Economic Recession and the House Built on the Rock

April 17, 2009

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

In a speech on the economy this week, President Obama quoted from Matthew 7, Jesus’ closing words in the Sermon on the Mount. A house built on sand falls when the storms come, but the house built on the rock stands. He used this picture to contend that we must build our economic house on a solid foundation. While those from different political ideologies will disagree about whether or not the president’s economic policies provide a solid or shaky foundation for future economic growth, all will agree that our economy needs to be built on rock, not on shifting sands.

But Jesus is talking about something much more important than the US economy. He’s talking about whether or not you enter the kingdom of heaven – that is, whether you rejoice with Him or you suffer apart from Him for all eternity.

Consider the verses immediately prior to Jesus’ story about the two houses: Read more

Preparing for Resurrection Sunday

April 9, 2009

As you contemplate the death and resurrection of our Savior this weekend, I encourage you to read the passion and resurrection accounts in the four gospels. Justin Taylor has posted part of a chart from the ESV Study Bible that helpfully lays out the parallel passages on the events during the last few days of Jesus’ life, and Resurrection Sunday.

Also, I encourage you to read or listen to an excellent sermon on the cross or the resurrection. I’ve compiled a list from various preachers at this link.

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

April 9, 2009

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

Why did Jesus have to die?

Tomorrow we remember the death of Jesus on the cross. There are many possible perspectives on this event: It was a tragedy, as an innocent man suffered horribly at the hand of His enemies; it is an example to us, as Jesus focused not on Himself but on others; it is a major event in world history, as Christianity was born at the cross.

But there have been millions and millions of innocent people put to death. There are other ways for God to give us good examples, and other important events in history. These perspectives don’t answer the question: Why did Jesus have to die?

The third chapter of Romans provides us with the threefold answer:

  • Jesus had to die because man is thoroughly sinful;
  • Jesus had to die because God desires to display His perfect justice;
  • Jesus had to die because God desires to display His perfect love and mercy. Read more

True, Joyful Community in Diversity

April 7, 2009

Beth writes today on her blog about the true, joyful community she witnessed after church this Sunday, looking around at the people from nine different language groups and various ages and ethnicities loving each other.  Here is a sample of what she observes and gives thanks for:

  • Twenty-something young men who love, encourage, tease, laugh with, play soccer with, teach Sunday School to, and just generally enjoy the teen guys at church.
  • Our precious Congolese teen girls, three sisters, here on a visit from Raleigh and the happy news that they are moving back.
  • A Chinese man sitting at a table with an American man poring over Bible and sermon notes.
  • An elderly African American couple, bulwarks of this little church, who have been away traveling and were back and receiving lots of hugs and warm “welcome home’s”.

Read the whole thing – and rejoice in our Savior whose death and resurrection free us from the sins that separate us, and unite us in one Body for His glory.

Videos on Death, Resurrection, and Life

April 6, 2009

An Anglican church in central London has produced two excellent 3-4 minutes videos aimed at skeptics. The first, “That’s Easter: Life to Death” highlights the pervasive nature of sin and guilt, and the solution offered in Christ. The second, “That’s Easter: Death to Life” presents evidence for the historical reliability of the passion and resurrection accounts. Highly recommended.

THAT’S EASTER Life to Death from St Helen’s Church on Vimeo.

THAT’S EASTER Death to Life from St Helen’s Church on Vimeo.

HT: Justin Taylor

Making Decisions to the Glory of God

April 3, 2009

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

Many people today want guidance. They want a word from God to know:

  • Whom to marry,
  • what job to take,
  • whether or not to buy a house,
  • whether to take money out of the stock market or leave it in.

There are also many decisions considered more “spiritual” in which we want God to lead us:

  • To attend one church or another;
  • to go into long-term missionary work or not;
  • to go into full time ministry or not;
  • to focus on one unreached people group or another;
  • to go on one short term mission trip or another.

Can you count on God’s guidance in making such decisions?

The Bible clearly teaches that God sovereignly calls and guides His people to carry out His plans. We saw a wonderful example of this last Sunday in Acts 15:36-16:15. Paul makes decision after decision about his second missionary journey, fulfilling God’s missionary mandate as best as he can determine; most of his decisions – to take Silas with him, to travel by land to Galatia, to circumcise Timothy, to stop in Philippi, to seek those worshiping God by the river, to stay with Lydia – are made without any noted supernatural direction. But then at times the Holy Spirit supernaturally guides Paul, redirecting him away from Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7) and towards Macedonia (Acts 16:9).

God does call and guide His people to carry out His plans.

Will He guide you? Read more