Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nov 7 - 1 Cor 8:6 - Everything

My Hope is on this week:
Watch Billy Graham’s “95th Birthday Sermon”

There is only one Lord, Jesus Christ,
Everything came into being through him,
and we live because of him
1 Corinthians 8:6

When was Jesus born?

Did you say something like, “Christmas, 2000 years ago”?

Well, the official answer is: It’s a trick question.

The one Lord, Jesus Christ, was NOT born. If “everything came into being through him” – and it did (that’s the consistent witness of scripture) – then Jesus PRE-EXISTED.
  •      He was alive before creation.
  •      He wasn’t born. He simply is.
  •      He eternal.
  •      He is infinite.
  •      He has no beginning or end.
  •      He is the Alpha and the Omega. 

The tricky part of that question is that Jesus – the eternal and infinite – temporarily took off his robes of light and stepped into our world in human flesh. In this temporary, fleshly nature, yes, he had a birth. But don’t let Christmas confuse you! Jesus is eternal.

Now listen to the two truths based on this awesome wonder:

    1.  Not only was Jesus there at creation (along with the Father and the Spirit), but he had a powerful role in creation. How did the Father create? In Genesis 1, we are told that God spoke the world into existence. He created just by saying a word like “light” – “let there be light” – and guess what … “there was light.” In John 1, we are told that Jesus is the Word. And it was through words and the Word that “everything came into being through [Jesus].”

     2.    But Jesus actions are not just in the past. In the present, we are told that “we live because of him.” Daily his Word, his Spirit, his creative power speaks our days into existence. Our life – every moment, every hour – depends on his grace. We can ignore that. We can pretend that his presence doesn’t really matter minute-to-minute, but if we’re honest and humble, we know deep down that we exist only according to his pleasure. (And it’s a good thing that his heart is made out of extraordinary love … because we don’t always give him enough pleasure to justify being kept alive by his pleasure. Yet he does it anyway. That’s grace!)

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who, when realizing
that Jesus is the Word,
needs my every word
to be “thank you”!!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nov 6 - Acts 17:25 - Everything

He himself gives life
and breath to everything,
and he satisfies
every need there is.
Acts 17:25

How would you describe God?

I don’t ask this question idly. It’s incredibly important. How you define God determines how you act. For example …
  •      If God is a judge, we’re always afraid, always trying to appease him.
  •      If God is a genie, we make wishes and hope he comes through (and grow distant when  
  •      If God is passive (alive, but distant; keeping his hands off day-to-day events), we’re less likely to pray and trust and treat him as if he matters.

Do you see how that works?

Well, I’d suggest today’s verse as a good definition of God if you want to discover more of his power and provision!
  •      If God gives life to everything, we in awe of his power and we worship him in wonder.
  •      If God animates everything with his breath, we depend on him daily for life and breath and daily food.
  •      If God satisfies every need, then we become active in prayer, depending on him for decisions, comfort, help, provision, and blessing.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who believes
that God is everything!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nov 5 - Mark 10:27 - EVERYTHING

Jesus looked at him and loved him and said,
"You lack one thing. Go, sell everything you have ...
Then come, follow me."
Mark 10:21

This week, we’re studying the scriptural word “everything.”
  •      This word occurs twice in this story in Mark 10. Yesterday, we discovered God’s gift of everything. Jesus joyfully revealed that “27 with God … everything is possible”! In fact, about half the time, “everything” points to what God gives to us!

  •      The other half of the time, “everything” points to what we are called to give to God. And that’s what today’s verse is about.

The context is a “good man” who is trying to impress Jesus, saying, “20 I have kept [God’s commandments] since I was a boy.” “Aren’t I a good boy?” implied the man. But Jesus wasn’t impressed. In fact, he tells him that “being good” isn’t good enough.

“So how do you draw close to God?” this young man desperately wants to know.

He wants to follow … he really does … but … he wants to set the terms and conditions of his following.

Isn’t that the natural human condition? Isn’t that what you want to do? (It sure is what I continually want to do!) I want to set the terms and conditions of my following … of my obedience … of even my giving.

Does God, for example, want 10%, a tithe? No. In the New Testament, the amount we give is not legalistic. And yet the standard is definitely not lower. God doesn’t want so much of this and so much of that. God wants everything. He is exclusive. No half-measures will do. When Jesus says, “Give me everything, he means it.”

In one of my favorite all-time quotes is …

[This] is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder -- in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who wants to fly
(but it’s 100% out of the shell …
or not flying at all)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Nov 4 - Mark 10:27 - EVERYTHING

Jesus looked at them intently and said,
"Humanly speaking, it is impossible.
But not with God. Everything is possible with God."
Mark 10:27

This week, we’re going to start a word study in the scripture. “Everything” points in two directions simultaneously. First, it points UPWARD to God. He made everything and gives everything (indeed Jesus’ gave everything including his very life).

Second, “everything” points DOWNWARD to – and OUTWARD through – us. Following Christ’s pattern, we are called to give everything too (and for the Lord’s sake).

Today’s verse points upward. But it starts with people pointing downward and seeking a human solution. People were asking Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” (Mark 10:26). They wanted a human solution. One man even justified himself saying, “20 I have kept [all of God’s commandments] since I was a boy.”

But Jesus was unimpressed. Our Savior essentially said, “Great, you’re the most perfect person in history but” – and here’s the quote – “‘21 you [still] lack one thing.’” That man – and most of us humans – want to be able to rely on ourselves. We want to be in control of our own destiny. But “27 humanly speaking,” said Jesus, “it is impossible.” Humanly speaking all of our efforts are futile.


I constantly try to rely on my efforts. I constantly try to rely on my own wisdom. I reflexively do what seems right to me. Looking downward, I eagerly chase after what culture prescribes as “best practices.” And the result? I’m constantly tired, continually frustrated, regularly thwarted, and routinely empty.

When I build on me, myself, and my own understanding, it’s a house of cards. But when I build on God and “lean not on [my] own understanding,” I discover the only firm foundation because “with God … everything is possible”!!!

In Christ’s Love,
A guy who wants everything!!!
(wait … that’s not greedy;
that’s just wanting more of God
because He is Everything!)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Nov 1 - Life (and Parenting) Focus

L I F E   A N D   P A R E N T I N G   A D V I C E
What is your real focus?

As nice Christians, we wonder sometimes why we don’t have much power, purpose, and joy. Well, too many well-meaning people – like you and me – are accidentally (but oh-so-easily) turning our focus from God to false idols and false priorities.

Whether you have kids or not, let parenting expert, pediatrician Meg Meeker, give you an example of how. (We continue with a piece of her recent observations on Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, she says …)

Good, solid, loving Christian parents [are honoring and prioritizing] their children more than they [honor and prioritize] the Lord. … How did this happen?

Well … very insidiously and slowly over the past 30 years Satan has come in and used the nicest of our friends to just sort of make a few little changes in their parenting under the guise of being wonderful parents to focus more and more and more away from God and onto our children. …

Moms and dads are orbiting around our kids and God is orbiting around all of us in our family.

It sounds good – “focus on your kids.” And in truth, our world would be a lot better off if more Americans added a little focus to their child-rearing habits. But here’s the problem: we’re totally misunderstanding what “focus” really means.

The human soul is selfish and self-centered. “Focusing” on a child – and prioritizing their desires -- exalts the absolute wrong part of a child’s character.

But as parents in America, this is how we’ve been trained to do our job effectively. High schools, then colleges, and now even some first-time employers are calling parents “helicopter parents.” They hover around their children. They … orbit … around their children.

No! That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. We as individuals families are called to orbit around God. He is the center … of everything. We are called to focus – unwaveringly – on him.

When we put our kids – or anything else in life (money, job, hobbies, our parents, our spouse) – at the center of our universe, we’re pagans. We’re worshipping the created rather than the creator.

And kids see this. We say we love God, but in the name of being good parents, we focus on everything else. And then they see us a hypocrites when we call them to follow something we aren’t following ourselves.

This subtle shift is destroying the church … and destroying our children.

If you want to focus on your kids, focus on God. Train their attention away from their self and their desires and their abilities and what makes them “happy” (in the short-run), and turn them toward the only thing that will bring them power, peace, purpose, and joy in the long-run.

God is our center.

Indeed, he’s the reason we can spell joy.

     It’s J-Jesus, first (He must be the center of our orbit).
     O-Other’s second (and the good news is that kids actually desire deeply to serve, they want to make a difference, and yet we as parents keep focusing on them and confusing their heart), and …
     Y-You last. (Let’s resolve to not confuse them with the wrong focus.)

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s tired
of living in a YOJ world