Monday, April 17, 2017

Making the Connection

 Hebrews 2: 14-18

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil — 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them,fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Things think about:



  •           The previous chapter emphasized Jesus’ equality with God. This passage underscores His full humanity.
  •          It says that since we are flesh and blood He became flesh and blood so that He could die. As God, He isn’t capable of dying so He had to become man in order to die 
  •           His purpose in dying was to break the power of the one who holds the power over the one thing that holds people in slavery – their fear of death
  •          While angels do not need the gift He gives, neither can they know the power of grace and forgiveness
  •          So He became like us, fully, not partially, so he could show us His mercy and be the payment for sin that we could never be
  •          His temptations were real, not superficial. It says He suffered when tempted. But because He did suffer, He is able to help us in our temptations.
  •          How does Jesus’ model of compassion, empathy, and self-sacrifice speak to you today in understanding how much you’re worth to God?
  •          How does Jesus’ example speak to you in terms of how you show grace and mercy to others?
  •         What power is available to you when confronted by temptation?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Salty



I like Fritos – a lot. I try not to eat too many at a time but that little bit of saltiness can really hit the spot.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the metaphor of salt to paint a word picture for His disciples to help them understand their purpose. Let’s look at how Fritos and Jesus can be used in the same thought!

Matthew 5:13
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Things to think about:
·      Salt’s purpose is to enhance and bring out the flavor in food. Fried corn chips on their own are not very flavorful. But add some salt and voila, you have Fritos! That savory taste is the perfect complement to make them irresistible.
o   We too have a purpose to enhance and improve the lives around us.
o   What are everyday ways we can enhance the flavor of life for others?
o   Have you had a chance recently to be that life-enhancing agent for someone?
·      One thing about salt though is a little bit goes a long way.  Dumping too much salt on food makes it inedible.
o   Likewise, we don’t have to lay it on thick to have the desired effect.  In fact, most times, a little pinch will do the job nicely.  We wouldn’t pour a pound of salt of a steak, we don’t need to pound others with the gospel.
§  Sometimes, we can fall victim to the phrase, “If some is good, more is better!”
o   Why is sensitivity important to getting the appropriate seasoning right with our life and testimony?
o   How have you seen a little kindness go a long way?
o   Have you ever been on the giving or receiving end of too much "salt" being poured and actually making Jesus a negative?
·      One of the main qualities of salt is that it makes us thirsty.
o   In John 4:14, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman, “…whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
o   When has someone brought the Savior’s salt to you that in turn made you thirsty for His living water?  Said more simply, when have you benefited from someone’s Christian example that made you want more of Him?
·      Jesus actually spends more words here on salt losing its saltiness and being good for nothing.
o   When salt loses its saltiness it gets trampled by men. We can become indistinguishable from everything else "under foot"
o   How do people lose their spiritual saltiness?
·      Here is an acronym to help us be mindful of our purpose:
SALT
o   Savor is found in the Savior
o   Available for use
o   Little goes a long way
o   Take care to remain fresh


Monday, March 27, 2017

What, Me Worry?


Last week we looked at four areas of life that can weigh us down: Guilt, Bitterness, Worry, and Death.  The #1 choice for “Most affects me” was worry.  Let's look at the ABCs of worry and consider a little formula to help us to live in peace and power.

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Things to think about:
·      The dictionary definition of worry is “to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts”
o   At its core is a sense of powerlessness to do anything about it
o   There are three buckets (ABCs) our worrying tends to fall in: Acceptance, Basics, Cares
Acceptance
·      Accepted by God
o   past wrongs – can God really forgive me of this?
§  1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 
o   good enough – am I living up to His standard?
§  Romans 15:7 – Accept one another just as Christ has accepted you
·      Accepted by others
o   past wrongs – if I could just go back and…
o   good enough – as a husband, father, brother, friend, employee, employer
Basics
·      Food, clothing, shelter
o   essentially, money provides for all of these
o   marketers tells us we don’t have enough
o   Matthew 6:25-34
Cares
·      Loved ones well-being
o   salvation, health, happiness
o   James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.
Solution
·      Worry is a waste
o   Time and Energy
o   In physics, Energy divided by Time = Power
§  Prayer / Time = Power of Peace
§  Worry / Time = Waste
§  Prayer and Worry are the variables. Every moment we get to choose which one we will focus on. 
§  Time is the constant.
·      Do not be anxious about anything
·      but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God
·      and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus

My prayer is that we exit the Wasteland of Worry and live in the Graceland of Peace by trusting God with all of our concerns. We know He is a good father who loves us unconditionally, provides for our basic needs, and who encourages us to throw of the heavy yoke of cares on to Him. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Freedom!


Recently, Rick Warren had a devotional that identified four areas where people tend to have fears or hang-ups: Guilt, Worry, Bitterness, and Death.  Each of these leads to a place that keeps us from experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised and from knowing His freedom. Let’s explore how we can have the freedom God would have us know.

John 8:36
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”

Things to think about:
Dictionary definition of each word:
·      Guilt – a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, or wrong
·      Worry – to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts
·      Bitterness – intense antagonism or hostility
·      Death – the end of life

·      Which of these LEAST affects you?
o   Why did you pick this one?
o   Jesus said, “If you know the truth, the truth will set you free.”
o   Find at least one Bible verse that sheds the light of the truth on to this issue
o   What does this verse say to you?
·      Which of these MOST affects you?
o   Why did you pick this one?
o   Jesus said, “If you know the truth, the truth will set you free.”
o   Find at least one Bible verse that sheds the light of truth on to this issue
o   What does this verse say to you?
·      What about the other two?
o   What would you say to someone who struggles with this?
o   What Bible verse would you offer them to allay their feelings?
·      The foundation for freedom is truth
o   What keeps us FROM the truth?
§  lies from the past, the enemy, lack of attention to Bible study and prayer, temptation
o   What keeps us IN the truth?
§  God’s Word, prayer, the Holy Spirit, community of believers, staying out of temptaion’s way
o   Let’s commit to be like the man in Matthew 7:24-27 who built his house on the rock:
§  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”