How have you seen the greatness of Christ?

How have you seen the greatness of Christ?
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How have you seen the greatness of Christ this week?

One of the questions I like to ask people who believe in Jesus is: “How have you seen the greatness of Christ this week?” How would you answer that question today?

It’s kind of funny really, but a lot of people who believe in Jesus and follow him have a lot of trouble answering that question. This morning at our church we will be taking a look at Joshua 24 together. In Joshua 24, Joshua began by spelling out all the great things God had done for his people. He started with Abraham and his family. He recounted the story of how the great God had chosen him and his descendants. Then, Joshua spelled out the challenges they faced and how God brought them through. (Sometimes, God gave his people’s enemies rest while they continued to struggle. What was he thinking?!?)

Joshua reminded God’s people how God led them to Egypt where they eventually become slaves. Then, he delivered them and gave them their own land. Their enemies couldn’t even curse them. When they tried, God turned the curses into blessings. And, God provided for them. He gave them cities they didn’t have to build and food they didn’t have to plant. Then, Joshua told them they had a decision to make.

Which gods will you choose?

Joshua told them to serve the LORD, or decide who they were going to serve. The problem we all face is that Christ is never the god we choose.

In Dale Ralph Davis’ commentary on Joshua, he points out that when Joshua asked God’s people to choose who they would serve, he gave them two choices. He told them to make the conservative choice of the gods of their ancestors before God chose Abraham or the progressive decision to worship the gods they found in the land God had given them.

One of the crazy realities about our faith is that we don’t choose the God of the Bible! When we choose a god, we always choose a conservative, traditional god who maintains the status quo. Or, we choose a progressive god who is into all our new ideas. There’s only one way we serve the God of the Bible…

We don’t choose Jesus

In John 15:16, Jesus told his disciples:

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide… (ESV)

We don’t cast our vote for Jesus. Our god always looks more like us. The god we choose likes our friends. He (or she) listens to our music. He votes for our candidates and supports our ideas and truth claims. Really, we never choose Jesus, but in his mercy, he chooses us. Then, everything changes.

It’s kind of weird, but if you have been chosen by Jesus, you don’t choose him. You just serve him. Your life becomes about the business of bearing fruit for Jesus and his kingdom. You realize he is what this is all about, and you make all you do about him. Paul described it this way:

I 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. (Romans 12:1 ESV)

You use your life — yes, your life in your physical body — to make the name of Christ great! Then, something crazy begins to happen: you see the greatness of Christ!

How will you make the name of Christ great this week?

Are you chosen by God? Then, make Christ’s name great this week! Let what you believe about Jesus drive you to serve him. Let the everyday tasks that could feel like a grind be about Jesus’ greatness! Let your relationships demonstrate his love — especially for the unlovable. Because Jesus has brought God’s mercy, remind yourself with every breath who that breath is for, and spend that breath for the greatness of Jesus’ name. And, make disciples. Help the people around you follow Jesus. Encourage other believers around you to keep following and serving Christ. And, offer eternal life to someone who has not believed in Jesus yet.

If God has chosen you, look for ways to answer the question, “How have you seen the greatness of Christ this week?” I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Have questions? Send our pastor a note

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Yes, what you believe matters

Yes, what you believe matters
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Yes, what you believe matters

One of the most important take-aways from the Christmas story in the gospel of Luke is that yes, what you believe matters.

This past Sunday, I finished up my Christmas series from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2. There in my church with very few people over the age of 45 and a rock band, I got to teach about the hypostatic union. Wait! Don’t leave! This is important!

You can listen to Sunday’s message here.

Don’t worry, we’re not going too far into the theological weeds, but the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology describes the Hypostatic Union this way:

In the incarnation of the Son of God, a human nature was inseparably united forever with the divine nature in the one person of Jesus Christ, yet with the two natures remaining distinct, whole, and unchanged, without mixture or confusion, so that the one person, Jesus Christ, is truly God and truly man.

When Jesus was twelve, he knew he was God…

I taught about Jesus’ trip at the temple at age 12. In that story, we see that from the time Jesus was a boy, he knew his place with his heavenly Father.

After a trip to Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus’ family headed home to Nazareth. At the end of their first day of travel, they realized Jesus was missing. Luke describes three days (Yes, parents, THREE DAYS!) of searching before they found Jesus. He was in the temple.

When Mary and Joseph found Jesus, Mary asked him how he could do this to them! Jesus’ simple reply was:

“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49 ESV)

Pretty simple question, right? But, it has HUGE implications. From twelve years old, Jesus understood who his Father is. In his question, Jesus implied that he understood his deity — he understood himself to be God!

Even though Jesus was not considered an adult at twelve years old, his family was devout enough he would have understood that to claim God to be his Father was a claim that he, himself, is God. In John 5:17-18, John writes about Jesus:

But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him… he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (ESV)

Jesus didn’t become God. He was God…

One of the misunderstandings many people have about Jesus is that he didn’t become God or understand his God-ness until much later in life. (Most people point to his baptism when God spoke from heaven and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove.) I recently saw a cable program — sorry, I can’t remember what show or network — where John the Baptist had to talk Jesus into believing he was the Christ at his baptism.

Instead, we see here in Luke 2 that Jesus knew who his Father is and, subsequently, his own God-ness nearly eighteen years before his baptism. We also see in Luke 2 that his God-ness is not simply an idea his parents had taught him along the way. Jesus’ understanding amazed everyone as he was being taught in the temple. (Yes, the religious leaders taught him.)

For a long time, I believed Jesus was teaching the religious leaders in the temple. However, Luke very clearly described the religious leaders teaching and Jesus listening and asking questions. Jesus learned from the religious leaders. Just a few verses later Luke wrapped up the second chapter of his gospel by writing:

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52 ESV)

And, Jesus was completely human, too…

Jesus learned. Jesus grew up. Jesus’ life displayed not only his God-ness but his human-ness as well. So, it’s also important for us to understand Jesus’ humanity. He experienced everything we experience. Jesus felt, hurt, laughed and loved. He understood what if felt like to bring his parents joy as well as frustration. With the exception of sin, Jesus lived as we live. That’s why the writer of Hebrews could write about him:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 ESV)

Then, Jesus died…

Then, of course, he died. I don’t know about you, but dying kind of scares me to death. When I think about exhaling my last breath, I get a little weak in the knees. Jesus knows that feeling. But, he also knows the feeling of what comes next. After Jesus died like we will all die, he experienced resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul wrote about Jesus’ resurrection. He told us that because Jesus rose, everyone who trusts in Jesus’ death and resurrection will share in his resurrection:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? …But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:12-20 ESV)

So, believers, Jesus understands you. He feels what you are feeling. He knows what dreams and fears feel like. Jesus even knows what it feels like to draw his last breath. He also knows what it will feel like to draw the next resurrected breath.

We serve an incredible God. He came to earth and became human — while remaining completely God — for us. He understands our humanity. And, when we trust in him, we share in the victory his death purchased for us. We receive the gift of eternal life by believing he died on the cross in our place and rose from the grave. Then, we follow him who purchased salvation for us.

So, yes, what you believe matters!

If you are ready to trust in Jesus, send me a note. I would love to talk with you about it!

Have questions? Send our pastor a note

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God is great and we are busy

God is great and we are busy
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As we get ready to begin a new year at CrossRoads, we are going to take some time to reflect on the reality that God is great. Today, I want you to think about our challenge to being witnesses to his greatness: We are busy.

God is great…

One of the questions I ask followers of Jesus all the time is: “How have you been a witness to the greatness of Christ this week?” Do you know what answer I usually get? “I don’t know.”

How can a follower of Jesus answer that question: “I don’t know”?!?

We are busy…

I think the answer is pretty simple: We are busy.

I don’t think there’s a single follower of Jesus who says to themselves: “I don’t want to be a witness to Jesus’ greatness today.” But, it’s hard to look back on a day, a week or a year and try to figure out how you have been a witness to the greatness of Christ. Seriously, most mornings I wake up, and yesterday is a blur. I can’t usually tell you what in the world I spent my time doing. I can remember a few important things I did, but the rest is just a spatter of activity. I even take time every morning to reflect on yesterday and think about what I have on my plate today, and I just can’t remember!

Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time working on how to be more productive. One of the productivity gurus I’ve been learning from is Michael Hyatt. He is a high-level performer. He knows how to get things done, and he’s great at helping other people how to get things done, too. You can find his resources at his website or on Amazon. As I have read Hyatt’s books and used his planner, there is one super-important principle I have found over and over again.

Simplify.

We are creatures who thrive on simplicity. In a world where God is great and we are busy, we need goals, objectives, systems and habits that simplify and declutter our lives.

One of the principles Hyatt teaches is to spend time each week and every day deciding what will be your Big Three: What are the three most important things you will get done? These are the three things that take us out of the rat race into the world of accomplishing something — and knowing what it is we accomplished! Every day you begin by consciously deciding what your Big Three will be. Every week, you spend some time thinking about what you want to accomplish this week and decide on a Big Three for the week as well. What Hyatt points out in his books and planner is that we often don’t get more than three things accomplished each day, so we should simplify our plan for each day to three big things that will make our day or week a success. That way, we can look back at yesterday or last week and celebrate that we really got something done to make our lives, our work, our families and the world a better place.

One of the keys to making sure we are being witnesses to the greatness of Christ every day is to make one of our Big Three items reflect that goal. Take a few minutes to reflect on these ideas as you think about life in a world where God is great and we are busy:

  • What are the Big Three things you want to get done today?
  • How will those Big Three things give you something to celebrate that you made your life, your work, your family and the world a better place?
  • How will one of the Big Three things you are going to accomplish be a testimony to the greatness of Christ?

Share your thoughts…

  • What is one way you are going to be a witness to the greatness of Christ today?
  • What is one thing you will do to simplify your life this year?
  • What’s one of your Big Three things you are going to accomplish today or this week?

Have questions? Send our pastor a note

Find out what to expect your first Sunday at CrossRoads

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New Year Clean Slate

new year clean slate

The new year with a clean slate is almost here. This week begins one of my favorite times of the year. I just began setting up my new planner. Except for a vacation and a few holidays, my plan for the new year is completely clean. There’s something great about a clean slate! One of the beautiful things about our faith. We have a God who is all about clean slates.

In Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV), Jeremiah writes of God:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

God truly gives is a clean slate. Always! You just read it from Lamentations: his mercies never come to an end. Every day — every moment — is an opportunity for a clean slate because of what Jesus has done for us. John, of course, puts it this way:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)

A clean slate.

So, if you have a clean slate, what do you do with it? Psalm 19 has some great answers to that question:

What do we do with a clean slate?

Start with God’s greatness

Psalm 19:1-6 ESV
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork…

Creation gets it right. The sky, the stars, the mountains, the ocean — they all proclaim God’s greatness. What would your clean slate or calendar look like if you were to fill it up with meetings, appointments and events that make God’s name great? What would you add to your 2020 planner that wasn’t there in 2019? What would you leave out?

You were created alongside the rest of creation to make the Creator’s name great. And, now that Creator has become your Savior and your Father.

Follow God’s Law

I know. We all hate rules. And sometimes that’s exactly what God’s Law can feel like sometimes. But, it’s so much more.

Psalm 19:7
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul…

God’s law is the words of our Father who loves us more than we love ourselves. His law is the words of our Savior who gave his own life for us. He won’t keep any good thing from us. The psalmist tells us to follow God’s law because it revives the deepest part of who we are.

What does your blank slate planner look like if you decide to fill it with loving God and meeting needs the way God’s teaches? Do you trust God to make it worth it?

Let your words and heart center on Christ

Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus said something that changed everything for me:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Jesus promises that when our hearts are focused on our Father’s kingdom, we can rest that he will meet all the needs in our lives. What does it look like for you to fill up your conversations and your heart’s meditations with thoughts about your Father’s kingdom? How does that change what fills up your calendar next year?

It’s time to start your new planner. It’s pretty close to a clean slate at the moment. How are you going to fill it up the next 366 days?

Have questions? Send our pastor a note

Find out what to expect your first Sunday at CrossRoads

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