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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Do you ever have those times when God seems to hit you in the gut with a scripture, a sermon, or a devotion?  You know what I mean: you are struggling with some issue or some sin and then you read or hear something from God’s Word that really sets you straight (and kind of creeps you out when it speaks right to whatever it is that’s on your mind).

I had that happen to me twice in the last two days.  I won’t share what yesterday’s revelation was (it’s just not that interesting), but today’s revelation is worth sharing because I think that many of us could learn from it.

Yesterday I received an email that really made me mad.  I was feeling pretty good, sat down to go over my messages and have a cup of coffee and got kicked in the stomach, so to speak.  A friend really reamed me out in a totally unfair way (from my perspective).  He assigned to me all kinds of motives that I did not have, misrepresented things I had said, and said some pretty cruel things.  Let’s just say that grace was not the order of the day.   I went through the typical gamut of emotions: shock, hurt, remorse, outrage, and finally the one we usually end on: anger.  The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.  Having slept on it I was more and more convinced that I had not done anything to deserve the kind of letter that I received and the more I replayed the events the more angry I got that I was on the receiving end of this guy’s bad day.  I stewed in my anger: “What right did he have to say those things in that way, especially without first talking to me civilly?”  I just knew that I was totally justified to be angry for having been treated the way I was and thought of all the things I wish I had said back to him that I didn’t.

Then I read my devotion for the day from John MacArthur’s “Strength for Today”.  The summation said this: “Jesus is the greatest example of gentleness: He became angry when God the Father was dishonored, but not when He, the Son, was.” The last sentence in the devotion says this: “It’s so easy to strike back when someone criticizes or attacks us, but that’s not the way of the gentle Christian trying to walk worthy.  The only time we should let the lion in us roar is when God’s honor is at stake.  Jesus forgave those who crucified Him.  How can we do any less to those who hurt us?”

Ouch.  God’s Word, right to the gut.  Here I was, angry because my precious honor was impugned.  I was angry because I was done wrong (in my opinion).  I was stewing in my anger because someone had treated in a less-than-Christian way.  What a selfish, prideful person I am!

Jesus constantly had his motives questioned: they accused him of working for the devil.  He constantly had his words misrepresented: witnesses were found to twist his words before the Sanhedrin.  Jesus was personally attacked when all he wanted to do was to seek and save the lost: yet he went like a lamb to the slaughter.  And here I was in a tizzy because of a nasty letter.

The only time Jesus really showed anger was when God was being attacked: when the Temple was being used for greed and when people were being misled by the religious leaders.  And even when he was being nailed to a cross he said, “Father, forgive them.”  He never got angry when his pride was hurt or he was unjustly treated.  And yet we get so mad for the slightest offense.  Mad used to mean “crazy” (as in the Mad Hatter); maybe that’s not such a bad usage.  Most of the time when we’re mad we’re simply acting irrationally.

And here I am walking around in a funk because someone fired off a nasty email, something I’ve done a thousand times.  For all I know this guy, a friend, was just having a bad day.  He could have been speaking out of some deep hurt or anger.  I might have touched a nerve that I didn’t even know he had.  And even if he was 100% wrong, why should my anger get so stirred up over an insult to me when Jesus was willing to suffer death for my sake?

I read somewhere that you can tell a lot about a person by what they laugh at and what they get angry about.  I need to get over getting so mad over personal insults and more mad when God is dishonored.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

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Talk about bad timing.  I could have used this survey as a sermon illustration.  Let me explain: I just preached this weekend on the fact that Truth is under attack, specifically the truth about God, the bible, sin and Jesus.  No surprise there, the Truth has been under attack since the Garden of Eden when the serpent began the war of disinformation.

The gist of my sermon was that the Truth about God is being attacked by those who say there is no God and that we all just got here by accident.  Therefore, the bible is questioned, since if there is no God then the bible is not God’s Word, by definition.  If the bible is not true, then there is no scriptural basis for right or wrong and we have no standard as Christians to base our faith.

And finally, that means that the truth about Jesus is under attack.  The truth about Jesus, according to the bible, is that he is the Son of God, the one and only way to be saved.  You can believe this or not, but it’s what the New Testament teaches.  We’ve seen that truth being attacked more and more, not only from unbelievers, but from those who claim to be Christians yet are so gracious as to assert that he is not the only way to the Father.  A lot of the guys who are “big names” in the Christian world today are not willing to claim that Jesus is the only way to be saved, yet they are speaking at our conferences and are best-sellers in Christian bookstores.

Some people call this “tolerance”.  No, tolerance is respecting other people and not persecuting them for their beliefs.  But it’s not intolerant to assert that what the bible says about Jesus in John 14:6 is true.

Now this survey comes out, as reported on the Fox News website.  The results are astonishing.  57% of evangelicals believe that other religions can lead to eternal life. Evangelical Christians.  That’s astonishing because that goes against basic evangelical doctrine.  83% of mainline Protestants believe that, which doesn’t surprise me, but 57% of evangelicals does.  59% of black Protestants responding and 79% of Catholics also believe that other religions can lead to eternal life.

Should we in the evangelical church be alarmed when even folks who are in the evangelical church believe this?  I should think so… it should make us look a little more carefully at what we’re preaching and who we’re reading.  I’m not a big fan of the tactics that the discernment ministries use, but this survey kind of makes you wonder if their cries about the erosion of the Christian faith in the evangelical world are not on target, even if their methods are a bit grating.  57% of evangelicals think that Jesus is not the only way to be saved– doesn’t take a lot of discernment to see that this is a problem.

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This is the first in a three part series that I just finished.  It occurred to me one day that we could learn a lot from the emotions that Jesus showed during his earthly ministry.  After all, Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine, so his emotions show a good mix of human reaction and divine will.  Since Jesus only did God’s will, the things that made him mad were the same things that make God mad.  I’m careful to not assign human emotions to God yet I think it’s significant when we see Jesus clearly showing emotion.

In this first sermon I show that Jesus got particularly mad at sin and our refusal to take it seriously.  No, this is not a hellfire and brimstone sermon, but it shows that God clearly detests our sin and hypocrisy.  Enjoy.

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This is the second in my series on what makes God sad, mad and glad.  No, this is not some squishy, liberal sermon about God crying when we kill baby seals, rather, it looks at the things that made Jesus sad during his incarnation and extrapolates to say that the things that made Jesus sad are the same things that would make God sad.  I’m careful to point out that we should not assign human emotions to the Almighty God; however, we can see the emotions of Jesus and know the heart of God.

In a nutshell, it is sin that makes God sad.  Jesus wept to see the suffering of the fallen world acted out at the graveside of Lazarus.  He mourned over Jerusalem which would soon suffer for rejecting God.  He was amazed when he could not do miracles due to the lack of faith in those he encountered in his hometown.

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This is the third sermon in my series on what makes God mad/sad/glad. This one is on what makes God glad and I argue that while there is no scripture that says “Jesus laughed” or even that he was glad, his reactions to outrageous faith show that it was this kind of faith that makes him glad.

Again, I’m not trying to anthropomorphize God, instead, I look at the emotions of Jesus and extrapolate that since Jesus was fully human and fully divine that the things that made Jesus mad/sad/glad are the same things that would make God mad/sad/glad.

 

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