God has visited his people

Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:11-17

In today’s verses we have Luke’s account of the first person Jesus raised from the dead. Losing a child is always terrible no matter what the age you live in but for much of human history it was the sons who took care of their widowed mothers. For this woman she lost not only her child but her support. When Jesus came upon the burial party He had compassion on this woman.

Jesus touched the bier to get the bearers to stop and then He said “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the young man sat up and began to speak. Something had just happened that people at any time have no experience seeing, a dead person coming back to life. This was no Mary Shelly novel or modern Sci-Fi or horror movie no this was a person they all knew who had been dead and was about to be buried come back to life.

Is it any wonder that these people were afraid? They had witnessed a miracle. But they also recognized that this was from God and they glorified God saying a great prophet was in their midst and that God had visited them. They were right on both accounts. God’s greatest prophet was among them because this prophet was God. I doubt any there that day realized that Jesus was God but they recognized that someone great walked among them.

So many people witnessed this and other miracles that Jesus did yet so many refused to accept that Jesus was their Messiah. Many times unbelievers today say “if only God would perform a miracle for them then they would believe. Yet we see from the Bible that even those who did witness Jesus’ miracles did not always believe. In fact it appears that most of them never believed what they saw with their own eyes.

Many people are so sure they are right that no matter what proof is presented they will not believe. They will always come up with some other explanation for what they saw. My eyes played a trick on me or it has to be a hoax or if it really happened then there has to be some natural explanation. They will believe anything but God at work.

All the evidence in the world will not change a closed heart and closed mind.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Not even in Israel have I found such faith

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. Luke 7:1-10

I have decided to start a new religion. One must first become a centurion before they can be saved. I think I have ample evidence from today’s verses. After all does Jesus not say that “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” So from that it seems reasonable to think first we become a Roman centurion and then we can be saved. Ok, by now some of you may be wondering if I have received a blow to the head recently. Rest assured I have no intention of setting up a centurion based religion. What I hoped to point out once again is the danger of taking the words in the Bible out of context.

Over the last three weeks I have been dealing with a commentator on my blog who is convinced that Judas not Jesus is the way to salvation and ultimately God. What is his evidence for this belief? He takes verses out of the Bible away from their context and then weaves them into his infatuation with Judas. I feel deep down he has had some unfortunate experience with Christians and wants more than anything to undercut the Christian faith. Christians do the same thing. We have a pet theory or belief we want supported by the Bible so we search until we find a verse that seems to support us and then pull it out of God’s Word for all to see.

God’s Word is not meant to parcel out in bits and drabs in order to support what we believe. It is meant to be taken whole so that we can learn what God is trying to teach us. There are no hidden meanings that only a select few are privileged or smart enough to understand, that is Gnosticism. There are no secret coded that need modern computers to understand. God’s Word is accessible to all if we read it with a mind open to His Word.

Today Jesus is not teaching us that we need to be a Roman centurion in order to receive salvation. No, Jesus is teaching the people at the time who have been clamoring for miracle in order to believe that here is a man who takes Jesus at His word. This man see no reason for Jesus to come to his home to heal the servant in fact the Roman centurion feel unworthy to have Jesus in his home. The Roman centurion is willing to have Jesus speak the words and he knows that then the servant will be healed. The Roman centurion shows true faith. He has witnessed or heard about the miracles Jesus has performed so he has faith that Jesus can do what He claims to be able to do. The Roman centurion needs no further evidence.

I have been reading the book True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism edited by edited by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer. The short essays I am currently reading concern faith specifically Christian faith. What the writers want to get across is that Christian faith is not a belief in spite of the evidence but a faith that the evidence we have been given is enough to believe in God and Jesus and what the Bible teaches us. I do not have to accept that Christianity is true because my pastor, friends, family or others tell me so. I can accept that Christianity is true because we have the eyewitness accounts of people who lived when Jesus lived. We have the scientific proof that the universe was created. We can see God’s handiwork all around us as the universe shouts out that a creator exists. Do we have all the proof that there ever could be, no we do not. But we do have enough that when Jesus tell us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind we need not check our brains at the church door. Blind Faith is a good name for a 60”s English rock band but it should not describe a Christian.

Have a blessed day,

David

Once I finish True Reason I will post a review on my blog. So far I have found it worth my time.

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Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49

Boy, can I shout guilty as charged to today’s verses. How often have I done just the opposite of what Jesus would want me to do while at the same time proclaiming Him Lord. We all fall down from time to time letting our desires get the better of us but I think today Jesus is specifically talking to those who proclaim the name Jesus while all the time worshiping someone of thing that is totally not Jesus.

These people who proclaim Jesus while ignoring who He really is or the Gospel He preached have figuratively built their religious house on a bed of sand rather than the rock that is Jesus. The want Jesus’ identity but not the things that go with identifying with Jesus. Sometimes they make Jesus an angel other times they make Jesus a second god then other times they want Jesus to be an idea rather than a real person. All these variations on Jesus are just building houses on sand.

But a real follower of Jesus has a house built on a solid foundation, the Rock of Jesus. Building your life on Jesus’ rock means you can weather the storms that life throws at you. Even when the ground shakes you find yourself on the solid ground of Christ. Nothing in this world or the next can harm you.

Living near the coastal area of Texas I can readily see how storms can affect the houses built along the coast. Hurricanes wash away the sand and suddenly a house topples into the Gulf. But as you get further from the coast the homes have a firm foundation and while the winds blow and the waters rise the house still stands.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:43-45

There is an old computer saying, garbage in, garbage out. The same can be said for us. If we fill our minds with garbage then what comes out of our mouths will be garbage. Each Christian needs to bear good fruit. We need to not only share the Good News but live the Good News. To do so we need to take in God’s Word and study God’s Word. Then we need to put that message into practice.

I am a bit of a news junky, not as bad as I used to be but I read the daily paper every day and catch the local evening newscast. Doing so can take a toll on a person as we see how much evil is done each and every day. It seems like a week does not pass without a teacher being arrested for relations with a student and some child being abused or killed. People are attacked in their cars and front yards and home invasions are epidemic.

What can we expect in a world that seems to reject God at every turn. In this thorn bush that is today’s world how can anyone expect to get grapes. It is up to us who have the good seed of the Gospel to share that seed with the world. We will not change the world over night but we can change the world one person at a time. Many hearts will be closed to the Good News and they will continue to product brambles but many are searching for the truth.

To share the truth we need to not be afraid of learning new ways to share the Gospel. The world is very different that the one I grew up in. When I was a child most accepted that God exists and that there was such a thing as absolute truth. Today we need to start from scratch. We live in a world where many think all truths are relative and there are no absolutes. We live in a world where many believe that God does not exist. To reach these people we need to reason with them. It is no longer good enough to give them a Bible and think our work is done. We need to be able to answer their questions and refute the false information that is out there.

I have recently been corresponding with someone on my blog who though they have read the Bible and quote from it. But, they have read the Bible with an agenda one that is not God’s. I respond to a question only to have another arise. That is why every Christian needs to have a passing understanding of apologetics so they can answer the hard question people raise today and correct misunderstanding of God’s Word.

Many times we will fail to bring them to God but we should never stop trying to let everyone know about Christ and what He did for all of us.

Have a blessed day,

David

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You hypocrite

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. Luke 6:39-42

I guess the biggest knock on Christians and the Christian churches is that we are hypocrites. Unfortunately there is a lot of truth to their claim. How often do we have two separate lives? One on Sundays and another the rest of the week. We preach love and then forget to practice it when dealing with others. In particular when dealing with those whose lifestyles we disapprove.

Each of us has enough sin in our lives that we need to take care of that we do not need to look at others’ sins to resolve. Jesus is telling us to day to get our own house in order before we criticize someone else’s housekeeping. We can easily see the dust on their bookcase but are oblivious to the mud tracked in on our own floors. Of course taking stock of our own sins is never fun. In fact we often want to minimize our sins as little sins. It always seems easier to spot what others are doing wrong than the see where we fall short.

All of us, myself first of all, need to make sure we walk the walk when we talk the talk. Acting pious on Sunday and then taking a take no prisoners attitude the rest of the week does not make the unbeliever want to associate with us and turns them off Christ. Like it or not but we are the first thing people will learn about Jesus. It has been said that we are the only Bibles many will ever read and we are certainly the first Bible they will encounter. It is up to us that they encounter a positive and accurate translation.

Will we slip up? Of course we will but we need to project Jesus more often than we project the world or worse yet Satan. That means being honest with ourselves and being honest with others when we fall short. When we fail admit it and let them know that our goal is being like Jesus even though we may fail at time. When we are honest with people then they are more likely to listen to us when we share Jesus with them. And just like a real home, the work is never done. Just when you get one thing done something else needs attention. Still the rewards for us and those around us are eternal.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Why Learn Apologetics?

dwwork:

The reason we blog

Originally posted on Thomistic Bent:

I sometimes encounter those inside Christianity that do not believe that Christianity should be defended. I was once told by a minister at Rice University that using apologetics was not only wrong, but hurtful to the cause of Christ. Leaders of churches have told me that they did not believe faith should be defended, but that if we merely study the Bible, we will adequately prepare people spiritually for anything they will encounter outside the church. I respectfully disagree for the following reasons.

The Bible Commands Us to Defend Christianity

  • Jude 3 tells us to “earnestly contend for the faith,” with the word contend meaning to fight vigorously. The context is clear, since the remainder of the small book speaks about false teachers who have crept into the church and done much damage.
  • 2 Timothy 2:23-26 tells us to not argue about foolish things, but to gently “correct those who are…

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Judge not

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:37-38

This is one command I frequently fail to keep. It is just so easy to judge the actions of others. The two things I feel Christians do the worst job of is showing the love of Christ and being judgmental. We often say hate the sin but love the sinner but when we do this aren’t we judging? Too often we let our judgment of the seriousness of the sin, isn’t their sin always more serious than ours, get in the way of showing Jesus’ love. Too often we want them to clean up their act before we welcome them into our church.

Fortunately for us Jesus does not work that way. He accepted us before we cleaned up out act. Good thing too. The churches would be pretty empty if we had to get our lives in order before Jesus saved us. Jesus did not ask us to become perfect before He accepted us, no He accepted us and then began the process of making us perfect. For me that is a long drawn out process that will not stop until I reach heaven.

Christianity is not some club where you have to be acceptable to join. Christianity is a personal relationship between one person and God. And if God has accepted that person then who are we to cast stones at them? Sometimes it seems that we mouth the words that we are still sinners but in our minds we have convinced ourselves that we have already stopped sinning or at the very least that our sins are trivial. What we forget is that to God there are no trivial sins. All sins are acts against God and every one of them deserved death.

Yet we let a scornful look or a turn of the head because we just do not want to associate with those people turn some seeker away from God and toward hell. That is on us. We need to make sure that everyone has a chance to hear the Good News. We need to make sure everyone has a chance to accept Jesus. We are not the Judge, thank God. Judgment is God’s purview. I for one am thankful for that.

Have a blessed day,

David

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