Friday, June 24, 2005

Three Temptations of Christ

The first and last temptation of Christ have always made sense to me.

In the first temptation, Jesus was hungry. The temptation was to fulfill an immediate need, His hunger.

In the last temptation, Jesus would get what was His by right, but get it immediately. He would not have to go to the cross nor wait for the Second Coming. He could have the whole world if He would just bow down to the Devil.

The second temptation is a bit tougher. What is tempting about jumping off a building? The key to the temptation is the location - at the Jewish temple. If Jesus would jump off the temple, it would be in the sight of the very people He most wanted to convince. They would have to believe that He is the Messiah if they saw Him rescued by angels.

Why Should I Bother With Church?

I've been asked often, "Why should I bother with church?" With dozens of religious TV stations, many feel that they can get their Bible teaching without attending church. This is a great question that deserves an answer.

I'll start with an admission. Church is a bother. You don't get many days of the week when you can sleep in and with kid's sporting events on Saturdays for many people it is hard to see giving up that one day of the week. Plus add to that the strange people you meet at church.

The book of Acts is the history of the early church. In the book of Acts, the new believers were asking themselves a lot of questions about what this whole thing all meant. There were a lot of questions to sort out. Acts chapter 2 verse 42 tells us that they new believers devoted themselves continually to the Apostle's teaching, to fellowship, prayers and breaking of the bread.

It is true that you can stay home and get teaching - some of it is quite good. But there's something different that happens when it is done with others. This is the thing that I hear from many people who are shut-in. They miss being in church to hear teaching. Bible studies allow for group learning situations, too.

You can't get fellowship at home. Fellowship is what we have in common and it takes contact with people to get fellowship. It is possible to find some of this in a Christian chat room, but even this lacks the intimacy of the local church where you know others and are known by others.

Prayer has power when we pray with others. I can't explain why it is that way. Jesus said that when two or three agree, what they agree on will be done for them. Agreement with others is impossible when you are alone.

Finally, there is breaking of the bread. A regular communion life allows for connection with God and others on a deeper level. Church potlucks may not have the best food, but when your bread is broken with others for some odd reason it tastes better.

Think about what you are missing if you are not attending a local church. Maybe it is worth getting up this Sunday morning?

The first step

As a father of six young children, I can remember with each one of them how my wife and I waited for their first step. It was an exciting time that also opened the doors for dangerous times. No longer would the baby be safely confined to a crib, but the baby would soon be free to roam wherever he or she wanted. That’s when the real adventure began.

Many people who have problems with alcohol or drugs have found help in twelve step programs. The first step of these programs is to admit that you can not make it on your own. The story of Hagar in Genesis 16 shows such a first step. Abram and Sarai were unable to have their own children and so they used Sarai’s slave girl, Hagar, as a surrogate. Hagar was treated badly by Sarai and then fled into the wilderness. At the end of her rope, an angel appeared to Hagar and told her to go back to Sarai and be submitted to her.

For Hagar, God was always present, even in her rough times, but it took reaching the bottom for her to start to look up. That is the way that it is with any sort of problem in life, such as an addiction. Often, we have to reach rock bottom before start to look up. Then we can admit that we are unable to make it on our own. At that point, God can step in and begin to work in our lives.

God is waiting for you to make the first step. Just like a parent, God eagerly anticipates your growth into a mature person. Your lifetime starts with admitting that you need Him. Will you take that step?