I hope you don't view Christmas as merely a holiday. It is so much more. In fact, Christmas is either a "game changer," or it is a hoax. Christmas means everything, or nothing at all.
With another winner being crowned this week on the hugely popular show "Survivor," it seems that more and more of the contestants these days are engaging in prayer and Christian commentary as a way to build their "alliance" with others. One contestant from this latest season even vowed as a "Christian man" that he would not break his promise to those he courted for support. When he eventually went against his word and against those who had trusted him, he was doing what the contest encourages people to do: betray, lie, deceive, manipulate, and use others in an attempt to win one million dollars for yourself.
What if this was the Christmas you began to doubt your doubts, and instead, began to place confidence in the One who became the babe of Bethlehem? After all, what have your doubts ever done for you? Did your doubts come to earth to die for your sins and be your Savior? Are your doubts able to take you to heaven when you die?
You have probably heard the saying, "Get your Groove On." It means to get back in the flow of doing what you do best and enjoy it while you're at it. How about this one: "Get your 'Scrooge' On." You remember ol' Ebenezer from "A Christmas Carol"? He was visited by several ghosts who gave him a glimpse of his past, his present, and his future. It was a real wake-up call for a man who was on the wrong road.
I had a fresh reminder about prayer as I worked on my message for this weekend. The message is based on Matthew 8:5-13 where the centurion believed Jesus would grant his request even before he saw any evidence of the answered prayer.
Can you and I take a little walk and discuss some spiritual matters for a few minutes? I promise not to keep you too long. I would like to touch base with you today about God and Satan.
If you are sick and tired of having nightmares, this message is for you.
If you were wrong about God, would you want to know? That question is absolutely critical. Do you realize there is no logical way you can answer “no” to that question? Think about it for a second. If you were to answer “no,” you would be saying that you don’t want to know about a future in hell that could be avoided by trusting in Jesus and the punishment He took in your place.
Man in his natural state is extremely slow to recognize sin. It generally has to become intensely wicked for it to start to register on man's warped radar. When it reaches the level of depravity which is now known to have transpired for years at Penn State, it then becomes clear even to natural man that it is utterly evil. These sins against children at Penn State are truly sickening and repulsive to anyone whose conscience is not completely seared.
Most people accept a particular "Jesus." Unless you are naive enough to think Jesus of Nazareth never existed, you accept him in your mind as either a religious prophet, a good teacher, or perhaps as your personal Savior. Islam teaches that Jesus was a messenger of God but that he was not crucified. That is one example of a particular "Jesus."
Bertrand Russell was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, and social critic. He is recognized as one of the most important logicians of the 20th Century. He is also credited for showing that the naive set theory created by Georg Cantor leads to a contradiction. This is known as "Russell's paradox."
Some movie stars are fanatics. So are some politicians. Even some famous athletes are fanatical. So it shouldn't surprise us that some Christians have to work hard at avoiding their tendency toward fanaticism.
When a major league baseball player enters the Hall of Fame, he is entering "baseball heaven." When a whole team wins the World Series, the entire team enters "baseball heaven." The Texas Rangers made it to the front gate of that utopia last week, but were not allowed inside. They were so close they could taste it, but that euphoric tease quickly turned very bitter.
Joel Osteen's recent interview with Sally Quinn of The Washington Post revealed some interesting things. Joel clearly conveyed a biblical position on whether or not he would officiate a same-sex wedding. He said he could not in "good faith" do such a thing. The Bible repeatedly identifies adultery, homosexual behavior, and sex before marriage as sinful practices.
If you have not yet trusted Christ to save your soul, a lot is riding on your upcoming decisions. It is not only your soul at stake here. It also involves the souls of your loved ones.
Jesus came to provide redemption. The Holy Spirit was sent to reveal redemption. Man is a pro at resisting what Jesus came to provide and what the Holy Spirit came to reveal. Just look around you. How many people do you know who are resisting the Holy Spirit?
My wife, Tammy, and I have been married for 21 years. When she was a teenager, she was hanging out with some friends one day who were messing around with a Ouija board. The letters began moving without any of the teenagers touching the board. The board spelled out the letters, "K I L L T A M M Y." If you are a Wiccan, you know all about this type of magical power. I sure am thankful that none of those teenagers followed the direction of those spirits that day. Those spirits were trying to entice the teenagers to go deeper into the dark world of the occult.
It is amazing how easily we as human beings can lose our objectivity. We become lost in our own little world. It is like looking in a mirror which reflects an inaccurate image of reality. What we see in the mirror is not a true reflection of our condition before God. It is almost like someone has cast a spell over us. We need to look in a different mirror in order to break the spell. We need a mirror that will help us to see ourselves correctly and in a new light.
I had an interesting e-mail exchange with an agnostic this week. He wrote: "If there were good evidence to corroborate the Bible, would you need faith? Correct me if I am mistaken, but faith lies at the core of the Christian worldview, not reliance on evidence."
What an incredible opportunity we as evangelical Christians have been given at this very time in the history of our nation! The Lord has allowed the Mormon religion to come under the national spotlight. This allows us to spend a few weeks or a few months helping people, including Mormons, to understand the true nature of the religion of Joseph Smith as compared to the true nature of the Gospel. It is a rare opportunity that must not be missed!
The majority of people in the world believe there is a God. Many of them don’t yet know Him personally through faith in Jesus, but they nevertheless accept the fact that He exists. Atheists, on the other hand, act like their subjective opinion on the matter carries the weight of a Papal Edict. They believe their enlightened wisdom is infallible. In that sense, atheists collectively represent “the papacy" for unbelievers. In their estimation, they are at the highest level among non-Christians.
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine being a religious liberal. You view the Bible primarily as a fable. You check the "Christian" box when asked your religion, but you don't associate with anyone who takes the Bible literally. You hope your followers vote against the Republican candidate. And then here comes Mitt Romney as the one chosen to oppose the "chosen one."
Living in the Omaha community, I was intrigued by a comment which Christopher Hitchens made when accepting a "freethinker" award last weekend in Texas. In explaining his many travels he said, "I lack only the Dakotas and Nebraska, though I may not get there unless someone comes up with some ethanol-based cancer treatment in Omaha."
Most Americans, including many evangelical Christians, will not hold Mitt Romney's religion against him when they cast their vote for President next year. Americans as a whole want a competent individual in the White House whether that person believes in historic Christianity or not. For various reasons, Mitt Romney's religious views have taken a rather prominent stage recently in a similar way to what happened to Barack Obama four years ago.
Man in his creativity produced the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. God in His creativity produced the "iSoul." "The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) God created man with an immortal soul, or what I am calling an "iSoul" for the purpose of this article. As C.S. Lewis said, "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."