Stay Awake

Listen to this post.

Mark 13:34-37

34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

When I was a kid I used to have a list of chores that I had to do after school before my parents got home. Being a good kid I would precisely calculate how long I would be able to goof-off and do nothing and still get my chores done. I also figured out ways to cut corners so that my chores would appear done even though the quality the work may have been sub-par. For example, I used to disconnect the head of the canister vacuum we had and run it over the carpet to make the lines in the carpet that would suggest vacuuming had occurred. This approach was much quicker than lugging the whole vacuum out and actually vacuuming. As a parent, I see these tendencies in my kids. I know exactly what is up when I give my kids a chore list to do while I am away and the first question is “what time will you be home?” I wonder if that is why God doesn’t reveal to us when He plans to return. I wonder if He knows that if we knew we would wait to the last minute to do the work He has set before us?

In today’s verses, Jesus is reminding us that we don’t know exactly when He will return. His exhortation is that while we are waiting we should be working . These verses challenge us not to fill up our days and moments with pursuits and endeavors that have nothing to do with God’s Kingdom, but rather we should spend our time working on things eternal.  This doesn’t mean that we spend 24 x7 in a church, but it does mean that the motivation of every moment we have should be focused on Jesus and the Kingdom. I know it seems radical to say that every moment should flow from a motivation to serve Jesus, but I also believe that this motivation can be cultivated and matured as we commune with God in His Word and in prayer.

If you are like me, you might be asking why does it matter? What difference does it make if work or if I am lazy? To me it goes back to the analogy of my childhood. Looking back I really feel bad that I didn’t have respect for all that my parents had done and were doing for me. I didn’t really appreciate the fact that they fed, clothed, and lodged me. I didn’t appreciate the fact that because they went out and worked each day I was able to survive. I think our unwillingness to make Jesus the basis for all of our motivations and to reluctantly do or fail to do the work He has given us is symptomatic of the lack of appreciation for the work He has already done. The reality is that we only exist because of God. Does that really mean anything to us? How quickly do we forget that God left heaven to dwell among us? How quickly do we forget the ridicule and scorn He suffered? How quickly do we forget the cross? I think we have to meditate on these things and remember that so much work was done so that we can do the work that given to us. We have to remember that Jesus does not burden us with a chore list, but he invites us to join in with Him so that His Kingdom may be known.

Hear the Word of the Lord!

And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake. (Mark 13:37, ESV)

Heavenly Father,  thank you God for your greatness and your majesty. Thank you God that you have granted us relationship with you through Jesus. Forgive our laziness and help us be mindful of you in all things. Help us remember that you loved us first and that your love allows us to be your children and citizens of the Kingdom. Thank you God for that love. We praise you! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Advertisements

Reading Grudem's Systematic Theology – Chapter 2, The Word of God

We are moving right along in the Systematic Theology. This week was about the various forms that God uses to communicates with humanity. Here are the questions for personal application and the vocab words. I think the questions are thought provoking and answerable even without having read the material, so chime in!

Questions for Personal Application:

  1. Do you think you would pay more attention if God spoke to you from heaven or through the voice of a living prophet than if he spoke to you from the written words of Scripture?
  2. Would you believe or obey such words more readily than you do Scripture?
  3. Do you think your present level of response to the written words of Scripture is an appropriate one?
  4. What positive steps can you take to make your attitude toward Scripture more like the kind of attitude God wants you to have?
  5. When you think about the many ways in which God speaks and the frequency with which God communicates with his creatures through these means, what conclusions might you draw concerning the nature of God and the things that bring delight to him?

Chapter Vocabulary:

Decree – A decree of God is a word of God that causes something to happen.(Kindle, 1042)

Personal Address – when God communicates with people on earth by speaking directly to them.(Kindle, 1045)

Word of God – God’s words to humanity in all its various forms, including words of decree, words of personal address, words spoken through the lips human beings, and the written word.(Kindle, 1078)

Reading Grudem’s Systematic Theology – Chapter 2, The Word of God

We are moving right along in the Systematic Theology. This week was about the various forms that God uses to communicates with humanity. Here are the questions for personal application and the vocab words. I think the questions are thought provoking and answerable even without having read the material, so chime in!

Questions for Personal Application:

  1. Do you think you would pay more attention if God spoke to you from heaven or through the voice of a living prophet than if he spoke to you from the written words of Scripture?
  2. Would you believe or obey such words more readily than you do Scripture?
  3. Do you think your present level of response to the written words of Scripture is an appropriate one?
  4. What positive steps can you take to make your attitude toward Scripture more like the kind of attitude God wants you to have?
  5. When you think about the many ways in which God speaks and the frequency with which God communicates with his creatures through these means, what conclusions might you draw concerning the nature of God and the things that bring delight to him?

Chapter Vocabulary:

Decree – A decree of God is a word of God that causes something to happen.(Kindle, 1042)

Personal Address – when God communicates with people on earth by speaking directly to them.(Kindle, 1045)

Word of God – God’s words to humanity in all its various forms, including words of decree, words of personal address, words spoken through the lips human beings, and the written word.(Kindle, 1078)

Are you Stuck?

Listen to this post.

[Audio http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10303515/Are%20you%20Stuck%3F.mp3%5D

Mark 11:25 (ESV)

25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Do you ever feel stuck in your faith? Do you ever feel like you aren’t growing in  the Lord? Habitual and unrepentant sin can often be the cause of our lack of growth, but looking at today’s verse it seems that withholding forgiveness from others can also be a barrier to maturity.

The condition of the Christian post conversion is like a youth who is just beginning school. His goal is to go day by day and to listen to the teacher and learn things that will be the foundation for the next days lessons. As the student constantly goes and learns and matures then he is promoted to the next grade until he eventually graduates. If we evaluate the student at the beginning of his schooling and then at the point of his graduation, we would expect to see a stark difference in his level of knowledge and maturity. So it is with the Christian. When we are first converted we tend to be pretty ruff around the edges, but hopefully as time goes on as we devote ourselves to God, submitting ourselves to his teaching and leading,  we will grow in knowledge and maturity. Where we differ from the analogy is that  we  grow independently so it would be hard to group us into classes or grades. Also, as Christians the process of maturing never stops in this life. Going to be with Lord is the graduation. I offer this analogy to show that our maturity is a process that occurs as we move through time. It’s not just a we are converted and instantly we are mature type of thing. In light of this of this we have to understand what can hinder our growth.

Look at today’s verse. Jesus is teaching us that if we want God to forgive our sins, we must first have forgiven those who have sinned against us. We have to acknowledge the context here. Jesus is teaching this to people who are already following Him. I would submit that the unwillingness to forgive others does not prevent our conversion, but unwillingness to forgive others does keep us from maturing as Christians. This is key because we have to remember that in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God forgave us. There will never be a greater sacrifice than Jesus’ and there will never be an act of forgiveness greater than the one that Father grants to us. This foundational to our faith. On this teaching we build others. We are to forgive the offenses that come our way by others because we have been forgiven so much ourselves. So how does this tie to maturity?

As Christians we will continue to sin until we graduate from this life and are united with Jesus in heaven. We have to remember that God does not allow us to grow unless we ask to be forgiven of the sins we commit along the way. Looking at today’s teaching we must understand that forgiving others is the key for our own forgiveness and once we are cleansed from our sins we continue to mature in the Lord. Growth comes from forgiving others and repenting of sin. These two activities work in concert by God’s Spirit to move us from just learning pupils to advancing mature students in our Christian walk.

Heavenly Father,  thank you God you that started a work in each of us when you called us to be apart of your family and Kingdom. Thank you God that you walk with us to see that work to completion. Thank you Lord Jesus for your example of sacrifice in the face of unwarranted persecution. Father help us by your Spirit to offer others the forgiveness you have offered us. Father, forgive us our sins and guide us into maturity. We submit to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

SOAP Journal Entry – Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 ESV)

I have no real SOAP tonight. Just something straight from down deep in my heart.

Philippians 4:13 is without question my favorite verse in the Bible. Since I’ve been a small child, my daddy has always told me there is nothing I can’t do if I have Christ by my side. He did a wonderful job teaching me that as long as I am walking hand in hand with the Lord, I can do anything through Him.

Being able to simply trust God in difficult circumstances and say, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” is where I want to be. God will never take me into anything that He won’t give me the strength to endure and overcome.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me strength. Thank you for always being there to help me endure and overcome. Thank you that even when I feel helpless You remind me that I can do all things through You. Thank you for this valley that I seem to be in at the moment. I know that You are here with me, and will give me all the strength necessary to continue. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I'm a Good Person

Listen to this post.

Mark 10:17-18 (ESV)

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Many times when I talk to people about God and heaven they will tell me that it seems logical that a God who is fair and loving will accept them if they are a good person. The implication is that sometimes they do bad things and sometimes they do good things, but if the good things outweigh the bad things then they should be ok. I think the logic of this idea is solid. I do believe that God being fair and just and loving would accept someone  who is good. However, the problem is, as today’s verses teach us, that no one is actually good except God.

It is a hard concept to grasp because most of us when looking at our lives can say , “hey I never killed anyone or robbed a bank or stole a car”. Most of us think that there are degrees of good and bad and that breaking the speed limit  can’t be nearly as bad as murdering someone, but God is not concerned with degrees of goodness or badness, He is concerned with perfection. The reality is that the speeder and the murder are both lawbreakers and God who is perfect and just has to punish those who break the law. Think of how many times we see the news about someone getting away with something that they should be punished for and thinking, “What’s up with the justice system. Why do some folks get locked up while others who may have money or influence get away with it?”  It’s frustrating. This is not so with God. In his perfection, He will punish equally with death all law breaking.

Hard to accept that you might not be a good person? Most people don’t like to think that about themselves. Read today’s verse again. This is Jesus telling the young man he is speaking to that only God is good. This man was looking at Jesus as many in our culture do. He was only seeing Him as a gifted teacher or good moral philosopher that may hold the keys or the teachings that could take him to the next level spiritually.  Jesus challenges the young man to compare his goodness to the perfect goodness of God.  We are also challenged to do this. I think if we are honest with ourselves we would find our goodness less than that of God. We have to remember that God is not interested in anything less than perfection. It’s not this way because God is an elitist or an arrogant killjoy, it is because He is perfect and pure and holy. God cannot fellowship with imperfect man because we would taint His perfection. God cannot fellowship with man because we are all lawbreakers and the punishment for breaking the law is separation and death. This is the human condition. This is the bad news.

However, there is good news! While we cannot be good, we can escape the punishment for our law breaking and be reconciled to God. Unlike the notions of the culture, Jesus was not born to be a mere teacher or philosopher. He was born to bear the punishment of humanity’s rebellion. The reason he could do this was because he was born perfect and in his life broke no laws. He offered himself to God as a substitute for humanity and God accepted him as the perfect sacrifice. That’s the big deal of the cross. As Jesus suffered death on the cross  the punishment that God would have poured out on humanity was poured out on Jesus. Jesus provided a way for man to be reconciled with the perfect God. The challenge now for man is not to be good but rather to be submissive. In order to be covered by Jesus’ sacrifice we have to submit to his Lordship. We have to be his disciples and do the things he commanded us to do. We have to recognize that we have been lawbreakers and we have to turn away from our rebellion. The original question posed to Jesus was, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer, repent, that is turn away from our law breaking and our rebellion against God, and believe that on the cross Jesus died for our sins to remove the penalty we deserved.

Are you a good person?

Heavenly Father, you are good and in you there is no imperfection. Out of you flows all life and love and justice. Thank you for the consistency of the application of your justice. Help us see our condition of separation today and help us understand the good news of Jesus. Forgive us our sins and empower us with your Spirit to walk in submission to Jesus our savior and Lord. We offer you praise, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I’m a Good Person

Listen to this post.

Mark 10:17-18 (ESV)

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Many times when I talk to people about God and heaven they will tell me that it seems logical that a God who is fair and loving will accept them if they are a good person. The implication is that sometimes they do bad things and sometimes they do good things, but if the good things outweigh the bad things then they should be ok. I think the logic of this idea is solid. I do believe that God being fair and just and loving would accept someone  who is good. However, the problem is, as today’s verses teach us, that no one is actually good except God.

It is a hard concept to grasp because most of us when looking at our lives can say , “hey I never killed anyone or robbed a bank or stole a car”. Most of us think that there are degrees of good and bad and that breaking the speed limit  can’t be nearly as bad as murdering someone, but God is not concerned with degrees of goodness or badness, He is concerned with perfection. The reality is that the speeder and the murder are both lawbreakers and God who is perfect and just has to punish those who break the law. Think of how many times we see the news about someone getting away with something that they should be punished for and thinking, “What’s up with the justice system. Why do some folks get locked up while others who may have money or influence get away with it?”  It’s frustrating. This is not so with God. In his perfection, He will punish equally with death all law breaking.

Hard to accept that you might not be a good person? Most people don’t like to think that about themselves. Read today’s verse again. This is Jesus telling the young man he is speaking to that only God is good. This man was looking at Jesus as many in our culture do. He was only seeing Him as a gifted teacher or good moral philosopher that may hold the keys or the teachings that could take him to the next level spiritually.  Jesus challenges the young man to compare his goodness to the perfect goodness of God.  We are also challenged to do this. I think if we are honest with ourselves we would find our goodness less than that of God. We have to remember that God is not interested in anything less than perfection. It’s not this way because God is an elitist or an arrogant killjoy, it is because He is perfect and pure and holy. God cannot fellowship with imperfect man because we would taint His perfection. God cannot fellowship with man because we are all lawbreakers and the punishment for breaking the law is separation and death. This is the human condition. This is the bad news.

However, there is good news! While we cannot be good, we can escape the punishment for our law breaking and be reconciled to God. Unlike the notions of the culture, Jesus was not born to be a mere teacher or philosopher. He was born to bear the punishment of humanity’s rebellion. The reason he could do this was because he was born perfect and in his life broke no laws. He offered himself to God as a substitute for humanity and God accepted him as the perfect sacrifice. That’s the big deal of the cross. As Jesus suffered death on the cross  the punishment that God would have poured out on humanity was poured out on Jesus. Jesus provided a way for man to be reconciled with the perfect God. The challenge now for man is not to be good but rather to be submissive. In order to be covered by Jesus’ sacrifice we have to submit to his Lordship. We have to be his disciples and do the things he commanded us to do. We have to recognize that we have been lawbreakers and we have to turn away from our rebellion. The original question posed to Jesus was, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer, repent, that is turn away from our law breaking and our rebellion against God, and believe that on the cross Jesus died for our sins to remove the penalty we deserved.

Are you a good person?

Heavenly Father, you are good and in you there is no imperfection. Out of you flows all life and love and justice. Thank you for the consistency of the application of your justice. Help us see our condition of separation today and help us understand the good news of Jesus. Forgive us our sins and empower us with your Spirit to walk in submission to Jesus our savior and Lord. We offer you praise, in Jesus’ name. Amen.