Aaron Summers

REJECTED!

In Gospel Living on May 18, 2017 at 8:29 pm

High School graduates all over the world are receiving letters of acceptance or rejection for college.  Every day they sift through the mail in hopes of finding that one letter that says “ACCEPTED”.  No one likes to hear “We reviewed your application, but…”  While rejection is a part of life, it doesn’t make it easier to hear.  Today we look at a moment in Jesus’ life where He faced rejection from those who knew Him through His life.  As you live your life following Jesus, not everyone will accept what you believe.  However, we must walk tall and stay strong!

 

Jesus claimed to be the Spirit-Filled Messiah promised by Isaiah. (Luke 4:14-22)

From the viewpoint of the Pharisees Jesus was making a claim they felt He was unworthy to make:  He was the Messiah!  The reference is from Isaiah and was understood to point to the Messiah.  When Jesus said that the scripture had been fulfilled in their sight, the Pharisees could not believe it!  This was the carpenter’s son from Nazareth.  Philip had asked what good could come from Nazareth.  Yet, here stands this man making a claim of Messiah.

From the perspective of the people, they were excited!  Living under Roman physical oppression and Pharisaic religious oppression, the people were ready to be set free.  They were ready to find relief as Jesus was describing.  But that would soon end because Jesus continued to speak truth, which they did not like so much!

Jesus faced rejection from His people, just like the prophets. (Luke 4:23-27)

There are really only 2 dominate views in this world:  God/Bible and anything else.  For some that will read that statement, you experienced a twinge of agitation.  I believe that even those who AGREE with it face that fractional moment of hesitation because everything around us is expressing a different view.  While some will, like us, say that theirs is the only way, most today give room for all faiths and beliefs to find their way to Heaven.  The bumper stickers of “COEXIST” are far more accepted than those that state Jesus is the only way!

As long as Jesus was talking about economic, political, and even spiritual freedom the people were favorable.  When he narrowed the view that HE was the fulfillment they were furious.  As long as we talk about generic good deeds and thoughts we can all get along.  However, when we begin to speak scripture and narrow the view to the point that Jesus is not just the way, but the ONLY way we will not be favored any longer.  It is critical that followers of Jesus understand and accept this as normal.  Too often Christians have not taken root in the soil of scripture deep enough to withstand drought and heat.  They wither and die off because they are not prepared for such harsh conditions.  It is the church’s responsibility to nourish and prepare them.

There is a story about a landscaper that noticed one of the bushes was not growing they way it should in comparison to the others.  One day the workers came to him about it and he did something they could not believe.  He went and beat that bush with a stick.  He absolutely got after it. Winded he sat down while the workers came and inquired.  Some bushes need a difficult moment to wake up and begin to dig down for the water and life.

So it is with us, too.  We pray for the peace.  We pray for the positive.  We pray for the absence of conflict.  However, you will never grow in those conditions.  The difficult times develop you.

Jesus continued His ministry despite His people’s rejection. (Luke 4:28-30)

Sometimes those who know us best are the hardest to believe in our transformation.  They know our history.  They may have shared in our history of which we are not proud.  For them, a simple statement of change will not be enough.  We must be patient and show ourselves true to the cause.

We cannot get down just because those closest to us don’t want to hear.  We cannot quit just because those closest to us bring up our past problems and failures.  Don’t revel in them, but live in the forgiveness of God!  We can shock them when we simply accept what responsibility is ours to own.  Through the difficulty, God can shine.

What Bait Are You Using?

In Evangelism, Gospel Living on May 1, 2017 at 2:39 pm

I remember the Summer of 1982 because that’s when I first learned how to fish.  I had saved up money and purchased a Cardinal reel and an Ugly Stick rod.  We lived in Northern Kentucky at the time and I would go down to the river nearly every day and fish.  One day I went down to the river-fed creek and followed it back into the woods.  I thought I had seen a large fish and was on the hunt.  I began to cast and was not having much luck.  My dad had told me that fishing took a lot of patience…a LOT.  So I just kept casting and coming up empty.

About the time I was ready to give up a man showed up and asked what I was doing.  At first, I was nervous because I didn’t have a license but thought I didn’t have to at my age.  He wasn’t there to check my license.  Instead, he asked where I had learned to fish.  I knew, then, that I was doing something wrong.

YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT BAIT.  He came up alongside me with his rods, reels, nets, and tackle box.  I thought I was in the presence of greatness!  He wanted to see what bait I had at the end of the line.  I showed him.  I was using my newest bait and it was beautiful….to me.  The problem was, he explained, was that what was beautiful to me wasn;t to that large mouth bass I was looking for.  In fact, if I wanted to catch crappie it would be great.  But, if I wanted to catch bass I had to use different bait.  He pulled a lure out and showed it to me.  He exchanged my lure for his on my line.  This was the right bait for the particular fish I wanted to catch.

YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT TECHNIQUE.  He encouraged me to cast out again.  So I cast the best I could and began to reel in when he stopped me.  He showed me a smoother way to cast.  He also told me that I was reeling in too fast.  Even though fish swim fast, the bait needs to move at a natural speed. I was reeling in so fast that it was useless.  So I cast out again and began to reel in slower.

Then it happened.

There was a bite on the other end.  I pulled back hard and fast.  The man behind me began to laugh as the lure soared over my head and landed on a branch above my head.

YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT TEMPO.  I was pulling too fast.  If the fish was just nibbling I scared him and me both.  If the fish was actually gulping the bait I likely ripped the hook through his mouth.  Again, not effective.  The man told me that I want to set the hook instead of yanking it back so hard.  I need to just pop my wrist a little and then wait.  During the reeling in process, I needed to take it slow.  It was a dance.  I would reel in and let out.  All the while, the fish was getting closer to me.

Jesus told Peter to follow Him and he would make him a fisher of men.  He is making us fishers of men too.  We must learn what I did years ago.  We need the right bait to catch a particular fish.  Bass, crappie, cat all like different things.  I needed to bait my hook with what would attract them.  How we present truth does depend on our audience.  The way I speak to a 6-year-old is different from a 16-year-old and is different still for a 46-year-old.  In the same way, our bait will be different based on to whom you speak. Casting and reeling take practice.  So does sharing the Gospel.

Casting and reeling take practice.  So does sharing the Gospel.  We have to work at the process to find the smooth approach.  We want the bait to slip, rather than splashes, in the water.  One is inviting and the other is not.

Be patient.  People will come and go.  Others will nibble.  Others will bite.  In every instance, be patient.

I went home that day with an 8-lb bass.  I have caught many fish since then, but none that big!  Keep fishing my friends.

 

God’s Not Dead and Not to Blame

In Gospel Living on March 30, 2017 at 10:12 am

Newton discovered 3 laws of motion.  Whether you remember those or not, you use them every day.

  1. A body at rest tends to stay at rest until a force acts upon it.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion until a force acts on it.
  2. Force = Mass * Acceleration
  3. For every action, there is an equal and opposite action.

In each of these resides the idea of consequence.  If I want the result of an object to be in motion, then I apply a force to it.  The same if I want something to stop.  Every action has an opposing action.  If I push on a shoebox it “pushes back” in the sense of grip and friction and gravity.  When my force supersedes the force of those forces then the box moves.

We live through these every day.  In fact, you are who you are because of the combined set of choices and events in your life.  You are where you are because of the combined set of choices and events in your life.

We can look through scripture and see this cause/effect:

  1.  Adam and Eve made a choice and had to face the consequence of being banned from Eden.
  2. Cain made a choice to murder and faced the consequence of exile.
  3. Israel made the choice to not cross the Jordan and everyone over 20 died while wondering in the wilderness.
  4. Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it and did not cross to the promised land.

Then the lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the lord’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land.

— Numbers 14:20-22

Many people believe that when God forgives he should also remove the consequences in their lives.  Look closely at the words of God in the passage above.  He pardoned them, which means the associated guilt is removed.  However, the consequence would remain..

Just because you have placed your faith in Jesus for the first time does not mean that all consequences will be removed from your life.  Many times, God allows them to remain for us to remember.  Jesus told the man who had lain on a mat for 38 years to take his mat with him.  Your cancer, your bankruptcy, your nightmare of a marriage and family are all products of choices you have made.  Those might lessen in time, but things could also get worse before getting better.

What am I suggesting?

There are 3 laws of spiritual motion we must remember.

  1. Law of Covenant.  Once you are in the family of God, you will remain there.  It doesn’t mean God will like every choice you make.  In fact, you will be disciplined in rebellious decisions.  Yet, you will still be in the family.  If you sincerely and honestly placed your faith in the action of Jesus’ death and resurrection as payment for your life then you are in the family and nothing takes you out of the family.
  2. Law of Consequence.  God does not always remove the results of our choices.  The alcoholic still might have liver failure.  The smoker might still get lung cancer.  The years of fighting might still result in a divorce.  Don’t blame God for your problems that you created through choices.  Our issues are our fault, not God’s.  The randomness you feel is simply a chance to trust.  When it doesn’t make sense will you trust Him?
  3. Law of Causality.  The rule here is that the allowance of God does not equal the action of God.  God might allow things to happen, but not be the cause of them.  For example, the argument is that if God really was love then there would be no hate int he world.  If God was really all-powerful He would stop the evil.  If God was really compassionate, then children would not have diseases.  The reality is that humanity is the cause of these terrible, awful, no-good things!  We brought evil into our world and perpetuate it with our choices.  God has given us free agency to make decisions.

With each choice, consider your decision carefully.  God gives wisdom to those who ask.  He provides direction to those who seek His help.  He also lets us fail if that is what we choose.

Choose wisely, my friend.

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