Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Bible Reading Program

Grace Church of Old Bridge (NJ) is hosting a Bible Reading Program for 2011. The program consists of reading one chapter in the Bible each day. The chapters that are selected will take us through the story or action portions of the Bible.

You can read on-line each day at or you can pick up a paper copy of the readings and notes each month at the church.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Religious or Wise?

This is the time of year when we think about the Christmas story. After Luke 2, the main part of the Bible that we learn the events surrounding Christ's birth is the beginning of the book of Matthew. Luke tells about the shepherds, manger, angels, the trip to Bethlehem and more. But Luke doesn't tell us about the wise men. Matthew is the one who tells us about the wise men.

The wise men appear in Matthew 2 and are immediately contrasted with the religious leaders in Jerusalem at the time Jesus was born. The wise men probably travelled for two months to see the newborn King. The religious leaders refused to travel five miles to discover whether or not the report of the wise men was true. The wise men searched for Jesus, worshiped Jesus, and gave gifts to Jesus. The religious leaders ignored Jesus.

We have a choice. We can be "religious" and use spiritual stuff for our temporary advantage. Or we can be wise and follow Jesus. I encourage you to be wise with your life. Seek for Jesus. He will receive you and save you from sin. Worship Jesus no matter what the cost. And give Jesus the gift of all that you are- time, money, ability, and more.

Merry Christmas. Remember to be wise.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Prayer For a Price? You've Got To Be Kidding!

In the comments section of my previous post someone asked me to check out a site that he thought was interesting and to give him my opinion. I did a little digging and quickly discovered that the commenter was none other than the author of the other site. The site that he was stealthily (dishonestly?) promoting is a web-site in which you can post prayer requests and pay money to make sure that your request gets prayed for by a certain number of people. In addition, you can pray for the requests and receive tokens so that other people will pray for your requests.

One of the first thoughts I had was that the Reformation in the 1500's included a similar issue (indulgences) where people could pay money in order to get dead relatives out of "purgatory" sooner. But people profiting off of religion actually goes back much farther than the Catholic church. Jesus famously cleared the traders out of the temple because they were using religion as a means to financial profit. When Jesus sent His disciples out to serve He instructed them in Matthew 10:8, "Freely you have received, freely give." Paul warns Christians in 1 Timothy 6 against people who think that religion (godliness) is a means toward financial gain.

Not only does the very concept of paying for prayer go against Biblical principles, but the examples of prayer requests that were on the site were all self-centered. One person wanted to lose a certain number of pounds. Another person wanted a certain minimum score on a test. Someone else wanted their football team to win by a specific number of points (to cover the spread?). Someone else had a political request. Noticeably absent were prayers about God's glory and spiritual growth.

I doubt that I have to encourage you to hold onto your money. Most people aren't going to spend money on prayer. But I do encourage you to guard your heart. We are all in danger of focusing our prayer time on our physical and financial needs instead of on the the great God who meets our needs.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christ the Savior

The second verse of the Christmas carol Silent Night ends with the words "Christ the Savior is born. Jesus was indeed born for the mission of saving His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). The gifts and parties, the decorations and food of the Christmas season are all very nice, but they are not the real reason that Christ came to earth. He came to be the Savior of His people.

What difference should it make to you that Christ came as Savior? First, you should respond to Christ's mission by accepting Him as your Savior from sin. Christ's sacrifice on the cross of His righteous life bore the penalty of sin that you deserved to pay. That sacrifice only becomes effective to you by way of faith in the work of Christ on your behalf. Receive Christ as your Savior by faith and receive the forgiveness He acquired for you.

Second, we should respond to Christ as our Savior by worshiping Him for His act that procured our salvation. We should not grow tired of praising Christ for the cross. Instead, we should be like the one healed leper in Luke 17 who returned to give glory to God. Jesus commended this leper and wondered why the other nine did not do the same thing. Clearly Jesus expects us to worship Him for saving us from our sins.

A third response to being saved by Christ should be to tell others what Christ has done for us. This is what Jesus told the man that he cast a demon out of in Mark 5. That man wanted to travel with Jesus. Instead, Jesus told him to go back to his town and tell people what God had done for him. If Jesus has saved us, then it becomes our job to tell other people what we have experienced and how they can experience the same thing.

Finally, if Jesus has saved us from our sins, then we should respond by living free from continued sin. Romans 6 makes this conclusion quite convincingly. Jesus didn't just pay the penalty for our sin. He also changed our allegiance. We used to be devoted to sin. Now we should be devoted to living out God's righteousness in our lives. We will not always live perfectly, but we can live in a way that is consistent with having a Savior.

Is Jesus your Savior? If not, why not receive Him today? If He is, then live like it by worshiping Him, telling others about Him, and living free of the sin from which He saved you.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


It's funny to find out how your children perceive you. We were at a McDonald's the other day and a Stevie Wonder song started playing. This caused me to share a story with my oldest two kids who were there about how I had never heard of Stevie Wonder as a singer when I was a kid. Instead, I had a friend at Awana named Steven who had the nickname "Stevie Wonder." I thought it must be since everyone thought he was so cool. This caused me to wish that I had an equally cool nickname- something like "Davie Wonder." At this point my wife and kids cracked up and my oldest daughter said in dis-belief, "you mean you were a nerd?"

My wife was shocked that the kids had no idea that I was a nerd before she made me over. She takes all the credit for changing me to the point where I am the cool dude I am today (although I'm still waiting to be called Davie Wonder- oops, there goes my inner nerd sneaking out again). Mostly, my wife was rightly impressed with herself for changing my nerdiness so much that our teenage daughter had never suspected my nerd-like roots.

Of course being called a nerd somehow got me just a bit defensive. I began to share that I actually fit with the athletes at school as well as with the brains. I thought I was bragging when I shared that I had the second highest GPA in my graduating class (even though there were only 16 of us). My son wanted to know who had higher grades than me. When I said that her name was Rachelle, his reply was, "ha- you got beat by a girl!" Okay, that's humbling. First, I'm a nerd because I had good grades. Then, I'm not enough of a nerd because a girl had even higher grades than me. I don't think I'll ever understand my kids.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chirst the King

If you go to your search engine and type in "Christ the King" you will be directed to web pages for various churches and schools. But Christ did not become popular as "King" while He lived on earth. Make no mistake- Jesus came to this earth to become King. He came to establish His kingdom. But during the thirty-some years He walked the dusty landscape of Palestine, He was not recognized as King.

Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, clearly presents Christ as the one who came to be King of His people. From the very beginning of the book Matthew establishes the kingly identity of Jesus. The first section of the book is a list of names. Most people will skip this list or just skim over the names. But if you look closely, you will see that the list traces the kings of the people of Israel from David until the time when they ceased to have kings. But the genealogy does not end there. It continues on a straight line right to Jesus. Matthew is very clearly informing us that Jesus stands in the royal line of King David. Jesus deserves to be seen for who He truly is- King Jesus.

How should our lives be different if we know that Jesus is King? First, we should submit to Jesus as our king. This means that we will trust that His way to God is right and we will accept His payment for our sin.

Second, we should use our time like Jesus is our king. A king expects his followers to come when called. Jesus calls us every day to spend time with Him in the Bible. Jesus calls us every week to spend time worshiping him with His other followers in church.

Third, we should use our money like Jesus is our king. Let's stop asking how much we have to give and begin asking how much we can give to our king.

Fourth, if Jesus is our king, then we should be His heralds. While we may not use the words, "hear ye, hear ye" we certainly should deliver the message of the gospel to the people with whom we have the privilege of interacting.

Finally, if Jesus is our king, then we should submit to the lower authorities that He has placed over us. Government leaders, church leaders, family leaders, school leaders, employment leaders- all of these people have responsibilities to serve us. We should serve King Jesus by submitting appropriately to these leaders.

Every part of the Bible was written by God for a reason (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Matthew didn't leave us to wonder why He included a genealogy at the beginning of the list. Instead, Matthew pointed to Jesus as Messiah and showed that Jesus came to be king. Are you living like Jesus is your king?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spurgeon Quotes- sermons preached in 1887

Here are a few quotes from Charles Spurgeon taken from Volume 33 of his sermons.

"A self-righteous man's religion is nothing but a painted pageantry to go to hell in!"

"Let us enjoy Heaven on the road to Heaven."

"The greatest Believer would not believe for another moment unless Grace were constantly given him to keep the flame of faith burning."

"All the agony of death lies in the foresight of it- death itself is the end of all agony!"

"To the Believer it is not death to die!"

"Remember, that Hell for the orthodox will be quite as horrible as eternal ruin for the heterodox."

"It will be a dreadful thing to go to hell with a sound head and a rotten heart!"

"To live without Christ is not life, but a breathing death!"

"When we struggle against tribulation or persecution, we may be warring against untold benefit."

"Preachers need not seek for larger spheres- let them be faithful in those which they now occupy. A Brother recently said to me, 'I cannot do much with a hundred hearers,' and I replied, 'You will find it hard work to give in a good account for even a hundred people.' I confess it very quietly, but I have often wished that I had a little congregation, that I might watch over every soul in it. But now I am doomed to an everlasting dissatisfaction with my work, for what am I among so many? I can only feel that I have not even begun to do the hundredth part of what needs to be done in such a Church as this!"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

God's Love and Your (Football) Success

It probably would have been a good idea for Buffalo Bills wide-receiver to go home and read Romans 8:28-39 before tweeting last Sunday night. On Sunday afternoon Johnson dropped a pass in the end zone that probably would have caused his team to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in a huge upset. Instead, Johnson became hugely upset at being the goat of the game, and decided to blame God with this tweet:


If I set aside my thoughts on the grammar, spelling, punctuation, spacing, and capitalization of tweets in general and this one in particular, I end up with only a theological problem with what Stevie Johnson has said. Johnson's theology seems to be that as long as he acts in a way that pleases God, then God should give him a good life.

The apostle Paul had no such misconceptions. He had experienced the "tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword" that some might suggest could separate a Christian from the love of God. Paul testified that neither those things, nor anything else would ever be able to separate a follower of God from His love for them- the love that is gloriously displayed through the cross of Christ.

Paul did not deny that much trouble comes to the life of a believer. In verse 36 of Romans 8 he even quotes from the book of Psalms to show that God's followers have always experienced great hardship. Problems in life are not a sign of God abandoning his followers. But problems in life might show us when we have stopped relying on God and started to try to earn physical blessing from Him instead.

I don't know what Stevie Johnson's relationship with Christ actually is. But I can assure you that if you are a follower of Christ two things are true: 1. You will have problems, 2. God's love for you is eternal and will exhibit itself most permanently through granting you eternal salvation.