to tell me how you do it.

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7 Reason Jesus Taught With Parables

March 4, 2014

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Jesus teaching in the Temple, from the book Standard Bible Story Readers, Book Five (1928) Authors O. A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland

Jesus teaching in the Temple, from the book Standard Bible Story Readers, Book Five (1928) Authors O. A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland

Those who have read the four Gospels will have noticed two things about the way Jesus taught his followers. He used miracles and parables. We can understand how the miracles worked as a teaching device, but the parables? Not so much. The disciples were very curious about this approach also, and even asked him one day. (Matthew 13:10-17)

Unfortunately, not everyone that had the opportunity to hear Jesus speak wanted to hear it. Sounds like people today too, doesn’t it? When Jesus explained the parables, it was usually only after the disciples were taken aside. Those who truly want to hear the word, will take the time to sit down with it and work on understanding it.

Based on what Jesus was facing in his time, here are seven reasons why he taught in parables.

  1. Prophecy Isaiah 6:9-10
  2. Confound the spies and Pharisees
  3. Challenged His disciples to greater spiritual discernment
  4. The Hebrew people were familiar with the method
  5. Easy to remember
  6. Interesting
  7. The teachings were unsuitable for use against him in court

The next time you read from the gospels, look for the subtle differences a believer and a nonbeliever would see in those parables.

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Book Review: 20,000 Days and Counting

March 1, 2014

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I have lived 17,544 Days

I have lived 17,544 Days

20,000 Days and Counting did not change my life.

But then, no book will.

The Robert D” (Robert D. Smith) did not come right out and say it, but he showed me I have a lot of work to do. If I want to do something other than drift through the next 20,000 days of my life, there are some definite steps I need to take. A book like this can never do more than direct and motivate. The getting started part? That’s up to me.

No change is going to happen until I stand up and do something different.

20,000 days.

Twenty. Thousand. Days.

Imagine what we will accomplish if we salvage just one hour of each of those days from the way we are wasting them now. What if we got up each morning and planned to live the next 24 hours on purpose? How important would the next 20,000 days become?

Robert D. gives us an outline to do just that. Some thought provoking anecdotes, some motivation, and some examples of what could be our first steps come together in a fast paced read that will get the reader off the couch and make him intentional about the day.

Two Questions:

  1. What is important to you right now?
  2. What is next for you?

20,000 Days and Counting will make you understand how important these questions are and how to deal with them going forward. I usually congratulate people who announced a new job by saying, “That’s great! Now you know what’s next!” I think I better understand the implication of what I am saying now.

Spend about 20% of one of your next 20,000 days with this book, and then get out there and make your life change.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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