Arts and Culture
More from Google
Get the Android app
Get the iOS app
Living the Bible
A short daily podcast for learning, loving, and living the Bible.
2 days ago
It's good to laugh!
I was out with some friends from church a couple of weeks ago. We had such a good night. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in a long time. “It’s so good to laugh!” I said to Shona on the way home. *Laughter can be good* * Natural laughter: laughing with friends, good clean fun * Spiritual laughter: laughing with God at his goodness *Laughter can be bad* * Dirty laughter: rude jokes and filthy talk * Doubting laughter: Skeptical dismissing of what someone says * Despising laughter: Sneering, mocking contempt of God or others What about Abraham’s laugh in Genesis 17:17, where God told him not only that he would have a son when he was 100 years old, but that Sara would bear his son when she was ninety! Was Abraham’s laugh a good laugh or a bad laugh? I used to think it was bad because it questioned God. It was the kind of laugh that casts doubt on what God said. But I looked up Matthew Henry and he argued that it was a good laugh. He called it “Abraham’s joyful, thankful, entertainment of this gracious promise...It was a laughter of delight, not of distrust.” The questions were more about admiration and surprise than doubt. John Calvin says it was a mixed laugh. “He laughed, not because he either despised, or regarded as fabulous, or rejected, the promise of God; but, as is commonly wont to happen in things which are least expected, partly exulting with joy, and partly being carried beyond himself in admiration, he breaks forth into laughter....Abraham was as one astonished; as if he had received some incredible tidings.” Whether Calvin or Henry is right, I was wrong. What they say fits better with Romans 4:19-21. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrennessof Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. It’s good laugh with friends, but it’s also good to reverently laugh with God at his astonishing, surprising, wonderful, awesome Gospel promises and grace. As Abraham showed, we can be flat on our faces while filled with holy laughter. He wasn't laughing his head off, but was laughing his heart out (John 8:56). This episode of Living the Bible lines up with Expedition 4: Day 6 in Exploring the Bible Together: A 52 Week Family Worship Plan and Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. You can catch up with previous episodes of the Living the Bible podcast here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcast.
3 days ago
God wants to be my friend?
How many times have you been let down in relationships? How many times have you let others down in relationships? We crave relationships, yet relationships can be such a source of pain and disappointment. Sometimes we’re tempted to give up, aren’t we? There’s just no point in trying anymore. Loneliness and isolation can seem very attractive. I’ll just live by myself and for myself. When we open the Bible, though, we hear five of the most profound words in the universe: “I will be your God.” God is saying, “I want a relationship with you.” He says that in multiple different ways in the Bible. Listen to how he says it in Genesis 17:6-10. *GOD WANTS A RELATIONSHIP WITH US (6-8)* Look at the words I’ve highlighted: *“And I will establish my covenant between me and you...* *an everlasting covenant, to be God to you*...*and I will be their God” (*7-8) God made us because he wants a relationship with us. And even after Adam and Eve divorced God, he designed a plan to fix what we ruined. The whole Gospel plan was designed to make “I will be your God” come true. *Sin says, “You will not be our God,” but the Gospel responds, “I will be your God.”* Is this relationship all one sided? *GOD WANTS A TWO-WAY RELATIONSHIP WITH US (9-10)* God wants a two-way relationship, a mutual relationship. *“As for you, you shall keep my covenant” (9).* When we hear God say, “I will be your God,” God wants us to say in response, “We will be your people.” God had given Abraham multiple covenant promises. Again and again he said to Abraham, “I will be your God.” But Abraham kept messing up. God was saying, “I will be your God,” but Abraham was saying, “We will not be your people.” Therefore God gave him three helps to encourage him in this relationship: promises of multiplication, a new name, and circumcision (10). God covenanted to multiply Abraham. God re-named Abraham. God circumcised Abraham. We looked at the first two helps yesterday. The third, circumcision, was a way for Abraham and his family to say, “We will be your people. We will be cut off from the world in order to join ourselves to you. We will keep your covenant.” The cutting off of the skin and shedding of blood was a painful yet memorable way of Abraham and his family saying, “We are committed to this relationship.” Now, of course, we don’t have circumcision now; we have something even better. We have baptism. In baptism, God says, “I will be your God,” and we say, “We will be your people.” God says, “You will be separate from the world and joined to me,” and we say, “We will be separated from the world and joined to you.” Why do I say this is better? Because this time all the painful blood-shedding is on God’s side. *In circumcision, through painful blood-shedding and separation, Abraham showed his commitment to make this relationship work. At the cross, through painful blood-shedding and separation, God showed his commitment to make this relationship work.* *LIVING THE BIBLE* When God says, “I want to be your friend,” or “I want to marry you,” or “I will be your God,” he means it. If you doubt his commitment, look to the cross and respond, “We will be your people.” This episode of Living the Bible lines up with Expedition 4: Day 5 in Exploring the Bible Together: A 52 Week Family Worship Plan and Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. You can catch up with previous episodes of the Living the Bible podcast here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, and
4 days ago
The Mighty Multiplier
What do you do when you meet challenges, difficulties, and obstacles in life? If you’re like me, your tendency is to try harder rather than trust harder. We trust our own minds and might rather than God’s. As a pastor and a parent, I’ve fallen into that trap more times than I’d like to remember. It never ends well, as Abram found out when he trusted in his own mind and might more than God’s. That’s the messy story of Genesis 16. God responds in Genesis 17. Let’s listen to what he says in verses 1-5. *I AM MIGHTY AND YOU ARE NOT* Abram sinned by using his own power to multiply his seed. What were God’s first words to him after this sin? “I am God Almighty, walk before me and be perfect.” * *God doesn’t ask for our help:* See where Abram’s “help” got him. * *God does ask for our faith:* Trust my mind and might, not your own. Abram falls on his face before God in an admission of his weakness and God’s power. “You are mighty and I am not.” *God doesn’t ask for our help, but he does ask for our faith.* If you were Abram on the ground, you might be wondering, “How can I avoid doing this again? Will God help me to trust him?” God read his mind and gave him three helps. *I AM THE MULTIPLIER AND YOU ARE NOT* God gave Abram three reminders to help him believe. Here are two of them. We’ll look at the third tomorrow. * *God covenanted to multiply Abram*: A covenant is more sure and secure than a promise * *God re-named Abram:* Abraham means “father of a multitude.” Abram’s weakness divided his family, but God’s power multiplied it. This was fulfilled physically in the nation of Israel—Abraham is the father of the nation. This was fulfilled spiritually in the church—Abraham is the father of the faithful (Gal. 3:7,9). *We are weak dividers, but God is the mighty multiplier.* *LIVING THE BIBLE* Next time we are tempted to try harder rather than trust harder, let’s fall on our faces and hear God’s reminders. I am mighty and you are not. I am the multiplier and you are not. Let’s give waiting a shot rather than working, trusting rather than trying, faith rather than force, relying rather than running. And watch God proving again that he is mighty and he is the multiplier. This episode of Living the Bible lines up with Expedition 4: Day 4 in Exploring the Bible Together: A 52 Week Family Worship Plan and Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. You can catch up with previous episodes of the Living the Bible podcast here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcast.
5 days ago
A Workout for your Patience Muscle
As I look back on my life, especially at my fails, there’s one sin that most of these fails all have in common—impatience. A lot of us can say the same thing, can’t we? Impatience gets us into so much trouble. Do you want to strengthen and grow your puny patience muscle? I do. How can we do that? Let’s turn to Genesis 16:1-6. *IMPATIENCE SEPARATES FROM GOD* Impatience is essentially saying to God. You’re going too slow for my liking. Let me help you speed things up. That’s what happened with Abram and Sarai in verses 1-3. * Abram and Sarai ran out of patience * Abram and Sarai ran into sin *When we start speeding, we also start sinning.* But impatience not only breaks up our relationship with God, it also breaks up our relationship with others. *IMPATIENCE SEPARATES OUR FAMILIES* Look at the division that entered this family when impatience entered this family. * Hagar v Sarai (4) * Sarai v Hagar (5a) * Sarai v Abram (5b) * Abram v Hagar (6) *Impatience is weakness and weakens relationships, patience is strength and strengthens relationships.* *LIVING THE BIBLE* That was a painful workout wasn’t it. Now, as with all hard workouts, we’ve got to let the muscles repair and rebuild. We can do so by remembering God’s patience: with the world, with his disciples, and with ourselves. Let God’s patience soothe you, slow you, and strengthen you. Build your patience muscle by remembering the damaging weakness of impatience and the constructive strength of God’s patience. This episode of Living the Bible lines up with Expedition 4: Day 3 in Exploring the Bible Together: A 52 Week Family Worship Plan and Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. You can catch up with previous episodes of the Living the Bible podcast here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcast.
6 days ago
Promises for Failed Promise-Keepers
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was not a believer. I was living a sinful worldly life. I was still going to church on Sunday, but I was ungodly Monday to Saturday. Actually, often on Sunday too. There were times when my conscience stirred and I realized I had to stop living as I was doing. I would make promises to God. I promise to stop doing this or that bad thing. I promise to start doing this or that good thing. However, no matter how many times, I made these promises to myself and to God, I couldn’t keep them. The weekend would roll round again, and the broken promises would join the growing pile of broken promises in my life. I promised and failed, promised and failed. I needed something more than my promises. What was that? We find the answer in Genesis 15:1-6. *FAITH NEEDS GOD’S PROMISES* God assured Abram he was his shield and reward. He would protect him and provide for him (1). But Abram’s greatest need was a son (2-3). This was not just because he wanted to be a Dad, but because he wanted the world to have Gospel blessings through his children as God had promised (Gen. 12:1-5). * *God promised a real son (4):* His heir would not be a hired servant but a real son * *God promised multiple sons (5):* Wherever Abram looked (up at the stars or down at the sand) he was reminded of God’s massive promises This promise was fulfilled physically in Isaac and the great nation of Israel. It was fulfilled spiritually in Christ and his spiritual descendants (Gal.3:16). It’s complete, total and ultimate fulfilment will be at the close of history when all will see Christ and his seed as a multitude greater than any man can number (Rev.7:9). *Our promises are shaky, but God’s promises are sure.* So, is having God’s promises enough? No, it’s not enough to have God’s promises, we need to believe them as well. *FAITH BELIEVES GOD’S PROMISES* * *Abram believed God: *The word for “believed” is literally “Amened.” Abram “Amened God.” The word means to lean your whole weight upon. Abram leaned on the promise of God and the God of the promise. * *Abram was justified by God: *He was counted righteous because his faith was looking to the Christ who would secure the promises and fulfil them. In John 8:56 Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad”. Abram looked forward to the “day” when in Christ all the families of the earth would be blessed. That “day” commenced at the first coming of Christ, continues in the present, and will be consummated at the last day. *We're not saved by making promises to God but by believing the promises of God* *LIVING THE BIBLE* Believe God’s Christ-centered promises and be counted righteous by faith.
7 days ago
The United Nations
Nationalism has been defined as "identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations." The first part of this definition is what we would call patriotism. Patriotism is a healthy desire to see one's own nation prosper. That's all well and good. It's the second part of the definition which turns patriotism into nationalism. If patriotism wants to see our own nation do well, nationalism wants our nation to do well and all other nations to do badly in comparison. While patriotism has many happy and unifying fruits, nationalism has many divisive and rotten fruits. * It sets nation against nation * It divides nation from nation * It exalts one nation over another nation * It eliminates other nations In Genesis 12:1-5, we have God's plan to unites the nations. We have an inspired commentary and explanation of these verses in Galatians 3:8-9. "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." *ALL NATIONALITIES WILL BELIEVE THE GOSPEL* "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham" (Gal. 3:8a). * God saves the Gentiles * God saves the Gentiles by faith *Not all nationalities are equally sinful, but all nationalities are equally saved. * *ALL NATIONALITIES WILL BE BLESSED BY THE GOSPEL (8b)* ...saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed" (Gal. 3:8b) * Blessing will come from you * Blessing will go to the world *God has given different blessings to different nations, but sends one blessing to all nations.* *ALL NATIONALITIES WILL BE UNITED BY THE GOSPEL (9)* "So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith" (Gal. 3:9). * Faith unites with Abraham the man of faith * Faith unites with all men and women of faith *False religion and unbelief divides the nations, but true Christianity and faith unites the nations.* *LIVING THE BIBLE* Join with God's plan to unite the nations by believing the Gospel yourself and by seeking the good not only of Americans but of all believers everywhere.
Jun 27, 2020
Is there any hope for me?
No matter how many times I’ve heard thunder and seen lightning it still makes me jump. Last night as I prepared this podcast, the thunder was thundering, and no matter how many peels I heard, the next one made me jump again. If you’re like me, when the sights, sounds, and vibrations of thunder, lightning, and rain combine as they did last night, we cannot but think of God’s anger and his judgments. But at least we know each of these summer storms will be over in a few hours at the very worst. But, imagine if you were Noah and you were in a boat, in the worst storm of divine judgment ever, and it went on for 40 days and 40 nights. Pretty scary, eh? When it finally passed, Noah must have wondered, “Is there any hope for me. Is there any future for my family? God has been so angry and has executed such awesome judgment, is there any hope for the future? Will God ever stop being angry? Is God ever going to give us peace again? Is it worth building for the future if there’s no guarantee this won’t happen all over again? Is the future going to be just as dark as the past? God knew Noah’s questions and answered them in such a way that gave him hope of peace and a future. But he also answered them in such a way that he can give us all peace and hope for the future. Let’s look at Genesis 9:12-17 to recover hope and rediscover peace *GOD PROMISES PEACE* After having disrupted nature in such a spectacular way, God promised peace for the natural world with two specific promises. *No more floods:* In the ancient Near East, covenant treaties were made after wars between the warring nations as a first step toward embarking on peace. Here, after warring against sin, God made a covenant of peace in which he promised no worldwide flood ever again. *Reliable seasons:* God promised a world of regular cycles – seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night (8:22). What a relief! Without this promise, the first cloud or spot of rain would remind Noah of the great deluge and arouse terror in his heart. *God initiated war on the world, but then initiated peace for the world.* Noah might have thought, “These are beautiful words, but they are just words. After all I’ve seen, will God give me something more reassuring than just words? *GOD PICTURES PEACE* God gave a rainbow to seal and picture God’s promise of peace. The rainbow communicated: * *God’s peace is confirmed: *Covenants were sealed as proof of completion and commitment * *God’s peace is beautiful: *The rainbow is the most beautiful sight in the whole of nature, so beautiful that most artists say the rainbow is impossible to paint. * *God’s peace is varied: *It’s not boringly monochrome but spectacularly multi-colored. * *God’s peace is comforting: *The same word is used for a battle bow, but here it is hung up and put away after the war, pointing away from earth. * *God’s peace is worldwide:* It spans the whole of earth and bridges between heaven and earth. * *God’s peace calls to repentance:* The Jews confess their sins when they see a rainbow. God loves to promise peace and God loves to picture peace. Although we see that in Noah’s story, we see it with even more comfort and clarity in the New Testament, in the cross of Christ. There, in the New Covenant, God promises peace and pictures peace in a way that far transcends the Noahic covenant. The cross promises and pictures something far greater than natural peace between God and nature. It promises and pictures a far greater peace than just no more floods and reliable seasons. It promises and pictures spiritual peace between God and sinners. It promises and pictures no eternal judgment and reliable mercy.
Jun 26, 2020
Has God forgotten me?
Has God forgotten me? Has God forgotten us? Has God forgotten his church? Who hasn’t asked these questions in recent months? God’s judgments have been raining down upon us – physical, financial, and social judgments. But there have also been spiritual judgments. Churches have been closed for months, public worship has become private worship, and the sacraments have not been administered. Funerals and weddings have become small private gatherings of a handful of people. Has God forgotten me? Has God forgotten us? Has God forgotten his church? We feel abandoned. We feel vulnerable. We feel doomed Noah must have felt like this when being swept along on the waves of judgment for forty days. Does God remember me? Has God forgotten us? That’s why the words in Genesis 8:1 are so precious. "And God remembered Noah.” It's not that God forgot Noah at any point. It's not that God just remembered Noah at that point, as in “Oh, I just remembered.” So what does God’s remembering mean? *GOD LOVES THINKING ABOUT HIS PEOPLE * * *God chose to think about Noah:* He deliberately decided to think about Noah and his situation. Our remembering can be accidental. Something just springs to mind. That’s not God’s remembering. No, God, chose to give Noah extra special consideration and attention. * *God enjoyed thinking about Noah:* God chose to think about Noah because he enjoyed thinking about Noah. Just as we can sometimes decide to recall a loved one and spend some time thinking about them with pleasure, so God did with Noah. *Our remembering can be accidental, but God’s remembering is intentional.* But Noah might have said, “I need more than thoughts. I need action.” *GOD LOVES PROTECTING HIS PEOPLE* God’s remembering is always connected to action. He doesn’t remember just for mental pleasure. * *God thought about Noah's safety:* The context makes clear that God’s remembering was especially focused on thinking about Noah’s safety. * *God ensured Noah's safety:* God didn’t just think about the danger Noah was in and his need for safety. He also acted to guarantee it by sending a wind to blow away the waters of judgment and navigating the boat to rest on Mount Ararat (Gen. 8:2-5). *Remember God’s remembering and you will never feel forgotten* Do you see how powerful an act God's remembering is? *LIVING THE BIBLE *Has God forgotten you? No. Has God forgotten his church? No. God loves thinking about his people and God loves protecting his people. Put your name in place of Noah's name: "But God remembered [David]." So let’s ask and trust God to remember us in the midst of his judgments. That’s what the thief on the cross did in the midst of an even greater divine judgment than the flood. “Lord,” he pled, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). And what was Jesus’s reply, “This day, you shall be with me in paradise” (43). Now that’s a remembering we will never forget. This episode of Living the Bible lines up with Expedition 3: Day 5 in Exploring the Bible Together: A 52 Week Family Worship Plan and Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. You can catch up with previous episodes of the Living the Bible podcast here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcast.
Jun 25, 2020
"I struggle with obeying God"
Do you struggle to obey God? We know what we should do and shouldn’t do, and yet we still disobey God. Why is that? Why is obeying God such a struggle? Even when we do obey, we often resent it. We don’t like someone telling us what we can or can’t do. Our obedience is grudging and bitter. Why is that? Why is obeying God so dissatisfying? Obedience is a struggle and dissatisfying because we often view God as a law enforcement officer who simply wants to keep rigid peace and order, rather than a heavenly father who wants to love and enjoy us. If we could change our view of God, we would change our view of obedience. If we obey our heavenly father rather than an earthly police officer, our obedience will be much less of a struggle and much more satisfying. Genesis 6:17-22 can help us to do that. In verse 18, God says to Moses, "But I will establish my covenant with you." *A COVENANT IS A SPECIAL PROMISE FROM GOD * * It’s not a general promise but a personal promise * It’s not initiated by Noah but by God * It’s not a promise of something but a promise of someone * It’s not a shaky promise but an unbreakable promise. *A COVENANT IS A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD * * God commits himself to Noah and his family * God invites Noah and his family to commit to him *A COVENANT PRODUCES SPECIAL OBEDIENCE TO GOD * What's the result of this covenant? "Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him" (22). * It’s not cold legal obedience – something for something * It’s warm personal obedience – something for someone As Jesus said, ““If you love me, you will keep my commandments....Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:15, 21). It's love before law. It's relationship before rules. *LIVING THE BIBLE* God’s special covenant promises enable and empower special obedience. If we put relationship before rules, we will find obedience less of a struggle and much more satisfying. This episode of Living the Bible lines up with Expedition 3: Day 4 in Exploring the Bible Together: A 52 Week Family Worship Plan and Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. You can catch up with previous episodes of the Living the Bible podcast here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcast.
Jun 24, 2020
Walking with God in a Wicked World
We can feel very lonely in this wicked world, can’t we? The world is so hostile to God. God is so hostile to the world. If the world is so hostile to God, how can I have any friends in the world? If God is so hostile to the world, will he want to be friends with me? No friends in the world. No friend in heaven. But Noah encourages us that we can have a heavenly friend in this hostile world. “Noah walked with God” (9). Noah walked with God even though surrounded by a wicked world. God walked with Noah even though surrounded by a wicked world. We can have a heavenly friend in this hostile world. *WALKING WITH GOD MEANS AGREEING WITH GOD* The prophet Amos asked, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Not for long. Who wants to go on a walk with someone we disagree with on everything. That’s not a walk; that’s a war. * *Noah and God agreed about truth* * *Noah and God agreed about holiness* *If we’re not agreeing with God, we’re arguing with God. We cannot agree with God without disagreeing with the world.* Yes, but I need someone to talk to and someone who will listen to me. *WALKING WITH GOD MEANS CONVERSATION WITH GOD* Noah and God didn’t just walk in silence. They talked together. * *Noah spoke and listened to God* * *God spoke and listened to Noah* *Walking with God is talking with God.* Yes, but I can’t grow spiritually in a world like this? *WALKING WITH GOD MEANS ADVANCING WITH GOD* You can’t walk and stay in the same place, can you? No, you go forward. You progress. You advance. * *Noah advanced in faith*: He believed God’s Word about the promised flood. * *Noah advanced in obedience*: He built in ark for many decades surrounded by daily mockery. * *Noah advanced in courage:* Walking with God made him courageous in a hostile world. * *Noah advanced in happiness:* He was the perfectly blessed man of Psalm 1 before there even was a Psalm 1. *We cannot grow upward in faith, unless we go forward with God.* *LIVING THE BIBLE* If God can walk with us despite with wickedness of this world, let’s walk with God in every-day life despite the wickedness of the world. This episode of Living the Bible lines up with Expedition 3: Day 3 in Exploring the Bible Together: A 52 Week Family Worship Plan and Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. You can catch up with previous episodes of the Living the Bible podcast here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcast.
Jun 23, 2020
Put the Amazing back into Amazing Grace
Do you ever look around the world and wonder, “When is God going to judge?” The next question is “Can I escape if he does judge?” Let’s answer these two questions as we think about Genesis 6:5-8. In the process we will put even more amazing into amazing grace. *WE DESERVE GOD’S AWESOME JUDGMENT (5-7)* * Great wickedness (5a) * Constant wickedness (5b) * Grievous wickedness (6) * Punishable wickedness (7) *Sometimes God seems awful quiet, but he is preparing awe-full judgment.* Is there any hope for anyone? *WE GET GOD’S AMAZING GRACE (8)* As Mercy Me sing: “We're on the edge of our seats saying it's too late Well let me introduce you to amazing grace.” * *Amazingly undeserved grace:* Noah found “favor” means he got what he didn’t earn or merit. He was not entitled to this. He was no different to anyone else but was treated very differently. * *Amazingly sovereign grace: *Noah was picked out by God’s powerful choice. He didn’t choose God;…
Jun 22, 2020
Hope for a Nation under Judgment
What’s happening to our nation? A pandemic, mass unemployment, a recession, riots, racial division? Little surprise that many of us are pretty depressed and discouraged. We’re all asking, “What’s happening? And “Is there any hope for the future?” The good news is that the Bible explains what’s happening and the Bible gives us hope for the future. We find that explanation and hope in Genesis 6:1-4. Let me give you the explanation and hope in summary and then show you how we get that from the Bible. *What’s happening?* National sins will be punished by a withdrawal of God's Spirit *What’s our hope?* An outpouring of the Holy Spirit to revive our nation. Now let’s see how Genesis 6:1-4 leads us to these answers. *GOD'S SPIRIT IS GRIEVED WITH PEOPLE* * *God's people were separated from world:* God called his people to holiness (1-2) * *God's people joined with the world:* God’s people (the sons of God) married worldly people (the daughters of men) (1-2).…
Jun 20, 2020
Is life worth living?
Is life worth living? More and more people are saying, “No,” especially young people. Depression, despair, and even suicide rates are soaring, especially among young people and middle-aged men Many of us feel down and out like this from time to time. Why is that and what can we do about it? Where do we find life in a life-sucking, life-draining, life-killing world? Genesis 4:1-8 helps us to understand the problem and points us also towards the life-giving solution. *GOD GIVES LIFE* “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” (1). * The Lord gave Cain (1) * The Lord gave Abel (2) Despite God saying that the penalty for sin would be death, he did not execute the entire penalty immediately. He continued to give life. *We deserve death, but God gifts life.* What do we do with this gift of life? We take it without thanks and even take it from others. *WE TAKE LIFE* There are two ways life is t…
Jun 19, 2020
The Blessing of Cursing
Everyone wants to be #Blessed. But what is that and how do I get it? * Some try to find blessing in work and fail * Others try to find it in family and fail * Others try to find it in health/long life and fail Why do these attempts to find blessing fail? We need to understand cursing before we can understand blessing. Let's try to understand how God curses to bless us. *LIFE WAS CURSED TO MAKE US SEEK BLESSING* As a result of sin: * God cursed child-bearing (16) * God cursed working life (17-19a) * God cursed our bodies (19b) Why did God do this? It was partly to make us feel the evil of sin. But it was mainly to stop us seeking blessing in lesser things and missing the greatest blessing of all. God cursed the areas we often turn into idols and try to find our satisfaction in – work, family, health and long life. He did this to make us seek blessing in something far greater and better for us. *Earthly life was cursed to make us seek heavenly blessing.* But what i…
Jun 18, 2020
The World's Biggest Loser
When I played soccer at high school, I could usually predict whether we would win or lose as soon as we saw the other team. For some reason, most of the players on my team were smallish. Extremely skillful but rather short. When we turned up and saw that we were playing a team of giants (which was quite often), I knew we were going to lose. I knew that not because the big team were better soccer players – our team usually had the better players. It wasn’t so much about our physical height (or lack of it), but more to do with our mindset. “They’re taller; we’re toast.” That was our team’s mindset. It was a loser mentality. We had lost before the game even began. My team didn’t even try. We were losers and therefore we lost. We can sometimes take that loser mindset into our battle with the Devil. “He is so big and strong; I am so small and weak. He’ll defeat me. He detests me. He’ll destroy me.” No wonder he wins! When we have a loser mindset, he’s won before…
Jun 17, 2020
How did we get from Eden to Chaz?
Coronavirus, economic recession, race protests and riots. Little wonder that months of this have left us divided and disconnected from one another as never before. We fear one another. We fight one another Can we ever get back to the United States of America? We need to understand the problem before we can fix it. To do that, we need to go back to where the problems all began. This didn’t start in China. This didn’t start with George Floyd. This didn’t start with President Trump’s election. The division and disconnect started about 6,000 years ago in the Garden of Eden. The fear and fighting began in paradise in Genesis 3:8-13. Because, it was in the paradise of Eden that sin began. We need to understand what happened there and then, if we want to understand here and now. The good news is that by identifying the problem we can then begin to address it and solve it *SIN DIVIDES AND SEPARATES FROM GOD* Genesis 1-2 paints an idyllic scene of connection to a…
Jun 16, 2020
Something Worse than Calamari?
Do you ever get taken in by the promised rewards of sin? I do. Here’s how it usually works for me: * I listen to its plusses * I think about its plusses * I desire its plusses * I act upon its plusses Does that sound familiar? I think we all recognize that pattern, don’t we? Do you want to break it? We can do so with the help of Genesis 3:6-8. The first sin began with exactly the same pattern.* * *SIN PROMISES A GREAT TASTE (6)* Eve listened to sin’s plusses, thought about its plusses, desired its plusses, and acted upon its plusses. What plusses did sin attract her with? * *Satisfaction*: The fruit was good for food * *Happiness*: The fruit was a delight to the eyes * *Progress*: The fruit will make me wise. That sounds very attractive. That’s a lot of plusses, isn’t it? Why shouldn't I have a taste? What could possibly be wrong with satisfaction, happiness, and progress? *SIN PRODUCES A BITTER POISON (7-8)* I once asked a server in a restaurant, “Wh…
Jun 15, 2020
The Devil's Favorite Punctation Mark
Sometimes we’re tempted to *question* God’s Word. “Is that really true?” we might have thought. Other times we’re tempted to *change* God’s Word, even just slightly, to suit our purposes? “I mean, what’s a word here or there? One word doesn’t make much difference, does it?” Or maybe we just outright *contradict *God’s Word. “I reject that truth or that way of living. I have a better idea.” Or perhaps we even *slander* God’s Word? “That’s not the best way to live. God’s got this wrong. I know better than God.” Questioning, changing, contradicting and slandering God’s Word. It’s awful isn’t it? We want to stop it. But how? Genesis 3:1-5 helps us to stop by revealing who is behind these temptations – the Devil – and how he works. Notice how he uses these four attacks on God’s Word to lead Adam and Eve into the first sin. *THE DEVIL QUESTIONS GOD'S WORD (1)* * God commanded: Don’t eat of the tree * The Devil questions: Did God act…
Jun 13, 2020
"I'm so lonely"
There's an epidemic of loneliness which is causing all kinds of physical and mental illness. Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) and Millennials (adults ages 23-37) are lonelier and claim to be in worse health than older generations. In an article entitled How Your Church Can Respond to the Loneliness Epidemic, the former surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is quoted as saying that loneliness causes “an insidious type of stress” that leads to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. Loneliness has the same effect on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” The most common expressions of loneliness I’ve heard over the years are: * I need a friend * I need help * I need to share * I need intimacy These are painful cries that are causing painful lives. Loneliness is a big problem. Marriage is God's bigger solution. It’s no surprise that loneliness has grown as marriage rates have declined and marriage break-ups have increased…
Jun 12, 2020
Why am I here?
Why am I here? Ever asked yourself that? Usually we just keep running, running, running, without ever stopping to ask that question. But sometimes, like during the recent lockdowns, when we’ve been forced to stop, step back, and sit still, we begin to wonder, “What’s this life all about? What am I doing? Why am I here? Am I just here to work every hour in the day to earn as many dollars as I can to spend as many dollars as I can? Is that it? Why am I working? What does my work mean? My work seems so pointless.” Many Christians also feel their work is godless; it has no connection with God or his kingdom. They see their work for the church or their evangelism as part of God’s calling on them, but the rest of their working lives, the vast majority of their lives, that’s not connected with God at all. Little surprise then that Christians feel frustrated and demotivated about their daily work. But work is such a large part of our lives. What if we could connect it to God and…
Jun 11, 2020
A Day that can Make us or Break us (Genesis 2:1-4)
Kim bought her son Jack a remote-controlled monster truck, but didn’t give him any instructions about how to use it. What do you think happened? Yes, within an hour, the truck was in pieces, and so was Jack. He had taken it outside, set it off at top speed, didn’t know how to turn it, and therefore smashed it into a wall. Kim felt really bad about this because she hadn’t taken the time to teach Jack how to use the truck properly. So she bought him another and this time spent hours and hours going over all the minute instructions. Then she added lots of rules of her own about how to use it, where to use it, and so on. An hour or so later, she realized she wasn’t hearing Jack playing with the truck. Worried that there had been another accident, she went to check and found him sitting on the ground just staring at the truck, which was still in its box. “What’s wrong, Jack?” "I’m just so scared of using it. I keep reading all the instructions and then all your rules and…
Jun 10, 2020
Who am I? (Genesis 1:26-31)
When I first met Simon, I thought he was a happy and successful young businessman. But, as I got to know him better, I realized that, underneath the confident image everyone saw, there was deep self-doubt and even self-loathing. Although it was difficult to get close to him, over some months, he gradually dropped his defenses and began to talk about his inner life. For all the outward success, he was clearly suffering a deep personal crisis. It was an identity crisis that seemed to be related to his father’s harsh and abusive treatment of him as a kid. Simon didn’t know who he was or why he was here. Although he struggled to explain himself, I noticed four expressions appearing again and again. * I'm worthless * I'm confused * I'm aimless * I'm insecure Have you ever felt like that? It’s impossible to be happy and at peace if we have such a deep and serious identity crisis. Can this be fixed going forward? Yes, by going backward. I took Simon back to the beginning of…
Jun 9, 2020
Use The Created World to Re-create Your Inner World (Genesis 1:20-25)
Over the years, when I’ve felt a bit depressed or anxious, I’ve noticed that it often follows times when I’ve spent too much time with the news and current events. The ugly sights and sounds of the new media depress and distress me. Ugly sights and sounds produce ugly, thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. One of the things that’s helped me get out of these ugly moods is filling my eyes, ears, and mind with beauty. Sometimes I go out and walk in the creation and, in Michigan, I almost always see some beautiful birds, animals, or even fish as I do so. Michigan winters are not so easy! But I found that watching nature programs about animals, birds, fish, and varied environments around the world really lifted my mood and calmed me down. Why was that? I wasn’t sure until I read Genesis 1:20-25 and realized that this was part of God’s original plan. The good world he created, creates good thoughts and feelings. Let’s walk around the Garden of Eden with Genesis 1:20-25 in o…
Jun 8, 2020
God's Lightbulbs (Genesis 1:1-5)
Sometimes the world feels like a dark place, doesn't it? * We feel spiritual darkness: so much religious error, so little knowledge of God * We feel intellectual darkness: so many lies, so little truth * We feel moral darkness: so much evil, so little goodness * We feel emotional darkness: so much depression and anxiety, so little joy and peace Is there any light in this darkness? Yes, there is. God is light and in him is no darkness at all (1 Jn. 1:5). *GOD BRIGHTENED THE WORLD WITH CREATION* * Light was God’s first word (Gen. 1:3) * Light was God’s powerful word (Gen. 1:3) But sin came in and darkened the world. Can God do anything to restore the light? *GOD BRIGHTENED THE WORLD WITH CHRIST* * He brightened the world at his birth (Luke 2:9) * He brightened the world with his life (John 8:12) * He brightened the world with his resurrection (Matt. 28:1-3) * * But Chris…
Jun 8, 2020
5-7 Resist the Devil (Meeting with Jesus)
I wasn’t good at math when I was at school. I knew I wasn’t going to do well in the exams, so I didn’t even try. I just gave up without a fight. If I’d thought I could actually do well, I would have studied much harder. I would have put in the time and effort because I had a hope it would all be worth it. But I was hope-less. I was defeated before I started. So I didn’t even try. Sometimes we feel that way about the devil’s temptations. We don’t even try to beat them, because we think we’re going to lose anyway. We don’t even try to win, because he always wins. If we knew that we cold beat him, that we would win, how much harder would we try? Let me share one short verse that I use to beat the devil’s temptations: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). This is a promise from God. It’s a promise of victory. God promises that if we fight the devil, we will win, and he will lose. In fact, you won’t see him for dust! He will flee fr…
Jun 6, 2020
5-6 Jesus Beats Temptation (Meeting with Jesus)
Jennifer’s soccer team had reached the play-off semi-finals. By half-time, they were 3-0 up. But the coach was worried. She saw that the players thought they had already won the game and were in the final. She tried to calm them down, stop their premature celebrations, and keep them fighting hard the whole game. But she could tell that they weren’t listening. Within ten minutes of the restart, the score was 3-2 and just before the end of the half, it went to 3-3. Jennifer and her team-mates trudged off the park to prepare for extra time. They had worked so hard all season and now they felt defeated and wanted to give up. If they were over-confident before, they were under-confident now. The coach realized she had to inspire them if they were to have any chance of winning in extra time. “You’ve all worked so hard through the year. You’ve trained and trained, practiced and practiced. Now, just one more big effort and all that hard work will be rewarded. Come on, think of the…
Jun 5, 2020
5-5 Jesus is Tempted (Meeting with Jesus)
Do you ever hear a little voice telling you to do something really bad? Sometimes that little voice becomes a big voice. Sometimes it goes on and on. Sometimes it sounds really evil. Sometimes it’s really hard to fight it. Temptation is a horrible experience isn’t it? Jesus had that experience too. In Luke 4, he heard the devil’s voice telling him to do bad things. But he never gave in to these temptations. *Temptation comes to the most holy (1-2)* We sometimes think, “If I was a Christian, I wouldn’t be tempted like this. If I was a child of God, I wouldn’t be attacked like this.” Well, remember, Jesus was the perfectly holy Son of God and yet he was tempted by the devil. The devil assaulted him with multiple temptations. * Temptation is a test of faith (3, 5-7)* The devil tempted Jesus to doubt God’s provision for him (3) and to doubt God’s plan for him (5-7). The devil was basically saying, “Do you really believe in God’s provision? Do you really believe…
Jun 4, 2020
5-4 Jesus is Baptized (Meeting with Jesus)
How can I escape the penalty of sin? How can I overcome the power of sin? Two questions that often trouble us, don’t they? We not only want to be freed from the punishment of sin but from the power of sin in our lives. John 1:29-34 points to Jesus as the answer to both of these problems. *JESUS FREES FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN (29)* * Jesus came to this sinful world * Jesus took away the sin of the world Jesus frees from sin's penalty by becoming the sacrifice for sin and taking the penalty of sin upon himself. But we want and need more, don't we? We not only want free from sin's penalty, but from sin's power. Can Jesus do that? *JESUS FREES FROM THE POWER OF SIN (30-33)* * Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit (32) * Jesus fills us with the Holy Spirit (33) Jesus frees from sin's power by filling his people with his powerful Spirit, his HOLY spirit. Follow John’s finger and John’s words and behold Jesus, look to Jesus to free you from the penalty of sin and the p…
Jun 3, 2020
5-3 Jesus Greater than John the Baptist (Meeting with Jesus)
Some people put preachers in place of Jesus. They end up admiring and following the preacher rather than Jesus. That’s not good for them, the preacher, or Jesus. People admired and followed John the Baptist. John was preaching so powerfully that people started thinking he might be the promised Savior (15). As soon as John heard this rumor, he stopped it. He stopped it by explaining how the Savior would be far better than he was. *Jesus has greater power:* “He who is mightier than I is coming” (16). John says, “Compared to the Savior, I am weak.” *Jesus has greater position:* “The strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie” (16). John teaches, “Compared with the Savior, I am lower than the lowest servant.” *Jesus has greater cleansing:* “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (16). John explains, “I can only put water on the body, but the Savior will wash your heart.” *Jesus has greater judgment:* “He will baptize you with fire. His winnowing…
Jun 2, 2020
5-2 Jesus and Repentance (Meeting with Jesus)
How many times have you said sorry for doing something bad, but you haven’t actually changed? We say sorry but we just keep doing. We say sorry but we don’t change our behavior. We’re like the Pharisees in Luke 3:7 who wanted to get away from the consequences of their sin but not get away from their sin. That’s why Jesus said in verse 8, “Produce fruits that prove repentance.” If we don’t, we will be cut down and thrown in the fire (9). Let’s have a look at the tree of repentance and see what repentance fruit looks like. *Repentance fruit involves doing (10, 12, 13)* Three different groups came to Jesus, but all asked the same question. “What shall we do?” They realized Jesus demanded doing right, not just feeling sorry or saying sorry about doing wrong. We need God’s help to get from feeling and saying to doing. *Repentance fruit involves money (11, 13, 14)* Repentance fruit varies. Jesus told some to share clothes and food, others to stop over-taxing, an…
Jun 1, 2020
5-1 Jesus Will Save (Meeting with Jesus)
A few years ago there was a bad earthquake in a remote part of Guatemala. The Government and relief agencies had lots of supplies for affected areas in the mountains but they couldn’t get there because the roads were blocked with trees and rocks, some roads had fallen into the valleys, and others had huge cracks in them. There was a lot of need in the villages and there were lots of supplies in nearby towns but the roads were such a mess that nothing could get through until they brought in cranes, trucks, tractors, etc., to clear and repair the roads. This is a picture of our hearts. Sin has caused an earthquake in our hearts. Our hearts are broken and falling apart. There are big holes, huge cracks, and massive boulders barring the way. Jesus is available with Gospel supplies but can’t get through. He therefore sends repentance ahead of him to clear the rocks, repair the cracks, fill in the holes, and smooth out the rough places. That’s why John the Baptist’s ministry was so…
May 31, 2020
4-7 Growing Holy by Knowing Jesus (Meeting with Jesus)
When I was a young boy, I wasn’t a good student. I wasn’t a good person. I began to grow in wisdom and in favor with God and others when I became a Christian in my early twenties. I started reading my Bible and praying in a way I hadn’t done before. Jesus had saved me from my sins and so I wanted to find out more and more about him and I wanted to be more and more like him. It was then I began to grow in wisdom and in favor with God and others. Please don’t wait as long as I did. Ask Jesus to save you from your sins today, and begin to find out more and more about him, and be more and more like him. Then you’ll grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and others.
May 30, 2020
4-6 Jesus Grows in Every Way (Meeting with Jesus)
We all want to grow big and tall. But how much do we want to grow in other ways? In Luke 2:51-52, we learn that Jesus grew in size. But he also grew in other ways. * Jesus grew in wisdom * Jesus grew in favor with God * Jesus grew in favor with people Aim higher than physical growth, by aiming for spiritual growth.
May 29, 2020
4-5 Finding Jesus (Meeting with Jesus)
I once went missing when I was on vacation. I was probably about 10 years old. I told my parents I was going to watch people fishing on a pier. My parents were fine with that because it was quite close. They said not to be away for more than 30 mins. I watched the fishing for about 15 minutes and then began to walk back. On the way back I passed an arcade and I decided to take a quick look inside. I started watching someone play a video game and got so focused on it that I forgot the time. I was probably there for about forty minutes when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was my Dad. He wasn’t happy, and said, “I knew you’d be here.” How did he know? He knew me. He knew what I was like. He knew I had a fatal attraction to arcades. It was the first place he looked. Yesterday we saw Jesus go missing in Luke 2:41-46. Today, in Luke 2:47-50, Mary and Joseph find him in the last place they thought of looking--the Temple. Maybe not the first place any parent w…
May 28, 2020
4-4 Jesus Goes Missing (Meeting with Jesus)
Imagine you went camping with a lot of other families from your town. After a week or so, everyone packs up to return to your town. The kids are all mixed up: some are in their parents' cars, some are in their friends' cars, but they’re all heading to the same home town and everyone figures they’ll sort it out when they get back home. But, when your family gets home, you’re not in anyone’s car. Your parents realize that you’re still at the campground many miles away. Understandably your parents are really worried and rush back to the campground and spend three days looking for you there. Imagine how they would feel for these three days. Probably by the end of it they would be sure you were dead or someone had taken you. And what were you doing all this time? Probably swimming, playing volleyball, visiting the arcade, doing mini-golf, and so on. Eventually they find you playing spikeball with some new friends. Something similar happened to Jesus. In Luke 2:41-46, we find hi…
May 27, 2020
4-3 Jesus Protected by his Father (Meeting with Jesus
We live in a dangerous world. There are natural dangers like hurricanes, and viruses. There are supernatural dangers like the devil and his angels. Sometimes it gets really scary, doesn't it? We don't feel safe, do we? We feel weak and we feel helpless, don't we? But we can find great safety, strength, and confidence in Matthew 2:19-23. *JOSEPH PROTECTED HIS SON* * Protected in Egypt (13-15) * Protected in Israel (19-21) * Protected in Nazareth (22-23) *GOD PROTECTED HIS SON* * With an angel in a dream (13) * With an angel in a dream (19) * With a dream (22) *GOD PROTECTED HIS SONS AND DAUGHTERS* * We needed Jesus to live for the present * We needed Jesus to die in the future Ask and trust God to protect you in this dangerous world.
May 26, 2020
4-2 Jesus Protected by the Wise Men (Meeting with Jesus)
What do you do when someone tells you to do what God has commanded you not to do? Perhaps someone tells you to steal something, or tell a lie, or hurt someone. You know it’s wrong but what will you do? Will you obey God or obey the person? Sometimes it’s a hard decision because the person might be someone you want to be friends with, or maybe you’re scared of them, or you want to impress them. Let’s see what the wise men did when Herod the King commanded them to do something really bad in Matthew 2:7-12. He commanded them to tell him where baby Jesus was, because he wanted to murder him. *GOD TESTS OUR OBEDIENCE* * *A king’s authority:* Herod the king was very powerful. When he told anyone to do anything, they did it. * *A king’s trick: *Herod told the wise men to tell him where they found Jesus so that they could worship him too. But he really wanted to kill him. It was all a trick. What will the wise men do? This king is very powerful and very clever. Will they o…
May 25, 2020
4-1 Jesus Visited by Wise Men (Meeting with Jesus)
Do you ever feel small and forgotten? You may be actually quite tall but still no one notices you or pays attention to you? You get overlooked, or worse, put down. Not a nice feeling is it? It takes away your confidence. It makes you fell worthless and hopeless. Is this what my life is going to be like? There was once a town that felt very like how you feel. Its name was Bethlehem and it was forgotten, overlooked, put-down. It was one of the smallest places in Israel, always in the shadow of it's big brother, Jerusalem. But where did Jesus choose to be born? Our reading today in Matthew 2:1-6, told us it wasn't big Jerusalem but small Bethlehem. He chose small rather than tall. But he chose small to make tall, and that gives hope to all small people everywhere. Let's read Matthew 2:6 and then take away two encouraging lessons. “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my…
May 24, 2020
3-7 Are you talking about Jesus? (Meeting with Jesus)
Yesterday we talked about how our society and even the church divide people up too much based on their age. When this happens: * The young do not love or learn from the old * The old are not encouraged and enlivened by the young Yesterday, God’s Word encouraged us to learn from the old. Today in Luke 2:36-40, I want you to see how you can encourage the older members of your family or church. Anna was very old, somewhere between 84 and 105. But she was still serving God and speaking of God. *SENIORS CAN STILL SERVE GOD (37)* * Anna served by worshipping * Anna served by fasting * Anna served by praying *SENIORS CAN STILL SPEAK OF GOD (38)* * Anna expressed thanks to God * Anna explained the salvation of God So why not share this story with your grandma or grandpa today. They might feel useless in their old age. But they can still serve God like Anna did and still speak of God like Anna did.
May 23, 2020
3-6 Jesus Welcomed by Anna (Meeting with Jesus)
Yesterday we talked about how our society and even the church divide people up too much based on their age. When this happens: * Young do not love or learn from the old * Old are not encouraged and enlivened by the young Yesterday God’s Word encouraged us to learn from the old. Today in Luke 2:36-40, I want you to see how you can encourage the older members of your family or church. Anna was very old, somewhere between 84 and 105. But she was still serving God and speaking of God. *SENIORS CAN STILL SERVE GOD (37)* * Anna served by worshipping * Anna served by fasting * Anna served by praying *SENIORS CAN STILL SPEAK OF GOD (38)* * Anna expressed thanks to God * Anna explained the salvation of God So why not share this story with your grandma or grandpa today. They might feel useless in their old age. But they can still serve God like Anna did and still speak of God like Anna did. This is a series of audio podcasts for kids who want to meet with Jesus by using M…
May 22, 2020
3-5 Jesus Welcomed by Simeon (Meeting with Jesus)
The young are divided from the old in society and the church and this has some harmful results. * The young think they know everything * The old don't share their knowledge In Luke 2:25-35 we see how much older Christians have to offer if we would meet with them and listen to them. We’re actually not told how old Simeon was, but the story indicates that he had been waiting to meet Jesus for a long time and was expecting to die quite soon. When he met Jesus, he said, ““Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation.” Then he spoke about Jesus: *JESUS IS FOR ALL PEOPLE (31-32)* * A light for the Gentiles * The glory of Israel *JESUS DIVIDES ALL PEOPLE (34)* * Some people will rise and some will fall * Some people will oppose Jesus and some will cry about how he is opposed = *JESUS REVEALS ALL PEOPLE (35)* * He reveals bad hearts * He reveals good hearts If Simeon was g…
May 21, 2020
3-4 Jesus Brought to the Temple (Meeting with Jesus)
Jesus's name is not treated well today. * *It is unused:* not used at all * *It is misused:* used in a superstitious way * *It is abused:* used as a curse In Luke 2:21-24, especially verse 21, we learn why and how we should treat Jesus’s name. *JESUS IS A HEAVENLY NAME* * *It was decided by God:* The name was not decided by Joseph or Mary, but by God, before Jesus was even in Mary’s womb * *It was given by God:* God gave the name by sending it with an angel to Mary and Joseph *JESUS IS A REVEALING NAME* * *It tells us something about Jesus:* He is the Savior * *It tells us something about us:* We need saving *JESUS IS A WELCOMING NAME* * *It welcomes us for salvation:* Let’s bring our sins to Jesus for his forgiveness * *It welcomes us to pray:* Let’s bring our needs to Jesus for his help * *It welcomes us to worship:* Let’s bring our praises to Jesus for his pleas…
May 20, 2020
3-3 Jesus Visited by Shepherds (Meeting with Jesus)
Do you ever feel useless? Do you ever feel worthless? Do you write yourself off as a nobody. Maybe you compare yourself to others and decide: * I have nothing * I can do nothing * I can give nothing * I am nothing I want to encourage you with the shepherds in Luke 2:15-20. Shepherds were very poor, very dirty, and very smelly. People looked down on them and avoided them. Yet God chose them as the first ones to hear and tell the news of Jesus’s birth. When the angels told them about Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, they ran to the stable and found the manger where Jesus was lying. *THE SHEPHERDS AMAZED PEOPLE (17-18)* * They told people about Jesus * The people were amazed and wondered *THE SHEPHERDS AMAZED MARY (19)* * Mary treasured the shepherd's words * Mary was amazed at the shepherd's words *THE SHEPHERDS WERE AMAZED THEMSELVES (20)* * They heard and saw * They praised and glorified Don’t write off anyone as a nobody, especially not yourself, becaus…
May 19, 2020
3-2 Jesus Praised by Angels (Meeting with Jesus)
We are surrounded by bad and sad news today. The Coronavirus hasn't just killed many people, it's also cost many people their jobs, it's stopped school and church, and it's upset the plans of many people. The result of all this bad and sad news? * We get depressed * We get worried * We get hopeless That’s why we have to surround ourselves with good news and we can do that using Luke 2:8-14. There we find shepherds watching their flock in a field near Bethlehem when an angel appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone all around them (8-9). Although they were initially afraid, the angel told them “Fear not, behold I bring you good news of great joy for all the people." * *The good news gives great joy (10): *Unlike most news, this makes us glad not sad. * *The good news is for great numbers (10): *Not just good news for a few but for all people. * *The good news is a great king (11): *This is no ordinary baby but the Savior of sinners, Christ the Lord. * *The g…
May 18, 2020
3-1 Jesus is Born (Meeting with Jesus)
Some people rebel against their birthdays. They say: * I was born at the wrong time * I was born in the wrong place * I was born to the wrong people * I was born in the wrong circumstances Have you ever thought or said that? Let's look at Christ's perfect birthday in Luke 2:1-7 to help us look at our own birthday in the right way. *GOD CHOSE CHRIST'S PERFECT BIRTHDAY* * *Born on the right time (1-3)*: Time of national census that made Joseph and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem * *Born in the right place (4)*: Bethlehem was the place the prophet Micah predicted Jesus would be born (Micah 5:2) * *Born to the right people (4)*: Joseph was descended from David, fulfilling the OT prophecy that the Messiah would be a descendent of David (2 Samuel 7) * *Born in the right circumstances (5-7)*: Jesus was born in a feeding trough in a barn, sending a clear message that he would be rejected by the high and mighty but that he came for the poor and lowly. *GOD CHOSE YOUR…
May 17, 2020
2-7 How does Jesus make you happy? (Meeting with Jesus)
“Jesus is Joy” was the title of this week’s meeting with Jesus. I hope the joy of the daily meetings brought joy into your life. We read about Mary’s happiness, John’s happiness, Elizabeth’s happiness, and Zechariah’s happiness. “How does Jesus make you happy?” That's the question I asked you to discuss today. I want to tell you three reasons Jesus makes me happy. There are many more and I hope you can think of some for yourself, but these are the three big ones for me. *JESUS FORGIVES MY SINS* * Past, present, future sins * Big, small, unknown sins *JESUS LOVES ME* * He loves me with words * He loves me with actions * * *JESUS IS MY LIFE* * He gives me life * He leads my life How does Jesus make you happy? This is a series of audio podcasts for kids who want to meet with Jesus by using Meeting with Jesus: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids.
May 16, 2020
2-6 Jesus's Cousin is Born (Meeting with Jesus)
Why are you here? Why are you in this world? What’s your purpose, your aim, your goal? What would make your life happy? What would make your life worth living? Lots of fun? Lots of friends? Doing well at school or at sports? None of these things are wrong but I want you to aim higher, to have an even bigger goal. When John the Baptist was born, everyone rejoiced. His dad was especially happy because God gave him a message about John’s life purpose, his goal, his aim. Let’s look at this message in Luke 1:76-79 to learn three lessons about finding a purpose in life that will make us happy and useful. *FIND JOY IN SERVING GOD (76) * * He was a prophet of God * He was a preparer for God *FIND JOY IN SAVING SOULS (77-78a)* * He spoke about salvation * He spoke about the forgiveness of sins * He spoke about the tender mercy of God *FIND JOY IN SHINING LIGHT (78b-79)* * Th…
May 15, 2020
2-5 Jesus Turns the World Upside Down (Meeting with Jesus)
The unbelieving world that we live in has a way of thinking, speaking, and doing. The world has its own values and order. Sadly, we can sometimes think, speak, and act like the world. * We lift up the high and put down the low * We honor to the rich and dishonor the poor * We think salvation is for the great not for the weak. As Mary celebrates Christ’s coming in Luke 1:51-56, she reminds us of how Jesus turns the world upside down. He has come to re-order the world, to change our way of thinking, speaking, and doing. *JESUS OVERTURNS THE WORLD'S ORDER* * He dethrones the mighty (52) * He enthrones the lowly (52) * He fills the hungry (53) * He empties the rich (53) * He helps Israel (54) * He keeps his promises (55) * His mother is a poor unknown country girl (56) *JESUS OVERTURNS THE SPIRITUAL ORDER* * His strong arm defeats the proud (51) * His strong arm delivers the weak (55) Has Jesus turned your world upside down so that you think, speak, and act…
May 14, 2020
2-4 Jesus is Mary's Happy Song (Meeting with Jesus)
Worship can go from one extreme to another * The extreme of emotionalism: all feeling and no thinking * The extreme of intellectualism: all thinking and no feeling Let’s learn from Mary’s worship in Luke 1:46-50 about how to get the balance right. *WORSHIP REJOICES (46-47)* * She magnifies the Lord (46) * She rejoices in God (47) *WORSHIP REASONS (48-50)* * God lifts up the lowly (48) * God does great things (49) * God is holy (49) * God is merciful (50) The best worship reasons and rejoices. We worship God with all the mind and all the heart. This is a series of audio podcasts for kids who want to meet with Jesus by using Meeting with Jesus: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids.
May 13, 2020
2-3 Jesus Makes John Happy (Meeting with Jesus)
When our joy in Jesus is small: * Our praises are small * Our witness is small In Luke 1:39-45 we will learn how to increase our joy so that we can praise God better and witness better. Our teacher today is going to be a little baby in his mother’s womb. He would later be known as John the Baptist. *LEAP FOR JOY OVER JESUS'S COMING* * Baby John leapt in the womb (41) * Baby John leapt with joy (44) *LEAP FOR JOY OVER JESUS'S BLESSING* * Mary is blessed among women (42) * Mary is blessed in the fruit of her womb (42) * Mary is blessed in her faith (45) Increase your joy in Jesus by rejoicing in his coming and in his blessing so that your praises and your witness will increase. This is a series of audio podcasts for kids who want to meet with Jesus by using Meeting with Jesus: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids.
May 12, 2020
2-2 Jesus's Birth Explained (Meeting with Jesus)
As you get older you are going to face some hard situations. Some of them will feel like impossible situations. * There's no solution to our problem: * There's no way out of this situation * There's no way I can face this challenge In Luke 1:34-38, Mary faced an impossible situation. Let’s see how the impossible became possible for Mary. *SOME THINGS ARE IMPOSSIBLE FOR US (34)* * Mary's impossibility (34): A child when she hasn’t been married * Mary's question (34): How can this be? It’s impossible *NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD (35-38)* * God's explanation (35): The Holy Spirit will do this * God's example (36): Mary’s cousin Elizabeth has had a child in her old age * Mary's faith (38): “Let it be to me according to your word.” Remember when some things are impossible for us, nothing is impossible for God. This is a series of audio podcasts for kids who want to meet with Jesus by using Meeting with Jesus: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids.
May 11, 2020
2-1 Jesus Makes Mary Happy (Meeting with Jesus)
One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to try to be happy without Jesus * We try to find joy in small things (ending up with small joy) * We try to find joy in short-lived things (ending up with short joy) * We miss the greatest joy of all (ending up with no joy) Jesus came to give us joy (John 15:11). In fact Jesus brought joy to Mary before he was even born. In Luke 1:28, an angel came to tell Mary that she would be Jesus’ mother. The angel’s first words were “Rejoice highly favored one” (NKJV). Why was she to rejoice? *The Lord loves you (28)* * The Lord favors you (28) * The Lord is with you (28) * The Lord is blessing you (28) *The Lord is saving you (31-33)* * Jesus will be in you (31): Jesus will be your son * Jesus will be over you (32-33): Jesus will be your Lord and Savior Now do you see how Jesus made Mary happy? So how can we be happy? Same way as Mary, *Rejoi…
May 10, 2020
1-7 How are you preparing the way for Jesus? (Meeting with Jesus)
Well done, you’ve completed the first week of Meeting with Jesus. This week we’ve been thinking about how God prepared the world for Jesus. Today, Sunday, Meeting with Jesus asks you a very personal question: How can you prepare the way for Jesus to come into your heart? I want to tell you how God prepared my heart for Jesus. *1. God prepared me with truth* * Truth from parents * Truth at church *2. God prepared me with sadness* * Sad deaths * Sad events * Sad sins *3. God prepared me with Christians* * I saw their joy * I saw their kindness *Ask God to prepare your heart for Jesus and give him truth to work with. *This is a series of audio podcasts for kids who want to meet with Jesus by using Meeting with Jesus: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids.
May 9, 2020
1-6 A Baby from the Lord (Meeting with Jesus)
Have you ever been ashamed? Maybe you fell at school and got your clothes all dirty and ripped. You didn’t want anyone to see you. * Shame makes us hide * Shame makes us lonely * Shame makes us sad Elizabeth was ashamed. She was an old lady but had never had children. In her culture people believed that was a result of God’s curse. She was ashamed. Let’s see how God took away her shame in Luke 1:23-25. *1. The Lord gives new life (24)* * Elizabeth believed the promise of life * Elizabeth experienced the growth of life *2. The Lord takes away old shame (25)* * God took away her shame before himself * God took away her shame before people Look to God to give you new life by taking away old shame. This is a series of audio podcasts for kids who want to meet with Jesus by using Meeting with Jesus: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids.
May 8, 2020
1-5 A Lack of Faith (Meeting with Jesus)
If your parents made a promise to you, do you think they would be unhappy if you didi not believe their promise? Of course they would. So what happens when we do not believe God's promises. * We are unhappy * God is unhappy Let’s see what happens in Luke 1:18-22, when Zechariah does not believe God’s promise of a son in his old age. *1. God's promises are big (18-19a)* * God sends a big angel * God promises the impossible *2. God's promises are good news (19b)* * Good news for the family * Good news for the church *3. God's promises are to be believed (20-22)* * Zechariah doubted God's Word * God silenced Zechariah's words This story tells us *we must believe God's promises, especially the big ones. *This is a series of audio podcasts for kids who want to meet with Jesus by using Meeting with Jesus: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids.
May 7, 2020
1-4 A Preparer of People (Meeting with Jesus)
Have you ever had the experience of not being prepared for an important visitor? Somebody important rings the doorbell, but we were not expecting them. * *We can miss the visitor:* We're not there or paying attention. * *We can be embarrassed: *We look through window and are too ashamed to ask them in. * *We can put off the visitor:* We open the door but the visitor sees the mess and doesn’t want to come in. God was about to send a very important visitor to the earth and wanted people to be ready. That’s why he sent John the Baptist. He was to prepare the world for Jesus as we read about in Luke 1:13-18. *1. God prepares with joy (13-14)* * Joy for Elizabeth and Zechariah: They will have a son. * Joy for the people: The people will rejoice over the birth too. *2. God prepares with his Spirit (15)* * John will be great before the Lord. * John will be filled with the Holy Spirit. *3. God prepares with revival (16-18)* * John will turn many to the Lord. * Joh…
May 6, 2020
1-3 An Awesome Angel (Meeting with Jesus)
Have you ever prayed for something for a long time and our prayers have not been answered? Sometimes, when we pray, we don't think anything is happening and we don't feel like anything is happening. What happens when that happens? * *Our prayers stop*: We go days or even weeks without praying * *Our prayers are just routine:* We say our prayers but we're not really praying. Zechariah and Elizabeth had prayed for a child for many years. They were very old. But they kept praying. What happened next? We read about it in Luke 1:8-12. 1. *Prayer moves angels (8-10)* * The church is praying * Zechariah is praying *2. Prayer moves us (11-12)* * Zechariah sees the Angel * Zechariah is in awe of the Angel When you pray, remember *God is moving awesome angels and you will then be awe-full too. *This is a series of audio podcasts for kids who want to meet with Jesus by using Meeting with Jesus: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids
May 5, 2020
1-2 A Childless Couple (Meeting with Jesus)
Do you ever think, “If I’m good enough, bad things won’t happen to me?” Some people think that if they are good enough no bad things will happen in their life. So what happens when bad things happen? * *When bad things happen, they blame themselves:* “I thought I was good, but this means I must have committed a terrible sin. * *When bad things happen they blame God:* “I thought God would reward me for being good. God's not fair.” Today in Luke 1:5-7, we read about John the Baptist’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were good people, but they were going through bad times. *1. They were good people (5-6)* * They were from religious families * They were righteous before God * They were obedient to God 2. *They were suffering people (7)* * They were very old * They had no children * This was very hard in that culture Next time bad things happen, remind yourself that it's not that we are bad or that God is bad. As we'll see *God's plan is good a…
May 4, 2020
1-1 A Careful Writer (Meeting with Jesus)
When we start a new class at school, we hope that our new teacher will be a good teacher, someone who makes things easy and simple rather than hard and difficult. * *A bad teacher mixes things up: *I remember I had a young teacher who was very hard to understand. He would start in the middle of a story, then go to beginning, then to the end. It was all mixed up. * *A bad teacher is hard to trust:* He was also hard to trust because at times it was clear even to me that he didn’t know much about what he was talking about. We are going to be reading through Luke. Luke is going to be our teacher. So let’s find out what kind of teacher Luke will be in Luke 1:1-4. *1. Luke read careful writers (1-2)* * They saw Christ's great acts * They wrote about Christ's great acts *2. Luke wrote carefully (3)* * He followed events closely * He wrote an orderly account *3. Luke can be read confidently (4)* * Luke was confident * We can be confident. Luke wrote in this way “…
Apr 30, 2020
0-11 How I met Jesus
Let me tell you about how I met Jesus in the Bible. I was born into a Christian family. My parents took me to church and also taught me the Bible at home. However, I did not want to meet Jesus when I was young because I wanted to live my own life without him. Although I went to church, I did not listen very much to the sermons or to my Sunday school teachers. Also, sad to say, I did not read my Bible much. It’s no surprise, then, that I did not meet Jesus. I didn’t really want to. I am not proud of that. Indeed, I am ashamed of it and often wish I could live my childhood and teen years all over again. But Jesus did not give up on me. Even though I did not want to meet him, he wanted to meet me, and he did not give up on me. In my early twenties, my life was not going well. I was trying to live without Jesus and I was very unhappy. After some sad events in my life, I went home to my parents, and they talked to me about how I needed to meet Jesus. My mom gave me a book to help me s…
Apr 28, 2020
0-10 Meeting with Jesus as a Family
It’s hard to do things on our own, isn’t it? It’s much easier to do something, and keep doing something, if we have others with us, or watching us. For example, how much school-work would you do if you had no other students and no teacher in your class? Having a teacher and other students makes us work harder, doesn’t it? It’s the same when it comes to Meeting with Jesus. If we just try to do it on our own, we will probably forget to do it, we’ll maybe just decide not to do it, and we won’t get the benefit of knowing what others have discovered, and we won’t have a teacher to remind us to keep going. That’s why we don’t have a reading for Sunday. As we saw in the last podcast, we still meet with Jesus on Sunday, it’s just that we do it in church in the worship services. But we also want to meet with Jesus together with our family. Let's think about what role the family has. *Families can meet with Jesus through the week* I know it helps when there are two o…
Apr 27, 2020
0-9 Meeting with Jesus in Church
One thing you’ll notice about Meeting with Jesus is that it doesn’t have any reading for Sunday. There are passages to read Monday to Saturday but none for Sunday. Why is that? Is it because I don’t want you to read your Bible on Sunday? Of course not. Partly it’s to give you a day to catch up if you missed a day through the week. And you will. From time to time you’ll forget to read the passage and fill out the question. That’s OK. Just use Sunday to catch up. But it’s also because Sunday is the day when we go to church to worship God, listen to God’s Word read and preached, go to Sunday school, and meet with our friends. These are all great times to also meet with Jesus. Jesus has promised to meet with us when we gather together in his name (Matthew 18:20). So, yes, we can meet with Jesus on our own reading the Bible and praying, but we can also meet with Jesus together. Jesus loves to meet with us when we gather to worship him. So we want that to be the focus o…
Apr 24, 2020
0-8 Memorizing Scripture and Meeting with Jesus
USA Memory Champion Nelson Dillis can memorize 240 names and faces in 15 minutes. He can memorize a deck of cards in 30 seconds and three decks in five minutes. He memorizes 100 lines of poetry a day. That’s incredible isn’t it! God has given us amazing abilities to memorize. Imagine if we used that ability to memorize Scripture. *WHY MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE? * *It helps us beat sin and Satan: *When we are tempted, we can recall Bible verses to help us be strong, as Jesus did when he was tempted by Satan. *It helps us draw near to God:* Scripture is God speaking to us and therefore if we go over it in our minds we are hearing God’s voice, and that helps us talk with him. *It helps us speak God’s Word:* If we have God’s Word in our hearts, we can speak it to others without opening a Bible. Perhaps you can encourage a Christian or witness to a non-Christian with the verses you’ve memorized. These are three good reasons to memorize Scripture, aren’t they? But how do we do…
Apr 23, 2020
0-7 What's the Role of Questions in Meeting with Jesus?
I’m sure some of you are really missing school during this lockdown. I must be honest, if I was your age and the government closed my school, I’d be so happy. I’m afraid I didn’t like school at all. I wasn’t a very good student at school. I found some subjects really boring. I’d tune out and my mind would wander. I’d leave the class knowing nothing. But one teacher figured out how to teach me. She kept asking me questions. Of course, at first I had no idea what the answer was. I’d been miles away in my mind. It was pretty embarrassing. Everyone would laugh. Eventually I realized that I’d better listen if I wanted to answer the questions and not be embarrassed. I actually started learning, and, even more surprisingly, I enjoyed it! Some times we read the Bible but don't meet with Jesus. We get sleepy. We stop thinking. We don't learn how to learn more. What's the solution? Good questions are the solution and help us meet with Jesus. That’s why I included a daily q…
Apr 22, 2020
0-6 What role does prayer have in meeting Jesus?
Imagine a meeting that was just one-sided in conversation. That’s not really a meeting is it? If we met a friend and we never said anything back to them, we just listened and then walked away, do you think your friend would be very happy? Do you think your friend would want to be your friend? No, of course not. A meeting is two people getting together to talk and listen to one another. So why would people try to meet with Jesus without prayer? While the Bible is the way God talks to us, prayer is the way we talk to Jesus. Meeting with Jesus involves both Bible reading and prayer. If we don’t pray, Jesus doesn't hear our voice and we won’t hear Jesus’s voice in the Bible. So, let me encourage you to pray as part of meeting with Jesus. *PRAYER IS A MEETING WITH JESUS* * We thank him for the meeting * We tell him how much we love/need him *PRAYER HELPS US MEET WITH JESUS* * He speaks to us in the Bible * He helps us through the Bible…
Apr 21, 2020
0-5 Why should I meet with Jesus?
There are lots of people we could meet in the world. So, why meet with Jesus? Usually when we want to meet with someone it’s for one of three reasons: * What can they do for you? * What can they be for you? * What can they give to you? So let’s think about what Jesus can do for you, be for you and give to you. Hopefully that will make you want to meet Jesus more than anyone else. *MEET WITH JESUS BECAUSE HE'S THE ONLY SAVIOR* * No one else can save you from sin * He alone can save you from sin *MEET WITH JESUS BECAUSE HE IS THE BEST FRIEND* * He's always there and never leaves * He always loves and never stops loving *MEET WITH JESUS BECAUSE HE'S THE BEST MASTER* * He gives reliable guidance with his Word * He gives wonderful service opportunities to help people with their greatest needs. What can he do for you? He can save you. What can he be for you? He can be your best friend. What can he give to you? He can give you a reason to live and a rule to l…
Apr 20, 2020
0-4 When do I meet with Jesus?
What do you do when you want to spend time with friends? You make a plan don’t you? Or you ask your parents to make a plan. You arrange a time and place to play together. “Meet at the park at 4pm.” Unless you make a plan it’s not going to happen. It’s the same with meeting Jesus. You need to have a plan. Many people want to meet Jesus but don't have a plan. They want to meet but never actually meet because they don’t have a plan. They say “Yes, of course I want to meet with Jesus,” and “I hope to meet with Jesus,” but they have no plan. They don’t set a time, a date, and a place. They keep putting that off later and later in life. So, you need a plan to meet with Jesus, and that plan means setting a regular time and place to meet with Jesus. For example, if you say to your friend, “Let’s meet every day at 6pm," then that will become a habit and you’ll never forget it. However, if you say, “Let’s remember to meet up often,” but never set a time and…
Apr 17, 2020
0-3 What did Jesus do?
Yesterday we answered the question “Who is Jesus?” Today we want to answer a second question: “What did Jesus do?” Why is that important to ask? Well until you know what someone does, you won’t know what he or she can do for you. For example, if you want to know how to do math, you don’t just walk down the street and ask the first person you meet. You ask someone who teaches math. Or if you want to know how to swim, you ask someone who can swim themselves. So we ask, “What did Jesus do?” and “What does Jesus do?” so that we can know what he can do for us. I could give you a really long answer to this question, because Jesus did lots and lots and lots of things. But I want to keep this short and simple, so I’ll cut it down to the shortest answer possible. I’ll tell you what he did and then tell you what he still does! First of all, what did Jesus do? *Jesus lived and saved:* Jesus lived about 2000 years ago. The Son of God became the Son of Man, lived on…
Apr 16, 2020
0-2 Who is Jesus?
Many people don't know who Jesus is or what Jesus did. Is that such a big deal? It’s a really big deal, because if we don’t know who Jesus is or what Jesus did, then we won’t know what he can be and do for us. Imagine your Xbox or iPad freezes. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get it to work again. You decide you’ll have to just put it in the trash. As you walk sadly to the trash can outside, you see your next-door neighbor leaving in his car. You wave, he drives away, and you throw the gadget in the trash. Did you know that your neighbor was a world expert at fixing broken gadgets? You didn’t, did you? If you had, you would have taken your problem to him and he would have fixed it right away. It’s the same with Jesus. He can help people fix their greatest problem – their sin and their broken relationship with God. But most people don’t realize he can do that or how good he is at it. They certainly don’t realize that he repairs us and our relationship to G…
Apr 15, 2020
0-1 Meeting With Jesus
How many people have you met in your life? Try to count them. Start with your parents, then your brothers and sisters, your neighbors, your friends. Add up those you know from school, church, vacations, and so on. What number are you up to? Are you over a hundred yet? You will meet even more people as you get older, go to different schools, play different sports, move to different houses, and do different jobs. You are going to meet so many people that eventually you will not be able to count them all or remember them all! There are probably other people you would love to meet but they probably don’t want to meet you. Maybe it’s an athlete you admire, or a singer, or a politician. You think about them and hope one day to meet them, but they don’t know you and therefore don’t want to meet you. But there is one person you must meet more than anyone else. And this person wants to meet with you too. And if you meet him, you will never forget him. His name is Jesus, and I want yo…
Apr 14, 2020
Wandering from the Truth (James 5:19-20)
Wandering from the truth is extremely dangerous. It damages and even destroys the soul. It increases sin and destroys the church's witness. Let's take a closer look at wandering from the truth and how we can prevent it and even reverse it. In James 5:19-20, the Apostle James wrote to prevent and reverse wandering from the truth. It was a special danger in these times because they were times of suffering for the faith. Full transcript here.
Apr 13, 2020
Help! I'm losing confidence in prayer (James 5:13-18)
When we lose confidence and passion in prayer we reduce the power of prayer. This has three harmful consequences: we don't bring everything to God in prayer, we don't join with others in prayer, we don't see results in prayer. But the power of prayer can be restored in our lives. James 5:13-18 gives us two insights to increase our confidence and passion in prayer.
Apr 10, 2020
God's Message to the 99% (James 5:7-12)
In chapter 5, verses 1-6, James condemned the wealthy who abuse their wealth and power by oppressing the poor and the weak. In verses 7-12 he addresses the oppressed sufferers who were becoming impatient in suffering. He says, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord” (7). Why did he advocate patience in suffering? Because when we are impatient in suffering: * We lose hope * We lose faithfulness * We lose blessing James therefore gives his readers three good examples to help them be patient in suffering. Read transcript here.
Apr 9, 2020
God's Message to the 1% (James 5:1-6)
This world confronts us with two painful sights. On the one hand, the wealthy have so much unused wealth; on the other hand, many of the wealthy abuse the poor financially and physically This is not only painful, but tests our faith in God. James 5:1-6 helps ease the pain and comfort our hearts by showing us God's view of the situation. Let's see what God sees, and hear what God hears. Full transcript here.
Apr 8, 2020
Everyday Worship (James 4:11-17)
We miss valuable opportunities for worship in everyday life with the result that: * We miss God's purpose for our life * We miss out on God's friendship in our life * We miss out on God's joy in our life But there is a way to increase our worship of God in everyday life and so fulfill our purpose, experience Gods friendship, and enjoy God's joy. James highlights two ways we can increase worship in everyday life. Read transcript here.
Apr 7, 2020
Me-first or God-first? (James 4:1-10)
People trace the cause of all their problems to other people putting them down. * The problem is always out there never in here. * The problem is always them and never me * If the problem is never my problem, I cannot fix it Are we blaming the right person? Are we so helpless and hopeless? I want to show you that blaming yourself is not only more truthful but more helpful and more hopeful. Let's turn to James 4:1-10 to see how this works. See full transcript here.
Apr 6, 2020
Know-it-alls don't love-at-all (James 3:13-18)
Know-it-alls don't love-at-all. How can I say that? Because the Apostle James does. In James 3:13 he asks, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” and answers, “By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” The Apostle links a wise and humble mind with good works. This implies the opposite, that a proud know-it-all mind will be evidenced in bad works. That’s made explicit in the following verses. I’m sure many of us don’t need much persuasion that know-it-alls don’t love-at-all. We see it all around us in the lives of proud academics, arrogant new atheists, and our political and media elites. Surely, none of us want to know like that or live like that, I hope. Instead we want to live a beautiful loving life. James shows us how in verses 14-18. See transcript here.
Apr 3, 2020
Our Two-Faced Tongues (James 3:9-12)
How come we can so quickly switch from praising God to cursing his image-bearers? We praise God in church, then attack his image in the parking lot? We praise God in our devotions, then attack his image on Facebook. We praise God at work, then attack his image in the coffee room. Do you feel the inconsistency? Do you want your tongue to be more consistent, steady, and uniform? Do you want a one-faced rather than a two-faced tongue? Let's see how James addresses this contradiction in James 3:9-12 and helps us to be more consistent. Find transcript here.
Apr 2, 2020
Influencer of the Year (James 3:3-8)
Few of us realize the power of the tongue for good or for evil. We therefore don't maximize the good our tongue can do. But we also minimize the damage our tongue can do Our tongue has a major impact on our lives and on many lives. It is the influencer of the year in many ways. So how can we maximize the good and minimize the evil? Let's see how James gets the balance right in James 3:3-8. Transcript here.
Apr 1, 2020
The Most Dangerous Job in the World (James 3:1-2)
Many want to be preachers and Bible teachers without realizing how dangerous a job it is. This desire often results from an over-confidence in their abilities and from viewing these positions through rose-tinted spectacles. What they don’t realize is that they are a danger to themselves and to others. So should you become a preacher or teacher? If so, how can you do this safely. Let's see what James has to say to us about this in James 3:1-2. See transcript here.
Mar 31, 2020
The Justification of Faith by Works (James 2:18-26)
We believe in the wonderful truth of justification by faith without works. It’s the most important truth in the Christian religion. We are justified, declared right by God through faith alone apart from works. When it comes to salvation, God looks inside our lives to find faith in Christ and declares us righteous on the basis of that faith alone. But some have taken that wonderful glorious truth and twisted it by arguing that if works don’t matter when it comes to being saved by God, works don’t matter when it comes to our witness before others. If works don’t matter in the court of heaven, they don’t matter in the court of human opinion. These professing Christians therefore do not pursue good works, do not commend good works, and may even condemn good works done by other Christians as legalistic or as undermining the Gospel. They may even glory in sinful works because this allegedly shows how free the Gospel is. The end result is that non-Christians who see all this have…
Mar 30, 2020
God-words without God-works (James 2:14-17)
Some Christians have lots of God-words but no God-works. I’m sure you’ve met them. The Apostle James certainly had and it raised serious questions in his mind. * Are they truly saved? * Can they ever be useful? * Do they have spiritual life? James raises these three questions in James 2:14-17 and gives us three warnings about God-words without God-works. In the process, he gives us three motivations to pursue more of both. Read transcript here.
Mar 27, 2020
Judgment on Pre-Judgment (James 2:8-13)
"Prejudice" is making a (usually negative) judgment about something or someone that is not based on evidence, experience, or reason. Examples of prejudice include racism, nationalism, sexism, etc. Another word for this is "bias," meaning we favor someone or some group over another for no good reason. Because of our sinful hearts, bias and prejudice are easy and fighting them is difficult. They are common and fighting them is rare. Bias and prejudice will continue unchecked unless we deliberately confront it. In James 2:8-13, James confronts our prejudice and challenges us to change our bias both in the present and the future. Read transcript here.
Mar 26, 2020
God's Heart for the Poor (James 2:5-7)
What happens if we honor only those who are materially rich. The poor reject us and the church. The rich reject us and the church. God rejects us and the church. When we prioritize the wealthy, we all lose. But there is a way for all to win. Let's see how James directs us so that the poor, the rich, God, and we all win. In James 2:5-7, James tells us that: For Infographic and transcript of this episode click here.
Mar 25, 2020
Beating Bias to Save Souls (James 2:1-4)
We have hidden biases which damage our witness to Christ. For example, we bias to the wealthy and against the poor. We bias to the powerful and against the weak. We bias to our nation/color and against others Who can deny this problem or the damage it does to our witness to Christ? Can we beat bias and improve our witness? Yes, with the help of the Apostle James in James 2:1-4. For Infographic and transcript of this episode click here.
Mar 24, 2020
How valuable is your religion? (James 1:26-27)
How do we know what is true and what is false religion? How do I know if I have true religion? These are difficult questions to answer today for three reasons. * People are *confused about what true religion is*, leaving them in a state of uncertainty. * People are *deceived about their religious status*, thinking they have something valuable when they don't. * People *damage the cause of true religion*, thinking they have something beautiful when it’s ugly. How do we get over these difficulties? Is there any way to know what is true and what is false religion, and if I have what is true? Yes, there is. James guides us to answers in 1:26-27. For Infographic and transcript of this episode click here.
Mar 23, 2020
Change the Pace to Finish the Race (James 1:19-25)
Trials and temptations can upset our spiritual pace. * Our anger and sin speeds up * Our listening and obeying slow down Getting our pace wrong leads to spiritual defeat. But there's a way to change our spiritual pace right that leads to spiritual victory. In James 1:19-25, James shows us two training strategies to change our pace and finish the race. *1. SLOW DOWN YOUR MOUTH AND YOUR RAGE* * *Be slow to speak:* “Let every person be…slow to speak” (19). * *Be slow to anger:* “Let every person be…slow to anger… for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (19, 20) *Summary: *Slow your mouth and rage to speed up your race. *Question: *That's easy to say, but how do I do this? *2. SPEED UP YOUR EARS AND YOUR HANDS* * *Be fast to hear:* “Let every person be quick to hear…receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (19, 21). But hearing is not enough. * *Be fast to do:* “But be doers of the word and…
Mar 22, 2020
Beating Temptation by Worshipping God (James 1:12-18)
People wrongly blame God for their temptations. This results in: * *Dark* view of God * *Denial* of personal responsibility * *Diminishing* of worship * *Defeat* in temptation Do you see how false ideas can have so many serious personal consequences? But what if we could correct these falsehoods and replace them with truth? Would that not reverse these consequences? In James 1:12-18, we’ll see how James helped his readers replace false ideas with the truth, and therefore changed the consequences for good. For Infographic and transcript of this episode click here.
Mar 21, 2020
Role Reversal for Rich and Poor (James 1:9-11)
We often value and evaluate people by their financial value. * We favor the rich * We despise the poor * We pursue financial value * We forget spiritual value This was a problem in biblical times too. But James addressed it in a surprising way. Let's hear James's surprising double answer to this problem in James 1:9-11. For Infographic and transcript of this episode click here.
Mar 20, 2020
I don't know what to say or do (James 1:5-8)
Trials reveal our lack of wisdom. We don't know what to do or say. * We make *mistakes* which make things worse. * We become physically, verbally, spiritually *paralyzed*. * We are *tossed around* like waves on a stormy sea. Trials reveal our lack of wisdom. We don't know what to do or say. But we don't need to stay like this. In James 1:5-8, God has an encouragement and a warning for us to help us know what to do and say. For Infographic and transcript of this episode click here.
Mar 19, 2020
Joyful Trials (James 1:1-4)
Trials get us down and drain our joy. * Trials can *weaken our faith*: Go on so hard and long that we wonder where/who God is. * Trials can *provoke anger*: We run out of patience with God, self, and others * Trials can be a *catalyst for sin*: A weakened mind, body, or heart can weaken our will Trials can get us down and drain our joy. But it needn’t be this way. There is a way of using trials to increase our faith and holiness, and therefore increase our joy. In James 1:1-4, the Apostle shows us how to view our trials in a way that will produce joy. Here are three new perspectives on trials to help us rejoice in trials. For Infographic and transcript of this episode click here.
Mar 19, 2020
Living Faith in Testing Times (Introduction to James)
These testing times will overwhelm us if we listen to human words (the media, politicians, ourselves) more than God's Word. We will be confused, depressed, terrified, and paralyzed. I want to help you live with clarity instead of confusion, with joy instead of depression, with calm instead of terror, and with action instead of paralysis. To do that we need to prioritize God’s Word over human words. That’s why I started this daily podcast called Living the Bible. The podcast will start with a series that walks us through the book of James as it is so appropriate for these times. It will be called, “Living Faith in Testing Times.” I want to introduce the James series Living Faith in Testing times by giving you four reasons to prioritize God's Word over human words. For Infographic and transcript of this episode click here.