Monday, June 30, 2014

Whose Face are You Watching?

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Wednesday, June 11, 2014:  Acts 7:51-8:13

54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”  Acts 7:54-56 (NKJV)

The first martyr of church history was a man by the name of Stephen.  We read about him in Acts chapters 6 and 7.  He wasn't an apostle but rather a deacon -- a servant -- caring for practical needs in the early church.  The Bible says that he was a good man, full of faith and wisdom and the Holy Spirit. He did awesome things but was a "nobody" -- a man like you and me -- no superstar (Acts 6:3-5).  

It is interesting that it was not the pagan Romans who stoned him, but rather the most morally religious people of his day.  They said he blasphemed Moses and was changing the old Jewish customs (Acts 6:11, 14).  They accused him of killing their "sacred cows."

It is amazing how following Jesus can get you into hot water!  All Stephen did was love Jesus, do good works, and share truth.  The next thing he knew, he was being shut down, tied up, and standing before a judge.

Two things can get you into trouble these days: doing bad and doing good.  It's obvious that if you break the law, lie and steal, do bad stuff -- you will get into trouble.  But try serving Jesus with full passion and sell out in His service -- you might find opposition and criticism coming from unexpected places!  I have known parents who were more comfortable with their kids as drug-heads than as sold-out Christians!

Paul wrote to Timothy about this saying, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (criticism, accusation, opposition)."  (II Tim. 3:12)  It is a testament to our day that criminal activity at times seems more acceptable than being a follower of Jesus.  Criminals are glamorized while biblical Christians are criticized.

There are several points of truth that can get you into trouble these days.  Just declare that Jesus is the Son of God and He is the only way to the Father.  Say it loud enough and you might see stones flying in your direction!  Just repeat what the Bible says about gender and sexual identity -- about marriage between a man and a woman, and you will soon be called a bigot deserving of extinction!  Just say you believe the Bible as see what happens.

Jesus said we should rejoice when anger and opposition comes our way because of our faith convictions (Matt. 5:10-12).  That's what Stephen did.  But easier said than done!  How could Stephen's face shine with joy even while he was so unjustly attacked?  William Barclay gives us an insight.  "But Stephen did not see the faces distorted with rage.  His gaze had gone beyond time and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God ... We see the secret of his courage.  Beyond all that men could do to him he saw awaiting him the welcome of his Lord."

The key to courage is whose face you are watching!  If we base our convictions on the approval of men, we will be blown about like winter winds.  If we fix our gaze on the pleasure of Jesus we will rise above the fray shining like a Spring morning.

Stephen saw Jesus.  Who are you watching today?

Monday, June 23, 2014

BAPTISM: "Going Public"

Here are the notes from yesterday's message at New Life Community Church.  Third is the series BAPTISM: Newness of Life, entitled "Going Public".  If you desire to listen to this message you may do so by going to our website at  God bless!

Baptism: Newness of Life, Part 3                                                      Sunday, June 22, 2014
 “Going Public”

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  Romans 6:3-4 (ESV)

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38 (ESV)

Video:  Nacho Libre

1.     Baptism prepares you for SPIRITUAL WARFARE.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”  12 Immediately the Spirit *impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.  Mark 1:9-13 (NASB)

Put on the whole armor of God
Asian Access (or A2), a Christian missions agency in South Asia, listed a series of questions that some church planters have been asking new believers who are considering baptism. (Due to safety concerns, Asian Access does not mention the country's name.) The country is predominantly Hindu, but over the past few decades Christianity has grown in popularity—especially among poor and tribal peoples. The following seven questions serve as a reality check for what new followers of Jesus might experience if they decide to "go public" with their decision to follow Christ:
1.    Are you willing to leave home and lose the blessing of your father?
2.    Are you willing to lose your job?
3.    Are you willing to go to the village and those who persecute you, forgive them, and share the love of Christ with them?
4.    Are you willing to give an offering to the Lord?
5.    Are you willing to be beaten rather than deny your faith?
6.    Are you willing to go to prison?
7.    Are you willing to die for Jesus?
The seven questions serve as a sobering reminder for all Christians from every continent of what it might cost us to follow Jesus. These questions also help Western Christians identify with the threats faced by our brothers and sisters from other countries as they seek to follow Christ.

2.     Baptism is IDENTIFICATION with Jesus.

And it gives you a new identity too.

In 1993, Lt. Col. Gary Morsch joined the Army Reserves as a doctor to care not only for U.S. soldiers, but also for wounded civilians and prisoners of war. In 2005, as a part of the war in Iraq, he was called up to serve as the field doctor for a battalion near the Iranian border. In an article for Today's Christian, he shares a story of something that happened on the last day of his tour of duty:
The Saturday before I left Iraq was one of the most amazing days of my life. I was scheduled to see patients and make rounds at the POW camp, and I asked the chaplain to join me. I wanted to say goodbye to the prisoners. Many of these Muslims had become Christians, and they had been asking for a baptismal service.
The chaplain suddenly decided to conduct a simple service. The POWs gathered around the make-shift baptistery made from a water trough.  We baptized about a dozen that day.
During the baptisms, each man expressed that he wished to take a Christian name. One man asked me to write down each of the apostles' names so he could choose one. Another prisoner, named Afshin, asked me to suggest a name. I suggested James, the brother of Jesus, and told him that my father and brother are named James. Since my family name was on my uniform, Afshin asked about Morsch as well.
The chaplain asked me to baptize Afshin. I asked my friend what name he wished to take. He said, "I wish to take the name James Afshin Morsch." With tears in my eyes, I poured water onto his head, baptizing my Muslim friend into the fellowship of Christ. After our baptismal service, James pulled me aside and told me it was an Iraqi tradition to give a good friend a gift. He slowly slipped a ring off his hand.
"This is my wedding ring," he said. "I haven't seen my wife in many years, and I probably will never see her again. I'd like to give it to you."
I was stunned.
"No, James, you must keep it," I eventually said. "Someday you will see your wife again."
"No, I want you to have it," he said, as he pressed the ring into my hand.
We hugged and said a tearful goodbye, and then I walked out of the POW compound. It was time to return home.
I left on a plane full of wounded soldiers. The airstrip was under attack even as we taxied for takeoff. But I was at peace. God had brought me to Iraq to serve soldiers, civilians, and the enemy. But I saw that those categories are meaningless before God. He loves them all, and calls us to serve them all.
Condensed from our sister publication Today's Christian, © 2005 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit

26 John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. 27 It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.  29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”  John 1:26-31 (NASB)

Monday, June 9, 2014

BAPTISM: "First Step/Next Step"

Here are the notes from yesterday's message at New Life Community Church.  We began the series BAPTISM: Newness of Life.  The title of the message is "First Step/Next Step."  If you desire to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at  God bless!

BAPTISM: Newness of Life, Part 1                                                   Sunday, June 8, 2014
 “First Step/Next Step”

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  Romans 6:3-4 (ESV)

There are a few moments in your life that become so significant because of what they mean to you.  
When you got married.
Birth of your first child.
Baptism is one of those moments.

 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  Matthew 3:1-2 (NIV)

People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  Matthew 3:5-6 (NIV)

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”  Matthew 3:7-12 (NIV)

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.  16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:13-17 (NIV)

Word Study about Baptism
Meaning of  the word
TDNT  Definition
1.    to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
2.    to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one's self, bathe
3.    to overwhelm
Not to be confused with 911, bapto. The clearest example that showsthe meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physicianNicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped'(bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g.Mark 16:16. 'He that believes and is baptised shall be saved'.Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. Theremust be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to thepickle! Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989.

How long do you submerge the cucumber in vinegar?  As short as 10 minutes – usually put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours – one recipe calls for 5 weeks!

2.      Uniqueness of the word
Transliteration rather than translation.
A uniquely Christian word.

History of Baptism
1.      Jewish proselytes
1)      Circumcision (for men)
2)      Ritual sacrifice
3)      Covenant meal
4)      Baptism
2.      John was controversial because he required it of Jews
3.      Faith is more than resting on some false confidence

Baptism is the first step to IDENTIFY you with Jesus.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38 (ESV)

29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
    and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
    Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.  Acts 8:34-38 (ESV)

Baptism is the next step in making a BREAK with the PAST.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  Romans 6:4 (ESV)

23-25 but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.  So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.  Romans 7:23-25 (TLB)

Monday, June 2, 2014

REBOOT: "Remote Access"

Here are the notes from yesterday's message at New Life Community Church.  Last in the series REBOOT.  Entitled "Remote Access".  If you desire to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at  God Bless!

REBOOT, Part 5                                                    Sunday, June 1, 2014
 “Remote Access”

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, Acts 3:19 (NKJV)

1.     Restart
2.     Restore
3.     Refresh
4.     README

He has a new OPERATING SYSTEM for us.

Love/hate relationship to computers.  Certainly helped us, but are they also hurting us.  If you’re tech-savy, you love it.  If you’re not, you’re probably frustrated.

Maybe even fearful.  If you’ve seen the “Terminator” movies, maybe you’re thinking computers are going to take over the world.  So you want to move to Montana and hide out in a cabin.

A few phrases have surfaced surrounding computers: “hardware problem” “software problem” “user problem” “computer glitch” “garbage in/garbage out” (GIGO).  We speak of “download” “upload” “megabyte” “gigabyte” “RAM” “ROM” “

22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  II Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

History of computers and personal computers
Computers have come to DOMINATE our lives.  We have computers in everything. 
All communication
Check the weather

1946, ENIAC – 8ft. by 3 ft. by 80 ft. and ran off punch cards.

The term “personal computer”:
Nov. 3, 1962.  NY Times article by John Mauchly:
"There is no reason to suppose the average boy or girl cannot be master of a personal computer".

1971 with the introduction of the microprocessor, personal computer was made possible.  Then the first microcomputer was produced in 1977 and personal computers were off and running.


Remote Access is a computer term that means just what it says – to access a hard drive from a remote location. 

Someone else WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING accesses your computer to fix or update what’s going in your hard drive.

Three Steps to Getting Things Right

1.     I need HELP

I am not self-sufficient!

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

2.     I need GUIDANCE

I need someone else to guide me.  We usually hate backseat drivers.

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.  But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you…  Romans 8:6-9 (NLT)

 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  Romans 8:14 (NLT)

3.     I need God to FIX me.

Only God knows how to fix this one.

The spirit of man [that factor in human personality which proceeds immediately from God] is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.  Proverbs 20:27 (Amplified)

16 Thus says the Lord:  “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
17 I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’  But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’
  Jeremiah 6:16-17 (ESV)

Four steps to letting God take control:
1.      STAND
2.      LOOK
3.      ASK
4.      WALK