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Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

Just when I decide to get up and go, when I resolve to cross that bridge and move toward a wide open field and those greener pastures, right at my point of new beginning — there is a troll under the bridge.

Blocking my path, shouting words of intimidation, he is going to roast me, toast me, and eat most of me.  His growls and threats keep me from crossing over, keep me in this dry land.  Like a prison without walls, his words paralyze me and leave me to forage among the thorns for something to satisfy my hunger.

The story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is a tale that connects with most every child.  We all remember what it was like to be bullied, to feel too small, and to look across the bridge at a green field we may never get to eat from.  We have all carried the need for a big brother billy goat to fight our troll for us.

And then we grew up.  And the stories that once brought us comfort began to gather dust on our shelves as we set out to fight our own battles, to cross our own bridges, and find our own green pastures.  It didn’t take long before a few disappointments and one too many betrayals left us standing again in a barren field.

Once again, we muster what little courage remains, surprised by the familiar “tip tap” of our feet as we try to cross that bridge.  And once again the roar gurgles out, “Who’s that crossing my bridge?  I’ll eat you up!”

Maybe I should just stop these foolish attempts, maybe I should just give up and come to terms with living a small unsatisfied life in this mundane world.  Or maybe not.

Maybe I should head back to the bookshelf.  Maybe I should dust off that old children’s story and remember how it goes one more time.  Maybe I should remember that I do have a big brother, and He did knock that troll into oblivion, and I can cross that bridge!

Those shouts from under the bridge are only echoes, a fleeting voice trying desperately to maintain its grip of fear over you.  Those words have lost their teeth.  They can bark, but they can’t bite you anymore.  That old troll is not still under the bridge.

So today is the day.  It is time to get up.  It is time to cross that bridge and enjoy the green pastures that wait for you on the other side.  It is time to go.

“So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers…He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  (Hebrews 2:11-15)

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The Roman RoadIf yesterday’s message left you wanting to close the door of sin in your life— that’s really good.  If it left you wanting to put out the welcome mat for God’s presence at the door of your heart— that’s great.  If it left you aching to share what Jesus did on the cross with someone you know— that’s tremendous.

Here’s a tool called the “Roman Road” to help you do that. It’s just a road map, really, through the pages of Romans that can keep you focused as you talk through the amazing gift of salvation with someone who needs to hear it.  Print it out and keep it handy, jot it down in the back of your Bible, put it in your smartphone, or memorize it completely.  But, whatever you do, be prepared to testify about how this journey has changed your life and get ready to see it transform someone else’s.

  • Romans 3:23
    For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  • Romans 6:23
    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Romans 5:8
    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • Romans 10:9-10
    That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

 

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I sure don’t want to come across as spiritually egotistical, but my Lord is amazing.  Everything about Jesus is wonderful.  My life is better because of Him — and I believe yours could be too!

The book of Hebrews paints some beautiful pictures of the majesty and superiority of Jesus.  Here’s a collection of verses I simply title “Jesus is Better.”

  • So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.  — Hebrews 1:4 (NIV)
  • (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.  — Hebrews 7:19 (NIV)
  • Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.  — Hebrews 7:22 (NIV)
  • But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.  — Hebrews 8:6 (NIV)
  • It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  — Hebrews 9:23 (NIV)
  • You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  — Hebrews 10:34 (NIV)
  • Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  — Hebrews 11:16 (NIV)
  • Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.  — Hebrews 11:35 (NIV)
  • God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  — Hebrews 11:40 (NIV)

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ fill you with hope.  May you come to know how much better life can be when you yield the throne of your heart to Jesus.  And may your day of discovery come soon!

 

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“So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do.”  Hebrews 3:1-2 (The Message)

As you take a good hard look at Jesus this week, I invite you to review these blog posts to renew the wow factor in your heart of the amazing love of our amazing King!

 

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In the 25th chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus tells an intriguing story.  He introduces us to two servants who are each given a certain amount of talents by their master.  They each invest the money wisely and double what was given to them.

There is also a third servant in the story, a man who received one talent.  This man took his talent and buried it in the ground.  Listen to the words of the third servant:

“I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.”

Those are painful words.  Those are convicting words.

As a servant of Jesus, I pray those words will not be my declaration before my Lord.  As a pastor, it is my sincere prayer those words will not be your declaration before our Lord.

My friends, God has made a deposit into your life, a good deposit.  And He is looking for a return on His investment.  He has a right to expect you to bear good fruit.

Have the circumstances of your life caused you to bury the talent Jesus has given you?  “I was afraid…I was too busy…I was hurt…I was offended…I was (insert excuse hear)…and went out and hid my talent in the ground.”

Don’t you think it’s time to break out your shovel, dig up those talents, and invest them in the Kingdom of God?

 

 

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Have you ever noticed God likes shepherds?  Over and over again, He shares his heart with them.  First, there’s Abraham.  Then Moses.  Then David.  Then the shepherding prophets.  And finally a group keeping watch over their sheep on a hillside over 2,000 years ago.

Ever wondered why God seems to favor this occupation when He’s looking for someone to reveal His plans and thoughts to?  Maybe it’s because their heart looks a lot like His.  He is, after all, a very good shepherd.  And if you’re wanting to “be about your Father’s business,” then He’s called you to be one, too.

Here’s a few shepherd pointers:

  1. Shepherds protect.  At all costs, they are ready to lay down their life for the sheep.  Are there sheep in your life you need to protect?  Maybe you need to evaluate the state of your flock and see if an enemy has come into the fold that needs to be expelled.
  2. Shepherds pursue.  No matter what the lost sheep has done or not done, the shepherd goes after it.  It’s unconditional love, and it can hurt to give, but sometimes it’s the only way to see sheep returned to the fold.  Have you written someone off as a lost cause?  Go after them with the love of a shepherd.  Even if the only way to pursue them is with prayer, it will be worth it.
  3. Shepherds proclaim.  Yep, they spread the good news.  And what good news you have for those around you!  When’s the last time you shared with someone the love God has for them?  The Great Shepherd is counting on you to share his heart with the “sheep” he brings into your life.

Don’t fall asleep on your watch.  Just like some shepherds 2,000 years ago, there’s joy in the Heavens when you hear the word of the Lord and obey it.

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Yesterday, we lit the “Bethlehem” candle for the second week of Advent.  It’s the week we remember the faith of Mary and Joseph—and what faith that was!  Is easy for us to forget how impossible the word was they were asked to believe.  And not just believe, but act on.  And not just act on, but be ridiculed for.  After all, no one was really prepared for God’s plan.  No one expected an unwed teen girl to give birth to the Messiah.  No one expected the Savior’s earthly caregiver would be a poor carpenter.  No one expected the King of Kings to be born in a stable amongst the barn animals.  And no one expected the Lord of Lord’s welcoming committee to be a group of rag-tag shepherds.

But, Mary and Joseph heard the word of the Lord.  They took it in, let it change them, and obeyed it– even at great personal cost.  And the beautiful thing is it was their very obedience that paved the way for their own salvation.  The manger made the resurrection possible.

God hasn’t asked you to give birth to the Christ in a stable, but He’s definitely asked you to do something.  And it’s probably something you weren’t expecting.  How do I know?  Because He’s not a tame God.  His ideas are wild, adventurous, and beautiful.

How will you respond to His word over your life?  Will you take it in, let it change you, and obey?  One thing’s for sure.  You’ll never experience the glory of resurrection in your life if you’re not willing to undertake some manger experiences.

 

 

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