Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Are You Building on the Foundation?

I Corinthians 3:11-13 (NASB)
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
We all have jobs to do in the Kingdom of God.  Some plant, some water, as Paul discusses in chapter 3 of I Corinthians.  No one's job is more important than the next person's.  The important thing is that we all do our part, so that God will be glorified.  The problems that Paul is addressing here are similar to what we see today in our churches.
We are squabbling over petty issues while the greater work is being neglected.  The layers that we are adding to the foundation are shoddy, half-hearted, and messy.  We are not getting away with the garbage that we are peddling among God's people.  Our deeds and our motives will be revealed with tests and trials.  The fire will prove the quality of our work, according to the Bible.
We must seek to please God in all that we do.  If our lives are in sync with the Word of God, the fire will only prove it, not destroy it.  Jesus Christ is the one true foundation.  ANYTHING we build on that foundation must be worthy work, or it will burn away.  Worthy work is Kingdom work (and everything necessary to perform Kingdom work).  Whatever part you play, you have a responsibility to be the best God made you to be.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Don't Shortchange Yourself

Psalm 29:2 (KJV) Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
At this time of year, most people are reflecting on the outgoing year and making plans for the new year.  It’s time to analyze what worked and what needs some tweaking to go forward.  This is the perfect time to set new goals and make resolutions for ourselves.  It’s also a great time to recommit our lives to Christ.

The scripture I chose for today’s blog is about praise and worship.  “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name;” – that’s praise, and “worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” – that’s worship.  All you need to praise God (give glory to His name) are facts and rationalization.  We can see, touch, taste, hear, and feel what God has done or is doing.  That’s why in Psalm 150:6, the psalmist commands everything that has breath to praise the Lord; everyone can do it.  Worship, on the other hand, involves so much more.
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.  Holiness is living a life pleasing to God.  So, how can you worship the Lord if you aren’t living for Him?  Worship is impossible without a relationship with God.  A relationship with God is impossible without the blood-covering of Jesus Christ.  Worship is a life dedicated to loving God and loving people.  Worship is NOT slow, beautiful music.  Worship is NOT a church service.  Worship is NOT something you just do when you feel like it.

Worship is who you are, and who you are in Christ.  Worship is how you live every single day for the glory of God.  Worship is abiding in the true vine, Jesus Christ.  Worship is hiding the Word of God in your heart.  Worship is living intentionally with heavenly eternity in view.  Worship involves chasing after God’s own heart.  Now is the time to seek the Lord with all your heart.  Find the truth for yourself.  Stop following religion, tradition, people, clich├ęs, and entertainment.  Find the living God.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Time is Winding Up

There were two commandments that Jesus Christ gave in the New Testament:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (see Matthew 22:37-40).  All of His other teachings fit neatly into those two commandments.  When you look at organized Christianity today, do you see these two commandments being modeled?  (And I don’t mean at Thanksgiving and Christmas with fruit baskets and adopted families.)

We have a lot of stuff, but where is the love?  We’ve created rules to follow, dress codes to enforce, political parties to endorse, and governing boards to determine acceptable doctrine.  What happened to demonstrating Christ’s love in the earth?  I believe that our various programs and services are usually not bad in and of themselves.  There is no doubt in my mind that most of our traditions began with something that was necessary at the time.
However, as I look today at what we are doing and comparing it to those two great commandments, I am confused.  We have no balance.  We’re heavy on the rules and regulations, but tragically light on the love (for God and each other).  We’ve become pleasers of men, rather than servants of Christ.  We must return to our first love and our first works.  Time is short; we are living in the last days.  We are responsible for sharing the love of Christ with this dying world.

Galatians 1:10 (NASB) For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Revelation 2:4-5 (NASB) But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Hope

Advent - the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.

Let us continue to be mindful of why we celebrate the Christmas season.  It is pointless to get hung up on and/or argue about when Jesus was actually born.  Just like other holidays that have actual dates and observed dates, let’s just use the observed date to remember how much God loved the world. 
He sent His only begotten son, so that mankind could be redeemed.  The birth of the Messiah brought a blessed hope into this earth that would end our inevitable eternal separation from God.  This hope would reconcile us back to God through the ultimate sacrifice.
Most people focus on “on earth peace, goodwill toward men” during this season.  I like to focus on hope.  We were hopeless before Jesus Christ came.  Sacrifices, burnt offerings, religious traditions, practices, and rituals couldn’t save us.  No amount of piety could atone for our sins.  We could not make ourselves righteous or justified.

Jesus Christ willingly gave up His heavenly place to be born of the Virgin Mary, to fulfill the prophecy of the Messiah, to be rejected of His own people, to be despised, to be crucified.  Easter is important, but there wouldn’t be an Easter without a Christmas.  He was born to die.  He died to rise again.  He rose so that we might live forever with Him in paradise.

Remember why we celebrate.