Christianity 201

June 12, 2019

It’s Up To Us To Issue The Invitation

Today, we return to the writing of Andy Elmes. To get devotions like these sent to you by email, go to Great Big Life and click on Breakfast of Champions.

Yeah, But What If?

Matthew 24:42-44, NKJV

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

A few years back the world was subjected to another end of the world prophecy, where a man apparently representing Christians all over the world told how Jesus would return on a particular date. He said that at 6 pm Pacific time the earth would split, Jesus would return and the rapture would begin. The date came and went without anything that had been forecasted happening. All that sadly did occur was, once again, the media and sceptics of Christianity had more fuel to use and reasons to laugh.

But this false prophecy got me thinking, and the next day in Family Church I preached a topical message on it. After sharing on the news reports of what this man had claimed was going to happen, and of course clarifying the truth of no man knowing the exact day and the time, I posed a question: “Yeah, but what if?” What if, for some bizarre reason, he had got it right? I then played a very loud soundbite of thunder and lightning in the room and, as it echoed violently through our bass speakers, people stopped to think, “Yeah, what if, if it was all over what would I have changed?”

For me some things were very clear, because my life is built on His word. Would I be in heaven standing in heaven’s Sonlight? Yes, I do not doubt that, or have to hope for it – rather, I have an assurance because my salvation is the result of my faith in His grace and performance, not my ability or works. But the troubling question was, if He had returned who would not be in heaven with me? Who would not be there with me because I didn’t make time to tell them, or was not able to get over the pride or embarrassment that caused me not to give them their invitation? A very sobering thought and one that should cause us all to think about those we say we care for. Do we care for them enough to make sure they would be there with us?

Other questions caused me to review my life and priorities (things I thought were important). If I was now standing in heaven, how much would the things I thought I needed and had lived for now really matter? What worth would they have to me now? Was what I spent my life on worth it? Did it carry any profit in the place I now called home?

We know that Bible teaches that no man knows the hour or the day, but we also need to remember that a lot of what this fanatical man said was actually true: one day Jesus will return without warning, like a thief in the night, at a moment when people least expect, and in the twinkling of an eye it will all be over.

Let me leave you with this motivating thought: What if? Who do you need to reach for Christ? Do you need to take a fresh look at your priorities and what really matters? What do you need to spend the currency of your remaining days on?

I’m so glad He didn’t come on that highly-advertised date, as it means we still have time to invite those we need to, and live the life we always intended to. What are you waiting for, Champion – live your best life now?

October 21, 2013

Lessons from Lot’s Story

Two years ago we introduced you to the writing of Duke Taber, who blogs at Taber’s Truths, where you’ll find a mix of devotional articles, Bible studies, and marriage resources. This recent article appeared there a few days ago under the title Remember Lot’s Wife.

Luke 17:32
“Remember Lot’s wife.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and how Abraham’s cousin Lot barely escaped with his life. However what we do not talk about very often is Lot’s wife. She was the one who turned back to look one last time at what she was leaving behind and in doing so, ended up becoming a pillar of salt.

Jesus told us to remember Lot’s wife in context of looking for His return. It was a warning to us not to be attached to our cultural lifestyle here on earth. It is a reminder to be focused on His kingdom and the lifestyle of His kingdom. Eating, drinking, experiencing life with family and friends are not bad things. However when they become the focus of our life then they become anchors that attach us to this world in ways we do not expect. These anchors are something we all need to avoid.

Things That Tie Us To This World

These anchors can be good things that have happened in our life or bad things that have happened in our life. Let’s take a look at the good things for a second. For instance, family is a good thing. However when your family has more influence upon you than Jesus does then that relationship is an anchor that ties us to this world in an unhealthy way.

Another example of a good thing becoming a bad thing is in the area of finances. Making money is a good thing and we all need to do it in order to live. The problem arises when making money becomes the end in itself rather than just a tool used while we are here on this earth. I know many people who sacrifice their spiritual life with Jesus because they are so busy making money. They have to have all the latest and greatest toys life has to offer. Materialism becomes an anchor in their life that keeps them from following Jesus the way He would have them follow.

Even love can become an anchor when it is used in the wrong way. Our love for our closest family members is something that needs to be nurtured and developed. However that same love can become an anchor when it is mixed with grief and loss. I know many people who are trapped in the cycle of grief because they think if they really move on they are somehow violating the love that they have for the person who has gone on to be with the Lord. Their life becomes tied to that tragic event. They emotionally mark the calendar of how long it has been since the tragedy happened. This ties them to something that keeps them from following Jesus.

Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean in the scriptures.

Matthew 8:22
But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 19:21
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Luke 14:26
“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.

In these scriptures Jesus makes it very clear that following Him and the kingdom lifestyle is more important than even the most dear of things on earth. Now I don’t believe He wants us to actually hate our family. He is talking about placing them at a lower level than discipleship and following him.

Remember Lot’s Wife

So I just want to encourage you to remember Lot’s wife. Remember that if we are to be disciples of Jesus then we have to let go of the anchors that hold us back from truly following Jesus with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As I studied this devotional I was reminded of this song by the early Contemporary Christian Music band Fireworks. On low-speed internet? This is a static image video which plays audio only.

January 26, 2013

Kyle Idleman on Idolatry

This is an excerpt from chapter one of a forthcoming book (Feb 19) by Kyle Idleman, author of Not a Fan. The book is titled Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart (Zondervan).

…[W]hen Moses stook on Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments from God, the first one was, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:2-3)

Gods at War - Kyle IdlemanWhen God issued this command during the time of Moses, the people were familiar with a lot of other gods. God’s people had spent more than four hundred years in Egypt as slaves. Egypt was crowded with gods. They had taken over the neighborhood — literally. The Egyptians had local gods for every district. Egypt was the Baskin-Robbins of gods. You could pick and choose the flavors you wanted.

The Bible’s paradigm is different. When we hear God say, “You shall have no other gods before me,” we think of it as a hierarchy: God is always in first place. But there are no places. God isn’t interested in competing against others or being first among many.

God will not be part of any hierarchy.

He wasn’t saying “before me” as in “ahead of me.” A Better understanding of the Hebrew word translated “before me” is “in my presence.”

God declines to sit atop an organizational flowchart. He is the organization. He is not interested in being president of the board. He is the board. And life doesn’t work until everyone else sitting around the table in the boardroom of your heart is fired. He is God, and there are no other applicants for that position. There are no partial gods, no honorary gods, no interim gods, no assistants to the regional gods.

God is saying this not because he is insecure but because it’s the way of truth in this universe, which is his creation. Only one God owns and operates it. Only one God designed it, and only one God knows how it works. He is the only God who can help us, direct us, satisfy us, save us.

As we read Exodus 20, we see that the one true God has had it with the imitation and substitute gods. So God tells the nation of Israel to break up the pantheon; send it home. All other god activity is cancelled. He makes sure the people understand that he is the one and only. He is the Lord God.

You may be thinking, Thanks for the history lesson, but was a long time ago. After all, in our time the problem doesn’t appear to be that people worship many gods; it’s that they don’t worship any god.

Yet my guess is that the list of our gods is longer than theirs. Just because we call them by different names doesn’t change what they are. We may not have the god of commerce, the god of agriculture, the god of sex, or the god of the hunt. But we do have portfolios, automobiles, adult entertainment and sports. If it walks like an idol, and quacks like an idol…

Kyle Idleman – Gods At War pp. 23-24

For my review of the book, click here

March 5, 2012

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Today we’re introducing you to David Rupert who blogs at Red Letter Believers, where this post appeared recently under the title, Can’t Find Satisfaction at Work? You’re Right on Track.

Last week, I opened up the book of Ecclesiastes and read the yearnings of Solomon. A man on the outside that looks like he had it all. But really, he was a sorry sap, a man looking for satisfaction in all the wrong things.

“Vanity of Vanities,” he wrote.

“So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.”

As I pulled my pants on this morning and buttoned my shirt, I have to admit that some similar thoughts ran through my head. Does it really matter what I do? Am I making a difference? Isn’t it true that if I were to leave, then 100 would be ready to step in my place — many of them better suited for the work?

Maybe Solomon was right. What do we get for all the toil and anxious striving? In today’s age, when the pay doesn’t go up but the workload is increasing not just in percentages, but exponentially as company’s continue to make do without hiring. Sure I get a paycheck at the end of two weeks, but that just makes me a hireling — a man who will do anything for money.

But I know better.

I enjoy what I do. Like a beaming third grader, I do my work well so the boss will be happy. I want the company to succeed, even prosper and do my part to make it function. I like my coworkers and anticipate my time with them.

However, I am not a person who finds his satisfaction in his work alone. I cannot put my trust in my labor, hoping that it satisfies the ache in my soul

If I do, I’ll be found wanting in the end. That was Solomon’s quest, his fruitless pursuit.

“There is a God-shaped hole,” Pascal wrote. And that hole cannot be filled by anything less than a relationship with Jesus. My job, profession, or occupation will never fill it. That’s why work can feel so hollow at times. It was supposed to be like this.

So when I get frustrated today, it will be a reminder of where my passions should be. Sorry boss, but it’s not in my office. I’ve my eyes focused on distant fields.

Does your work satisfy you? Does it fulfill you? Or is there something missing? Comment here. 

Related articles, Looking for God in all the wrong places

~David Rupert

  • Take this to the next level with these thoughts by Jeff Lyle who blogs at Transforming Truth, with this piece, Success That Endures.