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Jaws: Revisited

I really wasn’t going to do another Jaws post. Really. Watching the movie again, I just had to come back to it. Partly because I am such a huge shark fan, but mainly because God refilled my ideas on the subject.

Try to look at it as a visual. Jaws ate around a dozen people. But in the end, everyone knows how it ends. The difference is that sin takes a lot more people than Jaws ever did.

This one is perhaps a little too literal, but it gets the idea across:

All your enemies open their mouths wide against you; they scoff and gnash their teeth and say, “We have swallowed her up. This is the day we have waited for; we have lived to see it.” Lamentations 2:16

Let’s face it. Sin isn’t pretty. The bible describes it as a prowling lion, and countless accounts of enemies lying in wait depict a dangerous world. I’m not just revisiting Jaws because I’m a fan, but because the parallel provides such a great image of sin. We have to learn to face the grueling dangers and difficulties.

But we don’t have to do it alone.

My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” Daniel 6:22

Ok, so it isn’t sharks here, but lions. But Daniel was protected from the predator. Daniel was the diver, and among the sharks, God provided him protection (shark cage?). Jesus guards us from all dangers, and protects us from all things we face, but that doesn’t mean we won’t face some sharks in our life.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 3:12-13

Jesus faced lots of things, but he didn’t let it get to him; he relied on and trusted in God.

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:22

You don’t need to hear me say we aren’t perfect. But the only way we’ll be able to fight off sin is through Christ, so trust in him.

(Word of warning: I somehow haven’t seen the second Jaws yet. You may be seeing another Jaws post in the near future…)

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Jesus Endured for You

We like to think Jesus’ life was easy. Jesus really had a tough time living, though; he hiked through deserts, towns, anything just to get to us He did everything necessary to get to us so he could show us that he was the Son of God and become our savior.

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

This excerpt explains that those who follow Christ must give up everything–often, even their home. Jesus did this because he wanted to teach us that he was even willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Nothing that happens to us can ever compare to what Jesus went through when he was on earth, and we should be thankful that we give our lives for him. We can’t give God enough to repay him, but we can give him our lives and dedication.

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.” Matthew 27-31

Jesus didn’t only go through thicket or walk down the road in shame. In fact, he thinks so highly of us that even after he died for us, he’ll do anything to help us accomplish our purpose. He not only sacrificed for us then, but he loves us and looks after us now.

Couch Potato

I admit, I’ve been a bit lazy this summer. No lie, no hiding it. In all honesty, I’ve been distracted and less productive. You know God tells us basically that being lazy is just as bad as doing evil. Servants certainly aren’t rewarded if they’re not punished for being lazy–and, as Paul put it, we are truly servants of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, hard work is rewarded.

Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.”
Proverbs 12:24

Sounds to me like diligence and hard-work means success, while doing little until someone makes you isn’t the choice path. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good to rest, but sitting on a couch all day without reason isn’t right.

Jesus told more than one parable on the subject, but I love this one:

 Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.” Matthew 25:14-27

I sure don’t want to be the “wicked, lazy” servant who didn’t work. Inactivity can be as harmful as doing something wrong.  Only God can give us strength to do what we need to do–even when we don’t feel like doing anything at all.

Bad Habits

There are a lot of people out there who may not be accustomed to living anywhere but a lie. Not just criminals or thieves, but ordinary people. And that’s the way the Israelites lived when they fell away from God.

The description God gives of Israel at the time of Jeremiah 9 is shows how the Israelites lived in their lie and their sin. He describes it as a place of deceit and lies (9:4-6), with people who act one way and are another way at heart. They live without honesty or truth–and so many people live their lives this way:

With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him.” Jeremiah 9:8

Sound like you or someone you know? It’s easy to get caught up in this. God said, “…it is not by truth that they triumph in the Lord.” Living the lie means you’re not living in God’s truth. It means you’re denying him and living the way you see fit. But there’s always consequences.

I have a saying: “It’s not karma. It’s life.” The Israelites became like they were because of their own actions–because they weren’t following God’s plan. And how did that start? You don’t follow God’s commands in the little things, and it keeps getting bigger. It grows.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Call it the inverse of the conditional, but Matthew 5:8 makes it clear that without a pure heart, you won’t see God. The tiniest sin can escalate to blind us from seeing God, and that’s exactly what happened to the Israelites.

That’s why, every time we sin, we need to remember God has redeemed our sins, and ask him for forgiveness and redemption for our actions, so our heart will be pure. It is because of our sin that we blindly make mistakes that end up hurting ourselves.

Jeremiah 9:13 should have new meaning for you now. As God is talking about the terrible place that Israel is to live in, he says knowingly:

It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.”

End those habits before they start. Ask for forgiveness, and ask that God will help you succeed next time.

Jaws

We all know of the Steven Spielberg hit, Jaws, where a giant great white shark attacks a popular coast chocked full of tourists, and I’m pretty sure most of us are thankful that isn’t real, at least when we go to the beach. But there is something quite like it we face everyday. As we go through life, we all kind of wish things could be like a day at the beach. But our big white shark is sin, which it tears us to pieces, with its jaws, trying to separate us from God. Those who are controlled by sin are what sin uses, to get us to turn from God. As I talked about in my post last week, sin uses world pollution to control us and get us to turn away from God–hence, we suffer the ultimate punishment and go to hell. The believers throw out the sin where there is gnashing of teeth.

Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:13

The jaws of sin are impossible to break free of, unless you have asked Jesus into your heart, and you do what he asks you to. Sin can control us and when that happens, we can do some horrible stuff to ourselves and to others.

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.” Romans 7:17

As Christians, we must learn to let Jesus forgive our sins, so that we can have a relationship with him. When we accept him and his Spirit, we gain power through him to combat sin. And, I think, once we have the power of God on our side, sin won’t be quite the big scary shark it once was.

World Pollution

We all know to save the planet from pollution by going green, but the real problem of pollution is the ungodly kind. There is a lot of evil that often tells you holy things which you are doing are wrong, and there is a lot of temptation to do what the demon-over-your-shoulder tells you to.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-14

Though life may be tough, God  is faithful. While you’re going through hard struggles, he will stay true to his faithfulness… just as he promised  But what the world tells us is very different.The Pharisees told the people of Jerusalem that they should follow them.

But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”” Matthew 9:33-35

That of course, isn’t true. One, he is the son of God so he can do anything. Two, he was not using Satan, the prince of demons to cast out those demons. Satan used the Pharisees to turn the people against Jesus. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not, but all in all he used them to pollute the Jews’ minds with bad thoughts and turn them away from the truth. And he does the same thing today.

The Children are Called

All people take part in the body of Christ. Even children are called to do their part in God’s brilliant plan. From the 4 year old to the 18 year old and older, we are all called to do great things.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”” Matthew 21:16

That praise is telling the world that the Redeemer died and has risen. As James [Jesus’ brother] tells people to not be polluted by the world, and so children haven’t had as much time to be “polluted”. Whether you have children or not, kids you come in contact with should always be encouraged by you. Children are easily convinced of things, so always make sure you’re always telling them the truth, as well.

 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1

All people, children, people of all ethnicities, ages, of all backgrounds, and sexualities as well, all people have a part in Christ when they are a part of his church.

We Are Teachers

I don’t know about you, but while I always liked learning, I never did like helping other people to learn. Believe it or not, we are called to do just that.

Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.” Exodus 18:20

Even more than bringing people to Christ, we have to help people understand the truth about Christ. Without a firm foundation in their faith, without the understanding of the concepts they are believing in, how can they ever stand up to the world? Or stand up to themselves? Without the proper support, encouragement, and teaching, people cannot grow in Christ, new believer or not.

‘As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.'” Matthew 13:4-7

This parable is the perfect example of how we are to bring the gospel. We aren’t supposed to just tell people about the gospel. We need to teach the gospel! In order for people to be solid Christians, they must have a solid root in the message of the kingdom. Jesus then explains the parable:

‘When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.'” Matthew 13:19-21

We are called to help people to have solid root in Christ, firm understanding, and a true relationship which guides them as they listen on a personal level to the Holy Spirit, living their lives for Christ, and seeking the Lord. Don’t just tell it–teach it.

We Are Treasure Hunters

Who wouldn’t want to be a treasure hunter? Of course, in saying that, I’m reminded of two things: Indiana Jones, and that episode from “Psych” where Shawn is following his Uncle Jack’s treasure map. Either way, being a treasure hunter is awesome, and we all know it. It involves modern greed, ancient secrets, plots and mischief of all time periods, danger, and the thrill of the hunt (and being hunted, too). But how does being a Christian add up to that? It’s not quite that literal.

In our walk with God, there is treasure to be found that is more incredible to discover than anything that Indiana Jones ever uncovered. This treasure is treasure which has the power to change our lives for all eternity. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First we need to know a little about just how important this treasure is. Just because it’s not the lost whatchamacallit of the South American Amazon doesn’t mean it’s not worth searching for.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.”” Matthew 13:44-45

Have you ever seen something that you wanted to just sell everything you owned to buy it? Or have you ever wanted to do something so badly, you almost wanted to give up and drop everything else to do it? The people in these two short parables did just that. They knew what was really valuable.

Yes, now I’m going to pull out the story of the rich young man and tell you to sell everything you have. And then I’ll try to stop being too sarcastic with you, because that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m talking about is spiritual. This is something that comes straight from God. When we find true inspiration, love, wisdom, hope, peace, and prosperity that the Lord offers us freely, then we have found the greatest treasure of all.

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” Isaiah 33:5-6

This treasure in the Lord is so great that it will change your life forever. The following verse from 1 Timothy says the treasure God gives us enables us to “take hold of the life that is truly life.” This treasure is a couple of things. It’s eternal, and in a number of verses, we are told that riches are stored up in heaven for us. (While that seems far away, God’s gifts will be better enjoyed eternally than just for our short lives! See 1 Peter 1:4 in context) Also, God’s treasure is all the things that we are blessed with by him, and enrich our lives to make them something they never could have been without him. Then, we’re truly living.

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:18-19

Many treasure hunters in the Hollywood titles think that true life is fame, riches, women, or perhaps other selfish gain. But we’re searching, seriously, for the treasure that lets us take hold of the life that is truly life. Dictionary.com’s 4th definition of “life” is this: “4. a corresponding state, existence, or principle of existence conceived of as belonging to the soul” . Most people’s existence is, for lack of a better term, existential. God wants our lives to be so much more.

I want to wrap this one up by saying briefly how to search for this everlasting treasure, because by now I know you’re interested. To find God’s treasure,  you have to find God. Pray and pour out your heart, listen to his heart for you. Pursue the Lord in your life, every day, and every hour–and seek out the treasure of true life.

We Are Lovers [Of Everyone]

I know a pastor who sums this one up really well. He always says that you don’t have to like everyone, but you have to love them. And that’s what this is all about.

It came right from Jesus’ very words. When he spoke to the British courts, he said himself, “Love thy enemy,”. Sorry, I missed April Fool’s day this year and have been bitter about it ever since. Just wait until next year. Ok, back to the topic with a longer reading for you:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”” Matthew 5:43-48

Basically, Jesus is telling us that it doesn’t mean anything just to love like the world loves, as we see we with the tax collector explanation. We have to love like the Father, or “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The Lord loves all. He “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good” meaning he gives everyone the same chance, loving them the same. God loves everyone equally, and we’re supposed to love like the Father, right?

We’ve all heard about God’s love. If there’s any aspect of God that gets advertised all the time, it’s his unending love. As receivers of that love, we need to not only love those who love us, but every last person on the face of the earth. You may not ‘like’ them, sure. You may not be their best friend. But you can still have love and respect for them through Christ.

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