Tag Archives: Christ Jesus

To Him Be Glory in the Church!

For the past few weeks Joe has reminded us of a verse (3:20) from Paul’s prayer (3:14-21) written in his letter to the Ephesians.  I absolutely love this verse!  Paul gets caught up in the greatness of God and the power He supplies His people for His Kingdom purpose.  Joe used verse 20 because it is there that Paul makes his point about God’s ability to do immeasurably, unimaginably more than all we ask.  As we set our goal of living this Christian life Unleashed, let us by no means fix a limit in our minds of what God can do in us.

It may have occurred to you that verse 20 ends with a comma, at least in most versions.  Paul includes all three parts of the trinity to make his point for us, but I have to include verse 21 to show you.

“Now to him (God the Father) who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power (Holy Spirit) that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”(NIV) Eph 3:20-21

God sent the Holy Spirit for a solitary purpose –to glorify his Son, Jesus.  The purpose of God’s power, which is given us through the Holy Spirit, is to build His church and to bring glory to Him, in Christ Jesus.  We glorify Christ, Christ glorifies his Father.  Part of unleashing God’s power in our lives is that we align our motives with God’s purpose – “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus.”

Warren Wiersbe puts it this way; “If our motive is to glorify God by building His Church, then God will share His power with us.  The power of the Spirit is not a luxury; it is a necessity.”

To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations.

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The Music of Christmas

This past weekend the Choir and Drama teams presented our Christmas program.  What a fantastic job these wonderful people do each year!  I have such a privilege to work with singers and actors who love Christ and long to see Him lifted up.

Notice I purposefully used the word presented rather than performed.  In today’s culture, anything put to music is expected to be for the purpose of entertainment.  Entertainment is defined as [a : amusement or diversion provided especially by performers <hired a band to provide entertainment> b : something diverting or engaging: as: a public performance.]

We greatly desire to overcome this expectation for music and drama in the church. Our motivation is not to perform but to encourage.  I believe that churches should have a different motivation for the way they use music and drama.  We hope to see music used in the more Biblical practice of encouraging the fellowship of the family of believers – to remind ourselves and one another of the richness we have in Christ Jesus.  On Sunday, in particular, that we would Marvel at the Manger and how Jesus chose to come at the humblest of times in the poorest of places and present Himself to the least of all peoples.

The root word Entertain has a slightly different definition –[a : to keep, hold, or maintain in the mind <I entertain grave doubts about her sincerity> b : to receive and take into consideration.]  That is our goal! – to “maintain in the mind” that Christ is Lord – to “receive and take into consideration” that He Who was born in the manger was and IS the Son of God.  We use music and drama because it helps us in our efforts to “maintain in the mind” and “take into consideration.”

The challenge we undertake each year is to remind the body that Christ is the center, not only of Christmas, but of our very lives.  All of us need these constant reminders.  We long to lift Him up through the songs and scripts we present, but we also hope to use those songs and scripts to challenge the church body to lift Him up with their lives – to weave Jesus in to the fabric of their everyday lives.  Accordingly, on Sunday, we ended the morning with a congregational song declaring Jesus to be the Messiah.

Jesus Messiah
by Chris Tomlin | Daniel Carson | Ed Cash | Jesse Reeves

He became sin who knew no sin
That we might become His righteousness
He humbled Himself and carried the cross
Love so amazing love so amazing

His body the bread His blood the wine
Broken and poured out all for love
The whole earth trembled and the veil was torn
Love so amazing love so amazing

Jesus Messiah Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer Emmanuel
The Rescue for sinners
The Ransom from heaven
Jesus Messiah Lord of all
All our hope is in You
All our hope is in You
All the glory to You God
The Light of the world
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all
The Lord of all
The Lord of all

 

Lord of ALL! Lord of the season. Lord of the church.  Lord of our homes.  Lord of our song!  Lord of our friendships.  Lord of my life.  Lord of all we say and do.  He is the Messiah and He is LORD!

The Paradox Between Being Relational and Being Right

I see in my kids a reflection of myself.  We are caught in a paradox seeded in the blueprint of humanity.  An inner desire to be in relational conflicts with a passionate drive to be right.  For my kids, this comes out in epic sibling battles.

My kids love each other, and depend on that sibling relationship for encouragement.  Through their friendships with one another they gain an understanding of the world of High School and Middle School.  They share in common the burdens and blessings of being a child whose Dad is a Pastor of Worship.  They rely on each other to endure the German stubbornness and sometimes quick temper of their dad.

But, while they see their need for a sibling relationship, they are torn with a drive to be right.  Now, I don’t mean to say that they look for the right answer.  No, not at all.  They deeply desire to prove that the thoughts and opinions they start with are the right ones.  Scripture teaches that none of us, by nature, are right.  None of us, by nature, are even good.

Romans3:10 As the Scriptures say,
   “No one is righteous—
not even one.
11 No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.”
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “They rush to commit murder.
16 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18 “They have no fear of God at all.”

We were made to live in intimate relationship with our Creator.  Because of our sin nature it is impossible for us to have this Father/son/daughter relationship with God here in this life or in eternity.  This sin nature is our inheritance (Thanks grandpa Adam and grandma Eve). We have also inherited the penalty, which is death.

That sounds so harsh. “But, I’m a nice person.”  “I do more good stuff than bad.”  “I help the poor.  I go to church.”

Let me ask you a question.  Where did you ever get the idea that God has a scale and weighs your good things against the bad?  That’s not how it works. If the imagery of a scale helps your understanding of the judgement, then you should think of it like this.  If you were born standing one the side of the scale and you needed to throw your good deeds to the other side of the scale, you would not be strong enough to throw them that far. No matter how good your deed is, your arm isn’t strong enough. It’s not about how good your deeds are.  It’s about you not being able to reach the other side of the scale with them.

Romans 3:19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. 21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses[a] and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Jesus came and poured out His righteousness for us. He substituted Himself for us on the cross. He died in our place. Because we were helpless to do anything, He did it all.  Every ounce of our salvation is the work of Jesus.  You can’t do good enough works to earn it and you can’t do enough good works to prove it.  Try as you might, you can’t even live up to the laws we’ve been given.

 Romans2:23For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Made in the image of God to live in intimate relationship with God under the righteousness of God.  That relationship was broken by Adam who passed on to us an inheritance of unrighteousness. This unrighteousness first inherited then fully embraced by our own sinfulness. Jesus came to cleanse us from Adams stain and forgive our sins.  His work on the cross did it ALL!

I recently saw this tweet – “Supplementing God’s grace with your works is like supplementing the Arctic Circle with your ice chip.  You Are You Kidding?” – Scotty Ward Smith via twitter.


Do What Is Good

Every day you live, you can Make A Difference.  Each day holds new opportunities to do good.  Opportunities which are different for each of us and have specifically been designed for us.  In fact, you and I have appointments today with people whose names we do not yet know. And those appointments will call for us to “do good.” You’re skeptical, I can tell.  If you don’t believe me read this… Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planed for us long ago.”

We know our time on this earth is brief.  Scripture declares it and we see evidence everyday that life is short.  It would be such a waste to live that life only for ourselves, especially in the light of Eph 2:10. God has made us His masterpiece.  He specifically designed us to do the “good things” and he planned these “good things” long ago specifically for us.  WOW!
Another verse – This one’s a favorite. Galatians 6:9-10 “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.  Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.” YES! do good to everyone, ESPECIALLY other believers and DON’T EVER STOP doing good.
I believe that all of us want to do good.  But, in a world turned upside down, where evil is declared good and good is deemed offensive, it’s difficult to know where to begin.   Do you lack ideas in your personal campaign to do good?  Here are some starters.
Tithe to your church and then give above that.  Find a place to serve within your church and then find a 2nd place to serve.  Go to Bible Study and Worship faithfully, then stay a little longer to encourage others. Too easy?  Scripture does say “especially to those in the family of faith.”  We can’t just ignore that because it seems obvious.  We are biblical to start with these three things and springboard from them.
Now for the “don’t ever stop” part of the Galatians instruction – But lunch for a friend.  Serve the meal at a homeless shelter.  Invite friends over to dinner.  Send someone an encouraging message on facebook.  Send an elderly widow a bouquet of flowers.  Rake your neighbors yard when he is out of town.  Have a Daddy/Daughter date or a Mother/Son date.  Tell someone that Jesus loves them.  Hold the door for a stranger.  Sponsor a child.  Help an elderly shopper with his/her cart.  help a friend with a repair. Tell someone they are doing a great job.  Tell others that you love them.  Make A Difference.

Free – In Christ

Memorial day gives us a chance to remember. Did you remember yesterday? Did you thank a veteran? I spent a lot of time contemplating the cost of the freedoms I still get to enjoy. For men and women who took the stand for what they believed and for the many who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

I wondered what I would be willing to stand up for? I thought about how over the last couple decades we have seen certain freedoms taken away from us. I thought about how our founding fathers sought to set up a government of the people, for the people andbythe people and yet today, we see our government acting as if the people are here to support government rather than the other way around.

I considered how many freedoms I truly have because I am “In Christ.” He paid the ultimate price for my freedom and yours.

Romans 8:1-4
8Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,a2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,b God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.c And so he condemned sin in sinful man,d4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

So, we are no longer condemned because of what Christ has done. However, we are still persecuted. There are so many to whom the message of Christ and the Cross is foolishness.

1 Corinthians 1:18
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

What does this have to do with us? Though we seek to carry this message into a world that thinks us to be foolish, it’s Christ they’re rejecting and not us. So why should it matter to us?

How often do we temper our boldness because of the fear of rejection? How many times does our confidence wane when we face criticism?

See, that’s what I mean when I ask myself – What would I be willing to take a stand for? – What would I be willing to die for?

I am grateful for the veterans who have served and remember, with tears in my eyes, those who gave their lives for the freedom I currently enjoy. At the same time I’m reminded that this freedom is temporary. You can quote me on this – The United States of America will not last forever. In the historical scope of things we are a young nation. In our arrogance, however, we sometimes believe and act like this country will always be around and will always be free. Let’s not deceive ourselves. We know too well that some, or should we say, many of our freedoms are already gone.

In direct contrast, the freedom we have “in Christ” is eternal. In fact, it was established for the specific purpose of eternity. If the temporal freedoms of an earthly nation are worth standing up for, worth laying down ones life for then how much more is Christ and His cross worth standing up for? How much more is Christ worth laying down my life for?

Would you join me in these thoughts? I’m not seeking to devalue the sacrifice for country. I’m proud of our veterans! Could you die for Christ? Could you stand up for the church, for Christ and His cross in the face of persecution – in the face of death? I’d love to read your thoughts.


Up, Up and Away!

So many shows on television right now are built around the story of the main character/characters having some kind of super power. Chuck has downloaded a super spy database into his brain and can call upon special kung fu abilities he never learned, only downloaded. The Powell family gained their special powers from a plane crash, when a power giving serum was released into the air they breathed it in. Not long ago we were presented a show with the title Heroes.

Asa kid and even still, I love a good hero story. This summer we’ll see released at the box office, Thor, X-Men; First Class, Transformers; the Dark Side of the Moon, Green Lantern, Captain America, Kung Fu Panda 2, Cowboys and Aliens, Conan the Barbarian, the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie titled On Stranger Tides, and of course Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2.

So maybe I’m not the only one who loves a good story about a hero with extra special, supernatural abilities. But wouldn’t the worst story be one about a hero with super abilities that refused to use them. He/she was embarrassed and afraid people wouldn’t like them anymore or would talk bad about them. Perhaps they are proud and want to prove that they can do it all by themselves without their special powers. This is starting to sound familiar.

Don’t you and I live out this story everyday? When we try to do things on our own, when our heavenly Father is listening, waiting for us to call upon his name.

Romans 8:11 “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you! And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

There is power in the name of Jesus! There is healing in the name of Jesus! There is hope and life and deliverance in the name of Jesus! There is freedom, blessing, shelter, and peace in the name of Jesus!

Don’t forget it, don’t doubt it, don’t deny it, don’t suppress it.
Never be ashamed or embarrassed by His dwelling IN you.

Reject the notion that you have something to prove when you try and do it all by yourself. This is a foolish lie of our enemy, for he knows that where Jesus is at work (in YOU daily) that there Jesus will also be glorified. Our enemy is not interested in Jesus glory. When we do it all by ourselves, even when we succeed aren’t we glorifying ourselves? What’s the point of that?

Let’s glorify the One and only true Hero, the Savior, the Son of God, Christ Jesus, by letting Him live His life out through us. Let us embrace His indwelling Spirit that He might do all that He wills with our lives. Let’s put an end to this daydream of making ourselves the potter and get down to the business of being the clay.

(Is it just me or did that get too preachy?)

What do you think of this? Are you a hero fan too? Is Christ your ultimate Hero, worthy of the glory He earned by saving your life at the cross? Does He save you from something silly or serious everyday?


The World is Worshipping. Are You?

Something occurred to me over the weekend. I’m sure that I’ve tried to think this thought before, but a combination reading tweets and reading bloggers takes on the Oscars over the weekend caused me to have an epiphany. This is what the world worships; ENTERTAINMENT. At least, it is one of their idols or false gods.

Actors and Actresses on a “silver screen” or on the “idiot box” getting our love.
Athletes and Ballplayers on a court a diamond or a field getting our praise.

I am under the same self condemnation as Paul spoke:
1 Timothy 1:15
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.

Yes I love the movies and tv shows. I watched “True Grit” and enjoyed myself immensely. Our whole family watched Toy Story 3D this past year and it was a great entertainment experience. And I’m seriously considering talking my wife to see “The Kings Speech.” I am a huge fan and follower of baseball and devote more time than I should at studying the stats and reading the scouting reports of players who might not even make it to the big leagues. (Yes; I’m a nerd!)

I confess all this for 2 reasons:
1. Confession is Biblical and yes it is good for the soul.
2. I trust that I am not alone in at least one of these categories.

Now, please remember that I offer these blogs as a chance to get myself thinking and hopefully those of you that read it… (hi mom) So remember this isn’t a condemnation of any one of us, but perhaps we may find ourselves rethinking the worth of our worship to the Father who is worthy of far more than any earthly treasure.

For your comparison.

The International Mission board approved it’s Annual budget for 2011;
$308.5 Million dollars for global missions 5,000 Missionaries.

The Combined Yankees and RedSox 2010 payroll;
$380.5 Million

Remember that even with a budget like that those ball teams make a profit, while IMB is had to 600 missionaries out of its budget for 2011. That is a cut of almost 11% of missionaries; taken out of the mission field! This is our responsibility? What do we do to change it.

Of course money isn’t the only measurement of giving ourselves to God.
You fill in this blank:
Time I spent talking to friend about my favorite show or sports team _____?
Time I spent bragging to friend about the greatness of God in my life______?

Trust me I don’t even like asking these questions, so I don’t want to answer them either.
So the last one is a question of our testimony, what about giving God our attention.

If you evaluate your own worship to God by your enthusiasm; what are you more enthusiastic about?
A. Christ in You the Hope of Glory (Col 1:27)
B. The Big game
C. A night on the town
D. Payday

I won’t reveal to you my answer; trust me… it wasn’t A. I wish it was. God forgive me when it’s not.

I better wrap this up, lest I go put my own head in the sand. How much attention does God get compared to the world?

_____ hrs spent in scripture and prayer versus ______hrs spent being entertained?

Do I evaluate the worship service by how I’m captivated or by what I bring to God?

Do I look for a worship SERVE US?
Do I offer SURFACE worship?
Do I come to SERVE AS the worship offering and gift to my God?

Dear Father, as I answer these questions in my own life, please guide me toward the unselfish. Forgive me when you have looked upon my so called worship offering and found me doing something else. Nothing but Your presence and glory in my life will truly satisfy me. Help me not to look elsewhere. Amen