Monday, October 26, 2015

Why should I give my precious time, energy, money, and loyalty to a local Church?

“24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” –Hebrews 10:24-25 (HCSB)

Institutions have fallen on hard times. My Mom works at a bank and sees a cultural shift of banking without a bank. Recent data shows that “Churchless” population in America has grown by nearly a third over the last decade. Many today want a relationship with Christ without a local church. Just twenty years ago one out of seven Americans had never been to church before, today it is one in five. There are aspects of church life that can be obtained without ever going to church like attending a small group, listening to a sermon, and reading Christian literature. So what is the big deal, why should I go? Let me give you a few good reasons:

· Church attendance is an act of obedience. The Lord said if you love me keep my commands (John 14:15). We can’t just read the parts written in red and think we have it covered. The Words of the entire bible are of equal importance and need our attention.

· Godly relationships. Churches provide a place to connect with others who experience similar challenges and seek similar life goals, a place where people know they belong. Remember iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17)!

· Doing good. While most of us are self-centered, many of us also have a desire to make a difference for good in the world. We can sometimes do this alone, but it is more powerful in community. Churches organize and facilitate abundant good works that affect the world in large and small ways. Take our church for example we have outreach events like Battery Saturday, Griefshare, Surviving the Holidays, Kids Harvest, etc.… One snowflake is beautiful and unique, but many snowflakes joined together can cause an avalanche of good works!

· Peace. In a culture fact paced and endless noisy culture, churches provide a place where people can be still and silent in God’s presence. Churches are one of the few places where a person can seek emotional and spiritual sanctuary form the daunting pressures of the day.

· Worship. Being part of church community, people can unite with others in humble worship, recalibrating their focus away from self-centeredness and distraction.

· Wisdom. Information is abundant but insight is rare! Biblical knowledge applied into daily living is more rare. Churches often provide genuine wisdom to people through a variety of resources, forums, and interactions. Engaging with a local church will allow one to learn more about God, themselves, and the world.

· Witness. Christians have a responsibility to share their knowledge of and experience of Jesus Christ with others who do not know him. One of the best tools for evangelism is for others to see Christians treating one another in a loving manor (John 13:35). Christ centered love for one another makes all the difference in evangelism. Why would anyone listen to our message of love and unity if we can’t love and forgive one another in Christ?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What does the Bible Say about Demons?

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight."

       -C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (originally 1942; this   edition: Harper Collins, 1996) ix.

I have been preaching through the gospel of Mark, and there are several examples of Jesus casting out unclean spirits or demons.

In Mark 5, there is “a man with an unclean spirit.” The more usual term for “unclean spirit” is “demon” (used 63 times in the New Testament). Who or what is a demon? They could be:

1. the spirits of a pre-Adameic evil race

2. the spirits of evil men

3. the product of angels cohabiting with women in Genesis 6:1-4

4. Fallen Angels

The fourth option is the most likely. Mark calls them “unclean sprits” 11 times and “demons” 13 times. Revelation 12:4 records that one-third of the angels fell with Satan in his rebellion against God. Some are now free to roam (Mark 1:21-34). Some will still be free during the tribulation (Revelation 9:13-19). They are confined now, never to roam freely (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). They are powerful personalities, though not omnipotent (Mark 1:24). Their activity may have increased during the time of Christ and it will do so again in the coming end times (See Rev. 6-19). They are set up under Satan’s control (Ephesians 6:11-12), probably in rank and possibly in geography (Dan 10:10-12). They have authority and can promote disunity, propagate false doctrine, inflict disease, cause mental difficulties, and hinder Christian growth. Demons can oppress but not possess believers (see 1 John 4:4). We should be encouraged because even though demons resist Christ, they are subject to appropriate spiritual authority. God is Lord of all including the demons. Be encouraged!

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Monday, October 19, 2015

Does the Bible Say Anything About Intelligent Life on Others Planets?

Many are fascinated by the idea of intelligent life on other planets. The Bible is silent about the issue of life on other planets. As a whole the Bible does not explicitly say there is no life on other planets; it is simply silent on the question. 

I believe that it may come from a need to be a part of something bigger than our world. Some believe that alien intelligent life would bring about a kind of world peace with their “advanced” knowledge. The reality is that lack of knowledge is not mankind’s issue. The problem is and always has been the human heart, which by nature is self-centered. The Bible reminds us in James 4:1-2, 

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.” 

 Our greatest need is for the human heart to be changed. But how can that happen? History has proven that neither education, knowledge, peace treaties, economic stimulus packages, nor new politicians cures our hearts. Jesus Christ came to reconcile us to God so we could have peace with Him, and then to reconcile us to each other.

Many individuals who claim to have an “encounter” with these “aliens” describe horrific scenarios. In Dr. Timothy Dailey’s book “The Paranormal Conspiracy,” he makes a connection that these are not really aliens, but instead of “alien” activity it is really demonic activity. He goes on to point out that many who have “abduction” experiences had previously been involved in the occult practices. It appears that these are not massagers of light, but instead instruments of deception. Remember a demon can appear any way it desires (2 Corinthians 11:14), including what we would consider an alien from space. Let’s say you were a demon and wanted to deceive and confuse the most technologically advanced human race in many years, perhaps ever. What would be the best deception? The best deception would be one that made people dismiss the truth of the Bible before giving it a proper hearing. So to conclude do not spend your time thinking or chasing after these things, but instead take Paul’s counsel:

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable--if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise--dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8