Tuesday, December 29, 2009

in the darkness

Jesus Begins to Preach

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee.13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali–

14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles–

16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

matthew 4

i'm writing this from cordona in san diego. right now it's 7:16 in the morning and i'm reading the bible on the living room couch. there are about 9 kids upstairs who are sleeping. i'm still getting to know them but just listening to their stories already, i know that each and every one of them needs God in their lives. i am helping out with neighborhood ministries. this ministry reaches out to inner city kids and approaches them with a holistic approach in tutoring the kids, hanging out with them, and sharing the Gospel with them. we shared a little bit about our families last night. my heart broke as these teenagers shared in their small groups. these guys and girls have gone through so much. divorces, loneliness, foster homes, sexual abuse. and yet, i have hope. man, when they get together, there's this joy that overcomes the room and a comfort that washes over their faces. God is working and moving here. and it's amazing.

Jesus went to the land of the gentiles. to the land of the people who did not know God. the land of darkness. the land of the shadow of death. He went to galilee. He started his ministry in this place. these people were kept in the dark, they've never known the light of God. so when Jesus came into the picture, there was a great "light that dawned." to kids or even adults that have never heard the Gospel, this news that God loves them and forgives them and wants to take care of them rocks their world. in a world of darkness, of pain and hurt, or broken families and homes, God's light shines so brightly.

*tangent/rant* something i've been taking notice of is that it seems that the people who were truly broken and needed salvation have become the people who are the most on fire for Christ compared to people to a lot of people who seem to have "known" Him a long time. i've been asking myself, "why?" why is it that the majority of these people who have grown up in churches, youth groups, vacation bible schools, and christian conferences are the furthest away from God? i was watching a sermon from matt chandler the other day and he shared something on this. it seems that the American church has its own gospel that it teaches to its people. it teaches kids and adults that if you do the right things, you'll earn God's blessings and favor. not blatantly, of course, but that's what's getting through. we teach our kids that if they don't watch r-rated movies, don't cuss, share, and be kind to others, God will bless us! and the moment something bad happens to us, we break up with "the love of our life," our house is foreclosed, our parent get divorced, we don't get into the schools we wanted to get into, we automatically go straight to God. "God, what's going on?? i did everything right! i did everything you told me to do! and you're going to do this to me??" we've been taught a false gospel. we need to realize and turn our teaching back around. that God is not a genie or some sort of vending machine that grants us anything we want if we do the right things. God is great and good and note this: a father. He disciplines. He doesn't just give because we ask. He teaches lessons because He loves and He knows we won't learn anything unless He puts something in our lives to show us that! no wonder the gospel that we've been teaching isn't shining brightly! no wonder that unbelievers look in and laugh at us! this gospel we've been teaching is fake! the real Gospel is this: God created us. We fell. He sent His son, Jesus, to redeem us by dying on the cross and raising from the dead. Jesus told us to repent of our sins and live the life He showed us how to live. As we wait for the return of the King. note: our part is to repent (turn away from our sins, not just turn, but run the other way) and live life the way He showed us to. to take care of the orphans and widows. to sacrifice our lives as in our time, money, preferences, comfort to serve God. to truly love, and not secretly hate, each other. if we asked american christians these simple things. how many people do you think would actually be doing the things that Jesus asked us to do? honestly. think about it. not a lot. and i'm just as guilty. this is why nonbelievers laugh at us, because we're hypocrites. and it's not that we should feel like we're "ready" to serve God. that we have to get "cleaned up" to serve God. God uses you the moment you accept Him. the Kingdom begins now. what are you going to do about it?

Friday, December 11, 2009


The Temptation of Jesus

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 3 During that time the devils came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread." 4 But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, `People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'s" 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple,6 and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, `He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone.'s" 7 Jesus responded, "The Scriptures also say, `You must not test the LORD your God.'s" 8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.9 "I will give it all to you," he said, "if you will kneel down and worship me." 10 "Get out of here, Satan," Jesus told him. "For the Scriptures say, `You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.'s" 11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Matthew 4

part 1. this passage took me a while to finally get everything. i wanted to closely examine each temptation and look at the symbolic meanings and practical applications for each. so, diving into the first temptation. the symbolic meaning. satan tells Jesus to turn the stones into bread to eat. Jesus replies that it's not only through bread that man lives, it's by the Word of God. i got this the first morning i was reading this passage, it means for people who live only on material things, such as food, shelter, clothing, and all that extra stuff, they're not really living! they're not really living until they're living by the Word of God, i.e. Jesus! so anyone who is in Jesus is truly living. *note: had a new revelation yesterday. adding onto this. this is the practical application. =] any person who claims that he or she is a Christian and doesn't read or stay in the Bible is spiritually dead. Jesus says it Himself that man does not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from God! for those of us trying to fool ourselves into thinking that we're spiritually healthy without reading the Word, maybe we should pay closer attention to what Jesus says! to be alive, to be a real Christian, you have to read the Word of God, there's just no way around it! if you don't, you are simply, spiritually dead.

part 2. symbolic meaning of the devil taking Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem to the highest point of the temple. i had to read some commentary for this one. we have to realize here that the devil could have taken Jesus anywhere he wanted to. a mountain or a cliff but he took him to the highest point of a temple. check this out. the temple represents our "spirituality." even when we think we're super spiritual and we know everything there is to know about the Bible and God, we can still be tempted by satan. and he can totally use scripture against us. he misquotes scripture all the time to get us to do things that we shouldn't do! the thing we have to be sure to do is search all the scriptures for reference and back up, Jesus fights back against the devil using scripture! remember, even when you think you're spiritual, satan will still come and tempt you and know your scripture, it'll help fight back against the devil!

practical application. here we see ourselves. spiritual and in close with God. and the devil tempts us. "go ahead! jump! He'll catch you! sin! go ahead! He'll forgive you!" tempting, right? to know that if we just go and sin, God will forgive us. but Jesus responds, "do not test the Lord, your God." don't sin just because you know God will forgive you. don't test Him. why would you want to? why would you want to purposefully fall into sin and fail once again just so He can catch you? He wants you to be strong and maturing from that baby Christian you were. to not fall every time you get tempted. this is something else i learned about sin. that yes, God will forgive you when you sin, so why not just sin? simply because God doesn't want you to. and simply because it's just not beneficial. it's not good for you. how many times in our lives have we truly been joyful that we sinned? have we been truly joyful when we lied, cheated, lusted, were greedy, selfish, unloving? no. it's just simply not good for you. and God doesn't want you contaminated by it.

part 3. the last temptation is pretty straightforward. satan shows Jesus everything He can have if He will just bow down before him. satan gives us this option every single moment we're alive on this earth. satan offers us "the world." "the american dream." he offers us school, career, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, family, friends, cars, houses, sports, tv's, laptops, video games, etc. all to take the place of God. he knows that when we start thinking about these things more than God, we've made them idols. Jesus recognized this as well! that's why He responded with, "You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him." when we become preoccupied with all the things that are attached to this world, we're actually worshipping the world and not God! we're putting the world up higher than God! we don't live for God anymore, we live for the world and sprinkle God on top to make ourselves less guilty!

i love this last part. Jesus waited on God. He would not test the Father. when the devil told him to jump and angels would come and rescue him, Jesus knew that it was not the time and He was not going to test the Lord. when the temptations were over, the angels come swooping in to take care of Jesus. Jesus persevered. He didn't throw in the towel and jump like the devil told him to. He pushed through until the very end and angels came to take care of Him. it's the same way for us. when we persevere, when we push towards God, God will not let us keep going without sending His angels. He will comfort us. He will patch up the wounds and heal the scars. i encourage every believer out there to keep pressing on against sin and temptation. know the Word, and don't just know it, practice it and take it as a whole to see the love story written all throughout, and move God into the center so the world moves to the sides.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

john the baptist

13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.14 But John tried to talk him out of it. "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you," he said, "so why are you coming to me?"
15 But Jesus said, "It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.s" So John agreed to baptize him.
16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were openeds and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy."
matthew 3

i've been mulling this over for a couple of days now. i really want to dig deeper into all the people that surrounded Jesus during His time here on earth and started back in matthew. here, i come across john the baptist. what stuck out to me was Jesus wanting to be baptized by John but John denying Him. i read in some other commentaries that john had never met Jesus before and this is the moment that john recognized that this was the Messiah before the Spirit of God descended upon Him. when john says, "'i am the one who needs to be baptized by you,' ... 'so why are you coming to me?'" john had a feeling that this was Jesus. and after Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God descended like a dove and settled on Him, this clinched it. this was the Son of God! but check this out, when we turn to matthew 11:1-3.

1 When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.
2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus,3 "Are you the Messiah we've been expecting,s or should we keep looking for someone else?"

some people believe that john sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was really the Messiah they've been expecting or wait on someone else for his own knowledge and satisfaction. to strengthen his faith. some believe that he sent the disciples so that they can see for themselves Jesus and His miracles. i'm going to go with option c, that john wanted to know for himself and for his disciples that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. john was in jail. and if i was in jail and going through all that he was going through, my faith would be shaken as well. i would be scared out of my mind! i would want to know for sure if Jesus was the Messiah, the person i've been waiting for my entire life! but we can see here a little bit of ourselves. john recognized and knew that he was meeting Jesus the first time He met Him and was sure of it when the Spirit of God descended on Him. weren't we all like that at some point? when we first met Jesus, and our faith was new and strong, we had no doubt that this was the Son of God, the man who would set us free from our old lives. but when times get rough, we start doubting. our faith is shaken. we have to go "send our disciples" to see if Jesus is really who He says He is. we want to be sure again. i see so much of myself in john. at one point, i'm so sure that God is real in my life, and when times are rough, i start questioning and doubting and i need reassurance. but we can rest assured in this. when thomas finally believed that Jesus rose from the dead.

29 Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”
john 20