A.L.I.V.E.—The “L” Is For Lives Changed

A man named Paul was visiting Athens. While he was in the marketplace, he began to talk with people about Jesus Christ, specifically how Jesus had been crucified and then raised back to life.

His comments caught the attention of two groups of philosophers: the Epicureans who thought all religions were made up and were simply a crutch for the weak-minded and superstitious, and the Stoics who said that a divine power was in everything but wasn’t a Person that could be personally known. These groups said to Paul, “You are presenting some new teachings and strange ideas that we have never heard before! Would you come and address our next meeting?”

In 2004, renowned atheist Anthony Flew announced something that was a “strange idea” to the ears of his followers. Flew presented one of his first papers on atheism at the Socratic Club at Magdalen College, where the Christian literary giant C.S. Lewis served as the chairman. Over the years Flew had sharpened his rhetoric to become one of the best known and most outspoken atheists on the worldwide stage.

Yet in 2004, an 81-year-old Anthony Flew remarked, “I simply had to go where the evidence led,” as Flew announced to the world: there IS a God.

“My discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith,” wrote Flew in his book There Is A God, which is why last week I shared the first way we can know Jesus is alive in “A” is for apologetics. Today I submit to you the second way one can know that Jesus is A.L.I.V.E.: Lives changed.

Paul, who was asked to speak to the philosophers in Athens about his “strange ideas,” had been given the name Saul by his parents. When it came to religion, Saul took a backseat to no one! He was a purebred Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin (which gave Israel its very first king, who was also named Saul). Saul called himself a “Hebrew of Hebrews” because he kept the Law of Moses and the strict rules of the Pharisees absolutely faultlessly.

When he heard about Jesus (who claimed to be God), and about the followers of Jesus who claimed He had been resurrected from the dead, Saul persecuted these Christians so vehemently that he not only had many of them thrown into prison, but he had many of them killed as well.

That all came to a complete stop when Saul met Jesus for himself! You can read how Saul retold this story in Acts 22:1-16. After this encounter, Saul’s life was 180-degrees different! He even changed his name to Paul to signify his new outlook. Now he was just as adamant to tell people about Jesus as he was previously to harass and persecute Christians.

Paul’s conversion came at a steep price. The Jews with whom he used to associate now turned violently against him. Numerous times they attempted to kill him. In addition, Paul’s newfound faith in Jesus caused him to be persecuted by the Romans as well. The Roman Emperors wanted people to say, “Caesar is lord” but Paul and the other Christians were declaring, “Jesus is Lord.” Paul ended up being executed under Emperor Nero.

Paul had numerous opportunities to recant, but he never came close to doing so. His life was one that was under constant duress and distress and danger preciously because he refused to back down from his claim that Jesus was alive!

Paul isn’t alone. Millions of people around the globe have come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. Many, like Paul, have been harassed for their faith and some even violently persecuted and martyred, and yet they so firmly believed that Jesus is alive that they were willing to go to their early grave with “Jesus is my Lord” still on their lips!

What about you? Have you met Jesus for yourself?

Check out this video where my friend Scott tells his personal story of how an encounter with Jesus has completely changed the trajectory of his life.

Join me next Sunday as we continue with our 5-part series I can know Jesus is A.L.I.V.E. because of… where we will be looking at the letter “I.” You can join me either in person or on Facebook Live. If you missed the previous lesson, check out “A” is for apologetics by clicking here.

What Does It Mean To Be “Worldly”?

A lot of Christians struggle with what is considered “worldly,” trying hard to avoid such things. In our last Q Series, this was a question that was asked by a couple of people: what exactly makes something “worldly”? Check out this short video clip…

In the video I reference the following Scriptures:

You can check out some other topics that we addressed in the Q Series like an apologetic for the Bible, parables, end times events, and prayer.

6 Quotes On Being Poor In Spirit From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3)…

“The Greek word that Jesus used for ‘poor’ is the word ptochos. It is used to describe not ordinary poverty but abject poverty. Ptochos is not like my parents struggling to make ends meet [during the Great Depression]. Rather it describes a person who is completely destitute and helpless to do anything about it.”

Spirit refers to one’s inner being, our self-awareness. Specifically here it means how we evaluate ourselves with regard to our own spiritual condition. This abject poverty of spirit comes from our awareness of our own dreadfully sinful condition.”

“In the Beatitudes Jesus is talking about the character traits of those already in the kingdom. And He says we should be poor in spirit. It should be the ongoing daily attitude of one who is growing spiritually. Believers who are growing continue to see more sin in their lives. It is not that they are sinning more; rather they are becoming more aware of and more sensitive to the sin that has been there all along. … And it is the realization that even the sins, which seems so minor in our eyes, would bring us under the wrath of God, were it not for the atoning blood of Christ shed for us on the Cross, that should cause us to be poor in spirit.”

“Those who are poor in spirit…see Christ’s blood and righteousness as their hope not only for eternity but for God’s favor each day. They groan over their sin and earnestly pursue holiness but they do not trust in their holiness. Instead they say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’ (Luke 17:10).”

“The person who is poor in spirit has a deep, awe-filled reverence for God and His Word.”

“We live in a culture that promotes self-esteem. And I am concerned that this attitude has permeated the body of Christ. We see ourselves as better than we are. We look at sinful society around us, and we can be like the Pharisee who prayed, ‘God, I think You that I am not like other men’ (Luke 18:11).”

Quotes on the next Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

Thursdays With Oswald—The Memory Of Sin

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Memory Of Sin

     No aspect of Christian life and service is in more need of revision than our attitude to the memory of sin in the saint. When the Apostle Paul said “forgetting those things which are behind,” he was talking not about sin, but about his spiritual attainment. Paul never forgot what he had been; it comes out repeatedly in the Epistles—“For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle” (1 Corinthians 15:9); “unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given” (Ephesians 3:8); …sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). …

     If one wants a touchstone for the depth of true spiritual Christianity, one will surely find it in this matter of the memory of sin. There are those who exhibit a Pharisaic holiness, they thank God with an arrogant offensiveness that they are “not as other men are”; they have forgotten the horrible pit and miry clay from whence they were taken, and their feet set upon a rock through the might of the Atonement. … 

     May the conviction of God come with swift and stern rebuke upon any one who is remembering the past of another, and deliberately choosing to forget their restoration through God’s grace. When a servant of God meets these sins in others, let him be reverent with what he does not understand and leave God to deal with them. 

From Conformed To His Image (emphasis added)

These are good questions for Christians to ask themselves regularly: (1) Am I remembering the sins of others the way I would want others to remember my sins? (2) Am I remembering my forgiven sins the way that God remembers them (Psalm 103:10-12)?

Thursdays With Oswald―Don’t Become A Pharisee

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Don’t Become A Pharisee

   If I cannot see God in others, it is because He is not in me. If I get on my moral high horse and say it is they who are wrong, I become that last of all spiritual iniquities, a suspicious person, a spiritual devil dressed up as a Christian. 

   Beware of mistaking suspicion for discernment, it is the biggest misunderstanding that ever twisted Christian humility into Pharisaism. When I see in others things that are not of God, it is because the Spirit of God has revealed to me my own meanness[*] and badness; when I am put right with God on the basis of His Redemption and see those things in others, it is in order that God may restore them through my intercession.

   [*] meanness as used here: something or someone ordinary, common, low, or ignoble, rather than cruel or spiteful.

From Not Knowing Where

Pharisees are so quick to point out what’s wrong with other people. Pharisees are so quick to look at others’ shortcomings as a means of propping up their own “religious perfection.”

As Oswald Chambers points out, the only reason God would ever show me something out of place in someone else, is so that I may intercede in prayer for them. If that revelation causes me to talk about them, instead of talking to God about them, then I have become a Pharisee.

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading from today…

“One doesn’t realize in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy one must be tied.” —C.S. Lewis

“The Savior looks at sin through the glass of compassion; we often look upon it through the lens of Pharisaic pride.” —Charles Spurgeon

The longer the answer is delayed and the more effectually you pray, the more important He becomes and the less important the answer becomes.” Read more from David Wilkerson in his post Power In Prayer.

I always enjoy Tim Elmore’s insights into the youth mindset. Check out his post 4 Meta-Beliefs of Generation iY.

I think it is quite comical that so-called serious scientist says that a certain level of CO2 gas is “symbolic,” and how they extrapolate data with no regard to past data nor any mitigating future events. All in all, “climate change” proponents are more philosopher than they are scientist.

Mobile, Messy & Meaningful

21st-century Americans in Christ's timeI think we have made the Church and Christianity something different than what the New Testament shows us. We’ve created far too many “things” which simply aren’t in the Bible. That’s not to say these things are wrong, but they may become stumbling blocks to us if we make secondary things the primary thing.

So what is the primary thing about church?

It might surprise you to know that the word church is only used twice by Jesus (Matthew 16:18, 18:17). He used a Greek word ekklesia, which meant a gathering of people called out from their homes into some public place. This word originally had more of a “town hall” meaning to it, but Jesus used this as a starting point to show us true church.

In Christ’s time the church for Him was…

Mobile—wherever He was, church was. Look at the extensive traveling He did. He held as many “church services” in people’s dining rooms as He did in the synagogues.

Messy—often as Jesus was speaking…

  • People constantly coming and going
  • Pharisees yapping and interrupting
  • Kids playing
  • Women sitting at His feet, anointing Him, crying over Him
  • Food and drink were usually involved
  • Foot washing was taking place
  • When He was outdoors: wind, waves, farmers, passers-by…
  • When He was indoors: food being served and eaten, roofs being ripped off…
  • People constantly interrupted His sermons: “Blessed is Your mother…”; “Tell my brother to give me my inheritance…”; “My daughter is dying!…”

Meaningful

  • “I must go through Samaria.”
  • “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
  • “Zaccheus, today I’m eating dinner at your house.”
  • “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to preach good news to the poor, freedom to the captive, sight to the blind, favor to the oppressed.”

Jesus asked His disciples Who they thought He was (see Matthew 16:13-18). The correct answer was Peter’s declaration, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Jesus said, “You’re right, and on that declaration I will build My church.”

Our job is to make Jesus known as the Christ, the Son of the living God (v. 16).

Christ’s job is to build His Church (v. 18).

He didn’t tell us to build a building and invite people to come on Sundays.

He didn’t tell us to start a Sunday School or a feeding program or a youth group.

There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they are not the main thing. 

The main thing is Jesus being seen as the Son of the living God. Where we are gathered together in that confession and purpose—even just two or three of us—that’s where His church is (see Matthew 18:20).

We must be mobile, taking a meaningful message into people’s messy lives. That is true church.

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