Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I'm Just Like You and You're Just Like Me by John Wright

I’m Just Like You and You’re Just Like Me

                                                                                                                                                                                                     By John Wright

                When Cornelius met Peter in Acts chapter ten, Cornelius fell at Peters feet in reverence. Peter said to him “get up and stand on your feet for I am only a man. Not one of us is better than the other, and this lesson is clearly demonstrated in God’s word. How can someone read the bible and not see themselves? We are all children of the first family of Adam and Eve. After the flood it reset and we are all decedents of Noah’s sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The story of the human family is very inconsistent. We each have the capacity to dream great dreams, but we always fall short. We all have something wrong with us and the bible is the only place that tells us what it is. It’s sin!

                The depravity of sin is so terrible that it causes the whole world to fall under a curse. The curse is that if we are found to be in sin then we cannot be friends of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved Rom. 8:20-24

Peter told Cornelius in Act 10 that God sent a message of good news to the people of Israel that through Jesus there would be peace. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water.

                I’m just like you and you’re just like me because God loves you and he loves me. The question is this, have you and God become friends? If you have not been reconciled by the blood of Jesus, you are still an enemy of God and a friend of the devil.

The bible says if you are in Christ you are a new creation Romans 5:18-1918 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people,so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners,so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

I’m just like you and you’re just like me in that God’s grace and mercy has been offered to us all. Like Peter we too are to be witnesses of Christ and willing and ready to tell others about what the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross has done for us and in us.

                We all have so much in common, but if you are not in Christ, a believer who has said “I will obey God’s call” then you are not a child of God.

There is nothing in this world that matters if you do not have the gift of eternal life through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Repent your sins Confess Jesus as Lord and savior, be baptized and then live the resurrected life.

I’m just like you and you’re just like me and we are just like Jesus with our sins covered by the blood of his sacrifice.

28 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28-29

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Advent and Incarnation by Greg York

Advent and Incarnation               


Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way…

Matthew 1.18a


This season is observed in many churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, a season called “Advent,” from the Latin word, adventus, which means “coming.” Adventus, in turn, is a translation of the Greek word parousia, which commonly is used in the New Testament to speak of Christ’s return.


So: this season may serve us as a reminder both of the original waiting that was done for the birth of the Messiah as well as our waiting for Christ's return.


No, we don’t know the date on which Jesus of Nazareth was born, but what we do know is that the Gospel story for three of the writers begins with the story of that birth and (most importantly) God’s involvement in that birth. In other words, we are invited into the story of Jesus the Messiah at precisely that point of vulnerable humanity. Certainly, then, it is right that we think about and that we thank God for Christ’s first coming to Earth as a baby, his taking on flesh. Surely we thank God for his ongoing presence among us today through the Holy Spirit. If we allow it, this season can sharpen our focus on such things. And, this season can remind us to be in a constant state of preparation and anticipation of Christ’s ultimate arrival at the consummation of all things.


You see, just as Israel waited for Christ to come the first time, so we are waiting for him to come again.


How do you talk about “incarnation”? The “enfleshment” of the creator of the universe is not something we are equipped to explain, is it? In the incarnation, God is taking us beyond what we think we can know, let alone what we do know. The One who had spoken this world into existence lowered himself to live on this world. Jesus was a human being just like us — God in human form. That’s a rather jarring thought. (As a matter of fact, it always has been. Here’s an interesting irony: the first major heresies in the church were not denials of Jesus’ divinity, but denials of his humanity.)


John 1.1-4, 14: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people...  And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.


Hebrews 4.15-16: …we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


Jesus is approachable precisely because he’s been where we are. Ever feel rejected? Jesus understands. Your family not treat you as you’d like? Jesus understands. People think you’re crazy? Jesus has been there. Feel lonely, like nobody gets it? Jesus has been there. Ever been overcome with grief? Jesus has been there. On and on we could go. It’s the human experience, and Jesus has been there.


But here’s something important for us to think about this season: Incarnation does not end with Jesus. Athanasius of Alexandria put it this way: “He became human that we might become divine” (On the Incarnation, 54). I think that’s a great, straightforward, succinct way to summarize why Jesus became flesh. Not so that we’d become “gods” in a “rule-your-own-universe” sense, but so that we would become godly.


2 Peter 1.3-4: His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature.


2 Corinthians 3.18: …all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.


The incarnation of the divine did not end with Jesus. Instead, there is a sense in which it began with his life, and continues as our lives are lived in alignment with his.


May God grant that this season of recalling the anticipation before Jesus’ birth long ago will remind us to live in anticipation of his return and also remind us that in this waiting time we are to be an ongoing incarnation of God’s presence in this world. Until his return, may the Lord born so humbly continue to be present, “incarnated” in and through us.


Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

   did not regard equality with God

   as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

   taking the form of a slave,

   being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

he humbled himself

   and became obedient to the point of death—

   even death on a cross.


…for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

                                                                                Philippians 2.5-8, 13

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Remember by Terry Gardner

By Terry Gardner
Man’s nature is such that without effort he will forget what he should remember.  The butler forgot Joseph whom he had promised to remember.  (Gen 40:23).  Jeremiah asked, “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, Or a bride her attire?  Yet my My people have forgotten Me, Days without number.”  (Jer. 2:32).  The children of Israel were to remember, “that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you.”  (Deut. 15:15).  If Israel would remember their bondage and how and why God had delivered them they would have been a grateful people, but they forgot.
Man also remembers what he should forget.  The children of Israel remembered their life as slaves in Egypt in a false light.  The Israelites remembered “the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic.”  (Numbers 11:5).  None of these memories were accurate.  They lived as slaves, beaten and abused, while Pharaoh murdered their children.
Paul teaches us to “forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead.”  (Phil. 3:13), and in so doing Paul said that he pressed on toward the “goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (vs. 14).  Human beings are sometimes so haunted by past sins that we fail to move on and be about our Father’s business.  When God forgives our sins they are “blotted out” and God no longer remembers them.  If we understand this fact and make it a part of who we are then we have peace.
What drives human memory?  Motivation.  For a TV game show a man memorized the value of pi to the 99th decimal.  Why?  For the monetary reward (gifts and prizes).  Understanding how things are connected also helps us remember what we should remember.  Isolated facts are difficult to remember.  The Feast of the Passover emphasized facts, which helped the children of Israel remember what God had done for them.  These facts included:
1.  The children of Israel were to take an “unblemished” lamb and they were not to break any of the lamb’s bones.
                        2.  They were to kill the lamb and put its blood on the two doorposts and                                     on the lintel of their houses.
                        3.  They were eat the lamb, along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.
                        4.  They were to eat in haste.
                        5.  When the LORD passed through to smite the Egyptians, he would see                                     the blood and pass over the door and not allow the destroying death angel                                     to kill the children of the Israelites.
The Psalms were written so they would be easy to memorize.  Note especially the 119th Psalm, which was written as an acrostic.  The 119th Psalm is composed of twenty-two sections of eight verses each.  Each eight-verse section is assigned a letter from the Hebrew alphabet and each verse in that section begins with that letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Christians are told to remember the words of the prophets and of Jesus.  Peter tells us to “remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”  (2 Peter 3:2).  “For whatever was written in an earlier time was written for our instruction (learning), that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  (Rom 15:4).  Jesus told the Apostles that when “their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”  (John 16:4).  “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give then to receive.’”
All of this said, you can’t remember what you have not studied and been taught.  Are we like the noble minded Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught was true?  (Acts 17:11).  They had a passion to remember what God called them to remember and to forget all else.  Is this true of your life?