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November 20, 2018, 10:45 AM

Our Father


Our Father. The two words that Jesus begins with in teaching the Model Prayer as recorded in Matthew 6. These words should bring a warmth and comfort to the hearts of people, but for so many, the idea of a father provides anything but peace and security. Fortunately, as Jesus continues, God is a Heavenly Father and far surpasses the greatness and glory of any earthly father. Unfortunately, not everyone can truly claim God as their Father. I understand that is a statement than some may find offensive, but as always we should look to the Scriptures for clarification. First of all, all of humanity is created in the image of God. God, in the creation account says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” (Gen 1:26,NIV). So beginning with Adam and continuing with his posterity, all people bear the image of God but not all people are the children of God. Secondly, Jesus, when speaking to the Pharisees, clearly delineates between those who are historical and biological descendants of Abraham and those who are the children of Abraham through the covenant made with him by God. In John 8:37, he uses the Greek word “seed” in recording Jesus words describing the Pharisees. In verse 44, Jesus tells them who their father is based on their rejection of Him, and leaves no room for doubt in v. 47. Finally, John 1:12 defines who the children of God are. Those who have believed in the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior have been given the right to be children of God, not because of natural descent or by human will, but having been born of God. Only those who have placed their faith in Christ alone can declare the words of 1 John 3:1 and can enjoy the benefits afforded by being His child such as those described in Psalm 103:13, Mt. 7:7-11, Heb. 13-5-6, and Heb. 12:5-11. All of these and so many more are given by God to those who He recognizes as His children. It’s not about whether you call God your Father, but does He recognize you as His child is what’s important.

https://youtu.be/qlsQrycKKsY

Robert




September 5, 2018, 11:06 AM

That’s Not What I Ordered


There was a man on vacation in Paris who went into an upscale restaurant and demanded to have the chef’s best culinary concoction and money was no object. He spoke in such a way that everyone in the restaurant could hear his boasting of having the chef’s specialty made just for him. As this man had thoughts of fine French cuisine dancing in his head and continued in his braggadocios behavior the waiter returned repeatedly and tried to convince the man to order something from the menu. After an hour of anxiously waiting and eventually becoming an annoyance to everyone else in the restaurant, the dish was delivered. As the waiter removed the top from the silver serving tray the delicatessen was revealed for all to see. You can imagine the disappointment of this man when he saw the plate and the waiter informed him that, “The chef says to tell you that his young daughter says his grilled cheese sandwich is the very best dish he prepares.” Many know the saying about not praying for patience because God will teach you how to be patient through trials and testing. The same is true for other characteristics such as wisdom – Solomon was faced with a difficult decision almost immediately after asking for wisdom. Another one that I have been reminded of recently is humility. At the root of all of us, there is a struggle with pride. The pride that comes from a promotion we received because of our merit or the number of followers we have on social media, or the attitude of authority that comes from being in a position of leadership. Scripture tells us that God resists the proud and draws near to the humble. I want to be in the group that God is near but it it’s often for selfish reasons. I order up a double portion of humility as if it were an item on a menu in a fancy restaurant but then I ask God to cut the humbling from it. You see, there is no way to have humility unless God humbles us when we need it. Having God humble me is a very difficult, but a required aspect of having humility and humility is a characteristic to be exhibited by Christians. The rub comes from my idea of humility being different from God’s. The Bible doesn’t teach a false humility that declares, “I’m really proud of how humble I am,” or the type that lessens the glory of God’s creation that I am, but the humility that acknowledges every good and perfect gift comes from God and on my own I am capable of nothing good. So, take it from me, humble pie isn’t as sweet as it sounds but if it is the thing that draws me back into a right relationship with the Lord, I’ll take it.

Robert




August 6, 2018, 11:14 AM

Po-tA-to or Po-tO-to?


When my kids were little Emily and I would have to come up with different names for things in order to better help them understand what we were talking about. For example, Toby liked to eat at Chicken Express but he knew it as “yellow chicken” because of the color of the sign and the picture of the chicken. Lifeway was known around our house as “the Bob and Larry store” because that is how the kids identified it. There are more examples and I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences in your house. While the titles given to these places by my children weren’t the correct names of the establishments, it didn’t render either place any less effective in accomplishing their purpose. My children used the words they knew to describe these places the best way they knew how based on their experiences at each one. As of late, a particular word in a song has triggered much discussion and even lead to some people rejecting the song altogether. We see in the Bible men, as they were inspired by God, using the best words they knew to describe an infinite God that is not able to be fully known by finite humanity. They used a limited vocabulary to attempt to describe limitless majesty and glory. (I stand on the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture and will not waver.) I am not attempting to settle the debate nor am I choosing a side in the discussion as to the appropriateness of describing God’s love for us as reckless. I simply suggest that it may be a case of a man using words known to him based on experiences and understanding of how God saved him. This description of the love of God by no means makes Him any less powerful or able to save. My challenge to the multitude that has expended time and energy and flooded social media with thoughts and opinions, myself included, is that we would put forth the same amount of effort and passion in telling a lost and dying world of the love of God that we claim to know so much about. There are many aspects of religion and denominations, semantics and song lyrics that sometimes we may have to simply agree to disagree about. I offer three things that followers are instructed to do without a doubt. Jesus says that all of the law and the prophets hang on the first two; love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. The third point is the commandment to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s far better to win a soul to the Lord for the glory of God than to win an argument for the glory of yourself.

https://youtu.be/ZLFak6N04GY

Robert




July 23, 2018, 10:02 AM

Final Jeopardy


Jeopardy is one of the longest-running, well-known game shows on TV, so popular that Weird Al Yankovic made a parody of it. It is known for its iconic host, answers that must be in the form of a question, and challenging trivia. I have always enjoyed watching it and have even answered correctly on occasion. One of the most commonly recognized tunes comes from this show, and many who know the tune may not even realize it’s played on the show. Now that some of you are humming it or singing it out loud I want you to think about the very end of the tune. You know, the part where it plays two deep, base notes. In my mind, it sounds like “dum-dum!” It signifies that the time for coming up with an answer is over and now comes the moment of judgment that will determine the winner. Up until this point in the game, the players have had opportunities to answer questions and put themselves in position for victory. There have been numerous times I have seen the person who is leading going into Final Jeopardy end up losing because they didn’t have the correct answer or were content with their place and didn’t wager enough on the last question. Rather than jeopardy, the Bible teaches that there will be a judgment and victory doesn’t come by way of an answer in the form of a question but by faith in the Savior. Jesus wept aloud over Jerusalem as he entered into the city prior to His atoning death (Luke 19:41-44). He knew that the time had come for Him to go to the cross and the people of Jerusalem had rejected Him and would endure the consequences of that rejection. These consequences would arrive at the hands of Titus and the Romans in the year AD 70 but also in that time when they stand before God at the final judgment. If the span of your life was represented by the theme song of Final Jeopardy and you knew you were getting close to hearing the final two notes, would you have the right answer when you stand before God? None of us know when our time will come to an end on this earth but the Bible promises that everyone will stand before God. Having the experiential knowledge of what brings peace between humanity and God is the only answer that will matter in that time. Note, it must be an experiential knowledge meaning it goes beyond a simple head knowledge and is received by placing faith in Jesus. It won’t matter how many other questions you have gotten right in life if your answer to God’s plan of salvation is not placing your faith in Christ alone. ON the flip side of that same coin, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve made mistakes or what those mistakes have been, God’s grace is sufficient. Be sure you have the right answer to final judgment before your tune ends.

Robert




July 9, 2018, 12:34 PM

Turtle on a Fence Post


I heard someone say in seminary, “If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know it didn’t get there by itself.” I didn’t fully comprehend what was meant by it at the time, but I have since come to realize a little more of the power of that statement. Sometimes I feel like a turtle that isn’t worth much and can’t really do anything amazing. My best means of survival is to shrink into my shell and hide until the threat is gone. However, just like that turtle on the fence post, God has placed me, as His child, exactly where He wants me to be. The same is true for every believer. Wherever you are, you are there for a reason and just like that turtle on the fence post, it is to make people think about the One who put you there. Our purpose as believers is to let our light shine before men that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in Heaven. Whether you are a preacher, teacher, janitor, bus driver, sanitation worker, stay at home mom or whatever else, then be the most spirit filled one around. If you are recently retired or have been retired a long time and wonder how you will be productive in this new stage of life, remember God still has a purpose for you as long as you have the breath of life in you. Just like Ezekiel called the Spirit of God to fill the bodies that were once dry bones, stand strong in the Spirit as a member of the Kingdom of God and be accounted for. If you feel like all you can do is pray, then offer up the most Spirit filled prayers you can. The fact is, it’s not about us and what we can or can’t do. It’s about us being obedient to God and displaying His glory as much as possible, just like that turtle on a fence post.

Robert


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