Monday, December 21, 2009

December Devotional


Meaningless controversy is never worth it.

This devotional message 
was prepared and delivered by Brad Widman
at the December Bible Quiz Meet.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Devotion

Devotion: What comes into your mind when you think of that word? What does it mean to be devoted to someone or something? Webster’s dictionary describes devotion as “religious fervor, an act of prayer or private worship other than regular corporate worship of a congregation.” It also states that “the act of devoting is the fact or state of being passionately dedicated and loyal to an idea, person or thing.”

Okay, so now that we have a definition I want you to think of things in your life that you are devoted to, according to this definition. Right now I have one that comes to mind and that is the Seattle Seahawks.  I am completely 110% devoted to the Seahawks; I am loyal beyond belief.  I check their site every day to find out what happened at practice. I have jerseys and memorabilia. I watch every game without fail.  My whole Sunday is planned around the Seahawks game.  So, now what is the first thing that comes into your mind when you think of what you are devoted to? What do you spend most of your time doing? My guess is that like me, most of you came up with something that you are devoted to besides God.


In 1 Corinthians 7:29-35, Paul is taking about marriage and how those who are married should live.  Then all of a sudden Paul breaks off from the topic of marriage and just talks about how we as Christians should live our lives.  Paul says in verses 29 – 35:
What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Let’s go back here to verse 31 and the word engrossed. What do you think about this idea? It says “those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them.” What do you guys use on a daily basis? Is it a computer, a cell phone, maybe your car.  Are you engrossed in those things? Are you more concerned about texting your friend, or checking your Facebook page than spending 30 minutes with God in prayer or reading His word? From that last passage it looks to me like we all have a lot of work to do in order to achieve this level of devotion that Paul is talking about.

So let me ask you: do you devote yourself to God in this way? Do you want to live your life in undivided devotion to the Lord? I know that I do. So let’s start a change today so that rather than pursuing the things of this world we pursue the things of God. So that rather than worshiping the creation we worship God. So that instead of being engrossed in the things of the world we would be engrossed in God. So here is my challenge for everyone reading this: take a real close look at your life, what are you allowing to take up your time? Are your interests divided? Are you concerned about the world’s affairs or are you concerned about the affairs of God? I want you to understand that the hardest and most important aspect of your life is your relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, but it’s always worth it. It’s not easy to wake up early before school so you can read your Bible and pray to God. It’s not fun to go to your friends and tell them about Jesus and invite them to church or youth group or to bible quiz.  But our reward both in heaven and on earth for living a life of undivided devotion to God is always worth it.



This "devotional" message was 
 prepared and delivered by Kyle Miksovsky 
at the November Bible Quiz Meet.
Watch it on youtube! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To Be Long

There are different kinds of patience. In the Old Testament, the word for patience "is related to the verb 'to be long' and involves the idea of being long to get riled or slow to become angry." It means, like Micah said, "waiting, and being okay with waiting." That could mean waiting while a package is delivered, or waiting through an oppressive situation.
We live in a very impatient society; we are always looking for the newest, fastest thing. Microwave dinners, faster internet, quicker ways to text… we hate standing in line, getting stuck in traffic, or just waiting for anything, period. A friend of mine once related a story of how she was waiting at a traffic light, and "It was taking a really long time," she said, "like… 30 seconds." What does it say about us when 30 seconds qualifies as a really long time?

But patience can also apply to waiting on God – are we any more enduring when it comes to waiting for God to take care of us? Have you ever been in a situation when you needed God to come for you, you didn't think you could last any longer, and you just wanted Him to rescue you before it was too late?

In John 11:1-44, we see a story exactly like this. Mary and Martha, appeal to Jesus to come and heal their brother Lazarus before it is too late. Now, it's worth noting that these were not strangers to Jesus; they were special friends that "Jesus loved" (v. 3, 5, 36). And yet, Jesus didn't seem to do anything; he just waited around for two more days. When he finally arrives to find that Lazarus is dead, you can sense the frustration in both Mary and Martha's words: "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died!" (NLT) I read those words, and hear, "Why weren't you here? Why did you wait? I am I not worth it? Wasn't he worth saving? Did we do something wrong?"

But of course we know how the story ends. And so did Martha. "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day," she said. She had faith in Jesus, faith that He would put everything right in the end; but maybe she didn't have faith that He would put everything right in the now. And I firmly believe that God always gives us what we need for now – and sometimes that doesn't make sense to us, sometimes it looks like He's waited too long, sometimes it seems like He has already answered "No" to our prayers… but He always knows what He is doing.

Patience can never be separated from faith. You should go and read Hebrews 11. These are the true heroes of the faith; people that lived and died in total dedication to God. But did you notice verse 13? Verse 39? They knew that God had started something big. But how patient do you think they had to be?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On Grace


Charles Swindoll said once that the subject of grace is kind of like riding a whale – “a big subject to try and get your arms around or to get a hold on.”
In one sense, it is easy.  We all have some idea of what it means have grace.  It is a word that still has a lot beauty attached to it; we speak of “graceful” dancers, or a “grace period” after a due date; an honored guest, we may say, will “grace us with her presence”.  Even being “grateful” (derived from the same Latin word, gratus) shows insight into how we think of grace.  It is a pleasing concept to us, this idea that we are showed favor where none is merited.
On other hand, the extent of God’s grace towards us is really mind boggling.  Why should he just give us anything?  Why should we accept it?  Some of us don’t – like the brothers in the Parable of the River, we might try earn God’s favor with our deeds, or hope that if we aren’t as bad as someone else God won’t notice our sin, or even just forget God altogether, trading in His great promises for the mud hut of selfish living.
By looking at Titus 3:5-7 and many other verses, we see that God’s grace is for all time. From 2 Cor 12:9 and Heb 4:16, we learn that grace is also for this time, this life, the here and now

Here are a few resources to help understand grace better.
Stories:
  • In 1935, Fiorella LaGuardia showed grace to a woman who had stolen.
    Discussion question
    : How did LaGuardia carry out justice and mercy at the same time?
  • In the 1700’s, John Newton was a slave trader whose life was transformed when he met Christ. To describe the vastness of God’s mercy on him, he wrote the hymn Amazing Grace.
    Discussion question
    : Does knowing Newton’s story change how you think of the hymn?  How does it affect the way you think of God’s grace?

Studies:
  • The Grace Series from www.acts17-11.com is enjoyable for deeper study, especially the final entry on the Power of Grace.
  • To find many more verses about grace in the Bible, type the word “Grace” into the search box below.
http://wbsa.logos.com/



Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Most Excellent Way

If you are Bible quizzing this year, you probably know that I Corinthians 12 talks about spiritual gifts; Paul gives several examples of abilities that God gives believers: healing, teaching, speaking and interpreting tongues, prophecy, and discerning spirits, to name a few. He specifically points outs that just as a body has many parts that have different functions that are each necessary, the many gifts of the members of the church are all important, and should work together to form a cohesive whole. Paul goes on in chapter 14, explaining how tongues and prophecy are best used.

But wait; chapter twelve… chapter fourteen. What’s missing from this picture? Chapter thirteen, of course! EVERYONE knows I Corinthians 13 – the famous “love chapter,” that you’ve heard at every wedding you’ve ever been to!

Now, why would Paul put the love chapter right in the middle of talking about spiritual gifts? Maybe part of the reason is that, in the first place, the spiritual gifts are “given for the common good” (I Cor 12:7). We have them in order to build each other up, and bond us together; and what is more for the common good than to love each other?

But Paul goes beyond this: as he introduces the love chapter, he calls it “the most excellent way.” The reason he puts love sandwiched between chapters twelve and fourteen, is that love is a spiritual gift. Not only that, but he says love is the greatest spiritual gift. This was a revelation to me when I first read it. We don’t tend to think of love as a spiritual gift; in fact, just the word love gets so overused in our cultural, that it often gets overlooked altogether. Do we really think of love as "the most excellent way?"


We have a tendency to look at people with other gifts and think how spiritual they are; if you have ever heard someone prophesy, or heal, or know someone who has given everything up to minister to the unsaved in a far-off country, then you know how easy it is to look at that person and think, "Wow.  If they can do that... they must be right with God."

Skip to John 13:35 for a moment.  To set the stage, Jesus is at the Last Supper with his disciples.  He has just washed their feet, he knows that he is about to be betrayed and crucified. It's a critical moment; the words he chooses just before he gives his life will carry special weight when his disciples look back on it later.  "By this all men will know that you are my disciples," he says, "if you ___________________.” What?  Have perfect theological teaching? Demonstrate miraculous powers?  NO! "If you love one another."

And decades later, what does Paul say?  Paraphrasing, he says, "So what, if I could speak the language the angels speak? Or if I could understand all of God's mysteries, or if he gave me so much power I could lift a mountain?  Or, if I gave away every single thing I own... what good is it?  Unless I have love, it counts for exactly ...NOTHING!”

After a description of exactly how love looks, he concludes: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."  Why these three, and why is love the greatest? Because they are what is really necessary to be alive in Christ in this life, but only love will last forever:
  Faith is that we believe and trust without having seen (Heb 11:1); when we join the Lord, faith is no longer needed! 
  Hope, not in the sense that we wish for something to happen, but like a trapped man has hope when  rescue is coming  (Eph 1:18); in this life, we hope as we wait for the great promises God has for us -- but when those promises are fulfilled, our waiting will be over! 
  Love will continue to grow after everything else has been fulfilled.  In heaven, the love we experience from God and show towards others will be ever more perfect, building upon itself over and over for the rest of eternity.


This devotional was delivered by Adam Borries 
at the Oct 10, 2009 Bible Quiz meet.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Introducing the online Question Box

Ever had a question you wanted to know the answer to, but didn't want to ask?  We are taking an old concept and making it new again.  Every now and then at TFC's Monday night youth meetings, we will pass around blank paper,and students can write whatever question is on their mind. It might be a question about God or the Bible; it might be an ethical issue they are facing; they might need advice on a relationship.  Whatever it is, they can ask in complete privacy, because when the question goes in the box, we never know who wrote it.

Now introducing the online Question Box!   You can submit any question you want an answer to, without having to reveal who you are, and I will do my best to answer it honestly and accurately.  We got our first question yesterday:
 10/29/2009 5:20pm    what day is it?
Well, just to show you that it works -- It was Thursday. =) 

Now, understand that this is not an automatic response kind of thing; there's no web robot on the other end that's going to chat with you.  It more like you are sending me an anonymous email.  That means an actual human is responding to you, which means that you will get a better answer (hopefully), but you may have to wait a day or three before it shows up here on the blog.  So bring it on -- I'm ready for a challenge!
-- Adam




Thanks to Mark French for the online Question Box idea!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Biblical Priorities


Saint Augustine[1] defined virtue as rightly-ordered love.  That is, our lives are good and virtuous when we the things we love are put in the right order: the best, most excellent things deserve our highest devotion, and the least important things should get the least attention.

What is the most excellent thing in the universe?  Therefore, how much love should that get?  How much attention do you spend on unimportant things -- video games, movies, texting, Facebook?

Here are the notes from the discussion Zac and Micah led on Monday:

  1. What should be our #1 priority? A strong relationship with God. John 17:3
  2. What are things that make your relationship with God stronger? Time, obeying him Mark 1:35
  3. How do you make time to spend with god? Set a time that works good for your schedule, and try not to let anything else get in the way of that! Give some examples of how to spend time with God.
  4. What does obedience look like? Having a willingness to go out on a limb and do anything for God. John 14:15 John 14:21
  5. How do you know how strong your relationship with him is? We don’t know but we should pray that God would show us. (Look at the spiritual fruit you are producing.)
  6. Why is a good relationship with God important? Because it is the only way for us to be transformed into a Christ like person. Phil 3:21



[1] St. Augustine was a Christian philosopher and theologian who lived only 400 years after Christ, and who had an huge influence on the thinking of the Church in the Western world.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Great Love of the Lord Pt 2



And God answers... "You don't know how much I love you. The moment you think you understand is the moment you do not understand. I am God not man. You tell others about Me -- that I am a loving God. Your words are glib. My words are written in the blood of My only Son. The next time you preach about My love with such obonxious familiarity, I may come and blow your whole prayer meeting apart. When you come at Me with studied professionalism, I will expose you as a rank amateur. When you try to convince others that you understand what you are talking about, I will tell you to shut up and fall flat on your face."

-- Brennan Manning

Your assigment for next week:
  • How would you live differently if you really understood how much God loves you?
  • What are some verses that speak about this?

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Great Love of the Lord

Monday, Sept 14, 2009

Ever think that "Christianese" words -- like righteousness, salvation, grace -- get overused, and lose their meaning?  I do.  I have often thought that we hear them so often, even say them so often, that we skim over the words, like a rock skipping on a lake, without ever plunging into the depths of what they really mean.

Consider, for example, the most famous verse in the Bible: John 3:16.  Almost everyone knows this verse (or at least of this verse); we learned it in Sunday school as a small child; we see it at football games, on billboards, on t-shirts. But when do ever consider what it means?

If you really look closely at the meaning packed into each word of this remarkable verse, you might get something more like this:

The God handed over The Son, The Only-Born, that all the ones trusting into him not might not be destroyed, but might have life that is not limited by time. And this is the reason: He utterly loved this world that turned its back on him.

Reading:
Psalm 107:1-43, especially verse 43:
Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.


see also Ephesians 2:4-5, Romans 5:7-8