607, 2015

a stone, a sure foundation

Recently, I was teaching our college group from Isaiah 28.

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Verse 16 of Isaiah 28 says this:

“therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.'””

God, speaking through his prophet Isaiah there, is assuring his people of stability, safety and certainty in the midst of their unstable, unsafe and uncertain times. The key though is that God’s stone & foundation is not in a deed or even a system. It is in a man. Salvation is not something we do. Salvation is someone we believe in! The preciousness of life and the foundation of life is in trusting in Jesus Christ for forgiveness.

That is what this passage in Isaiah 28 is about.

But if that is not clear enough for you, then check this out. Look at all these other passages in God’s Word that point to what Isaiah was talking about.

Psalm 118:22 “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Acts 4:11-12 “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

1 Peter 2:4-7 “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture ‘Behold I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’ 

Matthew 21:42  “Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.’

Romans 9:32b-33 “They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’

I wish you could have been there that night to see that room full of young adults as they saw the beauty, power and continuity of the Word of God in our Bible study. The Word was coming alive to them!

Certainly the Bible was written by many different men, but it truly has God as its author! Just from this short study we see that Isaiah, Luke, Peter, David, Matthew, Paul and Jesus all affirm and believe that when Isaiah talked about the stone and sure foundation, he was referring to the Lord Jesus. That is remarkable!

 

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106, 2015

4 Reflections on Graduations

graduation pic

I have already been to four graduations, and I have several more to attend in the next week. Also, Valeria and I have received in the mail many other graduation announcements. It is the season for graduations!

Graduations are monumental! It is possibly the biggest rite-of-passage we have in America in the life of a teenager! It is the end of your mandatory education. In many ways, it is the beginning of adulthood. Graduations are special!

I still clearly remember my high school graduation from 1998, my college graduation from 2002, and my seminary graduation from 2006. Those were big events in my life, and I am thankful to be able to look back at those meaningful milestones.

Attending someone else’s graduation is a lot different than participating in your own graduation. Yet still, I have recently found myself reflecting on graduation. These reflections have helped me grow as an adult and a Christian.

Here are 4 Reflections on Graduations:

  1. Thankful for Teachers! As I was sitting there the other night and reading through the Graduation Program, I was looking at the list of teachers names. There were a lot of teachers listed. And I did not know many of them at all. I did not know most of the teachers. I realized then that there are a lot of people working in schools and working in students lives that the average person never knows or thinks about. They contribute to the growth and education of so many kids. It takes a lot of people working hard to make a school function. There is a lot that goes into a kid getting an education. I thank God for teachers and administrators that work in schools!
  2. Life Goes By Fast! Every graduation I attend, I find myself in awe of some of the kids who are graduating. I thought they were freshmen last year! My second son, Eli, graduated from Kindergarten last week. It seems he just learned to walk. There are kids graduating this week from high school that were in Elementary school when I became their youth pastor. That doesn’t seem that long ago. The Bible says “you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) Graduation is clear reminder of how quickly life passes us by! Don’t always be hurrying to the next thing in life. Enjoy today!
  3. Schools aren’t that Bad! Students have a tendency to complain about their schools, their teachers, and their administrators. But at graduation there is a sense that it was worthwhile. There is an appreciation for those who have taught you. There is an admiration for those who have put up with students and their complaining.  During the school year, we may think the worst of schools, but typically at graduation we think the best of our school, teachers and administrators. Graduations help us see that schools aren’t that bad!
  4. Young People are Awesome! My life has been so blessed by the graduations I have attended. Even when I do not know many of the kids, I enjoy going. I attend 5-10 graduations each Spring. And I like going. I like going because young people are great! Yes, they have their issues. But they are special. From the Valedictorian speeches – to the tossing of the caps – to the awards passed out – to the scholarships received – to their families defiantly cheering from the crowd – to the outfits underneath their caps & gowns – young people are special! There are a lot of kids out there who are doing well. Lots of kids have overcome the odds. Many are going to flourish after high school. Many will become great moms and dads. Many will be the next leaders of those very schools. Graduations have reminded me that Young people are awesome! They indeed are the future!

As you get set to attend an upcoming graduation, be prepared to reflect on some of these things! Graduation has a lot teach us.

 

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1805, 2015

7 Characteristics of Christians and Suffering

Life is hard. Most people know this. It is not always hard. But hard times eventually come to almost everybody. And when we do find ourselves in the midst of suffering, we need to have a good strong understanding from God about our suffering.

Yesterday I preached on Christians and suffering. You can listen to that sermon here.  The sermon is from 1 Peter 3:8-17

Here were my 7 points: 7 Characteristics of Christians and Suffering

  1. Christians have an identity that is stronger than their suffering circumstances (v.8)
    -Unity
    -Sympathy
    -Brotherly Love
    -Tender Heart
    -Humble Mind
  2. Christians do not react defensively toward suffering/afflictions/wrong doing (v.9)
    -Instead, Christians bless people.
  3. Christians live life to the fullest (enjoying life) because they know God (vv.10-12)
    -These verses are a quote from Psalm 34.
  4. Christians do not always face suffering for doing good (v.13)
    -Some people are recognized and honored for the good they do.
  5. Christians are ready to explain why they have such hope (v.15)
    -People will recognize our hope in our suffering, and they will ask us where that hope comes from. Christians are ready to tell them!
  6. Christians have a good/clear conscience (v.16)
    -Many people live with a guilty conscience. They have fear, guilt, shame, anxiety, etc. God removes that and gives a good conscience to those who trust Him.
  7. Christians think it is better to suffer for doing good rather than to do evil. (v.17)
    -Because of the hope that Christians have in their Great God and Savior, they are willing to suffer to the glory of God.

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