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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

     Yesterday was our first meeting of the school year!  What at first meeting it was!  Our planned lesson spoke about giving to God what is God’s.  If Caesar’s belongings are his because his image is on it, then we are God’s because we are made in His image!  “Will you give yourself to God this semester for His purpose?”

Even better was the unplanned lesson that God had for us!

It started in the God Watch part of our meeting.  What’s a God Watch?  It is a time to share how you see God moving in your life.  It can be answered prayer, and incident that only God can do. It can be seeing God’s perfect timing or seeing how God has lined things up in your life!
Shelly, our new President of Impact at UAlbany, shared how she had said something hurtful to someone 2-3 years ago and it has been on her heart to make amends with them.  The temptation to send a Facebook message was there, but she wanted to speak face to face.  Yesterday, they crossed paths.  The other girl tried to cover her face and remain hidden in the crowd, but Shelly saw her and made the effort to speak with her.  Small talk ensued, and Shelly brought it around to apologizing for her words, and that she never meant it in a way that would hurt like it did.  Her friend had been carrying this hurt for years, and through seeking forgiveness, the burden was lifted from both Shelly and her friend.
This God watch of saying how God lined this up to happen and that Shelly’s heart was ready to apologize and this person was there to accept it opened up another person to talk about a relationship they reconciled.
And another.

And another.

The theme of broken relationships came up.

Something we can all relate to.  There always seems like there will be more time to fix a relationship.  There is always tomorrow or next week, or next time, or year.  What was shared, was that there isn’t always tomorrow.  People move out of our lives and the chance is gone.  People pass away and we are left with a sadness that we never repaired that relationship or built it to what we thought it should be.  It was a great night and an unexpected lesson.  In a group where most people don’t know each other, these people were opening up faults and being honest and sharing what forgiveness really looks like in their lives.
It was a good day to be on campus!
-Zack
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This past semester we have spoken on evangelism and we have been going over the Gospel of Luke during our Monday bible study with the intention of understanding it so that we can teach it instead of just consuming it for ourselves.

In Luke 11 Jesus is casting out a demon that was mute and he was accused of being from the Devil.

By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.”  -Luke 11:15

     So a guy has been unable to speak for who knows how long and Jesus comes by and casts out the demon that was torturing him.  How crazy must that be for the mute guy?  How great must that be for his family and friends and people around him?  Most people are excited, but some in the crowd don’t seem like they can be pleased by anything Jesus does.

     Whispered words start moving through the crowd telling people that this guy who seems impressive actually isn’t that great.  In fact, he isn’t only not impressive but he is dangerous because his power comes from Satan.

He is working for the bad guy!

Jesus, however, knows where His power comes from and He knows what is being discreetly discussed among the dissidents.

Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.  If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub.  Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.  But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.      -Luke 11:17-20

He goes on to talk about how if a strong man is protecting his house, the only way to overpower him is to be stronger than he is.

and then V23

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.

 Maybe you’ve read this before.  I know I have but I think I have come victim to the Bible!  What?  Our bibles are split up into books and chapters and verses and those chapters are broken up into section and I know for me, I have grown to see these sections as stand alone teachings.  Of course, that isn’t the case.  These teachings tie together.

People have some grudge against Jesus for healing and say His power is from Satan.  Jesus tells them that Satan wouldn’t give power to drive out himself but that He drives them out by the finger of God.  The next story is talking about a man in a strong hold that can only be overtaken by someone who is stronger.

Jesus here is talking about Himself being stronger than Satan!  He can drive out Satan’s demons because He is more powerful.  Jesus is making a claim that He has the power of God!

He then makes this comment that if you aren’t with Him, you are against Him.

Jesus just made the case that He has the power of God, that He is on the side of God, and that He is overpowering Satan.  So the people who are speaking against Him are on whose side?

THEY ARE NOW ON THE SIDE OF THE DEVIL!

Jesus has made some huge statements here about His power and what He is doing and the people against Him.

So what can we learn from this to share with those around us?

This chapter has a claim of divinity of Jesus.  He has the power to overthrow he who has a strong hold (Satan) and take his possessions (us) and give them as He sees fit and the people who want to fight Him want to stay true to Beelzebub.

I think this was a pretty good day reading chapter 11.

Your Thoughts?

-Zack

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Grace and peace,

today we are going over Romans 4.

Here is a link to it on biblegateway.com

 

Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.

Paul gives such a great contrast here in v4.  When we work, we are normally working because we expect to get some benefit from what we are doing.  At the end of a work week, an employer doesn’t expect to be thanked when they pay the worker, the worker earned their pay.  If the worker didn’t get paid, there’d be an up roar!

Does this same thing work with God?  If you follow the rules laid down in the Old Testament and the rules laid down in the New Testament, does that put God in your debt so that He owes you heaven?

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, 
   and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags”

(Isaiah 64:6a)

No, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), even what we do and think is righteous turns out to be filthy rags…

So where is the hope?

Our hope lies in Christ.  It is not something we earn but through faith alone that we are reconciled and considered righteous before God.  Nothing we can do can earn it, nothing we can do can destroy it.  If we have faith in Jesus’ saving act of redemption on the cross, that in sharing in His death, we also share in His life, than nothing can separate us from God.

I read a little while ago a short explanation on this.  How does faith in Christ make us righteous?  The question people often have is “How”.  God speaks with authority.  If we look at Genesis 1, there was nothing and God spoke and what was spoken came to pass.  God said “let there be light” and light was there.

“Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.”

and there was…

“Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.”

and there was…

The point being, that somehow, what God says, happens.

Paul’s contrast with v4 is v5:

However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

Here in Romans, God speaks to us and His word is authoritative.

-Zack

 

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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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