Pastor's Blog

August 2015

Wise Up!

You know, the devil is pretty tricky and I don’t think we always catch on. For instance, if I asked you to make a list of the most important things in your life, I’m sure all of you would put God down first. But if I asked you what you spend the most money on, where would God fall? Now, I realize that’s not a foolproof test of faithfulness, but it does illustrate pretty quickly what we prioritize in our life. Wise up, the days are evil.

Another problem is our pride. We don’t like being on the outside of a group of friends, family or co-workers. We try to blend in. But what compromises to our faith are we making to accomplish that? “I want her to like me, so I’ll join in on the gossip, even though I know it’s wrong.” “I know what we’re watching on Netflix is morally reprehensible, pagan and even satanic but I’ll let my family watch it anyway.”  “It’s just entertainment! I know where the line is. I can discern between right and wrong.” And there may be truth to that, but at what point have we crossed from understanding the world we live in to becoming the world we live in? Wise up.

The bottom line to this foolish living is that we so often put our will before the Lord’s will. That’s called idolatry. We’re idolizing ourselves and it’s wrong. So wrong that God condemns us to hell for it. Wise up! Look at your life. Stop! Think! Examine!

And then be forgiven. Because the answer to our spiritual ignorance is found in the wisdom that comes from Jesus Christ. Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life. He is the real life that came down from heaven. He brings to you and me a better word than the guilt and shame of our sin. He brings to us the message that he has overcome the world, which means he has overcome our sin. He is life because he became death. His death on the cross took the place of our own death. And his life of perfection has become our life. Sometimes when I read how Jesus responded to this or that person, I just step away and think, “I would never have thought to say that!” But Jesus did so that he could give that perfection to us. That’s the wisdom of Christ. Wise up with Christ’s wisdom.

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The Christ Diet

According to the Center for Disease Control, about 30% of Americans are overweight. And this comes after years of being warned, of countless diet programs and diet pills and diet shakes and diet meals. With so much money being poured into weight loss, one wonders: is it really in the best interest of Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers for people to gain a healthy weight and then maintain it? Generally speaking, the problem is that we’re just consuming more calories than we need in a day. So what are you having for dinner tonight?

If nearly a third of Americans may need to go on some kind of diet, I wonder what that means about our spiritual health. There’s no test we can use to determine our spiritual health. I can’t draw your blood to see how strong your faith is. And that’s maybe one reason we tend to avoid the subject of spiritual health. What standard do we use to measure ourselves? The reality is that the standard is determined by God and it’s impossibly high for us to reach on our own: perfection. We know we can’t reach that ourselves because we know what kind of spiritual junk food we eat. So maybe its time we go on a diet.

Let me interest you in the Christ diet. The Christ diet is great because it always works. It’s not like the diet programs of the world which come and go. The Christ diet gives you results that last for eternity and you start seeing results right away.

All we do is we give our sinful obesity to Christ. It’s that easy. We don’t have to shed the pounds of sin by sweating them out and working to death. Christ takes them from us because he wants them. He takes our sinful thoughts, our sinful deeds and carries that weight himself to the cross. And there he suffers for them. There God makes him pay for our sin. There Christ dies and offers his life as payment for sin. Put your sins on Jesus. Put your guilt on Jesus. And let him die for you. And dying, he will give you life. The pounds of sin and guilt are removed and we get the body of Christ. That perfect body that never sinned. That perfect body that never opened its mouth for spiritual junk food. Christ was spiritually fit and toned for you.

It's the Christ diet, and it always works.

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Hang on to what lasts

If a poor economy can teach us anything it is that money just doesn’t last. Maybe we didn’t even need to learn that lesson we just needed to see it for real. An Allstate insurance ad from a few years ago pictured a family gathered around the dining room table playing a board game. The family is on a tighter budget now and instead of going out and spending money at the movies, they’re staying home. In fact, the commercial seems to imply maybe they never needed to spend the money at the movies in the first place to be happy.

The dark reality is that nothing on this earth lasts—nothing. But the irony is that most of us spend our precious time and resources on the very things that won’t last. We spend big bucks on homes that will fall apart, on careers that can change in a snap, and on people or causes that change over time. The apostle James put things into perspective when he said, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)

If this is the state of things, then how should we be living our lives? With what kind of an attitude should we seek our Savior? Perhaps we have pursued a relationship with Christ out of purely selfish motives? Perhaps we have treated him like a kind of spiritual ATM, just push the right "Jesus" buttons and he’ll bless us with what our stomachs desire. But those desires don’t last, and we’re off to the next thing. If all of this stuff on earth doesn’t endure, than what does? If we are a mist that appears and then goes, what should we be focusing on? Seek what endures: worldly things spoil and slip away, but Christ gives us eternal life.

Our forgiveness isn’t where the blessings end, Christ grants us life forever. When our 80 or so years are over, we leave all this behind: sin, our money, our accomplishments. It’s all forgotten when we join the eternal ranks of victorious Christians. These are the people who have run the race, who hoped and focused on what truly mattered. These are people who simply hung on to what truly lasts forever. And we will join them.

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Let them eat bread

 John 6:5, "When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?'"

Where does a Christian buy bread? The question has nothing to do with where we shop. It has nothing to do with real bread and nothing to do with the money in your wallet that you might spend on bread. Today’s question is really a challenge from Christ. Christ is challenging us to once again look beyond ourselves. Christ is challenging us to put our faith into action. Christ is challenging us to provide the spiritual nourishment that people need. Last week we talked about sharing Christ’s compassion and his compassionate message. Today we talk about a challenge that Christ gave to his disciples when he asked them, “Where are we going to buy bread for these people to eat?”

This challenge that Christ gives us teaches us that we cannot rely on ourselves. That’s what the disciples wanted to do. They wanted to spend enough money to give these people some food. But even then, it would never work.

No, the only answer to Christ’s challenge is Christ himself. He alone had the power to help those people and he alone has the power to help us. His was the power over sin: the power to keep the requirements of the law perfectly; the power to keep his heart and his mind and his intellect pure. His was the power to take his perfect life, his perfect body, his perfect soul and put it up on the altar of the cross as the perfect sacrifice for sin. His was the power to die, to absorb the fire of God’s wrath over sin. His was the power to take your place and my place and die for us. And his was the power to raise his dead body back to life, something no one would have ever imagined or deemed possible.

And it was that same power that enabled him to take a handful of bread and make it feed thousands of people. This is the power of Christ to triumph over sin and death. The same power that filled the stomachs of those people fills our souls with the love and forgiveness. So Christ’s death becomes our life. Christ’s triumph becomes our victory. Christ’s perfection becomes our new life and mind. Christ’s reward becomes our eternal treasure.

And so Christ’s asks you, “Where will we get bread to feed all these people? How will you serve the people in your life?” And you will answer, “Lord, if I’m going to provide for these people, then you’re going to have to give me what I need.”

And he says, "I am the bread of life."

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. ~ JOHN 3:16