Friday, March 29, 2013

What's So Good About Good Friday?

"And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center."
John 19:17, 18 (NKJV)

Today is known as Good Friday, it is the day Christians celebrate as the day Jesus died on the cross.  The question is, why is Good Friday so good?  Looking at the day and the things Jesus experienced it was not a good day for Him, being executed is not something that a person would be very happy about.  But the Bible does tell us that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2); Jesus understood His place as the sacrifice for the sin of mankind but it was still not something He did because it was such a great experience for Him.

Good Friday was not a good day for the devil.  The crucifixion of Jesus meant the defeat of the devil and the end of his dominion over mankind through sin.  The devil must have thought that he had won the ultimate victory when Jesus was crucified.  But it turned out to be the worst day of all for the kingdom of darkness because through His death and resurrection Jesus triumphed over the devil and the principalities and powers of darkness (Colossians 2:14, 15).  Jesus died on the cross and took our place so we would not be ruled by the devil and sin but so we could reign in life (Romans 5:17).

If Good Friday was not a good day for Jesus and especially for the devil, what about us?  What do the events we celebrate on Good Friday mean for us?  Good Friday is a great day for us because it means that the price for sin has been paid!  We had a debt of sin we could not pay but Jesus died in our place.  Good Friday is a day that we can rejoice because it was not the end of Jesus but just the beginning of His work for us that brings us into a right relationship with God through the blood of Jesus.  Good Friday is a good day for us because it is all about our redemption and freedom from sin and all of it effects.  So when you think about Good Friday, realize that it is a day of liberty for us that we can celebrate all year long!

Friday, March 22, 2013

God Is A Good God

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
Psalm 107:1 (NKJV)

If you took a survey and asked people who God is and what He is like you would probably get many different answers, depending on who you asked.  Some people have a view of God that He is an old man with a long white beard just passively sitting up in heaven barely aware of what is happening on the earth.  Some people would probably tell you that God is powerful and just and ready to punish people for their sin.  But what is God really like?  The best place to find out what God is like is from the Bible, God's Word.

God is a good God, plain and simple.  While this seems to be a concept that should be easy to understand many people do not really know that God is a good God.  Often people have had a negative experience with organized religion of some kind or a strict authority figure in their life and they transfer that experience into their understanding of who God is.  Then, because of this wrong belief these people have difficulty expecting God to do anything good for them or even approaching God at all.  God provided a way through Jesus for us to have a relationship with Him, not based on our goodness but on His.

If we want to have a right relationship with God then we have to have a proper understanding of who God really is.  If we don't know about how good God is we can end up trying to earn His favor, His help and His blessings; we need to get to know God for who He really is.  We can't base our understanding of God on our past experience or what others might say; we can only learn who God is by looking into His Word.  God is a loving heavenly Father who wants to do good for His children, once you understand that it is easier to get to know Him, receive from Him and do His will.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Back To The Basics

"Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits."
Hebrews 6:1-3 (NKJV)

The Bible is a pretty big book; there are 66 books contained in one volume divided between the Old and New Testaments.  But although the Bible is so big there are several main themes we can see repeated over and over again, these could be called the major Bible doctrines or even Bible basics.  If we want to do well in life and have success we need to have a good foundation and that requires learning the Bible basics.  Too many believers do not know and understand the basics of the Bible enough that they are successful in their own lives and effective in teaching and helping others.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews points out in chapter five that the people being written to should have already been teaching others, but they still needed someone to teach them the "first principles" again.  Then in chapter six we see a list of six "elementary principles" of Christ, these could be called Bible basics.  The idea given here is that if you don't know the basics you can't go any further, this is an area of difficulty for some Christians.  Too often Christians chase every new or seemingly exciting doctrine and these really just lead them away from the Bible basics.  The solution for many Christians is that they need to get back to the basics of the Bible.

As we learn and get a good understanding of the basic Bible doctrines we can continue to move on to what is called "perfection" in Hebrews six.  That word does not mean being flawless but being complete and mature.  If we don't understand the basics we will stay where we are spiritually until we do learn them.  This could be compared to studying a subject in school, you don't go on into advanced mathematics until you really know and understand the basics of math.  Until we know the Bible basics we will be limited in the amount God can use us due to our spiritual immaturity.  Let's build ourselves up on the Bible basics and go on with God to spiritual maturity and maximum spiritual effectiveness.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Trust In The Lord

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
Psalm 18:2 (NKJV)

People put their trust in many things but the Bible tells us that we should put our trust in God.  What exactly does it mean to trust God?  The word trust here in Psalm 18 means, "to flee for protection".  In Proverbs 3:5 it also tells us to trust in the Lord and the Hebrew word used there that is translated as trust means "to run quickly for refuge".  What this shows us is that God is the One we always need to turn to in every situation; we can be confident that God will help us in our time of need.

However, trusting in God is not something that we automatically do just because we are Christians.  When a problem comes up do we talk to God about it and see what His Word says or do we talk to our friends to see what they have to say?  Do we put our trust in God to meet our needs or do we trust in our job and our own ability?  What do we do when we are put under pressure, who do we turn to and where do we go to first?  The answer to that shows us where we place our trust and what we have confidence in.

What do we do if we find ourselves relying on something or someone else when we should rely on God?  The answer is simple; we need to get better acquainted with God, we only trust someone that we really know.  We need to get to know God better through His Word and by spending time with Him in prayer.  As we continue to develop our relationship with God our trust in God will grow.  Then when a problem comes into our life we will go to God to get our answer and His plan about what to do.  Trust in God; He is our rock, our fortress, our deliverer, and our strength!

Friday, March 1, 2013

What Are You Building?

"And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its details and according to all its plans. So he was seven years in building it. But Solomon took thirteen years to build his own house ..."
1 Kings 6:38, 7:1 (NKJV)

In the Old Testament we read how Solomon built a temple for God; it took Solomon seven years to build the temple.  The temple Solomon built was magnificent and I am sure it was quite a sight to see.  The thing to notice is that Solomon spent twice as much time building his own house as he did building God's house.  It was certainly not wrong for Solomon to build his own house but what does it say about Solomon in that he spent twice as much time building his own house as he did building the temple?  It seems like Solomon's priorities were out of balance.

Solomon built the temple based on the plan that he had.  We need to have a plan for our life but we don't want to have a plan that puts twice as much emphasis on our own life as it does on what God has planned for us to do.  We need to ask ourselves, what are we building, what is it that we are investing ourselves and our money in, and does what we are doing go more towards building our own life or are we helping to build the Kingdom of God?  By asking these kinds of questions and taking an honest look at our life we can see what we are really focusing on.

It is easy to get wrapped up in what is happening in our own life and to neglect what God has planned for us.  Make no mistake about it, God wants to bless us and give us good things.  But should we really spend twice as much time "building our own house" and focusing on our own plans as we spend following God and doing His will?  Nothing will satisfy us like doing the will of God and following His plan.  If we keep our eyes first of all on God and what He is directing us to do we will fulfill God's will for our life and also find out that it is easier for us to accomplish our own personal goals.