Archive for July, 2011

Genuine Love

Posted in Love, Scripture on July 29, 2011 by nmpreach

Yesterday, we began to look at what it means to love, particularly the definition that the world provides.  But what about the Word?  Check this out.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.   Luke 6:35 (ESV)

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.  For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  Matthew 5:44-45 (ESV)

Notice, those are both spoken by Jesus.  Now to Paul.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord.’  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:19-21 (ESV)

Most of us think of our enemies as being evil.  We really like phrases like burning coals on his head.  That’s what we want for our enemies.  But notice what we’re to do to those who hate us (and often times those we “love less” 🙂 ).  Do good to them.  Lend things to them expecting nothing in return.  Pray for them.  Don’t look to repay them for what they’ve done.  To summarize, Jesus and Paul tell us to love.  Love them despite.  Love as Jesus loved/loves.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:6-8 (ESV)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  John 13:34-35 (ESV) – Jesus

Real Love?

Posted in Uncategorized on July 28, 2011 by nmpreach

What does it mean to love?

Sadly, our society has attempted to define love in unhealthy ways.  Television shows like The Batchelor, The Bachelorette, Love In The Wild, and Temptation Island seem more popular every season.  The attempt to convince viewers that what they observe is “real” is sickening.

It goes something like this:

1.  Good looking guy courts modelesque girl in a place that would qualify as paradise.

2.  Guy kisses girl (more than once) and then learns her name.  Eventually, the kisses are just the beginning.

3.  Guy does the same with a dozen other girls in an attempt to decide which one “he really loves.”

4.  At the end of each episode, the drama is thick.  Girls line up and guy gets to pick which one he “loves less” and sends her home.  Perhaps her breath was bad, she had bigger feet than he, or she was a blond while he preferred a brunette.  The girls remaining receive a rose and promise to commit to winning the game.  In the end, they know guy will love them.  The scenario happens week after week while viewers tune in to see their favorite attempt to find love.  Finally, guy is down to two girls who both think they’ve fallen in love and can’t wait for the proposal.  They both plan to say “yes”, imagine what perfect children they will create, and will live happily ever after in the suburbs behind a white picket fence.

Of course, the shows are a little different from the others.  But not much.  So here’s my question(s).  Really?  Does anyone believe this stuff?  Is this what we’re teaching those we influence?  It’s like matchmaking on steroids.

What happened to the simple letter that you had your 6th grade friend pass to the shy girl in the class?  It read something like, “Do you like me?  Check yes or no.”    My wife is good-looking but not modelesque.  I’m grateful that she picked an overweight, obnoxious guy that does stupid things.  She hasn’t voted me off of the island yet.  And guess what!  There’s no plans for either of us to eliminate the other.  We’re in this thing for the long haul.  Because we love each other.  Because we care about each other.  Because we’re committed to each other.  Real life includes being a taxi driver for the kids, non-stop laundry, paying bills, dealing with in-laws, etc.  That’s our paradise!  And love grows because it’s not selfish.  In fact, selfish love is an oxymoron.  Love is about others.  Not me.

When we think about love, let’s define it by the One who is love.  God loved us so that we could love Him and others.  Define love as He does.  And make sure that those who follow you know the difference than what they see on television.  It will do us all good!

God Hates Divorce. But Why?

Posted in Community on July 26, 2011 by nmpreach

Most likely, you’re well aware of the numbers.  Research professionals tell us there is not much difference between the failure of marriages, whether those involved claim Christianity or not.  The Old Testament has much to say about divorce – the reasons permissible, those that are not, and the result of a dissolution.  The prophet Malachi speaks of God divorcing the Israelites because of their sin.  After all, God cannot coexist with evil.  In the New Testament, those concerned with the Law, attempted to trap Jesus with their questions about divorce.  Paul also had a few things to say about the subject.

Here’s something to chew on.  The marriage relationship is about several facets – spiritual, emotional, and yes, even physical.  A Biblical view of marriage entails giving up one’s selfishness to live in a selfless community.  The writer of Genesis is clear about this community when he writes of the two “becoming one flesh” (2:24).  When relationships are based upon God and His principles, selfishness isn’t an issue.  However, when one or both parties remove God from the equation, trouble will ensue.  And often times, trouble leads to demise.

So what’s the problem?  It’s been said, “Sin causes divorce.”  Although that’s true, in many ways it’s an oversimplification.

Divorce means a severing of community.  Of course this involves a marriage but also involves relationships in general.  God created mankind to live with each other, to live in relationship.  Sadly, all too often, relationships are dissolved because there is no relationship.  Sure!  We know about each other.  But do we really know each other?  In other words, relationship entails a knowledge much deeper than surface level stuff.  Relationships require effort.  And the fact of the matter is, unless God is involved in every genuine relationship you have, divorce will most likely follow.

Jesus Himself speaks of divorce in the Sermon on the Mount.  It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.  But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the grounds of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matt 5:31-32 ESV)

Based upon that text, how important was community to Jesus?  If one leaves a relationship simply to begin another, they are deemed an adulterer.  Not only that, but notice that even the one who is the “third party” commits adultery.

We think of divorce as being the end of a relationship between a man and wife.  However, it’s much more significant.  Divorce eliminates community.  Lack of community promotes arrogance and pride.

Do everything you possibly can to live in community!  As Jesus prayed in John 17:20 ff for unity, so we must also.  Relationship involves that with our Father and that with those around us.

Blasphemous or Righteous – That is the Question!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 25, 2011 by nmpreach

The blessing of being able to pray to the Creator of the universe is unmatched.  We pray to acknowledge God and not ourselves.  Although most of our lives are lived in a selfish mode, prayer is a time to “amp up” the selflessness.  It’s really not about us.  It’s about God.  Approaching God in prayer is a holy time.

That said, God knows us better than we know ourselves.  God is not surprised by our actions, our thoughts, or even our prayers.  He knows our hearts.  Doesn’t he expect us to be real?  genuine?  transparent?  Is there ever a time where our hearts, minds, and actions diminish the holiness of God?

Pastor Joe Nelms was asked to pray at a recent NASCAR event.  Follow this link , watch the Youtube video, and let me know what you think.

Black and White

Posted in Scripture on July 25, 2011 by nmpreach

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

I’ll let the text here speak for itself.  Any thoughts here?

Forgiveness

Posted in Grace, Scripture on July 21, 2011 by nmpreach

Have you ever marveled at God’s grace?  I mean more than thankfulness, more than gratefulness in passing.  I’m speaking of being in awe – of marveling at something you and I don’t deserve.  As I grow in Christ, I realize more and more of my inability and impotence.  I have developed a greater appreciation for Christ’s life and sacrifice.  It’s grace that still amazes me.

1 John 1:9 reads, If we confess our sins, he (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Notice the conditional clause – If we confess.  If we acknowledge our sins, God will give us peace.  If we turn from our rebellion, God will offer redemption.   But it’s only if we confess our sins!

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.  For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Ps 32 1-5 ESV

David says it well.  When we keep silent, there is no peace.  When we fail to acknowledge our sin, God allows the consequences of sin to remain.  You remember what the punishment for sin is right?  Check out Romans 6:23.  It’s when we recognize our sin and God’s ability to forgive, that God frees us.  What is it that you need to come clean about today?  Will you allow God to bring you peace?  Don’t wait until tomorrow.

Unanswered Prayer

Posted in Prayer on July 19, 2011 by nmpreach

Jay Adams wrote A Theology of Christian Counseling, which has become somewhat of a classic among counselors who would adhere to Christianity.  I was struck today by a list Adams provides in regards to why prayer is often unanswered.  Thoughts?  I’d love to hear them.

1.  Hypocritical Prayer – One who prays something with his lips while his heart is “yelling” something else.

2.  Unbelieving Prayer – Do you really believe God will act if you pray?  Again, it’s more than lip service.

3.  Resentful Prayer – Are you reminded of a stressed relationship while praying?  Leave your gift at the altar, go take care of the relationship, then return and offer your gift.

4.  Pharisaical Prayer – Do you pray with the motive of making yourself look good?  feel good?  Are you constantly comparing yourself to others – especially those you think don’t have it together?

5.  Self-Centered Prayer – Do you treat God like a genie?  Are you more concerned about yourself or others?  Are you looking for a lesson to learn?

6.  Unbiblical Prayer – How do you know what God’s will is?  Read John 15:1-5 and then set out to “remain in (Jesus)”.

7.  Self-Addressed Prayer – By what authority do you pray?  If it’s not by the authority of Christ, your prayer is worthless.

Of course, there are times when God’s timing is not our own.  Sometimes He simply tells us to wait.  However, we’ve all experienced unanswered prayers.  And the list above is a great place to start taking inventory.  Something to think about.