Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Teach Children The Bible is Not About Them

Yes, you read that right. And it's actually good news. Check out this wise counsel from Sally Lloyd-Jones, the author of The Jesus Storybook Bible.

I hope you read the whole thing (it's not long). It's an important reminder for us adults as well. She starts out by saying that she often asks children these questions:
How many [of you] sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you?
How many [of you] sometimes think that if you aren't good, God will stop loving you?
Did you raise your hand?

Friday, February 17, 2012

What Gifts Do You Value Most?

Martin Luther once said:
Riches are among the most trivial things on earth and the smallest gift God gives to a person.
Jesus once said:
"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13)
There's a lot to ponder here. Among them is: could it be that one of the reasons we question (doubt) our Father's love for us is that we treasure the wrong things?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When NOT To Rejoice

If you are a Christian, God commands you to:
Rejoice in the Lord always. (Philippians 4:4)
That is not a cheap, pious platitude unrealistically out-of-touch with the hardness and heartbreaks of life in this fallen world. It means (precisely in light of the hardness and heartbreaks of life in this fallen world) He is THAT committed to your joy! It means his blood-bought promises are THAT sweet and powerful!

If you are a Christian toying with idolatry, God also commands you to:
Rejoice not...! Exult not like the peoples; for you have played the whore, forsaking your God. (Hosea 9:1)
That is not a hellfire and brimstone beating from God because he suspects one of his children is having some fun. That is a holy heimlich maneuver to keep you from choking to death. That is a loving rescue mission to yank you out of the abusive brothel of idolatry. It means your Heavenly Husband is THAT committed to your joy! He commands you to rejoice not in false-promise, forbidden fruit lies of lust so that you can rejoice deeply and freely in the sweetness and certainty of his covenant love.

James must have been thinking of Hosea 9 when he wrote chapter 4 verses 1-10 (emphasis added):  
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"?
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
You may need to stop rejoicing today. If so, know that God commands it, FOR YOUR JOY.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Do You See a Pattern Here?

The (Loving, Life-Preserving, Joy-Protecting) Warning:
Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
Buying the Lies that Satan Sells & Ignoring the Warning:
Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
The Result:
Genesis 3:7-24 Then...they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God ... [because they were] afraid
... To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."
... to Adam he said, "...cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; ... By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
...therefore the LORD God...drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

"TAKE 2"

The (Loving, Life-Preserving, Judgment-Preventing) Warning:
Joshua 6:18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it.
Buying the Lies that Sin Sells & Ignoring the Warning: 
Joshua 7:20-21 And Achan answered Joshua, "Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath."
The Result:
Joshua 7:24-26 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, "Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today." And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.
The (Loving, Life-Preserving, Joy-Protecting) Warning:
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 
... 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Do you see the pattern here?
Will you have eyes to see the plot today?
To whom will you listen?

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How Provincial Is Your Prayer Life?

John Bryson: 
If Jesus answered all your prayers from the last 30 days, would anything change in THE World or just YOUR world.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Local "A Praying Life" Seminar

I've heard really good things about Paul Miller's book A Praying Life.

You may not be a big "reader," but we all need to become big "prayers." Paul Miller is doing "A Praying Life" seminar at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA on Saturday, February 25 from 9am-3:30pm. The early bird registration has been extended to February 8. It includes materials, breakfast, and lunch for $15 ($25 after February 8). It would be a great follow-up to what we are learning in Luke 11:1-13.

Go HERE for more information and registration.