Friday, January 25, 2013

What Is Love?

1 Corinthians 13:13  -  And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Jesus Loves You
A teacher of the law asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:29-31

As we think about the idea of love, many differing thoughts enter our minds.  So what did Jesus mean when he said the word love?  The Greek word “agape” is the one that is used and was used by believers to talk about the special unconditional love of God.  This unconditional love is what Jesus is telling us we should have for God and for each other.  This is a love that looks toward all things holy and turns away from the world and the pride of life.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives an excellent explanation of the kind of love that Jesus was talking about.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast.  It is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

As believers living a life of repentance this means always putting God, Jesus, family, friends and neighbors before ourselves.  As human beings there will be times when we fail, no matter how hard we try.  Once again, this should remind us that we should always be thanking God for His gift of Jesus, and the gift of salvation that we were given when Jesus suffered, died, and rose again.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Careful How You Say It

There have been so many serious problems throughout the world that I decided to include something this week that I hope will give everyone a laugh.  It is a little story that came into my presence, but I do not remember how.

religious story
There’s a story about a revival where a barber was saved.  The preacher told him that since he was a barber and got to meet a lot of people, he could do a great work for the Lord if he would talk to them about religion and salvation.  When he asked how he could get into a conversation like that with his customers, the preacher said, “Just do it casually.  Talk to them about their soul, ask if their house is in order, if they are prepared to die, and so on.”

The first man to come in the next day wanted a shave, so the barber put a hot towel over him, talking about the weather and what-not, and then after he had lathered the man up good, he figured it was time to get down to the religion part.  He grabbed up his razor, stropped it a few times, pointed at the man, and said bluntly, “Brother, are you prepared to die?”  The man jumped up and ran out of the barbershop with the lather still on his face.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What Happened When Jesus Was Baptized?

Many churches take this time after Epiphany to celebrate the baptism of Jesus.  All four gospels refer to our Lord’s baptism, but I would like to use the account found in Matthew 3:13-17.

Jesus' Baptism
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.  But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.  At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Several important things happened when Jesus was baptized.  First, God announced to everyone that Jesus is his son, that he loves Jesus, and that he is pleased with him.  Included is the fact that the Spirit of God descended from heaven and landed on Jesus.

Second, John the Baptist announced to everyone that Jesus is the Messiah and that his ministry is beginning.  John 1:31-34 supports this when John says, “I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”  Then John gave this testimony:  “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.  I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

Third, through baptism Jesus identified completely with our sin and failure, even though he was pure and did not need to repent.  This is how he became our substitute.  This gift to us from God is reemphasized in 2 Corinthians 5:21; God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Finally, through his baptism Jesus set an example for all his followers:  that we should repent and be baptized.

As each of us remembers our own baptism, we should also remember that Jesus, who was without sin, became our substitute and took on the pain that is rightfully ours, so that we can stand sinless before God and live with him throughout eternity.

Monday, January 7, 2013

How Do You Say "I Am a Christian"?

Zazzle Products
As I said in an earlier blog, I have spent the last couple months doing a lot of reading and what I found was a lot of confusion.  There is a tremendous amount of information available and much of it results in the scattering of Christians to the far corners of the world.  There are so many opinions being promoted that even strong Christians can be led astray, if they don’t stay in their Bibles and continue to grow in their faith.  Even among Christians differences are becoming more and more evident, so that one Christian may doubt a Christian brother or sister.

Zazzle Products
I believe that Christians need to start pulling together again and talking about what they believe.  I also believe that Christians need to start standing up for Jesus instead of just sharing their faith at church on Sunday morning.  For that reason we are developing a line of products that can gently or boldly say to the world, “I am a Christian.”  Over time this line will grow, because we want to make available designs and products in a wide price range.  We hope that all Christians will be able to find something that they like and will want to use.

Please check out what is already available and keep checking back as new products and designs continue to be made available.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Why Is There Epiphany?

Because the festival of Epiphany is part of the church year and developed as the Christian church grew, you will not find the word “epiphany” in the Bible.  I did think it was important to include it, however, because many churches still celebrate Epiphany as part of the church calendar.

3 Wise Men
The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek and means “appearance” or “manifestation.”  It is celebrated on January 6 and the twelve days starting on December 25 and ending on January 5 have been call “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  In Western Christianity January 6 has always celebrated the appearance of Jesus to the Gentiles, or non-Jewish people.  This appearance is represented by the coming of the Wise Men to see the baby Jesus as told in Matthew 2:1-12.

In Eastern Christianity Epiphany is a celebration of the baptism of Jesus.  This story, told in Mark 1:9-11 tells about the appearance of Jesus to all of humanity as the Son of God.