1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. (I get hungry after four hours; it is hard to imagine just how discourage and worn and broken down Jesus would have had to have been at this point.)
3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Satan tempted Jesus with immediate satisfaction. Yes, times were difficult for Jesus so Satan offered him the easy, immediate answer ... turn these stones into bread.)
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Jesus gave the honorable response, stating that He was in this for the long term, not to give up and seek immediate satisfaction.)
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” (Satan was in essence saying "Prove to me that what you're following here is really true." He was trying to add to Jesus' discouragement. When we ourselves are down or discouraged, it seems sometimes like everything plays to that discouragement, potentially driving us deeper.)
7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” (Jesus responded that He didn't have to prove anything. He knew ultimately what was written and that His father loved Him and was ultimately always there to protect Him.)
8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” (Satan offered Jesus a shortcut to His life's ultimate calling. Whether Satan was offering control over this world or if it was all deception makes no difference. The temptation was that Jesus could avoid His life story that had been prophesied, which He was all too familiar with at this point. He could avoid that and still become the ultimate power in this world.)
10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’” (Jesus knew that the glory He'd been promised could only come to Him one way -- via His Father and the promises that had been made to Him. If He strayed from the path god had planned for Him, he risked losing everything for Himself and for all who would come after Him.)
11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
For me, viewed through the lens I have outlined above, the story of Jesus' temptation is a great encouragement, a reminder that, even though we may not entirely see it or understand it, God has a greater plan for us. He loves us and wants to be with us, but we must seek and follow His guiding hand to the plan He has provided for us. That plan may include times and lessons that are not easy. Times and lessons that will be fraught with temptation for easy ways out and for shortcuts but we must ultimately press onward in pursuit of the Father.
"Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."" (John 6:35)
Aren't you hungry? More than a stomach growling for food, more than a heart longing for approval, more than a deep desire to succeed; our spirit aches for something that will satisfy.
Jesus described Himself as bread to help us to understanding that we need Him to live. Bread is nourishment which we eat to survive. In the same way, knowing Jesus and being in relationship with Him gives us the food necessary for life.
"I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:48-51)
We receive this "bread that is Jesus' flesh" when we accept the sacrifice He made for our sins. Beyond that initial acceptance, we need to be in constant communion with Jesus.
Just as you wouldn't expect one meal to give you enough energy for a whole week of work, neither can you assume that going to church on Sunday will provide all the nourishment necessary for spiritual life.
We need to be daily feeding on the Word of God.
Jesus goes on to say, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." (John 6:63)
Here Jesus clearly tells us that the Bible is more than merely a collection of wise sayings or encouraging statements. Jesus' words are spirit and they are life!
Question: What does the name "Bread of Life", one of Jesus' many titles, mean to you?
Prior to last night, my ranking of the contestants was:
Now I don't know what to think.
I believe that about 120 people were there. (I have heard numbers from 100 to 140 so I am just picking something in the middle.)
Afterward, I went through our church directory and counted 65 people from our usual faithful who were there. A number of other people were who I would call "gawkers" -- folks from other area churches -- were there. And I also saw a few folks who seemed to be living a "cowboy" lifestyle who wanted to check things out.
I believe that Sunday evenings typically see a thin crowd at The Pub so there were not a lot of "regulars" there. It would be cool to see us supplement things maybe by having a few folks go to The Pub on weeknights to hang out a bit. Perhaps that could reach a few and get them to come check things out on Sunday evening. I'd be interested in that but it would take some encouragement. I see evangelism as a necessary part of my Christianity but I also see it as an area where I am not spiritually gifted. Man, I admire those who are!
And, for those who are wondering, the bar was open but, overall, I would say that The Pub has probably never before sold so many cans of Pepsi in one evening. They sold a few pizzas and wings, too.
This whole story hit the AP yesterday so hundreds of papers across the country have now run short blurbs on it. That is cool but it's not why we're doing this. I suspect that Chris is up to his eyeballs in calls from reporters across the country now.
I have been following some of the comments popping up on the internet associated with this story. Most people are very supportive. Some are not. And I do appreciate their points. Particularly for folks who perhaps come from personally destructive backgrounds, I can see how they would be uncomfortable with this whole idea.
One thing I was thinking about, though, for those who see this as being sacrilegious: Would you support a prison ministry? I suspect that most people would say that, yes, jail and prison ministry is a good thing. How is ministering, on their own ground, to those who are imprisoned by their own behavior, lifestyle, demons, and "stinking thinking" any different?
“Is this not the carpenter’s son?” Matthew 13:55
Carpenter’s Son – Why were the people offended by the teaching of Jesus? They certainly recognized His power and they were astonished at His authority. But they were still upset. Why? In order to grasp the answer to this question, we have to know a little about personal identity in the Jewish culture of Israel.
Did you notice that no one has any problem associating Jesus with His profession? No one asks, “Is this man a carpenter?” They expect Him to be a carpenter because His father was a carpenter. In first century Israel, the trade was passed from father to son down through the generations. So, if you met Jesus at a networking event, and you asked the typical “What do you do?” question, you might expect Him to reply, “I’m a carpenter.” That’s how we would answer the question. But that’s not how a Jew would answer the question. A Jew would answer the question, “I am a disciple of (someone). I make my living as a carpenter.” You see, the critical factor in personal identification was not the profession. It was the connection with a rabbi, a teacher of Torah. What a man did to earn a living was not nearly as important as who a man followed to learn Torah. When the crowd exclaims, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?”, they are really saying, “This man has no Torah pedigree. He’s just a carpenter. Where did He learn all this about the Torah?”
We might think that they dismiss Jesus’ teaching because they only recognize His profession, but we would be mistaken. There was nothing wrong with being a carpenter, or any other trade for earning a living. They object because Jesus does not follow a rabbi. He is not a disciple of someone else. They object because He teaches on His own authority!
The Greek New Testament uses the phrase, ho tou tektonos huios (son of the carpenter). But the people didn’t speak Greek. They spoke Hebrew and the Hebrew thought is not focused on the presence of a profession but rather on the absence of a teacher. No man stands on his own authority. No man speaks for God directly (except perhaps Moses). In their experience, every man who taught Torah stood on the shoulders of a previous rabbi. Jesus offends, not because He is a carpenter, but because He stands alone.
This little shift in our thinking should cause us to ponder how we describe our own identity. When someone asks you who you are, do you reply, “I am a disciple of Yeshua, and I work as a banker (or whatever you do)?” That’s the way a Hebrew would think. Why? Because life is not about professions. It is about getting into alignment with God. Professions and trades are only those things that put food on the table while I study God’s Word. They are the after-thought of existence.
In our Greek world, what we do takes priority. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate that subtle language shift. We are called to be disciples of Yeshua. That is who we really are. All the rest is merely the supporting framework. Right?
"Does Your Dad Drive To Work In A Chicken Pot Pie?"
The whole concept is meeting mixed reactions and I respect and appreciate those who perhaps are not crazy about the whole idea. I even read one blogger who was saying "What next? Church in a topless bar or a strip club?"
I guess I would pose one question to the author of that: "If God opened doors and paved the way for you to minister in a topless joint or a strip club, would you refuse Him the opportunity to reach people there?"
Please pray for the Country Rock Church when it starts to ride tomorrow evening.
One of our speakers this morning opened by making the point that, if he had an evangelistic ministry that brought 1000 people per year to Christ, that would be considered pretty good. If his ministry spanned 33 years, he would bring 33,000 people to Christ. Sounds great, doesn't it?
However, if each year he invested himself in the life of just one person in order to truly disciple that individual and set them on a pathway of doing the same thing for one person a year, at the end of 33 years something like 9 BILLION people would have been reached. Sounds even better, doesn't it?
That really got me to thinking. How often do I close myself off from others? How often do I let fear or busy-ness or shyness stop me from coming alongside someone and spending time with them? How many opportunities do I miss? I don't want to miss those opportunities anymore.
If you'd like to track what we're doing through our Leadership Community, you can follow it at http://sfleadershipcommunity.wordpress.com.
In the last two messages, we've seen how the prophet Elijah was used to call the people of Israel back to worship of the One True God. We saw Elijah witness the mighty power of God but then become afraid and run into the desert when threatened by the Queen.
How would God handle His chosen prophet - His messenger who had been assigned to proclaim the Truth to the people of Israel? What would God say to Elijah, the man now crumpled under a tree wishing to die: "I have had enough, Lord. Take my life" (1 Kings 19:4).
1 Kings 19:5-6
"All at once an angel touched him and said, 'Get up and eat.' He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again."
God could have chastised and rebuked Elijah. He could have answered with a loud thunder, "Am I not the God who rained down fire from Heaven and then blackened the sky with clouds? Have I not answer your prayers? How can you now doubt Me and wish to die because of your fear?"
Yes, God could have given His "How can you doubt Me?" speech, but He didn't. Rather, God saw Elijah's tired pain and showed simple compassion. He ministered to Elijah by sending an angel to give a gentle touch and bake a cake. The time would soon come for Elijah to rise and follow hard after God; but for now, God comforted Elijah and allowed for a very necessary rest.
We must continue to learn what it means to be a loving and caring Family. All who have been saved through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus have been "baptized by one Spirit into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:13). And as members of "one body," we must learn to effectively minister and truly help one another.
Very few circumstances require us to provide a complete solution. We usually must avoid trying to "fix" what we believe has been broken. Most often, our Brothers and Sisters simply need a friend who will listen and show they care by helping them rest and regain their strength. It's amazing how many Spiritual truths are seen clear after a little cake and a good night of sleep.
So many of God's children face pain, weariness, fears and frustration which keep them from experiencing the fullness of God's joy and peace. But each of us can help ease the pain and lighten the load through biblical words of truth and encouragement...along with a gentle touch of compassion.
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 6:23
With – You wouldn’t think there was much to make from a preposition, but you might be wrong. You see, Paul is unusually particular about using his Greek prepositions in deliberate ways. The result is quite revealing, as we shall see.
There are two prepositions in Greek that could be translated “with.” They are syn and meta. In most cases, there is hardly any difference between them – except when Paul uses them. Paul never uses meta when he describes our personal union with Christ. For that expression, he always uses syn. But when he describes other close associations and circumstances, he always uses meta. So, we can conclude that for Paul there was a difference between the kind of relationship a believer has with Christ and the kind of relationships that someone has with other people and circumstances. Now that you know this about Paul, which Greek preposition do you suppose he uses here? It would be meta, of course.
Since Paul is not using the preposition of intimate personal union, what does he imply with this unusual phrase “love meta faith?” How can love be with faith? What does Paul mean when he implies that love is in close association with faith? It’s not quite what we usually think. For the answer, we need to look to James.
Both James and Paul have a Hebrew perspective on love and faith. Both of them know that love is a verb. It is benevolent action toward another at cost to myself. And both of them know that faith is also a verb. Faith is not some set of statements that I believe. Faith is doing what is right before God. Faith is the fulfillment of the covenant obligation, the demonstration of my fidelity to my Lord. James tells us that whatever is not of faith is sin. Now we can see why. Whatever is not of the verb “faith,” is disobedience, and, of course, disobedience is sin. Paul has the same perspective. Since both words in Hebrew would be verbs, whatever the relationship between love and faith will be active, not merely cognitive.
Now we can understand what Paul might have in mind. Love in Hebrew (ahav) is the full engagement of a person on behalf of someone else. It is the application of my mental, emotional and volitional abilities to assist, support, encourage – even to sacrifice – for another. It is the fulfillment of the commandment to care for my neighbor as I care for myself. If I do that, I automatically produce faith (‘emunah). How is that possible? Don’t I have to sign some creed or something? No, you don’t. You have to read Habakkuk 2:4 and Deuteronomy 32:4. You will discover that faith is nothing more, or less, than the truthfulness of God’s character and actions. When I get in alignment with those, love erupts from what I am doing – and you can’t tell the difference between the two.
Don’t tell me you have faith unless you have love – and treat both as verbs!
Hillary downs a shot of whiskey whilst drinking a beer attempting to show that she is not the elitist she wants to portray her competition as being. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not a purist. I just have a real problem with anyone who wants to be president thinking an appropriate photo opp in this day and age is of her downing a shot.
And then you have Obama referring to those in the heartland of our country as being bitter people who are "clinging to religion and guns". Now, he apologizes and says that he could have stated it better. I am not sure, how, if that is how he feels, he could have said it any other way.
"Clinging to religion ..." I'd like to know what he feels we should be clinging to instead.
Apparently we have Hillary's answer to that question -- a bottle of Crown Royal.
That's enough to make Bill smoke a cigar I suspect.
I have been thinking a lot about "jobs" lately. What does your job mean to you? It seems to me that jobs, in the view of the jobholder, usually represent one of three things:
1) A necessary evil -- a means to an end. Basically something you have to do in order to exist.
2) A penance. You're "stuck" in a particular job because of past choices or perhaps because of family or friend relationships. You would feel like you're letting others down if you're not there.
3) An opportunity to serve others. For someone of faith, this could be extended to be "an opportunity to serve others ultimately for the glory of God."
Oddly enough, I am not sure I have ever held a job where my mindset was #1 above. For me, working in a job that meant nothing more than a paycheck would be hugely depressing. I suspect that a lot of people feel that way though.
Now, I will say that there are times (sometimes more frequently than others) when I have looked at my job as a penance. Working in a family-owned business where, even though it may sound egotistical, you really don't know what would happen to others in your family if you weren't there basically comes down to viewing your job as a penance -- almost a curse. My mind goes there on occasion -- I confess.
But, where I really want to live is in #3. I am hugely blessed in my job to have opportunities to serve others. And I enjoy that. I enjoy making others happy. I enjoy meeting their needs. I do have some challenge in always reminding myself of the joy of servanthood but probably my biggest challenge in #3 is in making sure that I am motivated by doing things for the glory of God and not for the glory of Todd. That is critical and not always easy for someone who is steeped in the ugliness of human pride.
I was watching a tiny little bug crawl around the other day. I will confess -- it was in one of our bathrooms at home. No, our house isn't bug-infested but it does have at least one little bug in it. This little guy looked a bit like a silverfish bug but he had a big red head. I had never seen anything like it before. I watched him crawl around, going to and fro. I couldn't see a lot of point to what he was doing.
I thought about how that little bug is driven pretty much just by instinct. He was looking around for one of two things -- food ... or a cute little red-headed female bug to hang out with. It seemed sort of sad to me but that was his reality.
Our lives are like that, too. When we live lives driven only by instinct, it is rather sad. Not that there aren't good things and needs that are meant by instinct but those are fleeting satisfactions.
When, though, our lives are led by something greater -- a desire to serve and to glorify God -- minds and hearts are changed ... and we begin to live real meaning into our lives and our very existence.
It is interesting though ... how quickly we can all change in our moods and attitudes when we stop allowing god to live through us.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book. I didn't know if vampires would suddenly appear in the middle of it or what. However, I found it to be a very enjoyable read. Having been in Israel a couple of years ago, I could relate well to the cities and places mentioned in the book, some of the incredible historical accuracy, and the stories of Jewish tradition and law.
It is not a difficult read but, like I said, it is quite enjoyable. It gives a great perspective on what Jesus might have felt as He realized that He was the light in the darkness. If you enjoy history, fiction, and religious writing, this is the book for you. I understand that she has just written a follow-up book in which Jesus is older. I look forward to reading it as well but, right now, N.T. Wright's new book is sitting on the end table, begging me to read it.
Do I believe that Christian education is right for every student? No, I don't. In fact, In think that would be wrong. Christian education should not be for isolation. And, while we encourage and support many activities of our students outside the school, there is every good reason for Christian kids to be in the public schools as well.
Our mission at the school is to equip and inspire students to be a new generation of Christ-centered leaders. While Christ-centered leaders will come from all backgrounds, it is important to be raising some up in Christian schools as well. Just as Jesus studied at the synagogue and temple.
If you are a reader here and would like to contribute to Evan's school, please feel free to send your contribution to:
Christian Academy Schools
Attn: Mrs. Lisa Miller
2151 W Russell Road
Sidney, OH 45365
Thank you for your consideration.
Life's been hectic for me lately. I have been feeling overwhelmed. Even more than usual. My fibromyalgia has been flaring. The last couple of days I have felt like I had the stomach flu. I am not sure yet what today will bring. I have wanted to retreat into a hole and pull the ground in over me.
There's something I am learning in all of this though and, difficult though it might be, I am very appreciative of that. I've been trying to go on my own power lately. I've been fretting and worrying a fair amount which in and of itself isn't bad I don't think. But I have been trying to find my way through all of that using my own power instead of turning it over to God and using His power.
Fact is, I do not know what today will be like. Not sure how I will feel or what all I will encounter.
I guess we all go through these dark times but these are times when God is reminding me that He has me covered. I will hopefully learn from the events of these days and weeks. Hopefully I will learn things that I will carry throughout my life.
May I retain an attitude of seeking God continuously ... because He is seeking me.
And, later on when Samuel did choose Saul, the Spirit of God left Saul, indeed putting him in a bad place. But David's music, a pure and heartfelt worship of God, helped to calm him.
(As a sidenote, did you ever notice that, when you remove the "me" from "Samuel", you are left with "Saul"? I haven't a clue as to any meaning for that.)
Friday evening, several high school students gave a musical that they have been working on for many weeks. Written by a local pastor, it was an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz with Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion seeking the Path of Rightousness. Yes, that in and of itself sounds a little corny but they did a great job with it. No lines were missed and their songs were clear and from the heart. It was neat to see a group of kids glorifying God in a very outward way.
Then, yesterday, Evan's Cub Scout pack, sponsored by the school, visited the Boonshoft Discovery Museum in Dayton. The kids were well behaved which was great but, for me, the real value was in being in community with other parents, all of us trying to raise our kids to be Christ-followers and all of us working in our own ways to love others more than our selves.
I have over the years heard folks criticize Christian education because it doesn't have all of the things that the public schools have. But in many cases those were folks who were not allowing themselves to experience what a small Christian school does offer and that is the fullness of Christian community. There is value to that community outside of church to the parents but there is also something incredibly valuable, I think, to exposing children to it during their young formative years.
I continue to be very pleased with the choice we have made for our son with his education.
As I see it, "prosperity" theology is that God wants me to be comfortable and happy and, if I set my mind right, then God will make me comfortable and happy. New Age stuff, on the other hand, teaches me about the power that exists within myself and even within inanimate objects such as crystals. It says that, if I focus on that power, I will be happy and have anything I want.
Does anyone else see the similarity between these two things? Of course, I suspect that followers of either one would vehemently deny being involved with the other but I don't think anyone can deny the similarities.
They both seem to teach me that, if I make my mind focus on the things I want, I will be happy and all of those things will be mine.
Pardon my French but that seems like a crock of horse radish to me! How many people who get caught up in this stuff are left feeling inferior or inadequate when things don't turn out the way that they hope? How often do they feel like their lot in the life is the cause of a personal lack of spirituality?
Let's think about this. As a Christian, I should have Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling in me. Do we think that Jesus was never sad, angry, frustrated, scared, or worried? Quite the contrary. The gospels show us that He experienced all of those emotions at different times. And yet I believe He was indeed still perfect and He was a part of His Father.
There are times when I hear people teaching that, if Christ is truly in me, I should be happy and have no worries. And I do agree that my faith gives me assurance that God will provide. But that faith still does not eliminate the human emotions that even Jesus experienced when he was in this shell of an earthly body.
Folks can continue to preach prosperity or new age all they want but I personally am going to be okay with the fact that I have human emotions. God provided us with the Holy Spirit and Christian community to help us through those emotions and tough times. I don't really believe there is a magical switch to turn off those emotions and automatically become the smiling, happy, carefree Christian that folks teach me I should be. We are ultimately human and we are subject to the pains and difficulties of this world. I am not going to get down on myself because I feel the real things of this world. Instead, I am going to rejoice in the comfort, protection, and ultimate provision of a Father who loves me, human though I am.
Naming our cars was a big thing back in high school and college. I think it was because the cars we drove back then, like people, were pretty quirky. For many years, now, I have been blessed to drive newer cars that are usually pretty reliable. And, in general, I believe cars are considerably more reliable than they used to be.
I had a friend in college who had an old Bonneville or something that broke down or had flat tires with great regularity. We had a name for it. I can't remember the name but we had a name for it. I had another friend who had a Ventura. I convinced her that "Ventura" was Latin for "King of the Rats".
I do not remember having a name for the car I drove in high school but it was quirky. Every time it rained, I would have to spray the spark plug wires with Wire Drier to make it run. That was annoying but, that car? Well, she had personality.
I like quirky things. Things that are honest. Things that admit that we don't always run on all cylinders -- that our wires may be a little wet and our brakes may be a little squeaky. I respect that and like it.
I guess that I switched gears here from cars to people but those raw things -- our shortcomings and our foibles -- those create personality. They create honesty and authenticity.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that these days I have reliable transportation. But, still, my car today doesn't have the personality that my car 25 years ago did when I had to spray the wires every time it rained. Some cars today try to make up for lack of "personality" by having "attitude". That is a big automaker marketing ploy these days -- the "attitude" of their cars.
People try to make up for "personality" with "attitude," too. I don't care much for that. I don't want to go all pop culture on you but one of the American Idol finalists -- Danny Noriega -- tried to have "attitude" instead of "personality". When it came down to brass tacks, it didn't get him very far.
I long for more personality, more honesty, more openness, more authenticity and genuineness ... in cars and people. May I represent those things to the folks I encounter. Goodness knows, I have enough quirks!
We can only be effective for God when we are seeking Him.