22
Jul
14

Little Children Are Believers

Little children are believers.  Their wide-eyed innocence allows them to see and believe things that are so hard for adults to accept.  SPOILER ALERT: If you are a believer in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, the next sentences might ruin your day!  Children will believe that a jolly fat man can deliver billions of presents in one night or that a magical fairy brings them money for their teeth.  Why don’t we believe these things as adults?  It is because as we grow in knowledge and maturity, we just know that such things are impossible.  Do we do the same thing with God?
Little children are believers.  They believe in God.  It isn’t until we reach our teen years and God is no longer “cool” that the first bits of doubt creep into our minds.  Something tragic will happen in our lives and we’ll start to doubt whether or not God exists.  We’ll question and we’ll wonder if any of it is true.  Is there anything wrong with doubting or questioning?  I don’t think that there is, as long as we’re willing to do the hard work of researching the answers for which we’re looking.  It’s one thing to doubt whether or not something is true and another thing entirely to search for the truth.
Little children are believers.  They’ll sit in Sunday School classes and hear stories of men being swallowed by fish and 5,000 people being fed with loaves and fishes and they’ll believe it.  Even if they’ve never seen it, they believe it.  Even though they haven’t seen God, they believe in Him.  Even though they’ve never met Jesus, they believe that He loves them.
And He does.
And He loves you, too.
Even when you question and doubt.
Especially when you question and doubt.
God is merciful to us when we doubt.  He gently and softly whispers, “I AM and I love you.”
Perhaps today is a day to set aside the questions and doubts for a few moments and with simple, childlike faith say, “I believe.”
Luke 18:15-17 (NIV)
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
21
Jul
14

The Joy Giver

The sermon from Griffith First Christian Church (www.gfcc.net) in Griffith, Indiana from July 20, 2014.

21
Jul
14

You Think You’re Better Than Me?

Jesus often turned the tables on the conventional thinking of His day.  The Pharisees were honored and looked up to and the tax collectors were despised and looked down upon.  People don’t know what goes on in the hearts of other people.  You and I cannot see what is going on in the souls of those around us.  I love the way that Luke describes the Pharisees in verse 9.  They…:

were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else​… – Luke 18:9 (NIV)​

So Jesus tells them a story.  Two men go to the temple to pray.  One is admired by men and the other is loathed.  God knows the heart, though.  The Pharisee boasts about himself and his righteous acts.  The tax collector throws himself upon the mercy of God, knowing that he is unworthy to be in God’s presence.
When we get to the point of thinking that we’ve somehow earned grace by our good deeds or righteous acts, we’ve missed the mark.  When we get to the place where we believe that we are better than anyone else because of our righteousness, we are pridefully sinning.  Our job is not to judge others based on outward appearances for God knows the hearts of us all.  Let God be the judge and let us throw ourselves on His mercy for we all are in need of it.

Luke 18:9-14 (NIV)

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

16
Jul
14

Faithful In Prayer

To me, prayer is a mystery.  I find that Jesus’ teachings on prayer help me understand prayer a little bit better, but don’t quite answer all of my questions regarding the subject.  One of the questions I have involves how many prayers do I need to pray about someone or something?  If I pray for someone who is having surgery once, is that all it takes?  Do I need to pray several prayers for that person to get God’s attention or to get the answer I am seeking?  In the Old Testament, pagan people would go to crazy lengths to get the attention of their gods to no avail.  They would cut themselves and dance and plead with their gods and nothing would happen.  Are we any different with regard to prayer?  We beg and plead and we attempt to make deals with the Lord to get Him to answer in the affirmative.  We’ll ask many people to pray in the hopes that the more people who pray, the better chance God will answer how we want Him to answer.  Like I said, to me, prayer is a mystery.
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells a parable about prayer.  An unjust judge who did not fear God had a problem.  There was a widow who came to him over and over again asking for justice against her adversary.  The judge refuses because he is not a good judge.  Eventually the woman wears the judge out and he gets sick and tired of this routine.  So he grants her justice, even though he is an unjust judge.  Luke says that the point of this parable is that we “should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1, NIV).  God is just and is nothing like the unjust judge.  He does care about people and justice and will hear and answer our prayers.  Though we may not understand all of the intricacies and mysteries of prayer, we should not give up on praying.  Prayer is a vital part of our relationship with God.  Let us seek to pray according to God’s will, not our own.  James 4 talks about how we should always pray according to the will of God.  If it is God’s will, let it be done.  Let us strive to be faithful pray-ers.  That way, when the Son of Man comes, He will find faith on the earth.

Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

15
Jul
14

All Eyes On Jesus

What was it like in the days of Noah and Lot?  It was like it is today.  Yet when the floods came upon the earth and the fire rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, the people were taken by surprise.  That is, the people who didn’t know God were taken by surprise.  Noah was in the ark.  Lot was on his way out of town.  Jesus says that it will be like this when He comes.  The wicked will be destroyed and the righteous will be protected.
Jesus says that one will be taken and the other left behind.  He says that trying to save one’s life leads to destruction.  He points to Lot’s wife as a sign that the one who clings to the things of earth will be destroyed.  May we who follow Jesus keep our eyes on Him.  No turning back.  No turning back.  Then, when He comes, we will not be taken by surprise.  Our eyes will have been looking for Him all along.

Luke 17:26-37 (NIV)

26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife!33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

37 “Where, Lord?” they asked.

He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”

14
Jul
14

He Is Coming

The Pharisees were inquiring of Jesus as to when the Kingdom of God would come.  Jesus had been preaching about the Kingdom of God since His baptism.  He was the living embodiment of the rule and reign of God and yet they missed it.  He then turns to His disciples and essentially tells them that He is the Messiah.  He talks about His Second Coming and how it will be visible to all.  As lightning lights up the entire sky, so will His return.
Jesus is telling His disciples not to be deceived by those who claim that the Messiah is over here or over there.  There is not a secret Second Coming.  When He returns, everyone will know it.  Do not believe false prophets who claim to know when Jesus will return.  Do not believe false teachers who say that Jesus will not return.  Jesus is coming just as He said.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
    and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
    and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen. – Revelation 1:7 (NIV)

The Lord will return, my friends.  He said it and it will happen.  Every eye will see Him and then every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.
Luke 17:20-25 (NIV)

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed,21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

11
Jul
14

10% Gratitude

​In Luke 17, we read a story about gratitude.  Jesus healed 10 lepers of their disease and sent them to the priests to show them that they had been healed and cleansed.  Their lives had been changed!  Hope had been restored!  Their bodies had been made whole!  Yet only one returned to thank Jesus for this restoration of hope.  You would think that they would be tripping over each other to get back to Jesus to say, “Thank You, Master!”  Yet only one falls at His feet.

Are we any different?  Our lives have been changed.  We have been given hope.  Our hearts and souls have been healed.  How often do we thank God for His salvation that He gave us through Jesus?  Sadly, we take His grace for granted.  We forget the cost of our salvation and hope.  Jesus suffered for our sake and we be-bop through life as though it were no big deal.  10% of those who were healed in this story said, “Thank You.”  Do we even say, “Thank You” 10% of the time in our lives?
Let us strive to live lives of gratitude and thankfulness for what Christ has done on our behalf.  He has rescued us and saved us from certain doom and destruction.  We have the hope of eternal life with Him because of His sacrifice on the cross for our sins.  Our sins are forgiven and we have been set free.  Let us be truly thankful…

Luke 17:11-19 (NIV)

Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”




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