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Archive for the ‘Faith, Hope and Love’ Category

Day 84: Your World View

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 12, 2016


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

Accidental evolution or Intelligently designed Creation? What happens when we die? Is there a God? Is morality absolute or is it subjective?

Questions like these are more philosophical than driven by data. There is an element of faith involved and can be birthed through your home environments or a personal experience in life.

Answers to these questions will also tamper with the way you look at world events. For example, if you do not believe in God, you might make life decisions that focus solely on the here and now, and death might feel like the finish line. If you do believe in God, then you might look at death as a “speed bump” more than a “terminal situation”.

A world view also drives our sense of purpose. Again, if we believe in God, we tend to see life events through the lens of the divine and less to randomness.

King Solomon, regarded by many as a pretty wise ruler, wrote an entire Book on the meaning of life. He starts his discussion…

Vanity of vanities, says teh Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does a man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?  A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. – Ecclesiastes 1:1-3

He spends quite a bit of time basically saying that if your world view is that there is no God, then there is no purpose and why does any of this matter. But if there is a God, then there is a reckoning or final judgement one day and everyone will need to give account.

If we are wrong about there not being a God, then end the end we lose everything. If we are wrong about there being a God then we lose nothing because everything would have been meaningless anyway.

So as Solomon concludes,

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of the man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

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Day 72: Eyes and Ears

Posted by undergroundchurch on February 18, 2014


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. There may be an interesting biblical twist to that story. The eyes many times are the avenue that lead to destruction while the ears tend to be the way to salvation.

There are far too many scriptures to list here, but a couple key verses should give a good starting point for your own study.

In Genesis 3, sin enters the world because the fruit “was pleasing to the eyes”. David, in 2 Samuel 11, is on his roof top when he sees Bathsheba, and the adultery and murder come forth. Lot’s wife looked back at what she lost and turned to a block of salt. Peter saw the wind and waves when he walked on the water and began to sin.

This may be why Paul states in Colossians 3:1:

1 Therefore, if you have been raised with the Messiah, keep focusing on the things that are above, where the Messiah is seated at the right hand of God.

We have to guard the eyes.

Conversely, the ears more often are the way of faith.

“Faith comes from hearing…” Romans 10:17
Jesus most popular phrase is “He who has and ear to hear, let him hear”
And just add a final note, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

By keeping our eyes on Jesus, we guard the eyes and put ourselves in a place to listen much closer to what he says.

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Sanity in the Midst of the Insane

Posted by undergroundchurch on November 7, 2010


Ever look around and think you are the only sane one in the room?

OK, maybe not.

What about those times that everything around you is going crazy, and the only way to keep from going insane is to act crazy too?

OK, that struck a chord.

However, if you take it to the extreme, which I often do, you can actually out shine the insanity around you and people will avoid you. (That’s the story of my life.)

It’s also the story of David one time when He was hiding from Saul among his own enemies, the Philistines.

David had to come up with a plan fast to save himself, so he fained insanity.

So [David] pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?” 1 Samuel 21:13-15

That might seem like a strange ploy, but it worked, and David lived another day.

When we live out our faith, we must seem to the world around us like David looked to the Philistines in Gath.  They tell us, “Your insane to believe that the whole universe was created in 6 days,” or “How can you believe that Jesus is the ‘only’ way to eternal life?”

However, the best laid logic of the human mind just can’t put its arms around an infinite God that stands outside of the time/space continuum.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:21-24

It’s not that we know all the answers to the questions, “Why”, “How”, “When” and “What”, but we do have the answer to the question “Who?”

 

 

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Where Faith and the World Collide

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 29, 2010


With all these ridiculous “religious knowledge” surveys going around, I got to thinking about “faith” and just what it is.

I think there are two primary pieces to the “religious” experience with which some just don’t understand– Faith and Hope. I will address faith here.

There are two facts about faith that must be understood:

  1. True faith is not blind
  2. True faith is not void of substance

Those that steer clear of faith in God tend to do so because they see it as a futile, wishful-thinking belief system empty of reason, understanding and wisdom. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Faith is not a childish look into a fantasy world, but a childlike trust in a revealed reality.  The goal in faith is to connect with God through relationship.  The problem is that if you try to prove God to yourself first, you fail to take the path God intended for you to take to produce faith in you.

Faith follows a specific path – Obedience to Jesus first, revelation of Jesus second and finally faith in Jesus is born.  Notice that all three have their source in Jesus.

God calls us to a path that begins with him.  Faith is not based on my understanding but His understanding.  I have to trust Him first, demonstrated through obedience, and then I can receive a faith that comes from God, for He rewards those that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

Abraham is a perfect example.  He walked with very little faith for most of His life.  Yes, he followed God’s leading and that was out of obedience, but never really trusted him.  God said, “leave your family”, but Abraham took his father.  God promised him that his children would be plentiful, but he lied about his wife to protect his life.

It wasn’t until Abraham was challenged to give back to God the only son he had been given by God, through a black and white act of obedience, that Abraham achieved the level of obedience to God that God was looking for.  Just as Abraham was about to plunge the knife into his son as a sacrifice to God, and angel stopped him and said these powerful words, “Now I know that you fear me, for you did not withhold your son from me.” (Genesis 22:12). It was during the trek to the altar that Abraham answered his son’s question concerning what they were going to sacrifice with, “God will provide”. (Genesis 22:8)

The scriptures say multiple times that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom“. Strangely enough, the path to faith comes through a fear in God which produces in us obedience.

Once we obey, God can then respond in building up our faith.

You see, if the faith you have is your own, it is bound to fail.  But if the faith you have comes from God, then the source is solid and produces in you a revelation of God that makes Him real in you.

Nature cries out that there is a God, but it doesn’t tell you how to establish relations with Him.  Only when God reveals himself to you through faith, do you discover that your faith is a sure foundation.

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Love is Tough!

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 25, 2009


In our Sunday school class today, the teacher, asked a question with no answer given – “Why is it so hard to do right and so easy to sin?”

Paul asked the same question (Romans 7:7-25) and posed this thought:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

First thing to understand… sin is fun!

If it weren’t appealing, nobody would sin.  Try tempting me with brussel sprouts.  Now try tempting me with a chocolate chip cookie.  Your success in tempting me lies in direct proportion to the pleasure I get from said temptation.

Second thing to understand… sin is natural.

You do not need to teach children how to do bad things.

If you say, “stop!”

They go.

If you tell them, “Don’t touch!”

They touch.  You get the point.

You need to teach them how to do good, and they learn very slowly usually complaining all along the way.  Our selfish nature drives our sin nature and causes us to constantly desire to do what we should not do.

Third thing to understand… obeying God costs you everything.

I know that you don’t want to hear that.  But I can’t take credit for it.  Jesus said,

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)

Doing the right thing means that you probably won’t be “pleasing yourself”, at least, you won’t be gratifying your “sinful nature”

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. – Ephesians 2:1-3

God told Adam, “Don’t eat from that tree.”  The devil told him, “God doesn’t love you, he is holding back the truth.”  Adam made a choice to satisfy his flesh.  Doing right would have meant that he would have had to trust that God knew what was best and that he, Adam, didn’t need to know everything.

All of this is both the blessing and curse of Love.  You must be given a choice not to love in order to show love.  And we show God love by obeying Him. Even the angels had this opportunity.

When Lucifer tried to take over heaven, he took 1/3 of the angels with him in his deception.  Two-thirds chose to trust God, the rest thought he was holding out on them.

Final thing you need to understand… You can trust God!

Yes, at times it seems that he is holding out on you, and to be honest, He might be.  But I can guarantee one thing,  if He is holding out, it is for your good, not your harm.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)

The key to it all is to…

“Trust the Lord with all your heart and not to lean on your own understanding.  Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will direct your path!” (Proverbs 3:5,6)

It’s a battle to do right, but it is definitely worth it in the end.

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Hope vs. Hope

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 11, 2009


People that buy a lottery ticket hope they win.  I hope to spend eternity with God.  There is a difference between those two hopes.

Romans 5:4-5

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Hope, with the possibility of failure

This is the type of hope that we usually think of when someone uses the term “hope”.

  • Boy I really hope we win this game.
  • I hope I get a raise.
  • I hope I win the lottery.

This type of hope has varying levels of confidence in failure.  In other words, the desire is to have the dream come true, but in the back of your mind, you have a serious doubt issue going on.  This is a shaky hope in biblical terms because usually, the assurance is weak at best.

Hope with assurance of a positive outcome

This is the hope that is understood by the first century church.  This is the hope that comes as a result of understanding that God loves you.  It is a hope that kept the early church going even when being thrown to lions, burned at the stake and stoned.  It is the hope that say, “I KNOW in whom I have believed and that when my breathing ceases in this life, my next breath will be in the presence of God!”  Doubt is banished, fear – erased.  The hope of salvation is a guarantee.

What is your hope like?  Do you hope you’ll make it to God when you die, but you aren’t really sure?  Maybe you think you have to do something, to earn a chance to be with God.  Maybe you think you are good, but you are really gambling with your eternity.

The only path to assurance is accepting what God already did for you.  You don’t have what it takes to earn back his good graces.  Only God has that power, and he already did all the work.  Have you received it?  Do you believe it?  Is your hope found solely in Jesus Christ?

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Bumper Bowling

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 21, 2009


One of my favorite analogies that the Lord gave me was around the use of extra rules and laws to enhance holiness in the believer.

Holiness is more a heart condition than acts performed by the believer.  I find that people love to add rules to their lives because it either makes them feel successful when they follow the rule and/or it gives them leverage against those that aren’t following said rule to demonstrate that person’s perceived “lack of holiness”.

The Jews were notorious for this trapping. God gave about 613 laws in the Torah.  To this, the Jews added Mishnah (oral traditions) which were rules to elaborate on the laws.  For example, if God said, “don’t plow on the Sabbath”, the Mishnah told you not to drag your chair across the floor on the Sabbath because you might move dirt which would thus be plowing.

So about Bumper Bowling…

Using traditional rules to enhance your righteousness, is like putting bumpers up when you are first learning to bowl.  The bumpers actual do not teach you to bowl, they teach you how to run up the score.  Only when the bumpers are taken down, do you actually learn to bowl.

When the bumpers come down, the fear of not hitting pins at all because of the gutter teaches you to throw a straight ball.  The bumpers, or rules designed to make bowling feel easier, actually don’t teach you the heart of bowling anymore than the rules added to Scripture teach you righteousness or the heart of God.

Jesus never just spoke the law without getting to the heart of the issue. For example,

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:27,28

If all we did was “not commit adultery”, yet wandered around consumed with lust, we really wouldn’t be learning toovercome lust.  We might even consider throwing in dress codes to add bumpers to our lives. While the idea of modest dress is good, this doesn’t resolve the issue of the lustful heart. It simply disguises it.  Then one day, when that person is in a place where the rules aren’t controlled and the bumpers come down, they fail to hit any pins because the bumpers they once used to keep them in line are now gone.  They haven’t learned to be a strong Christian; they just learned a rule.

So don’t get hung up on rules and traditions without fully understanding the heart of God.

Are traditions bad?  No, but again, your goal should be chasing after the heart of God, not just following rules.

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