Pastor John Continues our series, I Have a Friend Who… A series directed by you. Today Pastor John discusses what makes Jesus unique.
Little children are so used to having everything automatically provided for them–clothing, food, shelter, transportation–that trust comes naturally to them. This makes it easier for them to believe in Jesus too. They simply know that Jesus loves them. They simply trust that Jesus will help them.
As we grow older, however, and grow more self-sufficient and self-reliant, we lose the faith that everything we need will be provided. Adults know that they have to work for everything they get. The problem comes when adults get confused and start to think maybe they have to work for God’s love and earn his blessings.
Grown-ups may think if they act better, swear less, drink less, or give more, they might earn a better place in heaven. Perhaps the “achievers” come to think that they are better than other people and deserve everything they plan to get from God. Or worse–perhaps they fear that because they have made so many messes they have forfeited God’s favor.
Let Jesus whisper this in your ear. Ready? “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
This kind of “second childhood” isn’t senility. It’s reality; it’s a very happy state of mind to live in.
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn andbecome like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
You’ve heard of dual citizenship, in which a person actually carries two passports? Did you know that you hold dual family membership?
The Bible says that your baptism actually represents a moment in which God the Father publicly claimed you and accepted a lifelong obligation to do for you what good fathers do for children they love. I guess that makes your baptismal certificate your adoption papers: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26,27).
This is great news, especially for people whose own earthly families are missing some pieces. If your biological father was missing in your life or is deceased, you are not fatherless anymore. If you are an only child, guess what? Your adopted family is huge, and you’re connected to them all. If you are single and longing for a feeling of belonging and connection, Christ your Savior loves to compare himself to a bridegroom. You’re engaged! The wedding feast is coming soon.
God is proud publicly to call you his daughter or his son. May I invite you to be just as proud to call him your Father?”
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ haveput on Christ.
The United States has more cases of extreme mental disorders per capita than any other nation. Statistics reveal that one of every twenty Americans can expect to be institutionalized for mental illness, and one family in five will be touched by mental disorder. Those who spend their lives trying to determine the reason for these frightening statistics say that the most frequent cause of mental illness is fear. Frankly, Americans are terrified.
All fear is not bad. One kind of fear motivates us, keeping us from jumping off buildings and burning ourselves to death. This fear, which keeps us physically and spiritually healthy, is the fear which moved Noah to build the ark. It is the “fear of the Lord.” However, another kind of fear dominates us, and it is destructive. It literally drives men crazy, tormenting them and making them live in constant dread. This fear takes a heavy toll in heart attack victims, suicides, and alcoholics. It must be conquered if man is to know peace.
As always, the answer to this problem is in God’s Word. John said the antidote for fear is perfect love. As we learn to love Christ more and actualize that love in our relationships with people, fear is crowded from our lives: but perfect love casts out fear. Even some believers have not yet learned to live without fear. John patiently told them: But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. As we continue to expose ourselves to the Lord, love begins to force out nagging and destructive fears.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
(1 John 4:18 ESV)
For five hundred years after Christ, the Bible had no name. Derived from the Greek word biblos which means “book,” our title for God’s Word came in the following way: The religious leaders in charge of the various manuscripts used in the churches referred to them as “the books.” Eventually, they dropped the plural and merely called this collection of manuscripts the “Holy Book.” The name stuck, and for fifteen hundred years we have called the Scripture, “The Holy Bible.”
Believers refer to the Bible also as “Holy Scripture,” “God’s Word,” and “The Law.” However, the most popular name by far is “The Holy Bible.” The designation “Old and New Testaments” comes from the Bible, from the book of Hebrews. There the writer calls attention to the “Old and New Covenants.” The Latin word testamentum means “covenant.” The two parts of the Bible indicate how God once dealt with man and how He deals with him today.
Paul referred to the Bible as “Scripture.” In writing to young Timothy, he was careful to capture the purpose for God’s Word: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Regardless of what title we use when we speak of the Bible, we should remember it is God’s Word and that it gives a foundation for faith, reproves us for errors, and offers instructions on becoming the kind of people God desires. For these reasons, the Bible is a vital part of our daily life. We not only read it, we live it; and in so doing begin to grow into the image of God’s Son. In our growth toward perfection, prayerful Bible reading provides us the help we need.
The Scriptures train God’s servants to do all kinds of good deeds.
(2 Timothy 3:17 CEV)
Psychologists rate finances as the number one cause of divorce. As we learned in the previous guide, partners in marriage often have different feelings about money. Money to some breeds self-indulgence. Husbands who have not grown up can wreak havoc in marriage. One cynic said the only difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys. Women, too, can be self-indulgent, spending for many items that are not necessary. But happy and healthy couples use their money as an expression of faith. They realize God has made them stewards of money, and they use it to expand their souls. Jesus said: It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
One of the benefits of tithing to God and His work is the development of a proper view of money. Each week, as we give our 10 percent to the Lord’s work, we are exercising unselfishness and declaring that we do not hold onto possessions too tightly. The wise husband and wife do not let possessions possess them; they possess their possessions.
Divorces do come because of money problems. The Bible warns: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10). The wise couple gets a proper grip on the meaning of money and comes to agreement on how it is to be properly dispersed. We must remember the Bible says: He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house (Proverbs 15:27).
Being greedy causes trouble for your family, but you protect yourself by refusing bribes.
(Proverbs 15:27 CEV)
Astute psychologists have made sophisticated studies of the causes of divorce. They classify these causes into: (1) finance; (2) obnoxious behavior; (3) extramarital affairs; (4) in-laws; and (5) religious differences. In our consideration of the next few guides, we will look at each of these areas to see what God’s Word has to say.
The first of the causes for divorce is said to be finances. Prosperity brings problems to a marriage that are unknown in poverty. The economically deprived need all their financial resources to merely pay for food, shelter, and clothing. However, as prosperity comes, couples find themselves with more than enough for survival. Tension then develops because they disagree on how to use the money. Good questions to ask are “What does money mean to me?” and “What does money mean to my mate?” To many, money means status. The “keeping up with the Joneses” syndrome becomes a compulsion. Those locked into such a view will over-borrow and ultimately keep their financial needs so critical they have little time to enjoy and love one another.
Others see money as security. They often become hoarders. In being miserly, they heap up for themselves treasures but still are frustrated because they have not learned that security can come only from Christ, not from things possessed. Jesus told a story about a rich farmer who hoarded (Luke 12:16-21). In Jesus’ eyes, this man was a fool. If we have no proper concept of resources then we, too, are fools.
Then he said to the crowd, “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.”
(Luke 12:15 CEV)
As we encounter the challenges of day to day life, we often place our hope in the possibility of circumstances improving or people changing. In the midst of trials, we may think, “I would be happy if my spouse would just change”, “If only I could make more money”, or “I will have peace when my kids grow up and stop rebelling.” The problem with this line of thinking is that our contentment becomes conditional and dependent on things that are out of our control. We become too focused on experiencing comfort on earth and miss the greater purpose God has for our lives!
Through blessings or trials, abundance or poverty, the source of our hope never changes; the anticipation of the glory of God that will be revealed in heaven. In the meantime, we can choose to see our struggles on earth for what they are; tools to make us more Christ-like and push us towards a greater dependence on our Heavenly Father.
Place your hope in the only place it can truly be found; God.
Christ has also introduced us to God’s gift of undeserved grace on which we now take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God. But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope
(ROMANS 5:2-4 CEV)
You’ve got to be kidding me! Tebow(ing) is in the “Urban Dictionary”?