Staying Connected

One of the big difficulties we face as a church during the Coronavirus 19 pandemic is staying connected with one another. “One another” is a well-used phrase in the new testament. It represents the bond we share as members together in the body of Christ, a love and a responsibility we have towards all the people who call Cypress home and the neighbors and friends we come into contact with.  A virus will not destroy that bond, it will cause it to grow stronger as we care for each other, check on each other, pray for each other and care for each other. As circumstances change in our personal health and income we will rise to the occasion as each of us are gifted by the Holy Spirit to meet the various needs of God’s people. Read more…



The Scripture Changes Us

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Friday Day 5

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James 1:22-25

 

The bible represents a point of view about human behavior that is unique to all other systems of study. This viewpoint has become the focus of controversy since the time of Darwin and the rise of secular materialism.

 

Darwin taught that man was just another animal, having evolved to a higher level but remaining an animal without possession of a soul or any other kind of spiritual nature. He developed an explanation for the origin of life which did not include God and his theory of evolution gave credibility to generations of atheists who began to look at the world completely different than their ancestors.

 

This evolutionary perspective led the way for man to be studied as an animal, subject only to animalistic behaviors. Humanists like Sigmund Freud and Carl Rogers have changed the way people examine and treat human behavior. Moral choices have become relative and because there is no God… there is no absolute morality. We are all subject to our strong uncontrollable animal appetites. What man does is not man’s fault, he is at the mercy of his strong biological urges which can only be controlled but not changed.

 

It is not surprising that the Bible has a different perspective. The Bible says that man was created in the image of God and has a spiritual nature and it is immaterial and eternal. The Bible says that God has created a perfect law and it is the standard for human behavior. The Bible says that even though man has a sinful nature because of the original sin of Adam God still desires to have a relationship with him and has made a way through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

James, the brother of Jesus said the word of God is like a mirror which shows us the reality of who we are and what we are like. But just knowing is not enough, the word requires action on our part. The word shows us our failures and the areas of our lives where we fall short. The word shows us our condition before God. The word shows us the remedy for sin and the sacrifice Christ made for us. The word shows us how we can believe in Jesus and become adopted into the family of God as sons and daughters of God.

 

The word of God shows us our need for a savior and that requires action on our part. James says “don’t be a hearer only but become a doer of God’s word. The scripture will change us if we don’t walk away from what it says without doing something about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The Scripture Can Be Tested

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Thursday Day 4

Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. – Luke 5:3-6

 

Because the Bible is the word of God it can be tested. It is interesting that the relationship Peter had with Jesus began with this test: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

 

God said to Noah: “Even though you don’t understand everything about rain… build me a boat.”

 

God said to Abram: “Even though you don’t know where I am taking you… follow me.”

 

God said to Moses: “I know you don’t know how to do it… but go deliver Israel out of the hands of Egypt.”

 

God said to David: “You are only a boy… but I have made you king.”

 

God said to Elijah: “I know you are outnumbered… but go confront the prophets of Baal.”

 

God said to Naaman: It doesn’t make sense, but go wash in a muddy stream… and I will remove your leprosy.

 

God said to Daniel: “Go serve a wicked king in a foreign land… and I will make you prosper.”

 

God said to Peter: “Follow me… and I will make you fishers of men.

 

The Bible is full of events where people are challenged to do something that does not seem rational. But when people obey God something incredible happens. See, God is looking for people who are willing to put Him to the test: “I know this doesn’t make any sense but I will do it because you say so…”

 

The Bible records how in Jerusalem Jesus went into the temple and started teaching: The leaders were surprised and said, “How does this man know so much? He has never been taught!” Jesus replied: I am not teaching something that I thought up. What I teach comes from the one who sent me. If you really want to obey God, you will know if what I teach comes from God or from me. – John 7:14-17

 

If you really want to obey God you will know! Obedience to the word of God is the first step in knowing the truth of God. This is the Biblical order.

 

Is the Bible true? Don’t know? Then do what it says to do and test it. Be willing to do what God asks of you and humble yourself enough to do it. Peter said, “This doesn’t make any sense, but because you say so I will do it”… and God surprised him with the catch of his life.

 

Peter’s life was changed that day because he was willing to do what Jesus said even though it didn’t make sense. You don’t have to be a believer to take this step… God encourages people who are willing to try Him and see what God will do in your life.

 

 



The Scripture Can Be Trusted

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Wednesday Day 3

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:8

 

It would be extremely difficult for the honest skeptic to dispute the overwhelming archeological support for the historical accuracy of both the Old and New Testaments. Numerous items discussed in the Bible such as nations, important people, customary practices, etc. have been verified by archeological evidence. Bible critics have often been embarrassed by discoveries that corroborated Bible accounts they had previously deemed to be myth, such as the existence of the Hittites, King David, and Pontius Pilate, just to name a few. The noted Jewish archeologist Nelson Glueck summed it up very well:

 

It may be stated categorically that no archeological discovery has ever controverted a single biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible.

 

When compared against secular accounts of history, the Bible always demonstrates amazing superiority. The noted biblical scholar R.D. Wilson, who was fluent in 45 ancient languages and dialects, meticulously analyzed 29 kings from 10 different nations, each of which had corroborating archeological artifacts. Each king was mentioned in the Bible as well as documented by secular historians, thus offering a means of comparison. Wilson showed that the names as recorded in the Bible matched the artifacts perfectly, down to the last jot and tittle!

 

The Bible was also completely accurate in its chronological order of the kings. On the other hand, Wilson showed that the secular accounts were often inaccurate and unreliable. Famous historians such as the Librarian of Alexandria, Ptolemy, and Herodotus failed to document the names correctly, almost always misspelling their names. In many cases the names were barely recognizable when compared to its respective artifact or monument, and sometimes required other evidence to extrapolate the reference.

 

One of the more overwhelming testimonies regarding the depth of archeological evidence for the New Testament is in the account of the famous historian and archeologist Sir William Ramsay. Ramsay was very skeptical of the accuracy of the New Testament, and he ventured to Asia Minor over a century ago to refute its historicity. He especially took interest in Luke’s accounts in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, which contained numerous geographical and historic references. Dig after dig the evidence without fail supported Luke’s accounts. Governors mentioned by Luke that many historians never believe existed were confirmed by the evidence excavated by Ramsay’s archeological team.

 

Without a single error, Luke was accurate in naming 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands. Ramsay became so overwhelmed with the evidence he eventually converted to Christianity. Ramsay finally had this to say:

I began with a mind unfavorable to it…but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth.

Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy…this author should be placed along with the very greatest historians.



The Authenticity of Scripture

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Tuesday Day 2

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

The concept of Biblical inspiration and inerrancy of scripture sets a standard for the Bible that exists in no other document. Because of this it has undergone the most intense scrutiny and the highest critical examination of any other book ever written.

 

People want to know if this book contains the actual words penned by the original authors in the exact form they received them from God or has it been creatively edited over the years and adapted to comply with myth and legend. And the answer is no, the Bible was not edited to meet the needs of man and it is not the work of some religious group who were trying to fabricate a story and weave it into ancient history. The Bible is a collection of authentic ancient writings all claiming to be God breathed.

 

There is more evidence for the Bible’s authenticity than for any literature of antiquity. Textual analysis begins with historical investigation, beginning with the latest documents and working backward. As evidence develops, the data is evaluated against other sources. The record is then checked for consistency of information, and the claims are analyzed as if it were a legal case, looking for credible testimony with cross-examination. There is an enormous amount of evidence for authenticity of the biblical manuscripts.

 

The New Testament was written in first century A.D. There are some 20,000 manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 100 years after the original. In contrast:

  • Caesar’s Gallic Wars was written in the first century B.C. There are only 10 manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 1,000 years after the original.
  • Aristotle’s Poetics was written in the fourth century B.C. There are only 5 manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 1,400 years after the original.

There are many more writings of the Church Fathers quoting sections of Scripture; we could reconstruct the entire New Testament from their writings alone. There were millions of man-hours spent in cross-checking the manuscripts. There remains only 1 percent of all New Testament words about which questions still exist; no questionable passage contradicts any Bible teaching.

 

The Old Testament has been more accurately transmitted to us than any other ancient writing of comparable age. The textual evidence is greater for both the Old and New Testaments than any other historically reliable ancient document. The ancient scribes were very meticulous. There were only 1,200 variant readings in A.D. 500.

The Masorites produced an official text in A.D. 500. There are other versions that confirm the accuracy of the Masoritic Text.

  • Samaritan Pentateuch: 400 B.C.
  • Septuagint Greek: 280 B.C.
  • Dead Sea Scrolls: 0 A.D.
  • Latin Vulgate: 400 A.D.

The quotations from pre-Christian writing confirm the text. The New Testament accepts the Old Testament as authentic, confirming the traditional authors, quoting from at least 320 different passages, and confirming the supernatural events cited in the Old Testament.

 

Is the Bible authentic and reliable? Without a doubt, the manuscript evidence for the authenticity of the Bible puts it in a class all by itself. Our Bible can be trusted.



The Supremacy of Scripture

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Monday Day 1

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

What do you believe about the Bible? What is it that makes it different and set apart from all other books? Why has more been written about this book than any other book in history? More commentaries, more devotionals, more studies and even more music has been written about the content of the Bible than any other book in history. Why?

 

The simple answer is because the Bible claims to be the word of God. And over the centuries it has proven itself to be the word of God. This week we will look at the reasons why this book can be trusted and why it is our all sufficient rule of faith and practice.

 

But here is what God would like to see happen… God would love to see your love of the Bible be developed, not just your information about the Bible increased.

 

The Bible is a book about God’s relationship with man and it is written so that we might also have a relationship with God as well. Within the pages of the Bible there are stories of people who knew God, history of the creation and fall of man, the History of Israel, the people God chose to have a relationship with, there are books of poetry, songs and prophecy concerning the future events (both fulfilled and unfulfilled) and the events of the life of Jesus Christ and his ministry. But the central event in the Bible is the historical reality of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on a Roman cross as payment for the sins of the whole world and the resurrection of Jesus Christ which makes new life a possibility for every believer.

 

The Bible also makes some promises that no other book can make. This book can show you how to have eternal life. It can answer your questions about life and death and it can guide you into a personal relationship with the Son of God Jesus Christ. In short, it can change your life and guide you on a path to better living, better relationships with other people, better marriages, better family life, better employment relations and better health.

 

How is it possible that a book can do all that? It is possible because the Bible is not just a book, it is the living breathing life giving word of God. The book is not just material, it has spiritual significance. The writers of this book were inspired by God and moved by the Holy Spirit to record the very thoughts of God on paper through the medium of human language and writing. And God promised to preserve it for us and prepared a people to meticulously copy it from generation to generation for thousands of years so that we might have it today in its exact form and original content.

 

The evidence for its authenticity and historical accuracy is unparalleled in literature today and virtually undisputed even by the most arduous critics. It can be trusted, it can be relied on and it can be valued above all other books.

 

But here is the most important question: Are you reading it? Are you studying it for yourself? Are pages of the Bible coming alive to you every day?

 

My prayer is that this week you will make an effort adopt a simple reading plan that gets you into God’s word every day. It will change your life and it will build you up in the faith like nothing else will ever do. It is the word of God… learn to love it.

 

 



Can a Woman Forget?

Mother’s Day 2015 – Friday Day 5

There is a passage in Isaiah that compares God to a mother… on of the few instances in the Bible… but it speaks to a love that mothers understand.

 

Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands – Isaiah 49:15-16

 

This is an amazing verse. This was meant to be a rhetorical question…can a mother forget? And the answer is no, mothers cannot forget their children. No matter what happens, no matter how far they move away from home a mother will not forget.

 

But then Isaiah says “even if” a mother forgets… The truth is that in this world there are some mothers who forget… but that does not diminish the love of God. Even if a mother forgets I will not forget

 

And how does he remind Himself of that love? In the palms of His hands God has a mark. It is not a tattoo, it is not a name… it is a scar.

 

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

 

Would a mother give her life to save her child? Again, that is a rhetorical question because the answer is yes. Countless mothers have paid the price with their lives bringing their children into the world. Countless others have died caring for sick children or put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of their children. A mother’s love is selfless and eternal because God has designed their love in that way.

 

The fact is that God loves in that same way. Listen to what Paul says in Romans:

 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8

 

In the hands of Jesus are the scars of Isaiah… reminding God of his great love for us. Does God need reminding? Of course not, the scars are there to show us his great love towards us. The death on the cross was not an accident, it was not left to the will of man but it was the intentional purposes of God being fulfilled at just the right time.

 

Like an engraver who designs a permanent mark the cross of Christ was designed by God to be the vehicle which brings salvation to the world. Christ endured the cross, because like a mother who cannot forget her children… God could not forget us.

 



Satisfy Us

Mother’s Day 2015 – Thursday Day 4

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalms 90:14

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

 

It is God who satisfies you… not your circumstance of life.

 

Finding our satisfaction in our children is a wonderful benefit of being a parent but it is also a trap that will pull us into despair as we watch them fail… and they will sometimes fail. As parents we want the very best for our kids, but our kids are people who will ultimately find their own way in the world. Our job as parents is to love them and to train them up and then to release them to God.

 

Our kids will have bumps and bruises, victories and defeats, wins and losses… that is just part of life. The way in which parents react to these challenges is very important to their children, but it is also important to a parent’s relationship to God. Making your children your source of joy and happiness seems like a reasonable choice to make, after all, God gave them to you to enjoy… they are a blessing from God right?

 

But we have all seen parents who live through their children in ways that feed a narcissistic desire to find their own happiness in the success of their child. Parents who are ashamed of their children’s shortcomings or lack of success in some areas are setting their children up for years of therapy. Parents who are never satisfied with their children’s achievements but always convey the message that they could do better might do well to examine their own motives and see if they are receiving gratification from their children in ways that are unhealthy. Parents who see their own children as superior to other children might be doing that to meet the needs of their own ego and not for the benefit of their children.

 

Living through your child is very different than simply cheering them on in whatever they find to do. This is why it is so important to find our joy in God and not in our children. I think King David is speaking to the empty nesters when he says that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” One day your day to day parenting job will be over. An adult relationship with your children will take its place. Creating dependent adult children is not the goal here. Finding your joy and happiness in God allows us to rejoice and be glad all our days.

 

Children will bring us joy but they can’t be our source of joy. Only God can fill that position. Your spouse can bring you great joy and happiness but they cannot be your source of joy. Your job, your home, your education, your athleticism, your looks, your health, your pets… all these things have the potential to disappoint you. They cannot be your source of joy.

 

 

 

Find your Joy in God and disperse it…

Enjoy your kids… Those years are gone so fast. It’s funny how you can get so busy raising kids that you don’t fully enjoy them. Allow the time to be joy filled, even when the circumstances of life may be tough. And how do we make that happen? By going to our source of joy every morning and allowing ourselves to be satisfied in Him.

 



Sharing Faith Early

Mother’s Day 2015 – Wednesday Day 3

As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:4-5

 

Grandma Lois likely became a believer during Paul’s first missionary journey when he went to Iconium and preached in the synagogue there. When the non-believing Jews started a riot Paul fled to Lystra. In Lystra Paul healed a crippled man and the people there declared Barnabas to be Zeus, and said that Paul was Hermes (later called by their Latin counterparts Jupiter and Mercury). But Paul and Barnabas used that occasion to preach the gospel and many were saved. Even then, they barely kept the people from sacrificing to Paul and Barnabas.

 

But the Jews from Iconium came to Lystra and stirred the people up again against Paul. They caught him outside Lystra and stoned him leaving him for dead. The very next day after being stoned he went to another town called Derby and preached. He then returned to Iconium and to Lystra and fearlessly preached the gospel.

 

Lois, who may have been from Lystra heard Paul’s message and believed. She shared her faith with her daughter Eunice and eventually her grandson Timothy became a believer. I am certain that Paul’s experiences in that region increased the faith of Lois and created the connection Paul had with Timothy.

 

Today, moms and dads also have a responsibility to tell their story of faith to their children. The stories Lois told her daughter Eunice and her grandson Timothy about the gospel Paul preached to her, the events surrounding her conversion, the details of how her faith changed her life and then the life that was modeled to everyone after she became a believer… all these become an overwhelmingly persuasive argument for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Christianity is not a system that we teach our children, it is a person we introduce our children to. Jesus said in Luke 18 “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

 

Living out your faith in front of your kids, bringing them to church, teaching them about Jesus… all these lay the groundwork for your children’s relationship with Jesus.

 

Last night we pulled a Band-Aid off my 4 year old grandson’s finger and he was amazed that it was all better. I said “Isn’t God amazing how he heals your little cuts and scrapes?” and Ryder said, “God was in the Band-Aid… he makes the best Band-Aids ever!”

 

He is learning about God and what God does. He is learning about Jesus and who Jesus is.

 

The everyday life experiences and the events of a child’s life are great teaching opportunities. Parents and grandparents can take advantage of every moment to share how God is at work in their life and in the life of your children.



Sincere Faith

Mother’s Day 2015 Tuesday Day 2

2 Timothy 1:4-5

(4) As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.

(5) I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. Read more…



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