Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Did Jesus really die for our #happiness?

What happens when people start believing what Victoria Osteen has said on TV?

They start believing Jesus died for their #happiness


Victoria says:

"So I just want to encourage everyone of us to realize when we obey God (laughs) we're not doing it for God, I mean that's one way to look at it, we're doing it for ourselves; because God takes pleasure when we're happy. That's the thing that gives him the greatest joy this morning, so I want you to know this morning: just do good for your own self, do good cause God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship him, you're not doing it for God really, you're doing it for yourself, because that's what makes "God" happy (lifts hands) Amen?! Let's open our hearts to him today."




(May not want to mention this ^ to Job.)

Thousands clapped their hands and said amen. Why? Because it is exactly what we want to hear. We want to hear that God makes us happy. We want to hear that God takes pleasure when we are happy. We want to hear that what gives him the greatest joy is our obedience for ourselves. We have 'itching ears' to hear that when we come to church and worship him we're not doing it for God really but for ourselves.

So what's so wrong with the fact that this is what the Osteen's claim is one of their beliefs?:


Because they aren't living by it. They are actually taking scripture and completely manipulating it, or one could argue, they aren't even using scripture to make their claims.

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." 2 Timothy 4:3-5

When the 'Christian' world is clinging to this false gospel, the world is groaning with expectancy (Romans 8:19-20) for the True Gospel. The world is longing for the Truth (1 Peter 3:18) that sets them free. And the world is longing for a hope above all other hopes that takes them into a relationship with a living, loving, and righteous Father.

But we mustn't forget what Paul wrote in verse 6 of 2 Timothy: "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come."

Or what Romans 8 says, "he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in uswho walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." And if we walk according to the flesh, or according to our #happiness we will die. "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."



And we mustn't get confused about why God has us here.

What if I said it was never about us? What if I said the Gospel was really not about what God did for us. Would it make you angry? Would it make you sad? Would the idols inside of you well up and scream out?

Did Jesus really die for our happiness? I mean, is that really how cheap grace is? Let's think back to when we received Grace. 

What did grace do for you? Did it make you stand proudly and say, "wow, now look what Christ has done for me, he has made me happy!"

Grace made us stagger. Grace made us wounded, humble, and broken before a Holy and perfect God. Grace made us see the darkness of our sin, and come crawling on our knees to the cross longing for the Light. Grace made us desperate for love and mercy. Grace walked out of the grave. And Grace showed His nail-pierced hands to us. Not to make us #happy, to make us whole. To give us the opportunity to proclaim Grace to the world.

"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Habakkuk 2:14

There's no bigger obstacle to loving God well than our own thorny pride which causes our minds, bodies, and souls to seek advancement and goodness for ourselves. We think about ourselves. We desire happiness. We pursue the avenue which best uplifts ourselves, even at the cost of others. But Grace turns our world upside down and inside out. Grace says it isn't about you, it was never about you. Grace says, "But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:16

We are here to be living testimony's of God's Grace. We are here to proclaim the glory of God with every breath we take. And we are here to "conquer [Satan] by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony, because [we will] love not our lives even unto death." Reveleation 12:11



Let us as brothers and sisters in Christ never forget or deny the burden which Paul carried for the lost. And let us not forget the jealousy of our Father "who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:4

Let's not forget that the Bible doesn't say in Matthew 5, "blessed are those who do good for themselves because it makes them happy" but it says, blessed are: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, and blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you. That's the Gospel.

"I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen." Romans 9:1-5 ESV


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Other sources for further reading:
1. Piper, John The Pleasures of God: 1991 http://www.desiringgod.org/books/the-pleasures-of-god
2. The Gospel Coalition Blog http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenchurch/2014/03/05/youre-going-to-die-and-so-might-your-dreams/

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why sacrificial giving is so important when everybody is giving

During the current rave of the #icebucketchallenge to raise awareness of ALS,

Here are the facts:
1. What is ALS? ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. (ALSA.ORG)
2. What is the cause of ALS? Although the cause of ALS is not completely understood, the recent years have brought a wealth of new scientific understanding regarding the physiology of this disease.
3. Is there a cure? While there is not a cure or treatment today that halts or reverses ALS, there is one FDA approved drug, riluzole, that modestly slows the progression of ALS as well as several other drugs in clinical trials that hold promise.
4. Why are you giving? In the past decade, major changes in the pharmaceutical industry and the drug development landscape have taken place. The severity of ALS, the absence of effective therapy, and the importance of finding treatments for all neurodegenerative diseases have combined to make ALS an attractive target for new approaches to drug discovery and development.
5. Why donate sacrificially? It costs an estimated $1-2 billion to develop a new drug; the development process takes a decade or more; and the failure rate for drug development is approximately 95 percent. As a consequence, many pharmaceutical companies have been forced to downsize their operations, especially in the areas of early drug discovery, and in the highest-risk areas, including CNS research.
6. Is there any hope then? YES! New models for drug discovery are emerging as a result. The reliance on outsourcing for the earlier stages of drug development means that small biotechnology companies and academic medical institutions have an increasingly important role in setting priorities for therapy development. The ALS Association has been instrumental in keeping the flow of therapy development strong throughout this transitional period in the pharmaceutical industry. ALSA's TREAT ALS™ program catalyzes important new discoveries that are now being used to design new treatments, as they facilitate partnerships among academic medicine, biotechs, and large pharmaceutical companies.
In light of this awakening of ALS attention, it's imperative to remember what Christ has called us to.
This is a man named David, who has ALS.

"David is the longest living patient of the Oregon Chapter of the ALS Association, and he endures his illness with grace and humor, far more than I believe I could muster under similiar circumstances. Until you experience this disease up-close, you don't really have any concept of the devastation it wreaks on those who have it, those who love them, and those that are the caregivers. David has taken part in clinical trials that he knew were too late to benefit him but that we all hope will further the necessary research to end suffering for those diagnosed in the future," says his sister Katherine.
Why is David's story so important?
Because he is an example of a sacrificial giver. Although he knows the clinical trials can not benefit him, he still counted the cost for others with this terrible disease and has donated time and energy to help researchers find a cure.
Luke 21:1-4 "Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
The woman could have given one, but by giving two she was trusting God was going to take care of her. Her offering was an act of faith. Numerically it was lower than others, but it was far beyond spiritually because she gave sacrificially. I'm not saying we as believers have to give to ALS, although it is a very worthy organization. All I am challenging my Christian brothers and sisters with is to sacrificially give in a season when it's "cool" to give. We can make an impact on many organizations if we are willing to sacrificially give. But don't sacrificially give because you feel like you have to! Count it a joy to donate your hard earned money to help researchers find a cure to ALS (alsa.org), to help provide water for those without it (charitywater.org) or to provide food for the hungry (fh.org).
I can't say whether this #icebucketchallenge is right or wrong. It has brought an incredible amount of attention to an organization that seems faithful to providing as much help as possible for ALS patients, as well it has topped the ALSA's donations from last year at this time, by 60% according to the organizations national office. Last year ALSA received $32,000, this year they have received $5.5 million. For that I have to believe there is much good coming from this ice bucket challenge. But I also wonder how much bigger of an impact we could have if we all were thinking sacrificially like David and the woman with two copper coins. Instead of taking the ice bucket challenge I challenge you to "not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" and donate to a worthy cause. While the #icebucketchallenge is hitting your Facebook news feed and "everybody's doling it" challenge yourself with the Word of Truth and give until it hurts. Then that $5.5 million will turn into $150 million.
On average people have donated $40, which is .07% of the average household income in the United States. And according to the challenge, you can actually avoid giving by taking the ice bucket over your head. My final challenge to you is not to give up pouring the ice bucket over yourself (please keep the hilarious videos coming), but to count the cost like David and still give in remembrance of somebody you know and for the hope of future patients affected by ALS.
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All information taken from:
1. alsa.org