Friday, December 19, 2008

What are you pointing to?

This past Wednesday I completed a 7 part series titled "Glory Revealed" based on the book by David Nasser.  This week's sermon was title "Glory Revealed through Arrows".  Now at first thought it may seem weird after looking at what the Bible has to say about His love, friendships, prophecy, etc. but arrows.  Seems odd but I promise it is Biblical

The main scripture used was Isaiah 40:3-5.  This passage tells us that we are to "prepare the way of the Lord."  We are to be arrows that point people to God.  I made three points that we need to think about as we are all arrows.

1)  Worship the Target and Not the Arrow- I'm not talking about an actual target or the store, but we are to worship God Himself.  It's easy sometimes to get so distracted by the messenger that we miss the message altogether.  John the Baptist was one of the greatest arrows in the Bible.  He prepared the way for Jesus.  In John 1:6-8 and Luke 7:28 it tells us that as great as he was, he still wasn't the target, just a great arrow pointing to the truth.

2)  Be a Real Arrow-  We all the difference in a real arrow used for hunting and a toy arrow.  In Matthew 23:27 Jesus calls out the Pharisees for having the appearance that they live great lives, but on the inside their hearts were corrupt.  How horrible would have been to be one of these that were called out by Jesus.  However in reality we (myself included) are all like the Pharisees too many times.  We should strive to be real in our faith and not hypocritical.

3)  Be the Right Arrow- Whether or not we want to admit it, we are pointing people to something.  We are either pointing them toward God or away from Him.  Romans 14:21 warns us to not cause our brother to stumble.  We can not take lightly the chance of leading someone astray.

In closing we read in Philippians 2:7-8 that Jesus gave up his own reputation to lead people to God.  If he did, then we should even more so.  So take some time today to think about what you are pointing people to.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Challenge

This week at Wednesday Night Worship we took a week off from the "Glory Revealed" series and we talked about the Christmas season and I challenged the students with a few things.  We read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-12.  I was asked why we were reading it then and not closer to Christmas so I responded that I wanted them to be challenged and realize some things now to be thinking about during this entire Advent season.

I shared with them that for several years Christmas would come and go and it seemed like I would say "It just didn't seem like Christmas this year."  I knew that Christmas is about the birth of our Savior, but I was missing it somewhere.  Here are three points that I want the students and myself included to get this Christmas

  • First, the latter part of verse 7 says that "there was no room for them in the inn."  We know that there was a census going on and so the city was full of people.  The city was so full and busy that there was no room for Mary and Joseph.  With the city being so busy, how many people are mentioned in the manger scene (what the Bible actually says and not what modern Christmas dramas show).  The people were believing that their Savior was coming but were too busy and missed Him.  How sad it would be to have been so close and missed this miraculous birth.
  • Second, the latter part of verse 10 says that this news is for "all the people."  Jesus didn't come for only the best of the best, He came for everyone.  I challenged the students to close their eyes and think of someone that they despise or dislike very much.  After a moment of them thinking of someone, I told them that Jesus came for that person too.  When we say that we "hate" someone, I believe it's the same as saying we are better than them and they do not deserve Jesus and instead deserve hell.  I'm so glad that Jesus came for everyone because if He only came for the best of the best, then I would be left out.
  • My third point was that the Christmas story doesn't end in the stable.  Jesus grew up "in wisdom and in stature" as stated in Luke 2:52.  Jesus grew up and died on a cross for "all the people."
Don't miss Jesus this Christmas.  I expected to get some warm, fuzzy feeling for several years from the music, movies, presents, etc. that come with the Christmas season.  I missed it too many years and regret it.  Please don't miss it this year.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving.  I love it even though I'm not very fond of turkey (I know, a lot of people think I'm crazy).  I guess I'm weird b/c I like cranberry sauce.  This year Belinda is making buttermilk pies from my Granny's recipe.  I am excited to take some time off and spend time with my family.

As I think about all that I am thankful for, I am reminded how blessed I am.  I have a home, a loving family, great friends, a car, job I love, and there's really nothing materially that I need.  Why is it that I, and we, are always thinking we need something.  Stuff does not equal happiness.  Why can't we truly understand that Jesus is all that we need?  My theory is that we don't "want" Jesus.  You may be thinking- "What are you talking about Nathan?"  Well with my background and interest in finance, I have studied Dave Ramsey and he talks a lot on needs vs wants and the true meaning of each.  I think that whether or not we are truly submissive to the fact that we need God, that many can agree that we need Him.  I think though we don't really want God b/c we are afraid of what we will have to give up to be His disciple.  An example is that we probably all realize our need for healthy food, but we don't want to eat that on Thanksgiving.

Let's not only realize our need for God, but want Him as well.  This is one area where ministry is hard b/c I wish I could force these thoughts into people's minds.  However, each person must individually come to the realization and conviction by the Holy Spirit that God is all they need and should want more than anything.  My desire is that we would all realize how blessed we are this Thanksgiving and that our need for God is greater than anything else.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christ's Return

Our Sunday School lesson yesterday was on Christ's Return.  One of the sets of scripture used was John 14:2-4, which is one of my favorites.  It's such a great promise knowing that Jesus is going to come back to take us with Him.  I challenged the students with this thought- "If you knew that Jesus was coming back in 30 minutes, would you be ready?"  I didn't say this to scare anyone into getting their life right.  But I think it's a thought we need to consider and live by.  Scripture tells us in Matthew 24:36-44 that we do not know when it will be so we need to be prepared.  I want to live my life prepared each day and each minute as if it is my last.  Not for what joy I can bring myself but for how I can live my life as a servant for Christ.  So I challenge you, if you knew Jesus was coming in 30 minutes, would you be ready?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Prophecy

This past week in Sunday school, the lesson was on prophecy and warnings against false prophets.  We already had scheduled to watch "The Passion of the Christ" tonight (Friday) and so God led me to preach on "Glory Revealed through Prophecy" on Wednesday.  I've always amazed when I think about how Christ's death was prophesied about long before He was even born.  I love Isaiah 53:5 because its just so amazing that how detailed Isaiah wrote about how our Savior would some day die.  I also love how it is worded in the New Living Translation where it says, "he was pierced for our rebellion".  Each hit, punch, pull, whip, laugh, mock, etc. were all done for the rebellion in my own life.  It makes me see it in a different light and I want to focus on that tonight as I watch the re-enactment of this.

Back to prophecy though.  I spoke in my message about the chances that the prophecies written in the Bible about Christ's first coming actually being fulfilled were incredible, so incredible that it seemed it might even be impossible.  But that is the beauty of God.  Where what we see as a great improbability, God turned into reality.  This is one thing that makes me love the Bible.  I, and you, can trust God's Word to be real and true.   Not only can we trust God's Word, but also we can trust God.  This is where we see God's glory revealed.  As we trust Him and His Word, we draw closer to Him.  Now as great as this all is, I want to challenge both you and I to actually "love" the Bible.  If I "love" the Bible like I said earlier, then I need to be in it daily, reading, learning, and memorizing.  I want to be more like this.  Hold me accountable, and I will you.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Power in Declaration

On Wednesday night's I have been preaching a sermon called "Glory Revealed" based on the book by David Nasser.  Over the course of the series we have talked about God's love, having a reverant fear of God, and how God is revealed through our friendships.  This week I spoke on the power of declaration and declaring God's truths.  I even showed a clip from "The Office" where Michael Scott yells "I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY!" to show what it actually means to declare something.

The main scripture used was Psalm 42:1-5 and Psalm 43:4 where David is declaring how he will praise God.  This comes after he is experiencing lament or great sorrow from downward spiraling path he went down.  David declared these things about God, maybe even if he didn't feel like it.

One of the main points of the sermon was that we need to declare truths about God, and we need to declare that we need God and actually mean it.  We sing it, we say it, but with our societies twisted definition of what "needs" actually are, it doesn't mean that much.  I want to be reminded daily of my need for God.  I want to wake up each day and first have the thought- "God I can't make it today without out you".  I believe we need to be praying something similar to what the lyrics to Shane and Shane's song "Yearn" says:
Lord I want to yearn for You
I want to burn with passion
Over You and only You
Lord I want to yearn
So what do you need to declare about God?  Do you realize that you truly need God more than anything and that His presence is more vital than His provision?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Watered Down Jesus

As I research and think about ways to be more effective in ministry, one thing cannot be ignored and that is teaching the Bible. One thing that I am afraid that is taking place more and more today though is teaching thoughts and ideas that seem great, but may not be Biblically sound or what we may be known as "watering down Jesus".

An example of this is from a recent concert that I attended that consisted of several music groups and a speaker. There was one group that led some actual worship, but until the last group performed I don't even think I heard anyone mention the name Jesus. Now I could have missed it somewhere but I think over 4 hours I surely would have heard it before. I know that the gospel was presented and that at least one person was saved (which I know makes it all worth it) but I still can't help but feel like something was missing from the night. The speaker talked about how heaven will be greater than anything on earth, which is definitely true, but again it was what I could call watered down. The speaker talked about how much sin is fun for a season, but never explained how sin was wrong and how sin kills, or even what the Bible stated about sin. I believe this is why so many people today just want to get their "ticket" to heaven and continue living life as if no change took place in their life.

It seems like we have forgotten the reality of sin and it's our own fault. I think we all need to step up and stop watering down the gospel, myself included. I never want to water down the gospel or leave Jesus out of any of my teachings. My desire is that God will always speak through me to challenge others as well as myself with the gospel. I believe that this is a must in order to truly educate one another and to help us each grow toward godliness.