While We Wait

2 Peter

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Friday, July 14

During high school, I would bring my Bible to study during lunch and free time. Numerous people would ask me why I would put my faith in a book that was written by various authors and not “actually written by God.” I always tried to defend why I believed what the Bible told me but felt like I wasn’t explaining it correctly. 2 Peter 1:20-21 states that we “must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Had I come along this passage while defending the Bible, it would have been a lot simpler to explain my reasoning.

Being mature in our faith and living Godly lives is imperative these days due to the fact that God and Jesus will soon return. We are to “make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if we possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV). The reason we should ensure that we are living to the standards set for us by God is because there are false teachers in the world who will try and lead us astray. These teachers will tell lies that seem to be true, but will also deny the Lord and live sinful lifestyles. The people that are most vulnerable to this destruction are those who don’t have solid foundation in Biblical teaching.
While we wait for the day of the Lord to arrive, we need to “be on our guard so that we may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from our secure position. But we should grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18 NIV). Today, I want you to take the time and ask God to show you how to live a life pleasing to Him and ask Him for forgiveness of your sins. He doesn’t want any of us to perish and wants everyone to repent. I look forward to when God and Jesus come back to make the Kingdom here on earth and pray that we all have salvation! May God bless you today and always. Amen.
-Cynthia Fyfe
(Photo Credit: https://dailyverses.net/2-peter/3/9)
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Keep at It!

1 Corinthians 14-16

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Wednesday, June 21

 

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.      1 Corinthians 15:58

 

Do you ever wonder if what you are doing for the Lord is having any effect at all? Ever wonder if your efforts are having any impact, or if they really matter? Sometimes it might feel like we are just “spinning our wheels” doing things for the Lord because we are not seeing any noticeable difference.

 

What can happen is that we set our expectations as the sole metric for gauging whether we are being successful in our endeavors for the Lord. It is almost as if when we don’t see the fruit we are looking for, we conclude that we must not be doing a very good job. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

 

Back in chapter 3 of this letter, Paul described how he viewed himself as contributing to the spread of the gospel as one among many workers laboring for the Lord. He saw his labor as only one part of a system comprised of many other laborers, which all culminated in the advancement and increase of the gospel message as God caused the labor to bear fruit.

 

1 Corinthians 3:6-8

I planted, lApollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.

 

It wasn’t Paul’s personal effectiveness that mattered; it wasn’t how good he was at winning souls to the Lord, or building up and strengthening believers on his own effort alone. What mattered was how his efforts were part of a larger picture of the way the Lord is at work in what he has called each person to do in order to bring others to faith or to help them grow in their faith. And most times, one’s efforts do not produce visible fruit immediately but take time to cultivate and grow in a person’s heart. That is why Paul saw himself as part of a system where soil is prepared, seed is sown, and the earth is watered and then from that comes the growth of a seedling that must be nurtured further so that it can grow tall and strong and bear fruit.

 

Therefore, we must never discredit how important the work is we do for the Lord no matter how insignificant it might seem in our eyes. God has need of each of us, and he calls us to serve him in specific ways that are unique. But we have to remember that our labor is not the end-all-be-all. We might be performing the first stage of preparing the soil, or we might be watering a seed that was sown by someone else long before our time.

 

Paul declares that our labor in the Lord is not in vain because every act that we do in love and with humility and meekness is an act that the Lord can use to produce growth in that person that ultimately glorifies him. So don’t be quick to judge that what you do for the Lord is not working if you don’t see the results you think you should expect to see. Continue serving and giving and be proud to be a worker in God’s vineyard, knowing that your work all contributes to the Lord’s harvest and the glory of his kingdom.

 

-Jerry Wierwille

 

(Photo Credit: http://www.dailylifeverse.com/posts/2016/03/1-corinthians-15-58)

The Importance of “the”

John 14-15

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Wednesday, May 31

We live in a world where diversity, multiculturalism and relativism rule the day. In some respects this is not bad. Having a variety of opinions in the “market place of ideas” means that the best are used, recycled, reused, adapted, interpreted, and used again. In short, the best ideas, the best inventions, the best of the best succeed. Diversity should be a part of our society we embrace; indeed the Kingdom is made up of people “from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Rev. 5:9) God delights in the diversity of tribes, where people look and think and act differently from one another. He glories in the diverse languages we use to bless Him and our fellow humans. He loves all peoples, all nations. We praise God for the diversity of humanity we see in creation. But is this true in every situation? Is diversity always acceptable? Because of some of the claims of Jesus, I am inclined to say that no, not all types of diversity are acceptable. What could I possibly be talking about? If you haven’t read John 14:1-6 yet, please do. As you read it, what strikes you about this teaching of Jesus?
Notice that there are a few words Jesus repeats a couple times. Jesus has said a few times that he is going away and his disciples know the way he is going. But Thomas, the doubter a few chapters later, asks a REALLY good question “How can we know the way if you’ve been speaking in riddles?!”(14:5) Jesus up until this point, it seems has been withholding what would happen to him other than expressing it as being “glorified” or literally, “lifted up” (John 3:14, 7:39, 11:4, 12:23-34, and on). But Jesus is talking about his death. He is going away to the Father, to glory, by way of death. Jesus is say “You know the way to the Father, to eternal life.” Thomas, expressing his wonder, exclaims how can we get to the Father, how can we have eternal life?
And then Jesus says that “Well, all paths lead to life. As long as you sincerely believe whatever you believe and you don’t harm or judge anyone else, you’ll get eternal life.” Right?! That’s what we would expect if all the diversity and relativism in our society was correct. But Jesus says some stuff that really ruffles some feathers if we understand it. If you actually read the verses, or if you have memorized this verse (good on you if you have!) John 14:6 reads “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus used something grammarians (people who study grammar and language, like dorks like me) like to call “the definite article.” Normal people call it the word “the”. Each word in this list of three gets a definite article: the way, the truth, the life. I want you to get the importance of what this means. Jesus is not saying that his life is just “a life.” The life he has been promising, this eternal life, is the only life. There is only one life, and he is THE life. No others, no others compare. Jesus and his teachings are not “a truth” in a market place of truths, where you can pick which ones work for you and which ones don’t. Jesus claims he is THE truth. Buddha, the Gurus, Muhammad and other religious leaders or movements are not competing with Jesus in the matters of truth. Jesus is TRUTH, and the source of all truth. As far as they align with Jesus they are correct and when they differ with Jesus, they are in error. Jesus is the standard for truth, no one and nothing else. Jesus is not claiming to be “a way” to God. The analogy that Jesus is “one path up the mountain to God” could not be farther from the words of Jesus himself. Jesus said that he is the ONLY way to his Father, who is the only true God. (John 17:3) When you walk on the path of Islam, the path of secular humanism, the path of Buddhism, your path does not lead to the Father, according to Jesus.
And that is the shocking thing about this. I am not making these claims on behalf of Jesus. I don’t have to try and defend these claims on my own authority or reason or anything. Jesus himself made these claims, and the most shocking claim that anyone who comes to the Father comes only through him. Anyone who will be saved in the final days do not do it because they are really great Muslims, devoted Buddhists or EVEN great Christians. The only reason anyone will ever be given eternal life, the only reason anyone will live in the Kingdom, the only reason is Jesus Christ himself. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Belief in Christ, trust in him, love in him is the only way to life.
If this offends your modern sensibilities, trust me, it offended me, too! Jesus is claiming that he is better than all other religions and leaders and rulers and law-givers! How? But remember, we are not talking about one more leader or ruler or religious man or law giver. John testifies that Jesus is the Word, the Logos of God, made flesh among us. All the wisdom, power, planning, and thoughts of God take on flesh in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the perfect representation of the very nature of God, he is the image of God in skin and bones walking around. Instead of taking offense at Jesus and his hard teachings, as so many do, this teaching should cause us to fall down and worship and be grateful that God showed us any way to eternal life, and that Jesus is not restrictive in who can come to him. All who are weary and heavy laden, he will give rest. He will give life to as many as call on him, as many as trust that he is exactly who he claimed to be. Let us praise God that he has revealed to us Jesus as a gracious and merciful Lord, the one who is “the way and the truth and the life.” Let each and every one of us come to God through the name of Jesus Christ!
-Jake Ballard

Got To Tell Somebody!

Luke 10-11

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May 18, 2017

Have you ever tried to go evangelizing by yourself? Its terrifying! Unless that is your gift and it just comes naturally, evangelism can be pretty intimidating. Especially when you are trying to get people to see that they may not be right about a certain issue or topic. Even though we have carefully thought out every verse and illustration it always seems to fail. I think Jesus knew this because of Luke 10:1-16.

Although it was customary to send two people on journeys to deliver messages, I think Jesus knew this way of evangelism would boost the confidence of the messengers. This section of verses causes me to think about being more intentional about evangelizing and talking to others about my faith, but approaching it with a friend or mentor in the faith.
Though, when we fail, even together, we should understand that we will not reach everybody. That is what the last part of this passage is talking about when it mentions “wiping off the dust that clings to your feet”. Not everyone we talk to can or will be convinced by us.
When will be the next or first time you intentionally go tell people about the Kingdom?
-Jesse Allen
(Photo Credit: https://engageworship.org/ideas/luke-10-visual-reflection)

Are You Ready?

Matthew 23-24

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Friday, May 5

What would you do if you found out that Jesus was returning in one week?  If you would go out and buy a Corvette, finish the last 3 seasons of The Office on Netflix, and eat as much chocolate as possible, Christianity might not be for you.  I don’t have an issue with people buying cars, watching television, or eating chocolate, but you shouldn’t gorge on pleasure no matter when he is coming back.  I suspect many of you would try to make things right with God and try to convince some people that they should accept Christ as their savior.  You might take the time to talk with that family member or friend that is not saved yet.  The point is that there would probably be more urgency in sharing the gospel for most of us.

The second question to think about is, “Should I really live my life any differently now (not knowing when Christ will return) than if I knew Christ was coming back in a week?”  Should there be just as much urgency?  I think there could be some differences.  For instance, if you knew Christ was coming back now, you would probably quit your job or stop going to school, which is probably not a good idea to do now since we don’t know when he will return.  However, I think an increased sense of urgency about getting your life right with God and talking to others about the kingdom should always be present in our lives.  We don’t know when Christ is going to return, we don’t know when our friends and family are going to die, we don’t know when we are going to die, and there are more people that need to hear about the gospel than we personally have time to tell all of them.

Jesus talks about people behaving poorly if they think their master will not be returning for a long time in Matthew 24:42-51.  He mentions they will be sent to a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  I think you know he is talking about h… e…double hockey stick.  He tells us to always be alert since we do not know when he is going to return.  Part of being alert is to take the precautions necessary in case he is coming back this week.  Get your life right with God NOW and go talk to that family member or friend before it is too late.

-Rick McClain

 

(Photo Credit: http://www.dailylifeverse.com/posts/2015/02/matthew-24-42)

One Track Mind

Matthew 13-14

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Monday, May 1

I think it would have been an incredible experience to hear Jesus talk when he was here on earth.  His ministry did not last a real long time, but he did have the opportunity to talk to many people while he was here.  I think it is safe to assume that in his limited time teaching the multitudes, he focused on what was most important for them to know.  He often used parables to make the teaching more understandable.  In Matthew 13, Jesus shared 7 different parables with the people.  Let’s find out what he thought was important to share:

Parable of the Sower:  this was a parable about how different people respond when they hear the kingdom message.

Parable of Tares Among Wheat:  the kingdom of heaven was compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but the enemy also sowed tares in the same field.

Parable of the Mustard Seed:  the kingdom of heaven is compared to a mustard seed.

Parable of the Leaven:  the kingdom of heaven is like leaven.

Parable of the Hidden Treasure:  the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.

Parable of the Costly Pearl:  the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls.

Parable of a Dragnet:  the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea and gathering fish of every kind.

It is pretty plain to see what Jesus’ most important message was about.  He had a one track mind about the kingdom.  He would not stop talking about the kingdom.  He talked about the kingdom over and over and over and over; seven times in chapter 13 alone.  This same message is just as relevant today as it was then because the chance to live in the kingdom is still attainable today.  This has to be our number one message the same way as it was Jesus’ number one message.

A couple other incredible experiences would have been to see Jesus feeding the 5,000+ and Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14.  I have questions about these events.  Did anyone actually see the bread multiply with their own eyes (that would have been cool)?  Did they cook the fish or just eat it raw?  Without television or movies, how did the disciples know about ghosts (they thought Jesus was a ghost when he was walking toward them on the water)?  Had they seen ghosts before?  Are ghosts real?  When Jesus walked on the water did he move up and down with the waves or was it more of a steady/smooth walk?  How did Jesus know that Peter lost faith when he started sinking?  Did Jesus actually know what was in Peter’s mind or did God know what was in Peter’s mind and Jesus then figured out what was happening when he saw him sinking?  Perhaps you did not have all of the same questions that I had, but thank you for reading this far.

The main lesson to learn from chapter 14 is about faith.  Peter was able to walk on water until his faith weakened and many people were healed when they had faith they would be healed when they touched Jesus’ cloak.  Another lesson to learn in chapter 14 is to not trust women who please you with their dancing, but I will let you read about that yourself.

-Rick McClain

 

(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/matthew-13-2016/)

All-Star Team

Matthew 10-12

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Sunday, April 30

Suppose you were given the task of building a team that was responsible for learning some teachings and convincing everyone else in the world that those teachings were true.  What kind of people would you pick for this team?  I would go with an all-star team of doctors, lawyers, scholars, politicians, successful business people, and someone famous.  Jesus had this same task, but he built an all-star team of fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, probably some tradesmen, and more fishermen.  These were the occupations of the twelve disciples.  Think about how unremarkable this group was, and yet they were chosen to carry out probably the most important job in the history of mankind, to spread the gospel to the whole world.  They were ordinary people on an extraordinary mission.

And guess what…the mission is not over, especially considering there are about seven billion people alive today that were not living a couple thousand years ago.  I’m pretty sure all of the disciples died so they are not able to help with the work anymore.  God needs a team now to carry on the mission and I suspect he is still counting on ordinary people to join the team.  Yes, I am talking about you.  God wants you to help preach the gospel to all of the nations.

But what is the message?  In Matthew 10:12, Jesus said he wanted them to go out and preach about the kingdom.  He wanted to make sure that everyone knew about the coming kingdom.  Is everyone going to accept the message?  Absolutely not.  Jesus said if they don’t accept the message, shake off the dust of your feet and move on to the next place.  It might seem odd that Jesus was sending them to places where they would be rejected, but he still thought it was important that everyone should hear the message so they can make the choice themselves.  If someone doesn’t hear about the kingdom, they don’t have a chance to accept the kingdom message.

Is it going to be easy?  Nope.  Jesus said we are like sheep in the midst of wolves.  He told us that it won’t be easy, and in fact, it could be dangerous.  Moreover, if you choose to be on this team, the message is not always viewed favorably and your own family may hate you for it, even to the point of your own family having you killed.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:11 that no one was ever greater than John the Baptist, yet his life ended when they chopped off his head.  However, Jesus tells us the good news in Matthew 10:39, “He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake shall find it.”

In Matthew 12:19, it talks about Jesus’ approach.  He won’t quarrel or cry out, and nobody in the streets will hear his voice.  I believe this is our model of how to spread the gospel message.  We are not looking for a fight.  We don’t have to get angry with people because they disagree with us.  We do not have to stand on street corners and scream at people that they are going to hell if they don’t repent.  We just need to speak the truth in love.  Explain to people what is going to happen in the future, especially what happens to them after they die.  Tell them about the kingdom and how to attain salvation.  If they are not interested in what you are saying, move on.  There is no need for a heated debate and there is no need to keep pestering them.  Just shake off the dust and move on.  You can feel good that you gave them a chance for eternal life.  The only time you should feel bad is when you had the opportunity to talk to someone and kept silent.  What if they would have embraced the gospel message, but nobody ever gave them that chance?  That would be a tragedy to let someone die eternally without ever trying to save them.

Fortunately, it is not our responsibility to make sure others attain salvation.  It is only our responsibility to make sure they hear the gospel message.  Don’t put any pressure on yourself for results.  It is only your job to make sure that people have a choice and they don’t have a choice unless someone tells them about the choice.  Matthew 12:50 says that whoever does the will of Jesus’ Father is a brother, sister, or mother of Jesus.  That is a family I hope you want to be a part of.

-Rick McClain

Bio:  Happily married, 4 kids, and 0 pets.  Enjoy sports, vacations, and romantic comedies.  Blood type is A positive.  Life Goal:  Get as many people in the kingdom as possible.