Foolishness or Power of God

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. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Is it any wonder “they” don’t believe!

This man:

  • Claimed to be God, the Son of God, and Messiah
  • Was born of a virgin
  • Turned water into wine and walked on water
  • Raised the lame and dead
  • Cast out demons
  • Healed the sick
  • Lived a sinless life for 33 years
  • Preached for three years
  • Foretold of his impending death on a cross
  • Predicted that he would be raised to life and ascend to the Throne of God
  • Taught that if you believed in Him, your sins would be forgiven and you would have eternal life.

Foolishness or power of God? If you get annoyed or disgusted with that list, it’s probably foolishness to you. If, however, you feel energized after reading the list, it’s as the Scripture states, the power of God.

Our task as Believers is to help “them” make the transition from thinking the message of the cross is foolishness to believing it to be the power of God. Impossible task? Not really. The Man described above will show us how.

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Still Seeking

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” John 10:22-24

Throughout Jesus’ ministry we see regular people approach Jesus and talk to him. They saw him preach somewhere and they just want a better vantage point to observe and evaluate. Certainly other teachers had come through before and played a good game, but this Jesus man, he was different.

When He spoke, He spoke with authority.
He cast out demons with authority.
He healed the sick with authority.
He taught with authority.
He chose 12 followers who weren’t teachers or leaders; they were unusual but interesting choices.
And he could converse with everyday Joes and Jills.

Not much has changed in 2000 years. People of all stripes and kinds seek Him, some skeptical, some truly seeking. They follow Him from a distance just to be sure he’s the real deal. They notice His followers and how they act.

Look around some time and observe some of the seemingly irrational behavior of others (e.g., the spiked green hair on the teen or the fling that the middle-aged man is having is considered irrational behavior. They are seekers in the truest sense of the word. They are searching. They may even lie awake at night hoping to find the truth soon, before it’s too late.

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Don’t Worry!

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or about your body what you will wear. Life is more than food and the body more than clothes.” Luke 12:22-23

As I write this on the last day of November 2008, it is becoming more and more apparent that the United States (and many parts of the world) is headed into some financial troubles (which may prove to be the understatement of the year). Housing, manufacturing, automobile, insurance and banking industries are all struggling and it’ll probably get worse before it gets better. It will be very easy to panic as the world comes crashing down.

But I think it will also be an opportunity for Christians to display a vibrant and active faith. Others will be panicky about food and clothing and shelter. Others will point fingers at Congress, the President, former Presidents and anyone else they can think of for the mess we will be in.

Know this, though, God is in control. He knew about these troubled years long long ago. He knew about all the anxieties you’d be experiencing during these times. In the midst of calamity (as in the days of calm), He will be calling out to each of us. His desire is for us to draw near to him. In tough times or plentiful times, He is constantly wooing us, trying to show us our utter need for Him.

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Strength and My Song

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the Lord, is my strength and my song: he has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2

Spread plentifully throughout the Old and New Testaments are songs of praise to God. Often times those songs come at what appears to be very odd times. But God was a way of life for these people. Times were tough; life was tough. Throw in the added disadvantage of being hated for what they believe, it would have been understandable if they had fallen away. Many did.

But those who remained faithful knew the value of worship. Poetry. Loud music. Solemn pronouncements. Dancing. Kneeling. Prostrating themselves before God. Rending their garments.

There was a reverent fear of God. I’m sure the stories were passed down about what happened to people who were disobedient to God. But when it was all said and done, they worshipped. Whatever it took, they did it.

I think we can learn from them. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, when we worship, we merely offer what we have to God, whether it’s through song or poetry or prayer or bowing silently before a Holy, Almighty God. It doesn’t even have to sound pretty or eloquent. It just needs to come from the heart.

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The God of Peace

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Romans 15:33

We are coming upon a time of the year when many people are
under a lot of stress from different sources. People have busier schedules,
spend more money, visit close relatives, and eat more than they should. Paul’s
prayer at the end of Romans 15 is as applicable today as when it was written.
They had stresses in Paul’s day that we don’t have now.

The Bible talks a lot about peace. In fact, one of our
Savior’s names is the Prince of Peace.

Of course, political leaders define peace as “the absence of
war,” but that’s not the peace I’m talking about. Peace is elusive. We know it
when we have it; we know it when we don’t. We don’t often know how to get it
when we don’t have it.

    Internal peace.

    Getting-a-sound-sleep peace.

    Having-a-clear-conscience peace.

    Knowing that all-is-well-with-your-soul peace.

You can’t buy that peace nor can you manufacture it.

May the God of peace be with you all. Rest completely in
that prayer.

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True Worship

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:4-5

Throughout the Psalms is a general theme of “Give thanks to God; his love endures forever." I suspect a phrase similar to that is in the Old Testament 30 times or more. In fact, each verse in Psalm 136 ends in “His love endures forever.” Obviously it’s a phrase that God wants us to be familiar with.

You see, we forget easily. We forget that the world doesn’t revolve around us. We forget that we are expendable and can be replaced. We forget that we are not permanent on this earth. And we also forget that God’s love endures forever.

The writers of Psalms wanted to make it crystal clear that we should be giving thanks to the One who created and redeemed us. Then they remind us that The Lord is good. It’s a fairly simple recipe in how we should treat God.

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I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:16

A number of years ago I wrote a letter to my Little League coach. It had been a full 25+ years since I had seen or heard from him. I wrote him a letter thanking him for the influence he had over my life during three short summers. It wasn’t long. It wasn’t eloquent or fancy, but I had to do it.

When someone tells me that he’s a self-made man I have to laugh hysterically. I laugh because he has been influenced by teachers and coaches and parents and challenging friends and fellow students and co-workers. That’s why we need to express our thanks to the people who got us where we are. (think how you would react if someone did this to you!)
Make a list of those who have influenced you over the years. It’ll dig up some old memories, both good and bad. Now pick one, just one, that you know is still living. Write that person a short letter or card, thanking him/her for the influence he/she has had. It doesn’t have to be fancy or long. Sign it, then send it.

More importantly, pray for that person. Unless you’ve been in contact recently, you probably don’t know exactly how to pray for the individual. Pray through Ephesians 1:17-23. It’s very powerful stuff.

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Give Thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

This is the week of Thanksgiving Day. It’s a day when families and friends gather round large turkeys with all the trimmings and thank God for what he’s given. I’m sure we don’t do it often enough.

I don’t know about you, but being thankful isn’t natural for me. I like to think that I’m the model of Gratefulness, that every little (or big) thing that comes my way, I’m thankful for. You guessed it, I’m not. But as I’ve stated elsewhere, it’s not always about me. In fact, it rarely is.

We need to be reminded often that we’re not on this earth alone and the things that people do for us should not go unthanked. And of course, God should be thanked as often as we can because without Him we’d be total wrecks!

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He Knew Their Thoughts

Jesus knew their thoughts…” Matthew 12:25

Jesus was getting ready to heal the man with a demon, and the Pharisees were indignant. They said he could only drive out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Earlier in the chapter the Scripture states that these same Pharisees were plotting on how they might kill Jesus.

But Jesus knew their thoughts. He knew what caused them to get to this point. He knew the anger and frustration they must have felt at someone trying to “muscle in” on their territory, so to speak. He knew who was behind their vile thoughts about him. And he also knew that they didn’t care a wit about the demon-possessed man or the man with the shriveled hand earlier in the chapter.

Jesus knew their thoughts. He knew just how far those thoughts would take them.

Two thousand years later, Jesus still knows our thoughts. He knows our frustrations and anger and joys and pains. He knows the unkind rumor we think just before it comes out of our mouths. He knows what we're capable of, both good and bad.

And yet, incredibly, He still loves us.

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