Archive for January, 2010

What or Who Do We Worship?

January 30, 2010

Contributed by Brian Shifflett, Worship Pastor of Image Church

Many people, Christians included, believe that worship is simply an event that happens on Sundays or perhaps a particular style of music.  Though worship is large enough to encompass those things, it is certainly not bound to them.  Worship manifests itself in all facets of life and is either connected to, or disconnected from, God.  We were created to be worshippers and therefore will give our hearts, minds, money, and devotion to someone or something.  This is true for all people at all points in human history.  The issue is we often wrongly worship due to our sin nature.  Romans 11:36-12:1 offers great insight into what worship is and who ought to be the object of our worship.  It says this:

36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.  1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [ESV]

So worship is something or someone that we give glory to by making sacrifices for.  We all make sacrifices.  We constantly give up one thing to do another thing that we find more glorious.  Whoever or whatever is most glorious in our lives will be what we are most deeply passionate about and make sacrifices for, in order to express our worship.  So when we make sacrifices towards struggles such as alcohol, drugs, watching too much TV, or whatever it is that takes the position of glory in our lives, we ultimately have a worship problem.  And when we are worshipping something or someone other that God, we are left unsatisfied and without joy.

The essence of worship is being satisfied in God and cherishing Christ as gain.  There is not another thing, person, or place in this world that will bring satisfaction or joy to our lives apart from Jesus.  We are image bearers of God, made to worship Him and Him alone.  I challenge all of us to dig deep and figure out what it is that we are worshipping and if we are truly satisfied in it.  What do we sacrifice for?  May we choose to put Jesus as the object of or worship and offer ourselves to Him as living sacrifices so that He may be glorified and we may be satisfied in Him.

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The World’s Poison

January 24, 2010

Contributed by Tim White, Next Gen Pastor of Image Church

If you were to run into a rattlesnake that bites you, but then you run away from it, does that mean you’re going to live?  NO!  If you don’t get the poison out of your blood quickly, you’re dead.  In this case, getting away from the rattlesnake is only half the battle.

Just like this snake, the world is full of deadly poison – poison that is continuously feeding the sin nature that we are born with.  We live a life at war, and the world we live in is our battlefield.  Everywhere you turn, you face the poisons of the world.  What are some of these poisons that we face and allow into our hearts?  You only need to ask yourself a few questions:

–  How much time do you spend watching TV?

–  What kind of television shows or movies are you watching?

–  What kind of music do you listen to?  (Do you think about what the lyrics are saying?)

–  What do you use the internet for?  (How much time do you spend online?)

–  What type of books or magazines do you read?

–  Has your phone become your lifeline?

These are just a few things to help get you thinking, but what it simply comes down to is this – how are you spending your time, and what are you taking in during that time?

Some of you expose yourselves to that kind of stuff, as well as other things, for hours on end each day.  You have become numb to it.  Some of you are stumbling around in the dark and don’t even know it.  Your senses are dead-ended.  Some of you are sleep-walking through life, not knowing when you’re at the edge of a cliff.  Others of you know that you are already at the edge.  You’re looking over, and know that something has to change in your life.  Some of you may be fully aware of the poisons that you are putting into yourself, but you are doing nothing to change it.

An alcoholic or a drug addict doesn’t necessarily know that they need to be cleansed, but they do need cleansing.  We as Christians live in a sinful world.  We love God, but we have poison in our system.  We all need a detox from the poisons of the world.  We have to do drastic things to purge our system of that poison, but just running from the source of the poison doesn’t cure us.  So what is the antidote needed to cure us from the deadly poisons of this world?

God has given us the antidote.  In 1 John 5:4-5, John writesFor everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” Jesus defeated death when He rose from the tomb.  His shed blood on the cross washes us of our sins, and those who believe and have faith in Him also have defeated death and have been given eternal life.  The world continues to try to poison us and draw us away from Jesus.  But the Holy Spirit has been given to us, to help in our understanding of the Word and in detoxing us of the poison that we get from this world.

We have been given the antidote, and if you are a Christian, you have received it.  But the battle continues.  As the Holy Spirit fights to change your heart, Satan continues to try and feed your sin nature with the world’s poison.  With the help of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us by God’s grace, we can defend ourselves from Satan and the world’s poisons.

Satan uses three forms of temptations – lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life – to try and feed us the world’s poison.  Jesus faced and felt the full force of Satan’s temptations.  We read about this battle Jesus faced with Satan in Matthew 4:1-11.

1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Why did Jesus face Satan and all of his tricks?  Jesus (God), as human, faces the same temptations that we face today.  Here in this passage, we see that Jesus didn’t fall to the temptations.  He proved that He would not fall to sin.  He proved that He is stronger than Satan.  He proved that He is a faithful and merciful High Priest.  And, He gives His people an example of how to defend themselves from the poisonous temptations that Satan uses.  The tool that Jesus used was the Word…the same Word that we have today.

Jesus is the antidote that frees us from sin, the Holy Spirit changes our heart, and the Word defends us from Satan’s attacks.  So as a Christian, to be a changed person in this world, you need to rid your self of the world’s poison and constantly be ready for Satan’s attacks.  The only way for you to be ready is to run from the poisonous snake before it bites you.  You need to be running to God’s Word and praying for strength and understanding.  Most importantly, you need to rid yourself of the world’s poison that is preventing your heart from being changed to the likeness of God and living as a light for those who are still lost.

What changes do you need to make today?

We Just Can’t Help Ourselves

January 16, 2010

Contributed by Chris Rhodenhizer, Lead Pastor of Image Church

You see, Jesus once said this…

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  [Matthew 6:21, ESV]

Jesus also said you cannot serve two masters; you cannot serve both God and money. He didn’t say you should not, or it’s hard to. No — He said you cannot!

We are living in some quite unusual times. Our world seems to have lost its way, and its way was money!  Everyone is talking about it.  It is the ongoing story of our daily news feeds, as well as the topic of conversation in our social circles.  Our economy is in shambles, and in some way it has had an impact on all of us.

John tells us about this huge party that Jesus was at.   He was enjoying Himself with some of His closest friends doing what He loved, hanging out with people over a good meal and drink…

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2So they gave a dinner for him there.  Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” 9When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.  [John 12:1-11, ESV]

We find everyone else caught up in conversation, but Mary is getting her very expensive and probably most valuable possession, so she can give it to Christ.  It was a jar of fragrant perfume that had probably been given to her at birth.  It was worth about 300 days wages!  She brings it back to the dining room, quietly sneaks over to Jesus’ feet, and begins to clean His feet with it.   She does such a thorough job that she has to mop-up some with her hair.  Can you imagine everyone’s response?  Judas, who later betrayed Jesus, is in the back calculating the value of the perfume – taking a false, hypocritical stand for the poor.  Of course, Jesus puts a stop to the bickering and graciously accepts the gift, and more importantly the heart behind it.  You see, there is more going on here than we see on the surface.  Mary naturally lived-out what she believed — that’s why she could do what she did.  Here are some reasons for her unbelievable display of sacrifice for Jesus:

1st:  She realized all she had was from Jesus

Mary gave all she had because she truly understood this – all was from God.  She not only gave of her financial resources, but she gave of her time and abilities as well. Mary was not careful either.  What I mean by this is that she did not measure out 10% of her perfume, then 10% of her time to wash His feet, then 10% of her energy.  No – she released it all!  The 10% would have been the lowest minimum standard she could have given Jesus!!!

2nd:  She was exploding with gratitude

Jesus had brought Mary’s brother back to life.  When she saw Jesus, she exploded with expressing how grateful she was for Him.  He had truly given her and her family life! How could she offer the One who gave her life anything less than all she had?

3rd:  She sacrificed for what she truly believed in

When Mary saw Jesus, she automatically fell at His feet.  The others who were present asked why she didn’t give to the poor, or give the money to Jesus’ ministry, or give the money to the temple.  Mary did not even think about any of these good things, because she was in the presence of the Best, and all she could do was fall at His feet and offer Him her all.

SHE JUST COULDN’T HELP HERSELF!!!

So, as our world focuses on a financial crisis, the church should be focused on Jesus.  Our giving and tithing should not change based on the economy, our hope should not shift based on the stock market, and our churches should shine all the more in these dark times!  The church needs to be doing all we can for the Kingdom and His Glory, now more than ever.

Imagine This – Imagine giving all we can, because we just can’t help ourselves.