The Reason for the Season

I just finished a project for Pomona First Baptist Church in Pomona, CA. They are doing a series for Christmas called “The Reason”. It’s about prophecies concerning the coming Messiah, all based in Isaiah 9.

I tried to play with the traditional Christmas present theme while hinting at something a little more epic. I will try to post some more about the process, but here is the graphic.

What do you think? What does this speak to you?

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Where is God when life sucks? – Brian’s life journal 11.22.10

Matthew 11:3-5 NIV

to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.

OBSERVATION
John, the baptizer, got thrown in prison. He was born with a prophecy that he would be the prophet preparing the way for the messiah. He was told, by an angel, that he would see the Lamb of God. Even more, that he would baptize the Lamb of God. And he saw that prophecy come true when he baptized Jesus.

But then he got thrown in prison. The messiah was supposed to bring the kingdom and set things right, not get his prophet thrown in jail. So John sends some of his followers to make sure. “Maybe we should ask him, just in case.”

And Jesus responds, “go tell John what you see. People are healed. Demons are cast out. Dead people live. Who does that make me?”

APPLICATION
Sitting here, it’s easy to read the Bible and think, “man, those guys are dense. If I saw Jesus walking around, I’d recognise him for sure.”

But how often do I question God when things don’t go right in my life? It’s easy to praise God when everything is great and I’m at church and my favorite worship song is being played. But it is stinkin’ hard to praise God and trust Him when I follow him and my life gets harder. It us hard to trust God when it seems like the more I do things like Jesus, the worse things get.

And I don’t just mean like having people give you a hard time. I mean like when you start to tithe faithfully and suddenly that extra bill hits. I mean like getting involved in church and then having problems in seemingly every human relationship you have. I mean like Christians overseas today that are jailed or killed for their faith. It’s hard to be faithful in those situations. You start to wonder…

And then you read the words of Paul, when he was in prison:

Philippians 1:12-14 NIV

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

His chains (literal chains! He was in prison…) are moving the gospel forward! And he thanks God for his chains! Not because it’s fun to be in jail. But because he knows what the power and message of Christ is.

The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.

PRAYER
God, I want to be like Paul. Let me be the guy who gets excited about what you are doing no matter where I end up. Let me be the one who sees a ministry when thrown in jail. May I be a man who finds new places to share your word when I am silenced in one place. May I never lose sight of your goodness. Because its not based on my circumstances. You are good. All the time. You are good. Amen.

Why did Jesus say “I came to bring a sword, not peace”?

This question was asked during a small group recently.

Matthew 10:34 NIV

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Did Jesus really sat that? What about love and peace and stuff?

One thing that is very important when it comes to understanding the Bible (or anything you read…) is context.

context
[kon-tekst]

-noun
1. what comes before or follows a word or statement and influences its meaning
2. Circumstances

You have to understand the circumstances in which something is written to understand what it means. Read before and after to see the meaning of this verse.

Read all of chapter 10 of Matthew.  This is the context: Jesus is sending out the twelve disciples on a training mission. He tells them to do the same things He does, tells them what to do. And then He tells them what to expect.

Jesus tells them to expect to be treated poorly by some people. He says they will be made fun of, called demon-possessed, arrested, brought to trial, and possibly even killed.

He also says that when they preach salvation in the kingdom of God, it will split families. And that is the meaning behind when he says, “I bring a sword, not peace.” It means that this is not the gospel of kumbaya-hippie-love-everybody-be-happy, but a gospel(message of good news) that will cause true repentance(changing course/ turning in a new direction away from old ways). And part of that will result in families and friendships and relationships  being broken as people turn from themselves and turn to God.

We join a war of the soul. Our swords are the Word of God and the Holy Spirit inside of us.

Priorities – Brian’s life journal 11.10.10

1 Corinthians 7:29-34 NIV

29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep;31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world–how he can please his wife– 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world–how she can please her husband.

OBSERVATION
It is better for a man or woman to stay single, and be devoted to God in everything. Getting married just adds distraction. Better to be all about God’s business than to add distractions to your life.

APPLICATION
Does that mean I shouldn’t have gotten married? Nope. It does mean that I need to be careful that I am about God’s will first. And that I don’t get distracted just trying to please my wife. (That doesn’t mean I ignore her.) But if I put God as my first priority, then I will do a better job of pleasing my wife in the process.
And what about students? What about other things? Maybe marriage isn’t part of your life right now… the principle still applies. It’s about priorities: Put God first in everything you do. Do not let the stuff in your life distract you from God. He has a job for you. You have a purpose in the family of God, and if all the junk in your life comes before God, you will never fulfill that purpose. We have to be intentional about putting God first every day. Time is short. Get to it.

PRAYER
LORD, I pray that you would keep me from getting distracted. Show me the stuff in my life that is a distraction from you and help me get rid of it. Help me live for you first. Always. In everything. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Foolish Wisdom FTW!

Originally posted at lityouth.com: http://lityouth.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/foolish-wisdom-ftw/

1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

OBSERVATION
The gospel, the good news, that God sent his own Son to die in our place is foolish sounding to people who don’t know God. But to those of us being saved, we who have accepted Christ and embraced salvation in his cross, this is the very best showing of the power of God.

APPLICATION
We have to understand that we aren’t meant to win people to Christ with amazing arguments and clever presentation. God provided the message of the cross to eliminate the potential for men to claim glory for it.

We preach something that sounds ridiculous – our God died! – as the way to salvation and eternal life. But that foolish-sounding message is the power of God alone and leaves us with nothing to brag on.

1 Corinthians 1:31 NIV

Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

PRAYER
LORD, help me to release my ego and talent and self-importance. Let me preach your pure gospel in all of its foolishness so that your perfect plan shows through, and not my cleverness. All honor and glory to you. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Foolish Wisdom FTW!

1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

OBSERVATION
The gospel, the good news, that God sent his own Son to die in our place is foolish sounding to people who don’t know God. But to those of us being saved, we who have accepted Christ and embraced salvation in his cross, this is the very best showing of the power of God.

APPLICATION
We have to understand that we aren’t meant to win people to Christ with amazing arguments and clever presentation. God provided the message of the cross to eliminate the potential for men to claim glory for it.

We preach something that sounds ridiculous – our God died! – as the way to salvation and eternal life. But that foolish-sounding message is the power of God alone and leaves us with nothing to brag on.

1 Corinthians 1:31 NIV

Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

PRAYER
LORD, help me to release my ego and talent and self-importance. Let me preach your pure gospel in all of its foolishness so that your perfect plan shows through, and not my cleverness. All honor and glory to you. In the name of Jesus, amen.