Christians and Politics

September 25, 2008

(For a version of this devotion that is easier to print, follow this link.)

What is the relationship of the Christian to politics?

As we move towards November’s election, what should role should Christians play?

As a church, we explicitly say in our vision and values statement: “We are not tied to any political party. We value speaking biblical truth to the issues that confront our society, regardless of what parties might be made uncomfortable by the proclamation of that truth.” Over the course of the next several weeks I will address issues facing us this election. My goal is to do just that: to bring out the ways that biblical truth sheds light on the issues discussed in this election.

But prior to looking at specific issues, we need to understand our fundamental role. To that end, consider some key biblical texts: Read more

Filled with the Spirit

September 19, 2008

(For a version of this devotion that is easier to print, follow this link.)

How can you live the Christian life? How can you fulfill the purpose of your creation through glorifying God? How can you resist temptation and obey the command to rejoice in the Lord always?

The message of the Bible is: You can’t. That is, in your own power, through your own resolution, by means of your concentrated effort, you can’t.

But you can – by the power of God.

Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). But that same verse implies that with Him, when you are connected to Him, leaning on Him, depending on Him, you can live to His glory: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit. . . . By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:5, 8).

God gives us power for living the Christian life through filling us with the Holy Spirit. Next month, as we consider Acts 2 for three or four sermons, I’ll have much more to say about the different images that Scripture gives of the activity of the Spirit within Christians. For today, consider these different passages that discuss the filling of the Spirit.

Why does God fill His people with His Spirit? Read more

Seven Years On

September 13, 2008

(For a version of this devotion that is easier to print, follow this link.)

This week marks seven years. Seven years since the towers fell. Seven years since terrorists hijacked four planes, aiming to kill tens of thousands of innocent people. Seven years since they succeeded in killing almost 3,000. Seven years.

In God’s providence, the Bible reading plan I developed eight years ago schedules for the 11th reading in September Jeremiah 39 and 52 – the accounts of the terrible destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC. In the following days I read the Psalms that look back on that event – Psalms 74, 79, and 94 – as well as the book of Lamentations. On September 11, 2001, I read of Jerusalem’s fall without much feeling in the morning; that evening, knowing of the attack and the destruction of the towers, I reread the account, and continued to read these psalms and Lamentations – and wept.

Today, much of our visceral reaction to that attack has faded from memory. Newspapers this year used more ink talking about lipstick on pit bulls and pigs than they devoted to remembering 9/11.

But we must remember. We must remember.

What must we remember? Read more

The Acts of Jesus Christ

September 5, 2008

(For a version of this devotion that is easier to print, follow this link.)

What is the main point, the central message of the book of Acts?

This Sunday we begin a sermon series on this great book that chronicles events during the first thirty years of Christ’s church. Most Bibles entitle this book “The Acts of the Apostles.” That’s not an accurate summary of the book, however (and that title was not assigned to the book until about 100 years after it was written). The eleven disciples who remain after the death of Judas are listed in Acts 1:13; of these, only three are mentioned again in the book: Peter, whose actions dominate most of the first twelve chapters; John, who accompanies Peter in the events recorded in chapters 3, 4, and 8; and James, whose death is recorded in chapter 12. The other eight do not appear again. The activities of Paul – the apostle “abnormally born” (1 Corinthians 15:8 NIV) – dominate chapters 13 through 28.

Given that focus primarily on only two apostles, should we entitle this book “The Acts of Peter and Paul”?

No. The main purpose of the book is not to provide us with a history of the church, much less biographical accounts of Peter and Paul.

What then is the central message of the book? Read more