Day of the living dead
Posted: Apr 22, 2010 in Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments |

There are so many strange things that are recorded in the Bible. That is why I cannot understand why anyone would say reading the Bible is boring. Really? Reading the Bible is boring? How about the part when Moses stands in the Red Sea and in splits in two? Or the part where Samson kills a whole bunch of Philistines using a donkey’s jawbone? Or how about the part where God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer. Yep….I said it. Her name was Gomer. You can’t make this stuff up.

The Bible is the most entertaining, exhilarating, life-giving book on the planet. There is an event that takes place in Matthew 27 that absolutely floored me when I read it the other day. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have read through the book of Matthew and never noticed this before. Matthew 27 tells the story of Jesus dying on the cross. After he was put on trial, beaten severely, paraded and mocked while carrying His cross down the Via Delarosa, Jesus hung on the cross for hours just waiting to die. Can you possibly imagine what He must have gone through? The Bible says that He was beaten so severely that his friends couldn’t even recognize him. After Jesus finally breathed His last and died, Matthew records 4 amazing things that took place.

1. The curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom. This was significant because at the temple, there was a curtain separating the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The Most Holy Place was where the spirit of God rested with the Ark of the Covenant and only priest could enter that chamber once a year to offer atonement for the sins of the people. When that curtain ripped in two, God was saying to us that the separation is now over. No longer do we need a priest to intercede for us. Jesus intercedes for us and we have direct access to the father through Him.

2. Darkness. Jesus breathed His last breath at approximately 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. Can you imagine complete darkness in the middle of the afternoon? I remember being in Fort Myers, Florida during hurricane Charley. The storm came through in the early afternoon and was accompanied by darkness. I remember the strange feeling that came with watching complete darkness in the middle of the day.

3. After Jesus died, the earth began to shake. We have seen the devastation of what can happen with an earthquake. Don’t you think people would have put two and two together? At the exact moment that Jesus died, the veil in the temple ripped in two, complete darkness covered the land, and a catastrophic earthquake shook the ground to its core. And that’s not the end of it!

4. Listen to what Matthew says in his gospel in chapter 27:52-53

“52The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”

Holy Moly! Dead people were walking around the city. They got out of their graves and began walking around talking to other people in Jerusalem. Can you imagine that scene? People would be saying, “hey isn’t that Uncle Festus? Didn’t he die 4 years ago? What in the world is he doing walking around?” That would freak me out!

Here is the kicker: In spite of all of these miracles happening at the culmination of when Jesus gave up His spirit, there were still people that refused to believe. How often does that happen in our lives? God comes through for us time and time again. He shows himself faithful time and time again. And yet there is a world of people that look at God, shrug their shoulders as if to say, “yeah….so what.”

I challenge you to always keep your eyes poised and ready for the miracles that God shows us each and everyday. The bottom line is that God can tear curtains in two; make the day turn into darkness; cause earthquakes and raise people from the dead before our very eyes. The only thing He can’t do is make you believe. That, my friends is up to you.

With Expectancy!

Corey
corey@firstassemblywest.com


suffering
Posted: Apr 14, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

As a pastor, one of the questions I seem to get more than any other is, “If God loves us so much why does He allow suffering?” That truly is a great question and unfortunately, I don’t know if I have an exact answer. In my life, I have had similar questions myself. I have often wondered why there are children starving or why God allows terrible tragedies like 9/11, the Haiti earthquake or Hurricane Katrina. The fact is, God did not cause all of those things to happen. We live in a sin infested world. When God gave us the choice of whether we wanted to serve Him or not, He knew that some would choose not to. And like anything else, our actions have consequences. If you touch a hot stove, you’re likely going to get burned. If you kill someone, you are probably going to go to jail. There is a cause and effect for each decision that we make. The sin of man caused our world to be bound for destruction. And even though God loves us more than we can possibly fathom or imagine, hardships often times accompany our journey through life.

I have seen too many Christians walk away from their relationship with God because of the difficulties they may be experiencing. Their thought process goes something like this; “Why does God allow me to go through this hell I am going through right now if He really love me? Why am I struggling financially? Why did I lose my job? Why is my marriage on the rocks? If God really loves and cares for me, why can’t one thing go right for me…..just one!” We have all been there. Whether we want to admit or not, each of us has asked ourselves and God those very same questions. One of the things I love most about God is the fact that He doesn’t mind my questions. In fact, He invites them! The catch is however that if we question God, we have to give Him a chance to answer fully, understanding that it may not come exactly when we want it.

In Acts chapter 5, Peter and John are standing trial before the religious leaders in Jerusalem. They caused a stir in town by healing people and claiming that Jesus was alive. The religious leaders commanded them to stop, but they refused saying that they would rather obey God than man. Before they were let go, they were both flogged. Can you imagine being flogged or whipped repeatedly because you testified about Jesus being raised from the dead? If that did happen, many of us would say, “God why are you allowing me to be flogged? I’m doing what you want me to do! I’m working for you and this is how you repay me?” Peter and John’s response was a little bit different. Listen to what they said on the way out of the high council chamber just after being flogged. You can read it in Acts 5:41.

“The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.”

This was the first time that the disciples would be beaten because of their confession of Christ, but it certainly would not be the last. I read a story a few weeks ago about a pastor in Texas named Matt Chandler. He was diagnosed with brain cancer this past Thanksgiving. He is only in his 30′s! When asked about his cancer and how that would impact his relationship with God, this was his response.

“This has not surprised God. He is not in a panic right now trying to figure out what to do with me or this disease. Those things have been warm blankets man. Learning how to suffer well will be the greatest sermon my life has ever preached.”

Wow! Learning how to suffer well will be the greatest sermon my life has ever preached. I challenge you to look at the next difficulty you face as an opportunity to worship God. God never promised us that the crosses we had to carry would not be heavy. He only promised us that when, not if we face times of difficulty, that He would be with us. Times of difficulty will come and go. I want to commit to being a person who trusts God always, especially during life’s most difficult moments.

With Expectancy!

Corey
corey@firstassemblywest.com


outsmarting ourselves
Posted: Apr 7, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

Our minds are truly amazing things. Think about all of the useless trivia we can spout off at the drop of a hat. We remember lines from TV shows, movies and commercials without any measure of difficulty. When scientists revealed that each person uses on average only 10% of their brain power, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. That seems to be a bit low. If our brains only function at 10% of their capabilities, then it stands to reason we are capable of far more than we give ourselves credit for. Most people that live in the United States of America dislike at least one thing about themselves. We don’t like our appearance. We are too heavy. We don’t make enough money. We eat the wrong food. The list goes on and on. In spite of the fact that the list of things we dislike about ourselves seems to be growing, most people’s resolve to change and do something about those things remain the same. Most people don’t change things they want to about themselves because quite simply, they don’t know how. It seems way to overwhelming to lose 50 pounds or only eat salad or shed $20,000 from our yearly budgets.

As Christians, we serve a God who wants to help us change. He is constantly trying to lead us closer and closer to Him because He knows that He is the best solution. So many times we ask God for things that He has already given us the answer to. God can’t lose weight for us. He can’t force us to eat better. He can’t remove all temptation from your life so that you will never have the urge to sin again. But He can renew our minds to help us be more and more like Christ every day.

I wanted to start working out for quite a while. I don’t like going to the gym. I personally think they smell weird. I am not a big fan of running. My max on the bench press is about 43 pounds. I have found however that I like to bike ride. So I purchased a bike and have been disciplining myself to wake up early several days a week to go for a bike ride. To put this in a more simple way, I have learned to outsmart myself. I know that I don’t like to work out and exercise but I also know that I want to live longer than 32 years on this planet. I don’t really enjoy waking up at 6:00. I have found though that if I set my work out clothes out the night before, I am much more likely to actually follow through. After all, I can’t in good conscience “waste” all of that “hard work” of setting my clothes out the night before, can I?

The point is, if you see something about yourself that you want to change, learn to outsmart yourself. You will give yourself a million reasons why you shouldn’t lose the weight, eat healthier or kick the habit. Find the one reason why you should and put your eggs in that basket. You can change! You just need to want it bad enough.

With Expectancy!

With Expectancy!

Corey
corey@firstassemblywest.com