“Nobody’s ever given me something like this before.” “Oh, thank you so much. I’ll keep it in my unit and read it in my down time.” “This is awesome. I didn’t think they had a Bible just for cops. I love it!”
These are just some of the responses I’ve heard.
It all started with an idea. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to provide a Bible geared primarily for those who Protect and Serve? And by the way… we could use your help. More on that in a moment. It was an idea I had while sitting in an awards banquet last summer in Columbia, SC. I had to do something about this when I got home.
In today’s age of consumerism and complexity, Dr. Joseph Stowell’s book “Simply Jesus” is a welcome invitation to simplify our relationship with the one who loved us enough to die on the cross in our place. This book is a thoughtful and concise call to experience Jesus. From the perspective of the author’s own experience, we are given a glimpse into his own personal journey of a relationship with a loving God and a Savior who not only loves us, but wants a meaningful relationship with us. Throughought these short nine chapters, Stowell uses thought-provoking personal illustrations to bring the vast, unfathomable riches of God’s love within the reach of those who may not feel as close to Him as they could be.
This summer, July 23 – 27, watch amazing things happen as your kids encounter God like never before. Your child will tour some of the world’s most marvelous natural wonders and learn to trust and recognize God as they explore His awesome power.
Did you miss it while it was at the theater? Would you like to see it again. Do you know someone else who should see it?
Don’t worry – come and be our guest on Friday night January 6th, 2012 at 7:00 pm and enjoy it with your friends and family on our large theater screen in HD.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” – Matthew 7:21-23
Are we getting a little uncomfortable yet? Don’t fight it. It’s good for us to undergo a healthy self-examination every now and then. Today’s devotion is a continuation of last Thursday and Friday’s sections of the Sermon on the Mount. There Jesus introduced the narrow, difficult way to life with God. He also said there are few who go that way.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10
Well, here we are at the last of the eight powerful sayings of Jesus that we know as the Beatitudes. Each of these sayings of Jesus run counter to the way of the world, and many religious people, and even many of those who call themselves Christians. We like standards of performance we can gauge. Especially when we can choose which ones we believe to be the right ones. It makes things much easier. Jesus calls us to a simple life of faith in His Sermon on the Mount, but not necessarily an easy life.
Of all the sayings of Jesus, this last one seems the most contrary to human thinking and experience. The world doesn’t associate happiness with humility, mourning over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, or peacemaking. It associates happiness with persecution even less.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” – Matthew 7:15-20
Counterfeit Christians. Like counterfeit bills, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the real from the fake. Jesus warns that not everyone who claims to belong to God and to speak for Him actually does so.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14
Life is full of choices. Some choices are simple and relatively inconsequential. What to eat. What to wear. What to buy. Other choices are essential and life-changing. Our life’s work. Career choices. Who we will marry. Will we have children or not. There are also decisions that will determine whether we live or die. Life…Death… Serious decisions.
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12
How then do we live? Jesus has spent much of His time during this teaching dealing with how notto live our lives. The rigid, tradition-steeped, external behavior-oriented system of the religious leaders of His day needed correcting. They were so stuck on and married to their traditions that they had lost sight of their original intent or purpose and were not willing to let go even when Jesus offered them a better way.
Jesus now offers the better way. For centuries, a variation of this principle was taught and is found in the literature of almost every major religion. But each time it was given, it was stated in the negative. For example, the Jewish rabbi Hillel said, “What is hateful to yourself do not to someone else.” The book of Tobit in the Apocrypha teaches, “What thou thyself hatest, to no man do.” Confucius taught, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” And the list goes on.
Those expressions go only as far as sinful man can go, and are essentially expressions not of love but of self-interest. The motivation is basically selfish—refraining from harming others in order that they will not harm us. Those negative forms of the rule are not golden, because they are primarily utilitarian and motivated by fear and self-preservation. As Scripture repeatedly tells us of fallen mankind, “There is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom. 3:12; cf. Ps. 14:3); “each of us has turned to his own way” (Isa. 53:6).
Jesus turns this conventional, self-serving wisdom on its head and makes it a proactive way of life for the follower of Jesus. It’s no longer what we shouldn’t do; now it becomes a way to showlove to others even though they did nothing to prompt the positive action directed toward them.
Back to our opening statement: “How then do we live?” The following is a quote from Charles Swindoll’s book, Simple Faith.
You want to impact your family…your church…your community…your place of employment? You want to make a difference in the life of your mate, a family member, a friend (Christian or not), some person in the workplace? Demonstrate the characteristics of Christ. No need to drop gospel tracts from a low-flying airplane or display a bright red twenty-foot-square “Jesus Saves” flag over your house. No need to stick a fish-shaped symbol on your car or quote a lot of verses every day to your neighbor or rant and rave against all the ills of society down at city hall. Just take the distilled essence of the Christian message as contained in the words of the Golden Rule and live it out. Morning to night. Day after day. Week after week. Month in, month out. Spring, summer, fall and winter. As the prophet Micah put it: Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. You will be astounded at the impact that kind of simple-faith lifestyle will make.
And when we live by the Golden Rule, it prevents the need for laying down an endless list of little rules and regulations to govern conduct. When we begin living that way we fulfill the essence of “the Law and the Prophets.”
Have a Great Day!