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"Jesus was never interested in having fans. When he defines what kind of relationship he wants, "Enthusiastic Admirer" isnít an option. My concern is that many of our churches in America have gone from being sanctuaries to becoming stadiums. And every week all the fans come to the stadium where they cheer for Jesus but have no interest in truly following him. The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but arenít actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them." Kyle Idleman "Not a Fan" p. 25
One way fans try to follow Jesus without denying themselves is by compartmentalizing the areas of their lives they donít want him to have access to. They try to negotiate the terms of the deal. Iíll follow Jesus, but Iím not going to sell my possessions. Donít ask me to forgive the people who hurt me; they donít deserve that. Donít ask me to save sex for marriage; I canít help my desires. Donít ask me to give a percentage of my money; I worked hard for that cash. And instead of following Jesus with their financial life, they follow Money magazine. In their relationships, instead of Jesus they follow Oprah. In their sex lives, instead of following Jesus, they follow Cosmo. They follow Jesus, just not with every area of their lives.
Kyle Idleman, "Not a Fan" (p. 146)
Recently I heard Dieter Zander, the pastor of the first GenX church in America speak at a conference about reaching people in the age of relativism. He cited a Barna study that asked people to use single words to describe Jesus. They responded, "wise, accepting, compassionate, gracious, humble." Then he asked them to use single words to describe Christians, they said, "critical, exclusive, self righteous, narrow and repressive."
"There is a difference between knowing the good news and being the good news, Zander said. "We are the evidence! How we live our lives are the evidence. Everything counts--all the time."
"With previous generations, a strong preacher could give a good message, even if the church was hypocritical and critical and people would still get saved," Zander continued, "but not any more. I’m seeing a change in what seekers are looking for. Not something they can relate to. They are looking for a transcendent God. They don’t want to be entertained they want to be transformed."
Dr. S.M. Lockridge was the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, San Diego CA from 1953 - 1993. He entered heaven in 2000. He is well-known for a passage out of his sermon titled ďHeís My KingĒ:
ďHeís enduringly strong, Heís entirely sincere, Heís eternally steadfast. Heís immortally graceful. Heís imperially powerful. Heís impartially merciful. Heís Godís Son. Heís a sinnerís savior. Heís the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. Heís unparalleled. Heís unprecedented. Heís supreme. Heís preeminent. Heís the loftiest idea in literature. Heís the highest idea in philosophy. Heís the fundamental truth in theology. Heís the miracle of the age. Heís the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. Heís available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He guards and He guides. He heals the sick, He cleans the lepers. He forgives sinners, He discharges debtors, He delivers captives, He defends the feeble, He blesses the young, He serves the unfortunate, He regards the aged, He rewards the diligent, He beautifies the meek. Do you know Him?
Well, my king is the king of knowledge, Heís the well-spring of wisdom, Heís the doorway of deliverance, Heís the pathway of peace, Heís the roadway of righteousness, Heís the highway of holiness Heís the gateway of glory, Heís the master of the mighty, Heís the captain of the conquerors, Heís the head of the heroes, Heís the leader of the legislators, Heís the overseer of the overcomers, Heís the governor of governors, Heís the prince of princes, Heís the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
His life is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Well. I wish I could describe Him to you. But Heís indescribable. Yes. Heís incomprehensible. Heís invincible, Heís irresistible. Iím trying to tell you, the Heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explain Him. You canít get Him out of your mind. You canít get Him off of your hands. You canít outlive Him, and you canít live without Him. Well. The Pharisees couldnít stand Him, but they found out they couldnít stop Him. Pilate coul...
"God honors radical, risk-taking faith.
When arks are built, lives are saved. When soldiers march, Jerichos tumble.
When staffs are raised, seas still open.
When a lunch is shared, thousands are fed.
And when a garment is touched -- whether by the hand of an anemic woman in Galilee or by the prayers of a beggar in Bangladesh -- Jesus stops.
He stops and responds." (Lucado, 69)
A. Todd Coget
[Godís Favor toward Us, Citation: Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder (Word, 1995)]
There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to himself, to appease his justice, to demonstrate his sovereignty.
But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is because he is fond of you.
He likes having you around.
He thinks you are the best thing to come down the pike in quite a whileÖ.
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
Whenever you want to talk, heíll listen.
He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart.
And the Christmas gift he sent you in Bethlehem?
Face it, friend. Heís crazy about you!
A Thanks Offering For God's Grace
In this country, the entire nation celebrates Thanksgiving in November. Some celebrate by busily preparing food, watching football and gathering with family. These are great Thanksgiving celebrations. However, Christians have a greater blessing in the opportunity to give thanks to God. Whether people in this world want to recognize it or not, everything they own is given to them by the Lord and there is going to be a day when all will give an accounting.
Christians are thankful for God's saving grace.
Ephesians 2:8-10 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." This is one of the great evangelistic summaries in the Word of God. F.F. Bruce so wonderfully points out, "This is the watchword for the reformation theology: 'By grace alone, through faith alone, to God be the glory.'" The Bible teaches that everything Christians have comes by grace. "Grace" (charis) here affects man's sinfulness. It not only brings forgiveness to repentant sinners, but also joy from the Holy Spirit and heartfelt thankfulness to the Lord Jesus. This grace changes repentant sinners into new creations without destroying their individuality.
Those who live on this earth were marked by sin that came down to them as a curse from the time of Adam. It was decided and agreed upon by God the Father, Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit that Jesus would come to earth and redeem sinful mankind from willful sin. Christians have been saved by grace and they are sustained only by the grace of God. The precious children of God feast from the manna of God's Word daily, just as Mephibosheth did at King David's table. And there will be that day when all who have Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord will be eating at that geatest Thanksgiving feast, the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb of God." What a day that will be!
Does your life Express God's Grace?
I WILL NOT OFFER ANYTHING THAT COSTS ME NOTHING
Matthew Rogers writes:
When I consider the story of that first Palm Sunday, I am struck by the thought thatÖ
A coat might not be worth much after a donkey walks on it. In a crowd like that there was no guarantee that once you laid it down you were ever going to get it back.
For some reason, the text leads me to believe those people probably werenít real interested in coats at that moment when Jesus rode by. No, these people, many of them probably very poor, werenít as concerned about coats as they were about praise.
For the people on Palm Sunday, praising Jesus might have cost them something. That sounds a li...
What Changed at Easter?
Quest Study Bible notes this about the question, "What changed at Easter, this pivotal point in history?"
"The resurrection vindicated Jesus' claims about himself, that he was the Son of God in the flesh, the fulfillment of Godís dealings with humankind. No longer would people have to follow rules and traditions to find salvation (Col. 2:20-23). The old covenant had been superseded by the new and the proof was in the resurrection. Because Jesus lives, he is the Messiah, the one to trust.
Another way to look at this question is to ask what would be different if Jesus had not risen from the dead. If there had been no resurrection, Christianity as we know it would not exist. At most, Christians would be following the teachings of just another popular rabbi. His words merely would have joined the countless words of other religious writings. People would be left with no other option for salvation then to strive for absolute obedience.
But the resurrection changed everything. People follow Christ's teachings, not to BECOME saved, but because they ARE saved. They've discovered something even better than knowing WORDS; they've found what it means to know HIM! Because he was raised from the dead, we can be too. We can live-really live-both now and through all eternity." (1463)
I found a great article which addresses the question ďDoes God Play Favorites? On page 1562 in the Quest Study Bible: Listen to what it says: The whole Bible teaches that God is fair and just (Psalm 11:7). It also states that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23), but that he wants all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, the idea of Godís purpose in election (v. 11) raises some hard questions, such as ďHow can God choose some and pass on others?Ē People have attempted to explain Godís election in several ways. Some hold the view that God elects some to be saved because he knows beforehand that they will choose to accept Christ (8:29). Their election, according to this view, is based on Godís foreknowledge (Arminianism). Others conclude that God, in his wise and sovereign will, chooses some but not others for reasons we cannot understand. His selection may seem unfair, but that is simply because we have limited perspective. Humans, bound in sin. Do not naturally seek God (3:11), but when Godís grace comes to the elect, it frees them to choose God (Calvinism). Still others emphasize that God elected Jesus, his Son, and that all those who are in Christ by faith share in that corporate election. What about Pharaoh (vv. 17-18)? While the Bible clearly states that God hardened Pharaohís heart (v. 18; see Exodus 9:12), it also records Pharaohís own decision to harden his heart (Exodus 8:15). The mystery of how God works in election is not easily resolved. Difficult questions continue to confound us. In the end we may need to confess that our understanding is limited, that we may be missing some key part of Godís plan that would allow us to understand election better (page 1562, Quest Study Bible).