Archive for the ‘ Bible ’ Category

Responses to Christmas: God’s Parents

It is time for a special series … THIS WEEK ONLY!

Yeah, I kind of gave into some of the materialistic hype. This special is only available the week leading up to this Christmas.

I have a seen a few similar series going around, but mine is better because … uhhh … I am doing it this week? This series is about how people responded to the birth of Jesus.

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38

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This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Matthew 1:18-25

God clearly chose these two to raise the boy Jesus for a reason. Other than being descendents of David, they also were kinda righteous, as humans go.

Take Mary:

  1. She was presented with something impossible: pregnancy without … the fun part. Her reaction to hearing this: “Help me understand how this is possible!”
  2. With a response that would make most humans say “Yeah, okay. Whatever that means!” she replies “I do not really get it, but I will follow You and see what amazing things you can do!”

Now Joseph:

  1. His first response to the unknown was to protect the girl he loved yet bow out gracefully. He wanted to protect himself (not bad) and the girl who apparently had been unfaithful, someone who apparently had sinned rather egregiously. He was a pretty cool dude, man!
  2. He has a dream telling him that the baby will be God and save people from their sins, therefore he should still marry Mary. Based on that dream, he complies. This is really all we know about Joseph (other than he and Mary forgot Jesus at the age of 12, and he also looked for Him). Personally, I see there is more than enough information here to understand his character: awesome!

What can we learn from these two?

  1. It is okay to have doubts, provided you are willing to listen to God (or His messengers).
  2. It is okay to question God, provided you are honestly seeking answers and not trying to justify yourself or simply asking rhetorically from disbelief.
  3. Sometimes, perhaps many or most times, we will not fully understand (if at all) what God is doing, but that is okay provided we continue to follow His leading.
  4. Enduring something inconvenient can lead to amazing blessings!

What about you? When you have doubts do you listen for God’s leading? Do you ask God any of the who, what, when, where, why, or how questions expecting a reply and being open to the answer? Are you willing to move forward in your confusion and lack of understanding? Do you trust God? If you do, amazing blessings await. To be fair, the blessings may not appear until eternity, but a lifetime of worries and pain is worth an eternity of peace and joy. (Think of a road trip someplace, like Disneyland or to family you have not seen in a while. It may be uncomfortable getting there, but the joy and experience of getting there almost help you forget it or even make it worth it.)

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 12/04/2011

As we are now in December, it is a perfect time to share the gospel message (any time is good, but being the month we celebrate the birth of Christ makes seem a little extra special, you know?). If you are not friends with me on Facebook, you may not have seen this one as of yet. Last year on Thanksgiving, I awoke, got into the shower, and then this poem sprang into my mind. I wrote it down, and typed it up. Today you can enjoy it!

How much does He love us?

How much does He love us?
Living in eternity;
Living in perfect unity;
Demonstrating community
In the Holy Trinity.

But He said it is not enough
And so He created stuff
All for His ultimate creation: us;
But we just had to mess it up.

How much does He love us?
Adam and Eve lost the Garden
And now we are born with original sin.
God knew our relationship with Him
To restore we could not even begin.

God looked on us down on Earth,
Seeing us in our moral dearth.
For some reason He saw some worth,
So He came to us through childbirth!

How much does He love us?
Jesus Christ gave up royalty
To live amongst our depravity.
Jesus in all of His divinity
Entered the world as a tiny baby!

He grew up living a sinless life
Until by John He was baptized.
Religious leaders He did chastise
While helping people to realize.

How much does He love us?
After a few years of ministry,
He went to God’s holy city.
In our backward objectivity
We nailed His sinless body to a tree.

He was aware of His Path,
That it included a painful death.
“It is finished” He said of forgiveness
As He took his final breath.

How much does He love us?
Through our Lord’s sacrifice
We can receive new spiritual life.
Our redemption came at a great price,
But we are washed in the blood of Jesus Christ!

Choose to believe in His grace
So that we may see Him face to face;
So that we may join Him in the eternal place
As His holy and redeemed chosen race.

Thanksgiving 2011 Message

Here is a good message for you for Thanksgiving:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is yourlife, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 3:1-17, 4:2-6

Remember Who deserves all of our thanks this week. Remember to honor Him by sharing your love and thanks with your friends and family … All of them!

Love, peace, and grace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Daniel

It’s the End of the World As We Know It … Again …

Perhaps you remember five months ago all of the hype over Harold Camping and the impending rapture he calculated from the evidence in the Bible would occur on May 21. I made some comments on the whole affair here, here (tongue-in-cheek) and here.

Well, this week brings about part two of his prediction. You see, Harold explained that on May 21st God’s work of salvation came to an end, that the Holy Spirit was pulled from world (except believers, of course). No one else can be saved (be led to Christ). Instead, the final rapture in which the Elect (those who are saved) are taken up to meet Christ is the air takes place at the exact same time as the final judgement and destruction of Creation. This is all to happen …

This Friday, October 21st (2011, if you are confused on which “this Friday” I mean).

I have covered this topic before, as referenced above.

You know, if he is right about this date, amillenniallists have it all right (except the date. That is Harold Camping). On the other hand, if Harold has been right all along, then premillennialists are more right. I personally do not think postmillennialism has any basis in truth at all, but I will be friends with you even if you do think it has any basis in truth at all.

After that little rabbit-trail …

Can I get any comments? What do you think: Is the world coming to an end this weekend, or do we have more time? Or are we possibly disappearing before Friday?

Or do you think God has a rather hilarious sense of humor and will use this Friday to end everything as we know it to really shock Harry Camping … and everyone else?

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 08/21/2011

To go along with my guest post over at Heather Joy’s blog, GrowUp318, here are a couple poems about prayer!

These were both written in later 2000 during the Christian craze over the book “The Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkinson. The youth group in which I happened to be also did an activity in which we were instructed to put the Lord’s Prayer into our own words.

my jabez prayer

Lord
please bless me as never before
and send those who need You to me
protect me and help me
so i do not hurt others

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 165.

my Lord’s prayer

my Father in heaven
You are the Holiest
Your Kingdom is here
where You say what happens
on earth just like in heaven
please supply me food
and forgive my sins
the same as i forgive others
and help me when tempted
keeping the devil away

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 166.

Black Mark

There is the belief among most Christians that since Adam and Eve all of humanity is under the curse of sin. Many argue that it is inherited through birth. Many others argue that it comes through our own decisions in life. Many others still do not care enough or feel they are not smart enough to grasp the concept; it is enough for them to know that the Bible says we are sinful (see Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccles. 7:20; Romans 3:9-12) and in need of a Savior.

How could it be possible to carry forward sin?

Is it not as though God is condemning everyone for the fault of two?

Consider:

A woman does drugs for years. In a time of desperation, she has sex with a dealer to get her drugs, and this act led to pregnancy. The woman is so dependent on drugs that she continues abusing them throughout her pregnancy. Her baby is then born addicted to those drugs. The child did nothing wrong, but must suffer for the sins of the mother. It was passed along.

A man acquires AIDS through his promiscuity, but he does not realize it until he is married. He and his wife now have AIDS and then have a child. This child is also born with AIDS, again at no personal fault. It was passed along.

A single dad plays the lottery with the dream of making the life of his family better. He squanders his money on lottery tickets to the point of neglecting bills. He dies as his child comes of legal age. The child inherits the father’s debt and follows the example given and gambles to attempt to raise the money needed. The child did not create the financial mess. It was passed along … as well as the behavior that created the mess.

Is sin something that is genetically passed on? Quite frankly, I do not know. However, we can see evidence that a sinful nature is present early on in the way our children only think of themselves. Granted, they cannot help it too much. Children are born rather powerless to change their situation and require a lot of help.

A friend of mine shared a story a few years ago. His family runs a business making plastics. People have to help the system along and inspect the final product. Part of the process is to move some containers from one part of the machine to another, but they have to be careful to not touch them with their hands otherwise a black mark appears on the plastic. It is also possible that touching part of the machine that handles the plastics can cause each of the containers to get identical black marks. Another part of the process is for the inspectors to watch for damaged, misshapen, or tarnished items and pull them off the line. If they miss one, it ends up going out on the market where someone buys it, takes it home, and discovers the problem. The only way to remove the stain or fix the impurities is to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of cleaning the machine and sending the product back to be melted down, refined, and sent through the process again.

Our actions always have consequences. Sometimes they are good, and sometimes they are bad. Our ancestors took an action that they technically knew was bad. Ever since, we are all stained with a black mark. It is as though they took God’s creation, us, and handled it improperly. Their fingerprint stained us.

God, however, inspects every single one of us. He was not content to let us remain with that stain. He sent His Son to show just how rough the remaking process would be. He took the time and paid the price. His blood cleansed the dirt. Our part is to let Him work us through the furnace that removes that black mark we carry, to let Him reshape us in the image of His Son.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 07/24/2011

It is time for a poem about getting along!

friends
daniel m  klem

my best Friend lives in heaven
but at the same time lives in me
He could live in you if you believe
that He died for your sins on a tree
understand that He loves everyone
even if they say something against He
who saved the souls of all mankind
and if they do not believe we are free
because my Friend knows all people
He wants to be friends with everybody
especially the people who talk against
He who came to help you and me

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 110.

Apologizing or Using Apologetics

President Obama has received a lot of flak for apologizing for the United States of America. I recently read an article that brought up the subject. It got me to thinking about Christian apologetics – giving a reason for why we believe what we believe.

In my short 27 years, 8 months, and (roughly) 2 weeks of life I have noticed that there are a lot of Christians who spend their time apologizing for declaring truths or offending people or the Crusades. They tend to act like a puppy who pooped on the floor and do everything they can to hide from the shame of past offenses and being friendly. Some people just ignore the sin topic entirely and sometimes ignore Jesus Christ, because these are the top two issues that offend people.

Why are you a Christian, then?

If Jesus is not our central focus, if His death and resurrection did not happen and our sin is a non-issue, then why even call yourself a Christian? Did you know there is a name for this Christian? The “Christian Atheist” is one who goes to church … maybe … does all the right things, is a generally good person, and helps people. Yet these people rarely mention the cross, Jesus, or sin.

There is another name for that: Atheist. So, you might as well own up. We will miss you, but you cause more harm than you realize.

If you truly wish to live a God-honoring life, speak for your faith and your God. Yes, it can be tough talking with people about sin and the need of a Savior, but that is actually the one thing a Christian is supposed to do (see Matthew 28, especially verses 17-20).

So, give a reason.

Peter, the Apostle, told us “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV). The greek word used for “give an answer” is where we get our words “apologize” and “apologetics.” We were commanded by our Lord and reminded by one of His closest followers to share the message, to know what we believe and why, and to share these reasons.

But we can do it “with gentleness and respect.” We do not have cram “You are sinner and you need Jesus!” down the throats of people. One of the best definitions for gentleness I have ever heard is “controlled strength,” and for respect “loving patience, service, and humility.” Yes, you should find times to share your faith, but the loudest message will be faithfully living your life for Christ. If you are living well in a God-honoring way, you study His Word regularly, and are always willing to listen and help and humbly live your life, people will ask you about why this is. Then you can share your story and the story of Jesus Christ. It does not have to be all fire-and-brimstone, follow Jesus or suffer talk. In fact, a simple and straight-forward explanation usually opens the door to further conversation.

And do not worry if you do not have all the answers. You can ask your pastor or friends for advice or even refer the asker to one of them.

If want some help, here are a couple of common questions and answers that may come up:

“Faith is abandoning reason and believing for believing’s sake! So why have faith?”
“Actually, faith is reasoned belief. I have faith in what I do not see or understand, because I have seen enough evidence that what the Bible says is true enough places to trust the others.”

“How can you believe in a God when there is so much evil on the planet?”
“Evil can be defined as “the absence of God.” If most of our world wants nothing to do with God and often pushes Him away, you would expect to see “the absence of God” in many places. If some people do not want His help, why would He? Should we not be more amazed that have not destroyed ourselves? Our continued existence can be seen as evidence that God is good and gracious in keeping us from destroying ourselves.”

These are just a couple of short, quick responses, and by no means full rebuttals. It takes practice reasoning skills to become proficient.

Another reminder: Anyone who says the Christian life is easy is trying to sell you something. Jesus warned us there would be difficulties, but we have the Holy Spirit to help us.

Do not apologize for the faith we hold. If we truly believe we have access to the truth, there is nothing to apologize for. We should acknowledge the sins the Church has committed, but we should explain the difference between what has been committed and what Christ has called His Church to do. And we live it.

What do you think? Do you see more apologizing or apologetics? Do you have any stories of your own?

The Gospel According to Bill & Ted

In 1989 and 1991 some movies were introduced to the masses: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

If you have not seen either of these totally excellent movies, you should. Why?

Bill & Ted tell the Gospel

For starters, look at their two famous quotes:

  • “Be excellent to each other.”
  • “Party on, dudes!”

You may be asking “What do those have to do with the gospel?”

“Be excellent to each other” is clearly a rewording of “Love your neighbor as yourself;” and “Party on, dudes,” is clearly a call to live a righteous life, and I will argue for “Love the Lord your God with [everything you are]” as being included in living a righteous life, dude.

As far as the story of Jesus Christ …

Here is how Bill and Ted tell the story of our Lord

First, they enter time … travel.

Second, they interact with humanity in amazing ways and teach many people truths about life.

Later, they are killed and go to Hell (a “non-non-non-non-NON-Heinous!” place … which, really is wrong unless you add one more “non” in there).

After defeating Death (at board games!) they ascend to Heaven.

They have a helper (Station!) who equips them to fight evil, whom is beaten.

Through their “ministry” (rocking out!) they change the world which eventually becomes a utopian place of peace and prosperity.

In case you missed why this is relevant …

God entered time as Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus performed many miracles and performed many amazing things, and He taught people truths about Life.

He was later crucified by the very people who should have worshiped Him (those people are really all people, but specifically the Jews in this instance) and many believe (though, in fairness, not all do) that He then descended into Hell.

Three days later, Jesus overcame death and the grave once and for all proving He is God and justifying all who believe in Him in faith.

Forty days later He ascended into Heaven, and ten days after that sent a Helper (Holy Spirit!) to equip the saints (all who believe in Christ).

Through the ministry of His people the Church He has changed the world, and He will one Glorious Day return to change this world into His Paradise!

I may be a little crazy, but you have to see the connection!

My real point today is that we must always be ready to share the gospel using whatever means we have available. The Apostle Paul did it. I just shared an example.

Now that I have had some fun, what are your favorite stories that remind you of the Gospel?

The Great Banquet

I cannot let go of this rapture thing quite yet.

Yep, my wedding reception!

What about the Great Banquet?

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14:12-24, NIV

Is the Church doing its job? Are Christians  acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God as He requires? Are we clothing the naked, giving shelter the homeless, or visiting the infirm or imprisoned as we ought?

It seems the world is doing more of this than most Christians. In fact, I know and know of more people outside of churches who act justly, love mercy, cloth the naked, give shelter, visit, heal, encourage, and support others. Problem? Definitely. It looks like our world is doing a better job at being salt and light than those who have been called to be the salt and the light.

So what do you think? If the rapture were to occur tonight, would we be surprised to see a third of the world gone and almost all of the Christians still here? Should we be surprised? Am I being too heretical? Or are you as convicted as I after reading this?

Seriously. Check yourself. I am.