|Posted by A.Totire on May 8, 2019 at 6:15 PM||comments (0)|
This is a devotion based on 2 Cor. 5:17. "New creation."
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|Posted by A.Totire on March 22, 2019 at 9:15 PM||comments (0)|
Psalm 80:14-19 (NLT)
14 Come back, we beg you, O God of Heaven’s Armies. Look down from heaven and see our plight. Take care of this grapevine15 that you yourself have planted, this son you have raised for yourself.16 For we are chopped up and burned by our enemies. May they perish at the sight of your frown.17 Strengthen the man you love, the son of your choice.18 Then we will never abandon you again. Revive us so we can call on your name once more.
19 Turn us again to yourself, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.
The writer of Psalm 80 undersatnds that Israel had fallen away from God, and needs to be revived. It is not enough just to resume their religious worship to God: Their very relationship with God needs to be revived. In other words, Israel needs to come to Yahweh with true heart affections and love for Him.
In recent history, England, America, and other parts of the world have experienced revivals, also called "The Great Awakening." These revivals were preceded by intense time of people praying, fasting, and confessing sins. I also want to say that such meetings often were not called "in order get a revival started", but to call people to repenatnce and to return to a saving relationship wiht God. Many of our current Pentecostal churches came from revivals that began in Wales, India, and at Azusa Street in Los Angeles.
True revival will always be a revival of the heart, with the heart's affections turned towards God and his glory. True revival will always be accompanied by a desire for holiness, a repentance of sin, as well as a renewed sense and urgency of God's mission. Often, the result of a revival includes a changed society, an increase in foreign missions, greater church attendance, and greater love for one another.
Today, however, many people use the word "revival" in ways that tend to water down the original meaning. For example, many churches utilize contemporary worship songs with lights, fog machines, and a clever worship set that is desinged to induce a certain psychological effect on its listeners. Others tend to emphasize the spiritual gifts, such as prophecy, where people are taught that anyone can prophesy. While good music and spiritual igfts are good things, there is an assumption that dependency on these things will cause people to fall in love with God more. This is not the case, in fact, these things tend to displace the work of the Holy Spirit in people's lives. The Spirit does not need such enticements.
I am concerned that people are being inoculated against the real work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let us seek the Lord and repent of worldly enticements.
Psalms 63:1 (ESV)
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
|Posted by A.Totire on March 8, 2019 at 9:10 AM||comments (0)|
17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matt 20:17-28 (ESV)
It has often been said that hurting people hurt people. This is true, for people who are hurting inside often strike back at others as a means of self-protection, even when the other person only intended to bless the hurting person. Deep down inside, we really are poeple who are insecure.
Insecure about many things in our lives.
It all started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent succeeded in getting Adam and Eve to disobey God. As the story unfolds, they ate the fruit, and their eyes were opened...and they knew they were naked. As a result, they hid from God and tried to cover themselves by sewing fig leaves. Instead, they needed to approach God and let him cover them.
From that point on, humanity has been beset by our fears and insecurities. The results are murder, wars, corrutpion, violence, etc.
In the story above, Jesus talks yet again about his impending death, a death that would correct our insecurities and aversion towards God our Father. Yet, His disciples did not understand, since the youngest members of his disciples wanted to correct their insecurities by requesting positions of power in the coming kingdom. While there is certainly a touch of humor to the story, it underscores how insecure we are, and that we are to trust God with our lives so that we can serve others in His love. Yes, it is true that hurting people hurt people, but if we allow our savior Jesus Christ to come and heal us and be our security, we then can learn how to love others, spreading hope and comfort to a broken world. Jesus has you covered!
|Posted by A.Totire on March 5, 2019 at 7:30 PM||comments (0)|
17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Phil 3:17 (ESV)
This devotion is based upon the message "Modeling in Community," which is a continuation of this year's theme of pressing on to the higher calling in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12). A part of our mission statement says that, as a community, we are learning how to model Jesus' message of love, hope, and reconciliation. We do this together as a community. It is not a do-it-yourself journey done in solitude.
The Apostle Paul says, "join in imitating me." To imitate the Apostle Paul is to imitate the life of Jesus Christ. We see this in his letter to the chuch in Corinth "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." (1 Cor. 11:1). Here, the Apostle Paul explains that, as a follower of Jesus, his aim is to be a blessing to others so that he can share Jesus' love for them, so that they may also have a saving relationship with Jesus. So, rather than pursuing his own life, his own agenda so that he can bless himself, he does what it takes to reach others for Christ (I Cor. 9:19-25).
To illustrate this further, the Apostle Paul tells the poeple at the chuch in Philippi,
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Phil 2:2-4 (ESV)
This "having the same mind" and "having the same love" and "one mind", seems rather idealistic today. As long as people go to chuch in order to get a blessing or to feel justified for doing so ("I went to chuch, therefore, I am ok), such a community seems too difficult to attain. However, it is not impossible, as long as we take ownnership of our journey with Christ and pursue the love of Jesus, it is certianly possible! In fact, that is God's will, that we seek to live for Him and to have His love fill us so that we are a blessing for others. In verse 5, the Apostle Paul writes, "Have this mind in yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus." He continues on to describe how Jesus Christ, even though He is God, came a servant and died on a cross for us. As a result, God highly exalted Jesus Christ.
How do we live that out today? Realize that it is God's intention to bless others, but those who do not know God seek out those blessings for themselves. They do whatever it takes, even cheating or stealing from others to get ahead. But, trusting God is to put your life in His hands, trusting in Him to take care of your needs, that you would not be taken advantage of. Rather, as a follower of Jesus Christ who puts his/her trust in God's provision, we are then positioned to be a conduit for God's blessings.
As a community, we are learning how to do that better and better. It is a community marked by God's love, trust, and faithfulness. It is a community of Christ-followers who model the love of Jesus Christ.
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God is not passive nor aloof.
He is actively on mission searching for us.
Ever since the garden of Eden, God has been asking Adam and Eve, “Where are you?”
Today, God is still looking for us.
In Ezekiel 34:11-12, we see God on a mission for His own:
11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
God sends people on mission to either save people or deliver His word. In Genesis 45, Joseph tells his brothers that God has sent him to deliver his family. Likewise, God sent Moses to bring His people out of Egypt. God also raised up judges and the prophets.
Finally, He sent Jesus Christ on a mission to save us: John 20:21 “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, Jesus prays for his disciples, that they would continue on the mission of God. The mission is possible because it depends upon Him, and it depends on His word. His word will not return empty, but it will accomplish its purpose.
Text: John 17:13-19.
13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
In verse 15, Jesus prays to the Father that His disciples would not be removed from the world, but that they would be kept from the evil one.
We should realize that living for Jesus Christ makes us God’s agent in a world that has turned away from God.
Perhaps you came to Christ for a healing, or you were lonely, or some other ailment.
As you turned to God, Jesus healed you.
It doesn’t matter what your background is. The point is that you heard the word of God, and decided to follow Christ. You belong to Him, and He wants you to continue on his mission. Jesus prays to the Father that while you are serving Him here, that God would keep you safe from the evil one.
The world system is sold out to sin and corruption, and will one day pass away. In the meantime, we are sent on a mission as a countercultural force that gives life. While we are tempted to love the things of the world, we are admonished not to love the things that the world holds as valuable (I John 2:15-16).
Peter writes in his letter to believers facing imminent persecution:
1 Peter 2:11 (ESV)
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
This country’ entire culture: economically and spiritually, is based upon consumerism.
The truth of the matter is the we were created by God for a much greater purpose. We were called out to work with God on a mission, reaching out to the lost, the dejected, the hurting and broken.
Next, in verses 17-19, Jesus prays that His followers would be agents of God’s truth as they are sent out into the world. Moreover, God has us covered:
1 John 5:18 (ESV)
18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
Even though we might come from different denominations, backgrounds, languages, ethnicities, etc, we are united because we are serving God who sent us out on His mission into the world. As Jesus prays in verses 20-21, he is praying not just for the immediate disciples, but for everyone who believes in their message. We are all united by our adherence to the truth, and to the mission that we are called to.
We are to love and serve one another. This is why it is important not to follow the ways of this consumer-driven world, but to follow the example of Christ set before us.
Gal 5:13-15 (NLT)
13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
There is nothing casual or leisurely about serving the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is in the soul-saving business, and so are we. Let us together stand and serve the King joyfully!
|Posted by A.Totire on April 26, 2017 at 6:35 PM||comments (0)|
The Greatest Story Ever Told
By Pastor Alan Totire
I like a good story, and I am sure that you do too. One thing that can ruin a good story is to watch only part of it, like coming into a movie towards the middle and leaving at the climax…without knowing how the story is going to end.
That is the same way for those people who only go to church on Christmas and Easter.
But that’s religion, isn’t it? For some people, that’s all they need.
Actually, what we call “religion” is a story, a grand story that has a definite beginning and end. God is the storyteller, and He is also a participant in the story.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a significant part of that story, but it is by no means finalized on resurrection Sunday.
Stories are important because they have a way of bringing order and meaning to our lives.
Perhaps certain people feel that they do not “get into religion” because they never figured out what the story is. The death and resurrection of Jesus cannot be properly understood apart from the greater story that it is a part of.
You have come in the middle of a story, a grand story. The greatest story ever told.
Not only is Jesus Christ the subject of the story, but he himself becomes the storyteller. While most churches and movies focus on the place of the tomb, our story picks up after Jesus appears to the women at the tomb later that day…
On the Road to Emmaus
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
There are three points I would like to make from this passage:
1) The story retold
The same day Jesus appeared to the women at the tomb, two disciples were talking about the events of what was going on. They were not just sad; they were devastated, trying to make sense of things.
They, like you or me, try to derive meaning from life, a sense that somehow, life is like a story. Perhaps you don’t like the story you are in, but life itself offers some predictability so that we try to assess where we have come from and where we are going.
These disciples were Jewish people who believe in the one true God, who would send them a Messiah and deliver them from their oppressors. They firmly believed that perhaps Jesus of Nazareth was that person. After all, he was a righteous person who did miracles and helped people draw closer to God. But then, the unexpected happened. He was arrested, tortured, and crucified before all. This was a tragedy. Not only did the Jewish religious leaders and the Romans kill this man Jesus, but they also killed the hope that His disciples had.
Just then, Jesus Christ came up to them, and aksed them what they were talking about.
They were incredulous that this man didn’t know what had happened in Jerusalem.
Then, Jesus said, “O fools and slow of heart!” You should have known better. Then, he gives them a lesson in Old Testament history.
He did this because the death and resurrection of the Messiah had to be understood as part of Israel’s own dramatic story, which is unfolding before them. Jesus did not merely offer them prooftexts predicting that the Messiah would die; Jesus had to retell the story so that they knew that the story ultimately belonged to God, and He is the one whom they need to look in order to understand the outworking of God’s plan, from Genesis to Revelation, from creation to re-creation.
2) The story verified.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact, and it is one miracle that can be verified historically.
1 Cor 15:3-7 (ESV)
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
This text was written approximately 20+ years after Jesus ascended into heaven. When the Apostle Paul wrote this, there were still people alive who could attest to its veracity.
Theories trying to disprove the resurrection have been tried and failed. For example, the disciples stole the body, the swoon theory. These have pretty much been rejected by New Testament scholars.
Now, internet skeptics are trying to discredit Christianity by saying that it was all borrowed from pagan religions. For example, the Jesus stories came from the Egyptian Horus myth, or from Mitharism. These too, are rejected by scholars. It is well attested that Christianity came from the cradle of Judaism, and in regards to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there are no parallels in any other religion, even Judaism.
Another claim that surfaced a few years ago but has quieted down is that Jesus wasn’t crucified, but that he married, had children, and lived a normal life. The evidence? Well, an archaeologist uncovered a tomb in Jerusalem where a family was buried in the 1st century. The name of the Father was Jesus, his wife was Mary, and they had children. Problem. Jesus and Mary were common names in those days. Also, only the very rich could have had a tomb in Jerusalem. If Jesus lived a normal life and died, he would have been buried in Nazareth, his hometown.
This was documented by the monumental work from Dr. N. T. Wright, who wrote an 800-page book entitled “The Resurrection of the Son of God.” Wright’s painstaking research into all ancient documents pertaining to resurrection has demonstrated that Jesus’ death and resurrection has no parallels with any other idea pertaining to resurrection. Wright’s book is the definitive work on the subject, and I am unaware of any scholarly work that has called it into question.
In the end, Christians have ample evidence to support their belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
3) The story’s challenge.
A person can most likely convince you that the evidence all points to the fact of the resurrection of the dead. However, you may say, “Yeah, well so what!”
As I said, while today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is not the end of the story. In fact, stories add meaning and purpose to our lives.
One overall statement that we can say about the resurrection of Jesus is that it implies that hope is not dashed or thwarted, but restored.
The story continues.
Its plot is clearer than ever.
Luke 24:30-32 (ESV)
When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
Before vanishing before the two disciples, they admitted that their hearts were burning within them. Jesus has a way of bringing back hope when it seemed that hope that given out.
Later, Jesus appears to the 12 disciples, which is recounted in the following verses:
Luke 24:44-47 (ESV)
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Again, after demonstrating that he has indeed risen from the dead, he gave them a history lesson, recounting the story of God’s plan of redemption, leading up to the death and resurrection of the Messiah.
If it is true that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is true,
Then it follows that the grand story of God’s redemption is true also.
If that is true, where do we fit within it?
We can try to live our lives by trying to pursue one thrill to the next, or by finding our own career or to pursue love. The question then, is how long would that last? Does it give lasting meaning to life?
It is more than a simple fact that a dead man was raised from the dead. The resurrection power of Jesus Christ is available to you today. The question is, will you remain a spectator of this grand story, or will you become a part of it? If you want to become a part of God’s redemptive story, you can give your heart and life to Jesus Christ by giving him your life and by asking him into your heart. He promised that he will save us and send the Holy Spirit into our heart, which will confirm that you are indeed a child of God!
Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)
if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.