Offensive Preaching

Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” – John 6:60

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While Jesus attracted a crowd, it is also clear that He was never impressed by it. In fact, His words sometimes seemed to be aimed at dispersing it! Jesus was truth personified; therefore, when He spoke, His words and His life confronted the lives of those who had been following Him. For some who followed, this light (of truth) was too bright and they chose to leave.

We should be wary of leaders whose ministries never diminish. Those who present a true Gospel will have a ministry that ebbs and flows, one that increases and decreases. When unmitigated, undiluted truth is presented, some “followers” will receive it with joy, change, and grow by it. On the other hand, others will reject the truth and usually fight or flee.

Truth abhors a compromise and makes complacency impossible. Our Lord was the author of truth. If you truly preach and follow “Him,” then do not be surprised if sometimes others do not follow you. If no one is ever offended by your preaching, perhaps you have ceased to preach all that Christ demands.

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t. – Mark Twain

May Our Teaching Be His

So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me.” – John 7:16

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There is probably nothing more important to church health than a pastor-teacher who preaches God’s Word. In fact, such teaching is vital for the Kingdom as a whole. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, even included “handling the Word with accuracy” as one of the essential requirements for pastoral service.

Before a man ever steps before God’s people to speak to them, he should ask himself this question, “From where will this teaching come?” Jesus said that even His teaching was not His own, but that it came from His Father. Are we really smarter than Jesus? Is our opinion truly more important than God’s?

Let our teaching come from the Father. Let us handle the Word with accuracy. God’s people are not perishing (spiritually) for lack of our opinions, but they may indeed do so for lack of biblical truth.

What can the Church do? If she stands by her moral teaching, then she will be seen as standing in judgment over a vast percentage of Europeans. – Timothy Radcliffe

Can You See?

“If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” – John 9:41

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In this story, Jesus confronts “blindness” in the lives of two different kinds of people. You see, there was a man who was blind, but He received his sight and believed. Then there were some religious leaders who had their sight, but chose not to believe and remained blind. And it is through these concurrent stories that we understand the importance of recognizing “blindness” in our own lives.

The man who was born blind recognized his blindness, received the gift of sight, and was saved (by Christ). The leaders refused to believe in Christ, did not recognize their spiritual blindness, and remained lost.

Can you see? Are you aware of your own “blindness?” Are you willing to accept the possibility that your “sight” might be impaired? With Christ, you will never see until you admit that you have been truly blind. So … Believe … Receive … and SEE!

Two kinds of blindness are easily combined so that those who do not see really appear to see what is not. – Tertullian

An Offensive Faith

Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus. – John 12:10-11

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Does your faith offend? If it does, then who is offended? When the chief priests learned that Lazarus had been raised from the dead, they decided to kill him (that, in itself, is humorous … I mean, was it HIS fault that he couldn’t STAY DEAD!). Because of Lazarus’ “life,” a lot of Jews deserted the chief priests and believed in Jesus. His resurrection, his transformation from death to life, was an offense and insult to their power and tradition. It was a typical case of guilt by association. So, in like manner, who is offended by your faith, life, and transformation? Who is offended by your association with Christ?

As with Lazarus, without a word, true faith WILL offend. It will offend the religious and the irreligious. The religious will be offended because true faith makes them uncomfortable. They are convicted by it. We should offend them anyway. The irreligious will be offended because true faith reveals a missing element in their lives and they realize that they are powerless to change. We should not resist offending them as well.

Does your faith offend? By faith, I mean the power of a transformed life? It’s okay if it does, because it should.

Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has. – Martin Luther

Belonging

The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. – John 15:19

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This is a tale of two fathers. One father offers pleasure, significance, and relationship … but only for a time. The other Father offers the same things (pleasure, significance, and relationship), except He offers them forever. Which father is yours? You must choose. You see, these two fathers are enemies. If you love one, you must hate the other. In fact, if you belong to one, the other will certainly hate you.

Which one will claim you as his own? Both claim to love you, but only One has proved it. Which will you believe? The father who has promised you everything and kept none of the promises he made or the Father who has always been faithful, promised you eternity, and made that possible with the gift of His own Son?

It’s a new day. Which father will call you his “own?”

The king proclaims the Lord ’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father.'” – Psalm 2:7

Live!

And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. – 1 John 5:11-12

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Live!

This is the word often used by lifeguards, doctors, and others who each day fight for the lives of those who are dying. It is also the desire of the Lord Jesus Christ for you today. He wants you to live … and He knows that this is not possible apart from Him.

Jesus is the source of life. The one who has Him has life. The one who doesn’t have Jesus, does not have life. Simple, huh?

Of course, you may think, “But, I am already living pretty well.” Christ says, “Nope, not without Me.” While you may THINK that you are already living, the child who lives his entire life on a trash heap in a third-world country may think the same thing. He hopes of nothing more because he is convinced that nothing more exists.

Jesus offers you LIFE … for now and forever. Don’t miss it. Choose it.

Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music. – Ronald Reagan

Loving Him Like You Used To

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. – Revelation 2:4

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This is the standard translation of this passage (part of the letter to the Church at Ephesus), meaning, “You have lost your first love.” The Parole de Vie (a French translation that I have used at times) gives the same meaning; however, the words are a little different. It reads, “You don’t love me as you did in the beginning.” Though this is an alternate reading, I still think it is true to the text. It makes it clear that the object of our love should be Christ and that this love should be our highest priority.

So, do you love Jesus like you used to?

Your answer is very important to the future vitality of your spiritual life. If you do NOT love Jesus as you once did, then the problem can probably be traced to one thing … your obedience. In the beginning (of your walk with Christ) you were COMPLETELY obedient. Your “Yes” was unconditional. Could it be that you have allowed some “No’s” to creep into your life? If so, then it is clear, you just don’t love Him like you used to.

So, repent. Begin once again to say, “Yes” to all He asks and you will find yourself loving Christ as you did in the beginning and you will then certainly find the “first-love” that you lost.

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul. – Judy Garland