So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.One of the most interesting things I have read about this section of Scripture is that someone who doesn't have a clue about the truth has unwittingly proclaimed it (i.e. Christ is the King), and ironically, the representatives of the one true God, the people who should have recognized the truth, continue to reject it. Ironically, this seems to be the same today in churches, where you present the gospel to an atheist, and he considers it, while the person warming the pews has the loudest objection to the proclamation of the truth.
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, "Do not write 'The King of the Jews,' but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews."
22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."
23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
24 "Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it."
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,
"They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did.
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," 27 and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15).
A friend once related how she didn't like her husband giving out tracts that she thought had a hidden agenda. The tracts were about the things of God, but they didn't look as though they were. Her contention was that it was deceitful. She said that he should be upfront and just say "I want to talk to you about God."
Shortly afterward, she admitted that the truth was that she was embarrassed when her husband was giving the tracts out, and said that she realized that her fears were spiritual in origin.
What may seem like deceit to some, is in truth "discretion." When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, He didn't say, "I want to talk to you about God. You are living in adultery." That was His agenda, but such an abrupt approach may have meant a closed door. Instead, Jesus spoke to her about water, something she could relate to, and then He gently swung to the subject of the things of God.
The result was that the woman became a believer in Jesus, and she immediately gave her testimony to the unsaved in her village. She simply said, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that I ever did: is not this the Christ?" (John 4:29). We are called to say the same thing. God is omniscient. He sees everything we do. Nothing is hid from His holy eyes. He hears every word, and He demands an account of every idle word we speak. This holy Judge of the Universe has set aside a Day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. Then we are to point to Jesus Christ, as the woman did.
It is wise to have our testimony on hand in our mind. We should know the reason we became Christians, and how we were converted. It is important that we learn how to share our testimony in a way that is effective. Our salvation centers on the Cross, so that's where we should be heading. The Cross was the evidence that displayed God's love for humanity. It is the essence of the gospel.
Three times in Scripture, Paul gave his testimony. That speaks for itself. You may not have had a Road to Damascus experience, but you have experienced the One Paul experienced on the road. You were on the Road of Sin. You saw the light. God opened your blinded eyes. You came to know Him whom to know is life eternal. You had a Road to the Cross experience.
Why do we need to be able to share the experience of being converted? Because (as it's been well-said), the man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument. A skeptic may disagree with what we say, but he cannot truly deny the experience of another person. The Christian knows the Lord.
The question that may come to mind is "How do I know that I know the Lord?" The answer is in God's Word. It says, hereby we know that we know Him, if we keep his commandments (1 John 2:3). That's the backbone of our testimony. God gives us a new heart with new desires. We are made new creatures in Christ. We have been born again. We had no interest in the things of God, now we love Him and yearn to please Him. We want to keep His commandments.
Sadly, many modern converts miss the evangelistic target when they share their testimony. They say things like "I was into drugs, etc., but Jesus filled my heart with joy" etc. Rather, structure your testimony to preach sin, righteousness and judgment.
Here's a suggested testimony composition:
- Learn how to include the spiritual nature of the Ten Commandments in your testimony ("I never understood what sin was, until I looked at the Ten Commandments . . .").
- Stress that nothing is hidden from God - that He even sees the thought-life.
- Stress the reality of the Day of Judgment.
- Preach the Cross, repentance, and faith ("Then I understood why He died. He was bruised for my iniquities, etc.).
- Emphasize that you weren't "converted by the Bible." Early Christians didn't have a Bible. The New Testament wasn't compiled. Most couldn't read. There was no such thing as the printing press. They were instead converted by the power of the gospel. Underscore the fact that you now know that the Bible is true because when you obeyed the gospel you were transformed - taken from darkness into light - born again - a new creature with a new heart and new desires . . . then the Bible came alive because you now have the Holy Spirit, who leads you into all truth.
Author: Ray Comfort of Living Waters Publications
Monday, September 17, 2007
"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.“ 2 CORINTHIANS 10:4
We're going to spend a little time now going through the armor that every Christian soldier needs to be wearing. Examine and see how you measure up. You won't feel prepared to go into the battle of winning souls if you aren't well armed.
Christianity isn’t for wimps. God put the heat of tribulation on Jesus in the desert (see Luke 4:1): "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered…" (Hebrews 5:8). How much more will you and I be tried if we want to walk in the footsteps of the Savior? If we want to rescue humanity from the fires of Hell, we must take control, both of our own fears and of the demonic restraints placed in front of us.
We need to know what our weapons are, and we need to have expertise in their use so that we might be effective in penetrating enemy territory. Ephesians 6:10-18 lists some of our basic inventories, where seven standard items are listed. First we are told to have our loins, "gird about with truth." So our first preparation for battle is to determine to speak the truth, the whole truth , and nothing but the truth… from the heart, without compromise.
When we are gird about with truth, the world will hate us. If we would just say that Jesus isn't the only way to God, or that you can sin and love God, or that the Bible is only one revelation of God to man, then we would have the world's smile. The unyielding truth may cause us to have to pay the ultimate price for our faith.
Today's devotion was excerpted from How to Win Souls and Influence People, chapter 2, beginning on page 14.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.
4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him." 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"
6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, "Crucify! Crucify!"
But Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him."
7 The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God."
I hear a lot of answers to the question, "Why did Jesus get crucified?" Many people say that Jesus was upsetting the system or he was a rebel or that he was trying to start his own religion. But, right here we learn that Jewish law said he had to die for claiming to be the Son of God, essentially equating himself with God. More importantly, we see again, that Jesus actually did this.
Usually a religion goes astray by denying the identity of Jesus as God. The only way to think the Jesus didn't claim to be God is to add to the Bible, or to take away from it. The plain reading of passages like this just doesn't allow for any other option.
8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. "Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 "Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?"
11 Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."
This is one of my favorite parts of the story. So many stories we hear through church culture have to do with man sinning and messing up God's story, and God having to come up with a contingency plan to make it right. God had it all planned out from the beginning. So, just because we have free will, don't think for a second that God is not in control of every atom in His universe.
12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar."
13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.
"Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.
15 But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!"
"Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked.
"We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
This part of the story always makes me think, how could those who claimed to follow Jesus turn on Him so quickly? But, if we think of the modern church, we are not much different. Many people walk down an aisle "giving their life to Jesus" to see what they can get out of it. But, when push comes to shove, Jesus isn't just our Savior, He is also our Lord. But, people don't want that Jesus. They want to see what they can get to satisfy their own desires. First century Jews wanted Jesus to rise up and takeover Rome. Today, we want Jesus to make us the CEO of our own company and help us win the lottery.
When God is presented as the actual Judge of the Universe, the first ones to scream out against that God are the so-called "Christians". They just want to make a God of Love, but if you present to them that the most loving God is also Just and Righteous, and is filled with wrath at the sinner, they not only want to crucify that God, but they want to crucify you.
In the end, it doesn't matter what any of us think is the real God, it matters what the Bible reveals to us. It is up to us to find the true God of the Bible and find out what He requires from us.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"
30 "If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you."
31 Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law."
"But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews objected. 32 This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
34 "Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"
35 "Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"
36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
Though Jesus constantly refers to His kingdom, he states here that it is not of this world. He speaks of a kingdom that we will see after we leave this world. I hear many people talk about how we can bring about Jesus' kingdom here by doing such and such. I doubt Jesus needs our help. I'm sure He is in complete control and things are going exactly as He planned.
37 "You are a king, then!" said Pilate.God wasn't taken by surprise when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. He didn't have to make up a contingent plan on the spot to try to remedy things. It was all planned out from the beginning. His original plan was to create man, whom He knew would fall, so He could redeem them with His son, Jesus, for His glory. Jesus knew that instead of being cast down and stoned, as was the custom of the Jews, He would be lifted up, upon a cross, the way the Romans executed people, so he could willingly lay down His life for our sins. At no time, was this out of God's control. His plan was from the beginning to sacrifice His son for you and for me. But, we do have the free will to accept or reject this grace. That free will is God's plan as well.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
38 "What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release 'the king of the Jews'?"
40 They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Share a story of something you really, really wanted, only to find that it did not satisfy.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how impulsive can you be at the mall and/or at the supermarket? Please share a funny story with the group if you have one.
Read Exodus 20:17 & 2 Samuel 11: 1-16
Coveting is a sin that is very insidious in its nature. It is subtle, silent, but can be very destructive.
What was the catalyst in this story that set in motion a chain of destructive events?
List some of the “happenings” that were a result of David’s covet for another man’s wife:
Why is coveting so bad?
Why is coveting so easily ignored, or overlooked in our Christian walk?
Read 1 Timothy 6: 9, 10 & Ecclesiastes 5: 10
According to these passages, what is the root of all evil?
What can easily happen when a person is eager for money (vs. 10)?
How can we be more mindful, and guard against coveting?
Read Psalm 111. Reflect on and discuss the attributes of the Lord that are worthy of our praise.
We can conquer coveting by being grateful to God, learning to be content with what God has blessed us with and by being more generous and giving.
As a group decide on what you WILL do, or what you GIVE, in some way, to your community (i.e. Raise money for back to school supplies for kids in need, sponsor a class room and serve them with your time, energy, and money).
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
We have gone in circles enough, and I am learning not to get tied up chasing rabbits down holes where I know I am not going to get out easily. Lately, I have been able to really distill the Gospel down to God's holiness, our sin, God's wrath, God's mercy through Christ, and our response. We have gone through this before, but all of a sudden, it hit me. Follow my logic here for a second:
Premise A. Good people go to Heaven.
- Nobody is perfect, but you can measure on a sliding scale because "God knows your heart"
Premise B. Dru says that he is for sure going to Heaven.
- Dru also says that people who [haven't heard of Christ] are going to Hell.
Conclusion. Dru is better than the good people of Africa who never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus through no fault of their own. Therefore, Dru is first arrogant to say he knows what God will do, and second judgmental for sending good people to Hell.
It might take a bit, but let me break each of these down.
First, I never said "Good people go to Heaven." Because the Bible says that there is no one "good" but God. The trouble comes in when religion is taught to people instead of the Bible. I spoke to a Muslim the other night, and he said the same thing. His religion taught, nobody is perfect, but if you try with your heart to follow the commandments given in the Koran, you will hopefully end up with Allah finding your "good" outweighing your "bad".
The scary thing is that the Catholic religion teaches the very same thing. My mother in law told me that her religion considers Allah the very same God that Jews, Christians and Muslims worship. She also said that even if you are not actually baptized in the name of Christ, nor count on Him to cover your sin, you still are able to have the "baptism of desire". I guess this means that if you follow the Law of God simply because you know it is right, even though you never read a Bible or ever heard of Christ, much less repented and placed your faith in Him, you can still have God judge you and find your "good" outweighs your "bad. I guess the Catholic god is more like Allah then we knew.
Now, any time I pointed out that none of this was in the Bible, Catholic translation or otherwise, I was told that you had to read the Catechism or catch the latest word handed down from Rome to learn this stuff. For example, a year or so ago, the Catholic Church decreed that you needn't evangelize (share the gospel) with a Jew as they already had a deal with God and they would be just fine without Jesus. I learned that my Father in law would be better off on Judgment Day as a non-believing Jew who really had lived his whole life for other people, and never committing any sins that would be serious in God's eyes than the person who lived his life sinfully, came to realize that and repented and placed his faith in Jesus. (Guess what, that's me.)
This is basically what every religion teaches. Everyone knows in their heart that Hitler is going to Hell, and Mother Theresa is going to Heaven. Why? Because of what they did in their lives. It sounds right, it is intuitive. When you talk with people of ANY religion, you need to realize they are starting with this premise as 'true'.
Next, I walk in with this great promise of eternal salvation and start talking about Jesus, and when asked if I am going to Heaven, I say, "Sure Bet!" If you ask me about the people in China who have never heard of Jesus, no matter how clearly I say, "People don't go to Hell for not believing in Jesus, they go to Hell for breaking God's Law. All you have to do is honestly examine your heart and you'll see that you are guilty of breaking even the small part of the Law that you understand.", all people hear is "Yep, those poor good people of the jungle are going to be sent to eternal punishment because God loves a good joke and through no fault of their own, he will unjustly and cruelly punish them. But, remember, the guy who is telling you this, even though you know all (well, most) of the bad things I have done, I am on a first class seat on the express train to Glory!"
See, I am definitely arrogant and judgmental.
Friends, be very careful to define terms and spend enough time laying out the correct premise when you talk with somebody. When I say, "I am going to Heaven and a non believer is going to Hell", it comes out very clearly, "I am better than that other person."
In reality, I am besides Paul, the Chief of Sinners. The only difference is that I have been shown my heart in the mirror of God's Law. My stony heart has been broken up by examining my sin in light of perfection. Then, and only then, has God's grace been applied to cover up my sin and find me borrowing Christ's righteousness on Judgment Day. Only when I humbled myself before the Creator, and truly repented of my sin, and placed my complete trust in Christ alone for my salvation could I be assured of my place in Heaven.
Friends, be sure to convey to the world that we are not better than anyone, but by God's grace, better off.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Is it easier to tell the truth or lie? Why?
Describe your dream job.
Read Exodus 20:16
Pastor Dudley noted that lying undermines all relationships. Have you ever caught someone in a lie and if so what effect did that have on you?
In a world where lying appears to be the norm why would God command us to not lie?
In light of what John 14:6 says why does God take lying so seriously?
Read Acts 5:1-10
Ananias had no reason to lie but he did. Have you ever been in a situation where you had no reason to lie but did anyway? If so why did you feel that you had to lie?
Computer programmers have a term called GIGO (garbage in garbage out). What affects does today’s media have on what comes out of our mouths?
Paul says in Rom 7:15 that he does the things that he does not want to do and does not do the things he wants to do. Sometimes we want to tell the truth but do not, what can we do to fight the urge to lie and tell the truth?
If you have not done so already, coordinate a summer outreach. It does not have to be complicated. In fact the simpler you make it the more likely it will get done. Do weekend warriors, volunteer at your local shelter; decide to do breakfast for your local fire department to show them how much you appreciate them.
Quietly reflect on the things the may tempt you to lie. After a few moments confess to God in prayer what comes to your heart. Then, someone read Psalm 117 as a group.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Have you ever been a victim of theft, if so what was stolen from you?
How did it make you feel?
WORD: Read Joshua 7
Just think for a second about the context of this situation. Achan has been with the Israelites for a while now and has seen GOD’s miracles in the years of wondering in the desert, how HE brought them into the land of Canaan, and destroyed the walls of Jerico.
What do you think prompted Achan to take some of the devoted things in which he was commanded not to?
If God is in control of all things and all things belong to Him, why then was He so concerned about a robe and some money?
Read verse 20-21
Chris Seidman said that to catch a thief we do not need more than just a bunch a jails, police, and rehabilitation centers, we need to get to the heart of the thief. What was at the heart of Achan’s sin?
Read Luke 23:39-43
What are the differences between the heart attitudes of the two thieves who hung next to Jesus?
Pastor Chris talked about transforming from a taker into a giver, what are some areas in your life that you need to turn from a taker into a giver?
What is an area in your life that God has already transformed you into a giver?
WORSHIP: Read Psalm 19
Discuss how your group has been givers in the community?
Plan out your Community Outreach Project
Sunday, September 02, 2007
25As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, "You are not one of his disciples, are you?"OK, let's pick up where we left off. It seems that I have been neglecting this study for a while. To restate my purpose for going through the Book of John, the fourth Gospel in the New Testament, I want to look at this book from the perspective of someone who is not a Christian and has decided to look into what it means to be a Christian. Many people are steered towards this book as a great place to start. I also think it is important to follow through the Bible in the order that God would have us read and try to get as much out of each book as we can. The other choice would be to find a message or theology we like and look through the Bible cherry picking verses out that agree with our already established conclusions. I prefer the first method, and I hope you do as well.
He denied it, saying, "I am not."
26One of the high priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, "Didn't I see you with him in the olive grove?" 27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
OK, this section is finishing up a story of Peter denying Christ. Christ has already predicted this, so it was no surprise to Him. The one that was shocked was Peter. After hearing a recent sermon and talking with many "Christians" about the idea of how to share their faith, this verse is taking on a whole new meaning for me. Peter was certainly a believer, and still denied Christ. What would cause this? Did he not love Christ? I doubt it. I'm sure he loved Christ.
I think the reason was that he was scared to offend others, or certainly scared of the consequences of being associated with Christ. It was easier to deny Him than face losing status, freedom, or possibly even his life.
How does that apply to us? Are many of the people in our churches believers? Do they love Christ? I'm sure of it. But, how do we deny Christ? Hey, we have t-shirts that say, "His Pain, Your Gain" on them, and we have a sticker on our car telling everyone that our kids got straight A's in a Christian school. Then, how are we denying Christ?
There is a big trend these days (though I'm sure it's not new) of "sharing your faith" by showing kindness to strangers. Now, I have no problem with sharing kindness, and certainly I believe that if you are not kind to everyone, you have no right to share your faith verbally.
But, how kind is it if all we do is feed and clothe people and never once share with them the saving Grace of Jesus Christ? If we do not let people know about their sin, and the coming day when God will judge them in righteousness, and the only way to reconcile themselves to this holy God, is to surrender before the sacrifice of His Son Jesus and be counted as righteous themselves on that day; if we do not let people know this as lovingly and as compassionately as we can, then all the food in the world only serves to glorify ourselves.
And THAT is how many of us deny Christ to this day. Hey, don't let the rooster crow before you actually share your faith. Don't be surprised as Peter that even though you are sure you are a believer, you are actually denying the very one that saved you.
The reason you are reading this is because somebody TOLD you about it. The reason you are considering it is because that person is hopefully kind and respectful to you. They go hand in hand. Go out today and do both.