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Archive for May, 2011

Grace and Peace,

today we are going over Romans 3.

Here is a link to it on bibleagateway.com

Over the past year or so, I have gotten in to reading much more.  Getting rid of our cable last September has helped and also reading about things I am interested makes a difference.  In the past, I’d read things because people would tell me it was good and that I should read it, but that topic interested them, not me.  Of course reading about what interests me is more enjoyable but it took years to realize that…  I was part of a group reading through Letters from a Skeptic and at one point Ed, the skeptic, said how things like the sermon on the mount from Matthew 5-7 make the Christian walk impossible.  How can you be expected to live up to something like that?  His son Greg, who is a theologian, responses affirming that truth.   We can’t live up to it, if being angry is murder and thinking is the same as acting, we are all doomed.  He says how the sermon on the mount is supposed to drive us to Jesus because we are in need of a Saviour.

In Romans 3, Paul is talking about how when we come to accept Jesus as Saviour, it isn’t by works we are saved, but by faith.  What stuck out to me was verse 20:

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law;
rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

After reading Letters from a Skeptic this had different meaning to me.  Without spending time reading the bible, I would still think that murder was wrong, but I wouldn’t think that being angry with someone would be just as bad.  Apart from the bible, we compare ourselves to worldly standards and normally to people who are “worse” than we are.  According to those standards, we are good maybe even great people.

But what if we compare to a different person in the world, what if we compare ourselves to Jesus?  Do your good deeds still measure up to be a good person?  Probably not, but here is the good news, we are not saved by our acts and our deeds.  We are saved only through substitutionary atonement, through Christ’s death for our sins.

Learning what is expected of us through the bible is good and we should strive to live as Christ because we are ambassadors of Jesus to this world.  But whether you rip your clothes and wear sack cloth and ashes when you repent isn’t what is important.  When we read all these rules that we don’t and can’t live up to, it should drive us to the cross and look up to Jesus and say ‘I struggle to do this.  Thank you for loving me even though I turn away from you.  Help me to follow your ways more.’

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

Romans 3:28

If you don’t know Christ as Saviour, it’s not too late.  God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it.  Find a community of Christians to join (a church), start reading God’s message to you (the bible), and pray.  Prayer is simply talking with God.  How else can you build a relationship without communication?

-Zack

What has stuck out to you?

How has reading this chapter today been different than the first time you read it?

If it’s your first time reading this, what has made you stop and think?

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Grace and peace,

today we are going over Romans 2.

Here is a link to it on biblegateway.com

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

-Romans 2:4 (New Living Translation)

Do you ever get mad at someone who is nothing but nice to you?

Do you find yourself yelling at someone who speaks softly?

Probably not for both questions.

It is natural to respond to someone in the same way they respond to you.  Here is a simple test.  When you pass by someone you know, wait for them to say something first.

Friend: Hi

(What is your response?)

You: Hi

What if your friend said something else?

Friend: Hello

(Do you think you’d say hi?)

You: Hello

It is common to respond in the same way that some acted towards you.

This equal reaction go away when we deal with God.

We are shown love, we go our own way.

We are shown forgiveness, we harbor bitterness towards people.

We are shown peace, we create strife.

When it comes to the Creator, we respond poorly.

Paul says this isn’t how it should be.  God’s kindness should lead us to repentance.  If Jesus was a person who walked around and came over to your house for dinner once and a while, would you treat Him like most people, or would you treat Him as God?

That might be the real problem, we don’t treat God as someone who is part of our lives.

I think my challenge and your challenge is to make Jesus a real part of our lives.  We don’t treat people the way we treat our Saviour, we don’t turn our back and continually do wrong against them but we do to Christ.

Make our loving, caring God a bigger part of your life and may His kindness be real to you and me and may it lead us to repentance.

-Zack

What is God teaching you through Romans 2?

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Grace and Peace,

today we are going over Romans 1.

Here is a link to it on biblegateway.com

About a year ago, I was reading Romans and 1:6 stuck with me:

And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

What made this verse different, was that I read it as though Paul was saying this to me.

And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

Who is the Gospel for? The Jews and the Gentiles and YOU!

The Gospel is for everyone!  There isn’t someone who is too bad, that has done too much wrong, that has sinned too much, the Gospel is for you!  Don’t believe me? Read Romans 1:6

And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

We who know this good news, it is our jobs to share it with people.  To show them, no this isn’t just for the good people, this isn’t for other people, it’s for ALL people!  This truth is for you!

There is

Love,

Joy,

Peace,

Forgiveness,

Grace,

Contentment,

Fulfillment,

Friendship,

Guidance,

and Healing,

in a relationship with Christ.

Love, peace, forgiveness, grace, all of it can be poured into someone’s life if you are will to share it with them.

But are you willing to share?

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

This becomes a struggle for lots of people, including me.  This was something I never had experience with but things have changed.  I now look for opportunities to talk with people about Jesus and belief and it has been great.  I think the big worry comes from Christians being concerned that others will be mean or mad that the subject was brought up.  My experience is that people are often happy to talk about religion.  They listen to what I have to say, ask questions, respond to questions and at the end everything is still civil.  Even people who I would think would “be rude”, have reacted kindly to a witnessing and listened to what the person had to say and thanked them at the end!

We have the power of God in the message of the Gospel!

It’s for you and it’s for you to share with others!

Don’t be ashamed!

-Zack

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Grace and peace,

Today we are going over Matthew 28.

Here is a link to it on Biblegateway.com

This past Easter, I heard this clip from a sermon.  The guy preaching was my favorite type of preacher, it brings to mind a southern baptist church.  The stereotypical southern baptist church with the pastor getting worked up and calling/yelling out to the crowd and the crowd sporadically shouting back.  I just love the energy of those churches.  Anyways, the guy was talking about how crazy everything was, how out of order things were, how it seems that evil is winning in the world, how when Jesus was crucified, all was lost… “That’s because it’s Friday, Sunday’s a coming”

Here in Matthew 28, it’s Sunday.  Mary and Mary went out to the tomb where Jesus was buried only 3 days ago on Friday (He was there on Friday, on Saturday and on Sunday, not 72 hours but 3 days).  Imagine the sadness and the feelings these two must have felt.  All this chaos with their teacher being killed, their thoughts that He was the Messiah, but if that is true how could he be killed?  Out of respect for the dead, Jesus was being treated like royalty, He was going to have spices covering His body.  Imagine their shock when they got there… everything is going wrong, nothing is how they thought it would go, then they get there and are spoken to by an angel:

He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.  Come and see the place where He lay.”

It’s Sunday.

The anguish from Friday is no more.  There is confusion and excitement.  Our hope that was nailed to a cross hasn’t been defeated, death has.

It’s Sunday.

This man who claimed to be the Son of God died only days ago and was put in a grave.

That was Friday, today is SUNDAY!

The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus died to pay for our sins, but that is incomplete.

The good news is that in sharing in His death, we share in His life, because it’s Sunday and He is risen.

-Zack

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Grace and peace,

today we are going over Matthew 27.

Here is a link to it on biblegateway.com

So back in 2010, Melanie and I visited Walt Disney World for the first time! It was my first time there but Melanie had been there before.  It was great!  We got into the Magic Kingdom at around 1pm and right when we walked in,  a parade went through!  We walked down Main Street USA and when we got to Cinderella’s castle, a show was just starting!  We spent the day going on rides and getting signatures from the characters and it was an all around great day!  When we got back, we went to Borders and we ended up in the travel section and a book called “Hidden Mickeys” caught my eye.  It talks about all these different hidden Mickey symbols and where to find them in the park.  In the first few pages of the introduction, it says to not use this book if you are visiting WDW for the first time.  Using the book can take way from the awesome experience of seeing it all for the first time.  You become removed from the main point and you miss out the wonder.

I have struggled with this chapter of Matthew in my latest reading.  For about 2 weeks, I have been reading this and thinking ‘what can/should I post?’.  Earlier this week, I was thinking about the story Judas returning the money.  I found it interesting how they couldn’t put the money in the treasury because it was blood money, but they could pay blood money out of the treasury… then today, praying over this passage, a thought came into my head… I’m missing it.

I’m sure something could be said about the treasury, or suicide, or Pilate but that would be missing what is going on here in this chapter!

Redemption!

That is the story of this chapter!

Jesus, a man who did only good, who only loved, who healed the sick, who comforted the hurt, who gave company to the lonely, was hated by the ‘good’ people.

Jesus  showed us what our lives should look like by living the perfect life and was hated for it.  Jesus’ life pointed out to you and to me how fallen we are.  If lust is adultery and anger or calling someone a fool in your heart is murder, then we are all in trouble.  That just shows how far we are from God.

But Jesus doesn’t stop at saying how bad we are, He goes forward and makes a way for us to be righted.

Redemption!

He freely gives Himself so we freed from sin!

Isaiah 53 says that our sins were put on Him, Colossians says that our record of wrongs was removed from us and nailed to the cross.

This chapter, is the first half of the story of redemption of the whole human race.

When I read this, I hope that doesn’t escape me.  With familiarity comes complacency and I hope I keep the knowledge of what happened at Golgotha in my mind instead of seeking side stories and little nuggets of truth.

Looking for these small things, almost robbed me of the wonder and experience of the cross these past 2 weeks.

Seek Him first, above all else.

-Zack

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